Friday, September 4, 2009

Driving into Macedonia

Macedonia is a land-locked, mountainous country bordering Bulgaria to the southwest. At various times in its history, it was actually part of Bulgaria, and the language and alphabet are very similar to Bulgarian. The name of the country is still in dispute, as Greece contends that Macedonia is part of Greece. So, for many, this country is known as FYROM = the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. For us, it's just plain Macedonia, Bulgaria's neighbor.

Ellis and I decided to drive to Macedonia for the weekend, with our itinerary being Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, and Lake Ohrid in the southwest part of the country on the border of Albania.

Our trip got off to a bad start. We spent a lot of time trying to program the GPS with the address of the hotel in Skopje. The GPS didn’t recognize the address, so we had to choose a street near the hotel, and to hope for the best once we got there. From the beginning, Ellis and the GPS were in total disagreement. The GPS said to turn right, and Ellis wanted to go left. After going in the direction he wanted, the GPS recalculated and tried to make him turn around. After a number of disagreements, the GPS finally accepted the route Ellis chose, and we were off. Unfortunately, along the way, Ellis made a wrong turn, and it took us a long time to get back on track. At that point, the GPS was totally fed up, and gave up on us until we crossed the Macedonian border, at which point, it agreed to point us in the correct direction….. We arrived in Skopje after close to 6 hours, much longer than our original estimated time – finally found the hotel after going around in circles and got a good night’s sleep.

Ellis comments: the GPS didn't recognize the border crossing I had chosen, so was directing us further to the south. I recognized the error and got us back on track. And the hotel I had chosen was Villa Vodno, a real gem in a beautiful, tree-lined residential neighborhood of Skopje on the slopes of Mt. Vodno.

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