Barış, Yafen and I decided to join our friends Jordanka and Nikola when they were visiting their families in Macedonia. On the last three days of their visit, we flew to the capital Skopje and joined them there.
Jordanka’s family welcomed us in Skopje on the late night we arrived. They had prepared some delicious Macedonian food and they made sure we ate it before we slept. With the traditions and surroundings, everything reminded me of Turkey from the first day.
Jordanka’s brother Alexander picked us up early in the morning with a van he had rented. The plan was to have a road trip all day, including a wine tasting at a famous winery, visiting Nikola’s hometown Bitola and ending up at Ohrid to stay over.
Since Alexander works at the wine company Stobi, he arranged an amazing wine tasting experience for us with a visit to the storehouse where a member of staff told us about its history. We got to taste lots of delicious red and white wine with local cheese and olives. All of us except for our driver Alexander were already half drunk when we left the winery.
At noon we arrived Bitola, parked the van and took a walk in the center. This city is said to be the one which has had the most impact from Turks, since Macedonia was ruled under the Ottoman Empire for 530 years. Because of this interaction, they have many words and cultural things in common.
It was a very warm day. The wine and walking around under the sun made us all very tired. We decided to take a break at the cafe where Jordanka’s cousin Maria works, who we met in Sweden when she visited Jordanka. We had iced lattes over a nice chat and got our strength back. The next stop was Nikola’s sister and her husband’s photo studio. We have also met them in Sweden before, so wanted to stop by and say hi. We had so much fun there, since they wanted to take pictures of us. Together, we made a very memorable group picture.
Before we left Bitola we visited two places. First was Heraclea Lyncestis, which is a very important historical city. Heraclea was established in 4 BC by Philip II who is a Macedonian king and the father of Alexander the Great. The city was very strategic in the Hellenistic period, but lost its importance when it was conquered by Romans. It was an amazing experience to see the ruins. The second place we visited was Bitola Museum, which was very interesting for me since there were special collections from Turks and a floor dedicated to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who was the founder of Turkish Republic and a very respectful, special man.
Finally, we left Bitola in the evening and headed to Ohrid, where we were so excited to explore the next day.