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Where art and nature meet

By: Mike Greaves

Travel and Leisure The Republic of Macedonia is hemmed in from all four sides by Greece, Albania, Serbia, and Bulgaria. This land-locked Balkan country happens to be a parliamentary democracy - despite its ongoing dispute with Greece - whose economic fortunes are changing.

While entering this lovely country you need a valid passport. US passport holders, though, have something to cheer about as they do not need a valid visa for getting into the country. Even more important: proof of health insurance is an essential or else you’ll have to buy one at the border. You might want to begin your journey from the capital city of Skopje with its beautiful Makedonija Square and view of the Vardar River which has buildings on either side of it but appears absolutely ravishing nonetheless, especially during summer. Surrounded by mountains, some of its views are completely stunning. Some tourists prefer to commence their journey from the ‘Macedonian Riviera’ or Ohrid with its breathtaking waterfront, hillsides and promenades. It is not for nothing that it has been called ‘Paradise n Earth’. Take a boat ride down its tranquil lake and feel the wind rush through your hair as the birds sing their evensongs…

Then there are those who prefer to travel to the southern part of Macedonia, to Bitola at the base of the Baba Mountain, an important trade and commercial centre it is also the country’s second-largest city. Not as beautiful as Ohrid, certainly, it bears strong evidence of its Ottoman ancestry in its architecture, culture and the Ottoman Military Academy. While in Bitola you simply have to try its special Turkish home-made bread or burek from a small unostentatious bakery known as Kaj Kire which has been around for over two decades. The word ‘delicious’ would be an understatement.

But if you like the bracing mountain air we suggest you take a trip to Lazaropole located at an altitude of 1,350 meters. A tiny village with about 400 houses it has the honorable distinction of spawning authors, artists, and educators. The best time to visit is in the month of September when the entire region is bathed in dramatic colors.

Tourists on a soul-cleansing pilgrimage would just love the city of Mavrovo choc-a-bloc with churches and monasteries. Among the ‘must visits’ is the National Park with a magnificent artificial lake. The rugged terrain is a delight for mountain bikers while naturalists would love its bio-diversity.

For beautiful mansions, lovely scenery, and a vibrant art scene you should travel to Tetovo in the northern part of the country which is also home to the South East European University and the State University of Tetovo. The architecture of the place spans an entire range from the Ottoman Empire to the Soviet Cement Block.

The painted mosque and the art center are places worth visiting at least once. At the art center you will see artists working away at their easels and paints; the sight of an artist putting final touches to his or her work is truly rewarding as you will get to see here. Clearly, the list doesn’t end here. But that’s for you to find out!

Mike Greaves is a self-made entrepreneur, a well known travel consultant and internet marketer. Over the years he has traveled across the world and has numerous writings credited to his name in many renowned publications. His areas of writing include travel experiences including reviews of Luxury Hotels Paris , San Diego Luxury Hotels and Luxury beach Resorts .
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