I have just returned from an inspiring trip to Serbia and Macedonia. It was more than inspiring, it was possibly life-changing. More of that in due course... I flew from Luton Airport to Belgrade to meet Amira, who was there for the Eastern Orthodox Christmas (which is later than ours). She gave me a tour of the city. A remarkable place, a city that is clearly at the focal point of some kind of magic. Hard to define it more clearly than that. We went dancing in the evening. It's a party city.
I walked around on my own too, wandering at random, chancing upon some bombed buildings from the 1999 war. It is a curious irony that if my country hadn't gone to war with her country, I would never have met her. After only a couple of days I caught the night train to Skopje, a ten hour journey through a landscape of snow and ice. I shared a sleeper compartment with an affable Greek named Panos who shared his bottle of spirits and told me anecdotes about his life.
It had been cold in Belgrade but Macedonia was colder. Minus 10 centigrade at night. I got off the train at 5 AM and wandered an almost deserted city that resembled something from a surreal film set. Statues, hundreds of them, of all sizes, confronted me everywhere I went. Such grandiose monuments, all seemingly piled on top of each other! I found a wonderful hostel, one of the best I have ever stayed in (and it really was so good that I feel I have to recommend it here
in public). Then I went off to meet Brankica at the designated rendezvous point.
What can I say about her? My next blog post will just be about her. She is absolutely one of the most remarkable people I have ever had the privilege of knowing in this life of mine. She gave me a tour of the city and we went for a delicious meal in the old bazaar. I had only planned on staying in Skopje for one day before going south, but I couldn't tear myself away from this amazing place. Leaving was a wrench to the heart. Brankica drove me to Greece through a landscape of mountains and mist in the light of the early sun. We spent a day in Thessaloniki.
I flew home with the certainty that I would return soon. I have
to return. I still feel that I am flying high over the clouds, the mountains, the sea...