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Bansko’s Ancient and Modern Baths
A short taxi ride brought us from Strumica to Bansko, a village which has long been known for its thermal mountain hot springs. After arriving, we visited the ruins of an ancient Roman bathhouse, before diving into a more modern pool… Read More

Sep 25, 2014

Hiking to the Monasteries of Matka
Over the course of one very long day at Matka Canyon, we tackled two hikes. The first, a climb to Sveti Nikola, we can heartily recommend to anyone. But the second, to Sveti Nedela on the opposite side of the canyon, is an ordeal we’d propose only to those whom we most hate. Really: just those few people who we wouldn’t mind seeing dead… Read More

Sep 23, 2014

The Skopje City Zoo
Found close to the city center, in Gradski Park, the Skopje City Zoo has long suffered from a reputation as one of the most depressing and inhumane in Europe. But the last few years have seen a sizable investment from the city, with the goal of bringing the zoo up to modern standards. But have things improved?… Read More

Sep 23, 2014

Hiking from Vodoča’s Monastery to the Lake
The village of Vodoča is located a few kilometers outside of Strumica. We visited its monastery before walking along the river up to Lake Vodoča for a midday swim. From here, our hike back into Strumica was long but diverting. Along the way, we would stop for lunch at a hilltop restaurant and see the remains of a medieval fortress… Read More

Sep 22, 2014

Strumica’s Church of the Fifteen Holy Martyrs
Strumica is a nice city, but not one with a huge range of touristic sights. We spent our first day scouring the streets for things to see and do, but everything was closed. Everything except for one lonely church hidden in Strumica’s Turkish quarters: the Sveti Petnaeset Tiveriopolski Sveštenomačnici, or Church of the Fifteen Holy Martyrs… Read More

Sep 18, 2014

Two Sides of Strumica
A population of around 50,000 qualifies Strumica as the largest city in southeastern Macedonia. We spent a couple days here, and got to know its two distinct sides: nearly comatose during the day, Strumica comes alive at night… Read More

Sep 18, 2014

The Skopje City Museum
Skopje City Museum attempts to relate the story of Macedonia’s capital through anthropological and archaeological exhibits. But the museum’s single most compelling piece is actually the building in which it’s housed: Skopje’s former train station, which had been heavily damaged in the 1963 earthquake… Read More

Sep 17, 2014

A Day in Gostivar
On the way to Skopje’s bus station, our taxi driver started up a conversation. “You’re off to Ohrid, right? Beautiful weather for the lake!” We agreed about the weather, but told him that we would be spending this fine summer day in Gostivar. This baffled him. “Gostivar? Why would you want to go there? A job?” Nope, just sightseeing. “Heh, sightseeing in Gostivar! Haha!” He thought we were kidding, and didn’t stop chuckling all the way to the station… Read More

Sep 17, 2014

The Healing Waters of the Katlanovska Spa
Although hot springs are a common natural occurrence in Macedonia, there aren’t many spas set up to capitalize on the mineral-rich waters. The most well-known is the Katlanovska Spa, just twenty kilometers outside Skopje… Read More

Sep 15, 2014

The Painted Mosque and Arabati Baba Tekke in Tetovo
We weren’t entirely impressed with Tetovo during our short day trip there: too noisy, crowded and hectic. But the city does have a couple things to recommend it. The Šarena Džamija, more commonly known as the Painted Mosque, and the Arabati Baba Tekke are two historic sites worth seeking out… Read More

Sep 14, 2014

A Visit to Tetovo, in Western Macedonia
Found at foot of the Šar Mountains which separate the Republic of Macedonia from its western neighbor, Tetovo has long been a stronghold of Macedonia’s ethnic Albanians. We spent a day gaining an impression of life in this extremely crowded and hectic city… Read More

Sep 11, 2014

The Holocaust Museum of Macedonia
In April of 1941, Macedonia was occupied by Nazi-affiliated Bulgaria, who would eventually ship the country’s Jewish population to the death camp of Treblinka. Almost overnight, the small and tightly-knit Jewish community who had called Macedonia home for hundreds of years was extinguished. An excellent museum in the heart of Skopje pays solemn tribute to one of the most horrific episodes in the country’s history… Read More

Sep 09, 2014

Skopje’s Art-Oriented Turkish Hamams
Especially considering the city’s current craze for stately new neo-classical structures, it’s fortunate that so much of the historic Turkish quarter north of the Vardar survived the 1963 earthquake, including two original hamams. Today, the Daut Pasha and Čifte Hamams serve as venues for the National Gallery, and we visited both on a sweltering afternoon in July… Read More

Sep 07, 2014