A colourful return to Skopje 🌈
Having given up entering Serbia for now, I decided to just fly over the fucking country the long way. Getting down to Skopje for a flight was meant to be routine but political protests in the Macedonian capital helped add some life to the day.
I had woken at 5 am, planning to leave early. I woke up before the alarm, as always, onlyl to have a good think about it. My plan was to take the train south, from Pristina to Skopje, but it only left at 7 am daily. Needlessly early maybe, although the scenery would be worth it compared to seeing the highway again. But let’s face it, as instant awake as you can be, the ability to rationalise actually getting up can sometimes be difficult. “But how much better is it really?”, my mind started asking. The advantage of a bus would be they’re frequent and at a similar cost and speed. It hadn’t helped that some people had questioned if the train was running at all, like in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Regardless since I was only going there to probably get an evening flight, I relentingly decided there was little point in going so early.
Bus from Pristina to Skopje
Of course not much happened until it was actually time to leave 🕛
12:00 finally booked my flight
12:05 checked in and phoned a taxi
12:10 taxi arrives
12:22 got to the bus station, must find the bus that leaves in 8 mins (or wait 2 hrs)
12:27 seemed to have circled the whole place, now asking everyone
12:28 found information desk, ticket desk right adjacent “it’s going now!”
12:29 god dammit, Skopje in Albanian is different enough to confuse me
12:30 We depart, yet again on the one and only minibus
The first half of the bus ride followed the same path as the previous one, from Prizren to Pristina. We continued on and stopped at the border town of Elez Han for a few minutes before crossing through to Macedonia. Although it remains out of Schengen, this was the first border in a while they properly checked my passport when crossing.
We entered Macedonia and eventually Skopje. Most people got off in a market in the north of the city, leaving myself and a sleeping guy in the back seat. The driver and assistant looked down the aisle asking if I wanted the airport but I said the bus station. I realised they would have dropped me at the airport at probably no further charge, which would have been a huge help because it’s predominantly overpriced taxis to the airport here. However it was too early for that and in theory I should be able to store my bag at the combined bus/train station. Sleepy guy woke up half way and quickly got off. And it wasn’t long before we were back at the bus station from where I last time departed to Ohrid and transited back through to Sofia. Memories started rushing back as we arrived and were immediately approached by taxi drivers. I found the place to leave luggage – ticket counter #1 has secured storage adjacent.
Skopje under colour
I had last visited the city in the summer of 2014, but would only have a few hours before heading to the airport this time. I walked in from the station, it’s only about a few minutes before you hit the Vardar River. The city remains weirdly amazing with its grandioseness. The city where statues now outnumber the population and enough marble palaces to house them all.
These are also symbolic of the internal political concerns of direction and corruption in the country. The use of paint as a protest tool has become common over the past year, increasingly recently. The “Colourful Revolution” was evident across the inner city. Compared to news reports it looks like much has been washed away and there’s no indication the civil disobedience has actually changed anything so far. Nevertheless it has certainly changed the pristine cityscape image that the government has being trying to develop and project to the outside.