20,000 leagues under the sky, 2004- travel blog


Beautiful Skopje

The Stone Bridge

Train Station


I think Skopje may have been stolen from Belarus or maybe Stalin designed it for Tito before they fell out. What a grim, grey rundown city if ever there was one. OK it's late on a Sunday afternoon and misty but I realy can't see it being much brighter in the middle of a heatwave. Thankfully it's just a quick overnight stop on the way into Greece. They did serve up a decent Big Mac thought so definitely not the worst place I've ever been.

How is it that the grim places are always the hardest to get out of? The train station and bus station are next to each other, so I bought my ticket into Greece as soon as I arrived. The woman in the booking office said 6am although there was no time on the ticket. I couldn't find any mention of Thessoloniki on the timetable in the station nor any train at 6am. My Thomas Cook timetable said 5:50 so I decided to make sure I was there early meaning geting out of bed at 4:30. Another positive for Skopje was the Hostel which I really liked, when I got up they had laid a breakfast out for me, I couldn't eat at that time of the day but had a coffee in front of the fire and took a couple of boiled eggs with me. Back to station, I got there at 5:40 and rechecked at the ooking counters that I wanted platform 4. Again there was no metion of a likely train on the main information board or the platform 4 board. There were very few people on the platform and most of them got on a train that came in to platform 3, I asked and was told that it wasnt my train. At about 6:15 I went back to the office and was told 7 o'clock. Soon after this they turned all of the lights out on the platforms leaving me waiting alone and in the dark and freezing fog. My only encouragement was that a few people kept coming back to the same platform looking as mystified as I was, and I overheard them talk about busses which was an option that I was considering. Arround about 7am a train arrived, defnitely not for Thessoloniki, it emptied and was locked up before being shunted off. 7:30 came and went and I think hypothermea was starting to set in.

Just before 8 the pltform filed up a bit ad I started to get hopeful, although I guessed that there could be a different train due by now. When it turned up dead on 8am I knew it was my train by the fact it had sleeper coaches and I knew it ws coming from Belgrade, the platform board was still blank and the train had no destination markings. I got on and found a compartement with the hope of arming up to find that the heating wasn't working on the train. We followed the valley out of Skopje in continuing mist until we crossed a ridge and found the sun. The journey folowed the same river all the way to a pass through some sheer cliffs and then on to the Greek border.

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