© 2012 Elys. All rights reserved. Matka

Day 444: No Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow

10/23 Skopje, Macedonia

The hostel I stayed at in Skopje was packed with solo travellers. I liked it. The fact that the hostel is tiny forced most of us to interact. The morning chit chat over breakfast ended with five of us deciding to travel together to Matka Canyon. Nobody had much idea about the site, but the photos along the wall of the hostel intrigued every one of us.

The group of five consisted of Jonathan (USA), Glen (USA), James (UK), Ingo (Austria) and I. While waiting for the bus, we met three other tourists going the same direction: an Australian, an Israelian and a Canadian.

The one thing we did know about Matka Canyon was that there’s a 7EUR boat ride to a water cave. Yet, somehow, once we reached the site after our hour-long $0.75 bus ride, we were in a mad dash through the trail by the cliff. It started off being a nice and easy trail then it became more and more dangerous. Our group separated into three smaller ones. I was mainly trekking with James and Ingo. It was two in the afternoon and we were starved. With the other groups in front of us, we tried to catch up, all the while hoping that there’s a golden pot in the end of the rainbow: a restaurant. Two hours into the trek, we began to suspect that there might not be an end to this trail, let alone a restaurant. The trail also became abnormally hazardous. It wasn’t until Ingo slipped and almost fell off the cliff did we decided to turn around.

With the little brain power left due to our hunger, the three of us concluded that the boat ride starting point must have been in the very beginning of the trail. From the cliff, we could see boats passing back and forth. We were eager to hitch a ride but there’s no way for us to get down to the water level. What a bummer.

We kept a good spirit though on our trek back; stopping occasionally to take photos, resting on rocks by the cliff to enjoy the scenery; and finally going down to river (when we were near the starting point) to have a taste of the fresh water.

The group sort of reconnected at the beginning of the trail, except for two that had decided to go for the boat ride after all. The rest of us tried to catch a 5pm bus ride back to town. But because none of us knew where to wait, we totally missed the bus. The next one wouldn’t be in until two hours later. We resorted to try to walk it. Apparently there’s another bus we could catch 5km away. None of us liked the idea of more walking, but we had no choice. Luckily, the Australian girl stopped and asked a local man for more information. The man offered to drive us since he’s going to Skopje. However, there were six of us and the man owned a small sedan (probably a Fiat). He didn’t seem to mind taking us all if we could squeeze in. We all jumped in before he changed his mind. The Australian girl and I shared the front seat, while the four boys made themselves cozy in the backseats. After half an hour packed in the sedan, we scrambled out like drunkards for our legs had fallen asleep.

In the evening, I had dinner with five guys from the hostel at a local restaurant. I think I like Macedonia. Food is dirt-cheap. I had a pork neck steak for $2.75 :]

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