Saturday, July 1, 2017

Balkan Road Trip: Macedonia

Country number two on the road trip list was Macedonia and, I'll be honest, I knew nothing about Macedonia.  I'm not saying I knew a ton about any of the other countries on our itinerary, but I definitely had no idea what to expect for our time in Macedonia.  Luckily, it's got some major highlights and we enjoyed both stops. 

First on the agenda was Lake Ohrid, the oldest lake in Europe (4,000 years old!).  Since Macedonia is landlocked, Lake Ohrid is as close to a beach town in Macedonia as you'll get.  We pulled up into town and couldn't help but notice the resemblance to beach towns in the United States.  There were restaurants that lined the beach, ice cream stands every few hundred feet and hotels that overlooked the water. Plus, there were a ton of people.  It was hoppin'!

We walked around for a bit and reassured a screaming Finnegan that waking up while strapped into your car seat is not the end of the world.  After scoping out the scene (and grabbing some ice cream), we headed to our hotel which was outside of the city center.   On our way there, we stopped at a reconstruction of an ancient village situated on the water.  Picturesque, don't ya think?

The next day, Mike went scuba diving and Finn and I hung out at the hotel.  One thing I wanted to make sure we did on this trip was work in time for him to just hang out and play outside of the stroller or baby carrier. He enjoys both the carrier and the stroller, but I think it's important for him to spend some time outside of them and stretch out, so this worked out perfectly.  Once Mike returned, we headed into town for a bit.   We walked around the old town for a little while before we realized that a stroller and cobblestones don't mix.  We dropped the stroller off at the car, switched to the Ergo and headed up the hill to check out the old colosseum, only to have it start raining.   

By this point, we were pretty much done for the day and luckily, it was time for dinner!  We found this wine bar that was tucked away on one of the side streets as part of a bed and breakfast.  Our meal ended up being by far one of the best on our trip.  Both Mike and I got pasta dishes and we had three different kinds of bruschetta for an appetizer, on top of a few different glasses of wine. Everything we had was fantastic and the owner explained the different wine pairings and how the wine was made, which I think always helps make it taste better. :)

We got there so early that we ended up being the only ones there for the entirety of our meal, which was a blessing because Finn proceeded to have a melt down for a good twenty to thirty minutes.  The owners were so nice that the wife offered to take Finn so that Mike and I could eat dinner.  We politely refused, but the gesture stood out to both of us. 

The next day, we packed up our bags and headed to the capital of Macedonia, Skopje. We had two nights and one day in Skopje, which was more than enough time.  Luckily, we were staying at the Marriott there, so we had a nice, big room, lounge access and didn't mind just hanging at the hotel.  Plus, just like everywhere else in Eastern Europe, the people loved Finn and doted on him every time he made an appearance outside of our room, so we never felt bad about hanging out at the hotel.  Since we arrived on Father's Day, we headed to the one craft beer bar in Skopje (and maybe Macedonia).  

Finn may not look thrilled to be celebrating Father's Day, but he sure does love his dad!

Skopje itself was really pretty.  There was a lot of construction going on along the water, but Mike and I agreed that in five years or so, Skopje will be a beautiful city.  There were already restaurants and bars along the river, and one night, there was even a little carnival/festival thing taking place.

Traveling can be so exhausting that sometimes you fall asleep sucking your thumb during tummy time.

Other times, you get to help Dad pick out things from the menu. 

Overall, we loved Macedonia.  In fact, I think Lake Ohrid might have been my favorite stop on our road trip.  The people of Macedonia were so friendly and they loved Finn, which made us feel so comfortable.  Skopje has the potential to be a great city and Lake Ohrid would be the perfect place to spend a summer vacation. Even though I didn't know anything about Macedonia before we arrived, I left with a special appreciation for it.

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