After driving south through Serbia, we noticed the landscape changed immediately as we entered Macedonia. The land was more arid, there were more hills and small mosques were scattered throughout.
We arrived in Skopje, just before nightfall and had foolishly not double checked all the details of our accommodation. Two hungry people does not make for excellent and speedy decision making, alas, after scouring the street for free wifi we managed to track down our host and get settled into our apartment.
Unfortunately, literally minutes after the host had shown us in and left, Mr Kiss was struck with the shivers, his hands turned white and his hunger immediately disappeared (a sure sign something is wrong). As it turns out, Mr Kiss had somehow contracted what we believe was hand, foot and mouth disease , thanks google and our friend Dr.Han (different to foot and mouth/ mad cow disease) and was bed ridden for the next three days. As a result we decided to extend our stay in Skopje for a couple of nights. As time went on Mr Kiss has symptoms such as peely spotty hands, nausea, headaches, a sore throat and the inability to sleep through the night… which was really great! (jk)
We did manage to get into town one day and do some exploring and Skopje is definitely a place I recommend visiting. A strange east meets west centre, the city is full of enormous monuments, and when I say full, I mean at every turn.
From Skopje we were due to head into Greece and then onwards via ferry to Italy. Due to our extended stay in Macedonia our greecian sojourn was cut short and we had two days to cover 11 hours of driving… not bad you say? With Mr. Kiss unable to drive I stepped up to the challenge. Faced with high winds, wild animals on the roads, torrential rain and some of the worst fog we have had in the whole trip I got us to our destination in time for the ferry!
Sure enough, our midnight ferry was delayed for two hours with the departure time now scheduled for 2am. It would not have been so bad, except for the fact that we had booked the cheapest tickets (on deck) and this particular ferry had an estimated duration of 21hours. The dread we felt boarding the ferry was only replaced by the sheer boredom gained only by being trapped in the same room with no internet for an unbearable number of hours. No food, no water and evidently no heating. As dawn broke, we crumbled and purchased the exhorbitantly priced water and a coffee…. And that was only the start of the day. I managed to pass the time by creating a video diary of the ordeal, which at some point I will endeavor to upload for your enjoyment. I am not going to lie, it was the worst day of the trip so far.
Luckily for us, the boat was then delayed mid-sail and thus the trip was extended to 22 hours. When we arrived in Ancona we literally felt like leaping for joy, expect it was 11pm, we hadn’t the energy and we had to drive another hour to our accommodation. What joyous times!
Travelling through the Balkans has been a real eye opener for us in terms of the political climate of the area, it has been an amazing place to visit and while heavy we definitely recommend others make the trip.
From here we have a few days tripping around Italy before heading north to spend three weeks woofing. I believe carbo loading on all the fresh pasta I can find will be a must!