April 17, 2013 Wednesday
The owner of the Ambasador Hotel had lived in the USA where he
made the money to build this hotel. When he returned to his country and
started his business, in the memory of his days in the USA, he adorned
his hotel with the statues of the US heroes. Until we got to the center
of Skopje, we were not aware of their love for statues, so we thought
this man was unique.
We started our day with a city tour of Skopje on foot. Under the
Macedonian flag which was trying to catch the little wind we had that
morning, we learned about the rivalry between the Greeks and the
Macedonians. For business, for visiting each other's country, for trade
they have no problem. But when the subject is who a Macedonian is,
neither the Greeks nor the Macedonians want to let go to be a
Macedonian. Greece can not even stand to call the Republic of Macedonia
by the U.N acknowledged name. Which means, if Macedonia, as the Republic
of Macedonia could ever get a chance to be a member of European
Community, the Greeks will veto them. The sign that we saw hanging below
a window was a good expression of the concern of the Macedonians.
had a very severe earthquake in 1963. 1/6th of the population was lost
debris of the buildings. The highly respected and sounds like
much loved new prime
minister of Macedonia had decided to get rid of all the debris,
knock down all the
Socialist era buildings and recreate an aesthetically
There are constructions everywhere. Walking on the
pedestrian streets, we first came across
statues of a drunk man and a
group of musicians. The pink blossoms of the cherry trees, the
cleanliness of the streets were very attractive. A city
with so many pedestrian streets looked very civilized. The pleasure of
the people were honored more than the cars. The
birds in the streets were singing as if they too were appreciating the
lack of vehicles.
turned around the corner, the modesty of the side streets was replaced
with the grandeur of monuments dominating the skyline.
In search of
their identity, the Macedonians had decided to put Alexander the Great
in the middle and heroes of the 14th Century through the 20th century
seats on a horses or a thrown. Above them all was the huge
sign of SKOPSKO beer.
When we criticized the sign being out of place,
Stefan said:" If it weren't for this beer
company funding the project,
we could not have had the changes in the city"
Stefan briefed us on the
history of the country and the importance of Skopje that he is very
proud of; Skopje is
the capital of the Republic of Macedonia;it is in the Povardarie
region, and is the largest and most diverse city in the country. Skopje
has been occupied by many different peoples since its foundation. This
is evidenced by the several Byzantine churches and monasteries around
the city, also by a few Roman sites, such as Scupi and Skopje's
Aqueduct. However, the group that left the greatest mark on Skopje were
the Ottomans. The Ottomans ruled Macedonia, THE BALKANS, for hundreds
of years and built a large number of mosques and other buildings. Today,
Skopje is becoming a modern city. Home to about quarter of the entire
population of the country, it is also home to many different of ethnic
groups. Besides the majority Macedonians, many Albanians, Turks, Romans,
Serbs, Bosniaks and Greeks call Skopje home
There were some fun
little statues showing
the daily life of the people in the city. The statue
of a woman in the river and the statue of the woman
wearing shorts in the shadow of Alexander's horse
were nice artistic touches in the huge square.
Ottoman "Stone Bridge" over the Vardar
connects the old and the new Skopje
Some more statues, some of them were serious, historic and
always of men,
others were more fun and down to earth!
After the 2nd WW, The British sold Macedonia
theirDouble Decker red busses. since then the
have been reproducing the same
busses for public
The grandeur that they were trying to erect in this square is
already overshadowed with cheap Chinese made souvenirs.
Mother Teresa House, Ulice Makedonia,
was born and lived in Skopje until she was 18. The original house is no
longer present, but there is a beautiful and tranquil modern chapel
dedicated in her name.
Our visit to the house was
delayed because a minister from Qatar was on its way to the chapel. We
waited for our turn. We had snacks on the street before we got on our
bus from in front of the old train station. The train station was
destroyed in the 1963 earthquake and the clock had stoped indicating the
exact time of the disaster. The station is now being used as a city
we got on our bus from in front of the old train
station we had our snacks.The clock of the train
station had stopped when the terrible earthquake of 1963
destroyed the station and killed every 6 people out of 10
people in the city.
The rest of the day was
excellent. We took an hour drive to Stefan's mother in law's village. On
the way to the village we learned about the education system of
The village roads were too narrow and no place to turn the bus, so we
walked down the road. We could not see the cows but we could smell the
manure all over the village. It was so beautiful. the chicken and
roosters were grazing around. the surprised huge dogs were barking
behind their fences. At the house we were met by Stefan's wife and her
mother who had been cooking for us since yesterday. We had a feast of
home made fruit juice, stuffed grape leaves( sarma) an excellent pepper
paste, home made yogurt and superb pastry filled with cheese and
spinach. As a group we had brought an apple tree as a gift. After lunch
we planted our tree hoping that we can return to Skopje one day and grab
the fruit from the tree.
Everyone was happy when we
returned to the hotel. Especially Joann. Her luggage is found!
Overnight at the same hotel Hotel
AMBASADOR., in Skopje.