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New Website, New Blog, but the Old Blog Archive remains: September 28, 2023

After many years of wanting a real website, this month I finally have a website designed by the very knowledgeable Rey Rey Rodriguez ( TheMindOfReyRey ). My old blog,  Vacation-Travel-Adventure .com  continues with the same address but it is located in the "Archives" tab on my new website . The new blog which is a continuation but with much better resolution for 4K screens is now at .

Visiting Matka: March 24, 2012

It has been a busy week.  Dan has an office with two employees, and Friday the internet was connected.  He is no longer working out of our apartment--a good thing.  Our friend, Azita, flew in from Central Asia on Monday to visit us on her way back to the US.  It has been good to take another look at Macedonia through her eyes.  Since she arrived, the weather in Skopje has been glorious.  Azita has fallen in love with all things Macedonian and with the sun out, I don't blame her.  The energy of this city is fabulous when the sun is shining.  The cafes are spilling over with people and there are spring flowers in all the planter boxes.  Even the trees have begun to leaf out.  

Yesterday was a full day.  We began the day visiting monasteries and hiking in Matka Canyon.  Matka Lake, a man-made lake created by the damming of the Treska River, is about 15 kilometers southwest of Skopje.  Now it is a recreational center for hiking, mountain-bike riding, mountain climbing, kayak schools, bird/butterfly watching, and just enjoying the mountains.  Matka is the Macedonian word for womb.  

Our first stop was at the St. Bogorodica Monastery (actually a nunnery). The nunnery accepts overnight guests.  It was very quiet, and we saw no nuns. 

Then the hiking began.  Small spring wildflowers were just beginning to show themselves.

And, birds were singing.  This is one of the stars.  Our guide said it was a nightingale, but the descriptions I read for nightingales do not include any color.  This small bird with the big voice has a lovely peachy brown chest and head.

Our destination was St Nikola Church/Monastery in the small village of Sishevo at an elevation of 1369 meters (4491 feet).  The trail meandered around so our one-hour hike/climb wasn't too steep. Village seems too generous of a term for Sishevo as only the church and two houses were at the top of this mountain.  St. Nikola is thought to have been built in the 14th century.  The interior is completely covered with frescos that were repainted in the 17th century.  Sadly, graffiti purveyors have left their many marks on these frescos.

From this elevation, we were able to look down on Matka Lake and the Church of St. Andrew (14th century)--our next destination.

At Matka Lake we were met by a boatman who took us across the lake to pick up life vests for our trip upriver to Vrelo Cave.

To enter the cave, we had to wear yellow hard hats--colorful accessories rather than a safety item.

St. Andrew Church was built in the 14th century.  Its frescos also date to the 14th century, but time has not been kind.  This area is quite busy in good weather because the church it is surrounded by a restaurant and visitors only need to walk a short distance from a parking lot on the other side of the dam.

Matka (womb) is the perfect name for this jewel-colored body of water completely surrounded by stark, rugged mountains.

Last night we saw Kings of Strings in concert. Kings of Strings is three musicians (Tommy Emmanuel, Stochelo Rozenburg, and Macedonian Vlatko Stefanovski) who make magic with their guitars.  The concert was amazing.  Even the President of Macedonia showed up for it.  We had a little confusion about the start time for the concert.  All the posters and the internet said it was to begin at 8:00 pm.  Dan, Azita, and I showed up at 7:45 pm, but the guys in black outside the concert hall looked at us like we were crazy.  So we went across the street to get something fast to eat returning about 8:05 pm.  Still no one was there and the guys at the doors looked at us like we each had 3 heads.  We returned to the fast food place to hang out a little longer. This time we waited until there were people standing around outside the concert hall and then went back.  They let us in about 8:45 pm and when I sat down, I noticed the tickets said "21" meaning 9:00 pm.  I guess that is why the other 997 concert goers knew to show up at 9:00 pm.  

The time changed this morning meaning that we lost one hour from the night.  After the concert, Dan had just enough time to get about one hour of sleep before he had to leave at 3:00 a.m. to catch his flight to Vienna/Washington DC.  

Tonight, Azita and I are going to the Macedonian Opera to see Tosca.  My Macedonian social life is definitely looking up.