Macedonia marks the start of our forray into the Balkans, and also the return of countries lasting less than a week. After seeing quite a bit of “Macedonia=Greek” graffiti, as well as the recent name change from F.Y.R.O.M to North Macedonia, we were expecting it to feel very Greek across the border by Bitola. But we immediately felt like we were back in Bulgaria or Croatia. The small white houses with terracotta roofs were suddenly replaced with large half finished houses with green tin rooves. This rather annoyingly played right into Jade’s theory that countries feel totally different as soon as you cross the border.
Unfortunately a string of bad weather (that was set to continue for quite a while) put a halt to our good wild camping streak. But it did mean seeing a few more towns and trying more local delicacies than we would have. Such as a huge burger patty with cheese (no bread buns), Macedonian Halva (tahini based sugary snack, not as good as the Greek Halva we had been having), and filo pastry omelette thing for breakfast.
Another striking cultural difference was how chilled out all the dogs were compared to their Greek and Turkish counterparts. Barely a dog chase in sight, but plenty of polite sniffing around at lunch stops.
The scenery wasn’t amazing except for the first climb from Lake Prespa to Lake Ohrid. Mainly because of the near constant cloud cover. The roads were good and reasonably quiet though. We also seem to be back in the land of friendly horn honking. Which takes a bit of getting used to again.
Overall Macedonia was nice, but we would have enjoyed it a lot more with nicer weather. It might get a low down place on our revisit list.
Macedonia in numbers;
Total distance – 180 miles
Longest day – 51 miles
Highest point – 1602 metres
Lakes cycled next to – 3
Dog chases – ZERO!