The Ottoman houses on the shore of the lake are veiled in the morning mist, as if they were white ghosts against a blanket of white. This enveloping whiteness hovers over the wooden boats scattered around the lake and swallows the crown of houses ranged around it. Nevertheless, I know how beautiful the view is, having seen countless postcard-perfect pictures of this UNESCO-listed lake, which is one of the oldest in the world.
I had just waved goodbye to my best friend and her husband and I was planning to walk all my way back to the hostel to enjoy the architectural charm of this town, which is made up of minarets, hammams (Turkish Baths), Byzantine churches and Ottoman houses juxtaposed with the geometric themes and raw concrete that constitutes Skopje’s Brutalist architecture.
After my best friend’s big, fat, Balkan wedding and a few days wandering around Skopje, the time arrived to explore the rest of the country. So I rented a car, swore for a good 20 minutes imagining a whole week on the (Balkan) roads without an automatic drive and finally took to the ‘Mother Teresa’ highway. Next stop: Mavrovo National Park.
The thing about Skopje’s museums is that not only do they constitute a door through which you can enter Macedonian arts, history or culture, but they are also housed inside beautiful locations. From an ancient, multi-domed hammam or the old railway station torn down by the earthquake in 1963, to the glassy, late-modernist architecture at the top of the Kale Fortress’ panoramic hill, Skopje’s museums are fascinating in more than one way.
I met the other invitee from Italy at Rome airport. The reunion was joyful, as it always is when we meet again to bring back the crazy years spent living together in the Balkans. But this time we had one more reason to celebrate: our friend, with whom –during the years- we have shared some amazing Balkan experiences, was getting married. It meant that we were about to take part in our first Big Fat Balkan Wedding, which is the ultimate experience you can have in Balkan countries.