, , , , , , , , ,

Leaving Skopje (Macedonia) To Pristina (Kosovo)

<< Previous Post: Short Day Trip To Ohrid From Skopje, North Macedonia <<

Two days in North Macedonia covering both the small capital city Skopje and historic town Ohrid should be adequate, in the case where you are pressed for time. Or else, you can plan to stay longer but not for me, cause I'm going to make another move again.  

From North Macedonia which is the third country for this trip of mine, I hopped on to the following country, Kosovo. Kosovo consider to be the youngest and newest country in Europe after it successfully gained its independence from Serbia in 2008. The country was only 11 years old when I visited there last year. Meanwhile the capital city of the nation, Pristina is where I'll be heading to from Skopje. 

Distance from the city center of Skopje to the bus station is approximately 20-25 minutes of walk. Like I shared in my previous post, taking the public bus is not an ideal option if you are in Skopje for a short period of time. As for the bus ticket to Pristina, I purchased a day earlier in order to secure a seat. The bus departs daily at these following hours; 6am, 7am, 8am, 9am, 10.10am, 2pm and 3.45pm. The fare is 350 denar (approx. to RM27 / €5.70) and the bus journey is about 2 hours.

2019 North Macedonia Skopje Bus Station
#1: Skopje Bus Station - serves both domestic and international transfer.

2019 North Macedonia Skopje to Pristina Bus
#2: You can see that the seats to Pristina is pretty limited, hence it's wise to buy the bus ticket earlier.

Again, as the journey crossed from one country to another, hence there will be border checkpoint. Remember to always standby your passport and place somewhere it's easy for you to reach.

2019 Kosovo Pristina Bus Station
#3: Pristina Bus Station

It's about 15 minutes of walk from Pristina Bus Station to the city center. But this round, I chosen to take the local bus instead of walking. I have to admit I was quite exhausted and need some rest. Kosovo is using Euro (€) as their local transactions, hence I don't have to bother about exchange currency. And a-single ride on the bus only costs €0.40 (approx. to RM1.90) - consider pretty affordable to travel around within the city. Hop-on to the bus #7C and it will takes you to the city center, as well as the hostel I'm staying in Pristina.  

2019 Kosovo Pristina Statue of Bill Clinton
#4: Bill Clinton Statue - came across this when I was lost in Pristina on the first day.

Pristina is a city changing fast and one that feels full of the optimism and potential that you'd expect from this Europe's newest capital city. It has an international vibe and a "new-born" feel that will make visitors leave blown away by the sights and sounds of the city.

Navigating around the city is easy as the city center is relatively small and walkable.

Newborn Monument
This is one thing you shouldn't miss out when visiting Pristina. It might not be as stunning and impressive as it seen, but this is the significant monument to the nation to commemorate as independent and new country.

#5: Newborn Monument

2019 Kosovo Pristina Palace of Youth and Sports
#6: Palace of Youth and Sports, a fascinating building behind the Newborn Monument. One of the reasons why this building attracts me is because the structure resembles Sabah State Museum (click here).

National Library of Kosovo
Built by Croatian architecture, he came out with the idea to combine both cube and dome to represent a blend of Byzantine and Ottoman architecture styles. However due to its outside appearance, it cause many other controversies and the worst part, it has been listed as one of "The World's Ugliest Buildings". Do you think this building is really that ugly? I don't think so and I found the structures are pretty impressive, where I felt it looks like enormous concrete Lego bricks and covered with chain mail.  

2019 Kosovo Pristina National Library 1-1
#7: National Library of Kosovo

2019 Kosovo Pristina National Library 2
#8: Another shot of myself using tripod

2019 Kosovo Pristina Church of Christ the Saviour
#9: Church of Christ the Saviour - located next to the library

Skanderbeg Square
This public square is quite near to my hostel, therefore I kept passing this place. The square not just dotted with hipster cafes, restaurants and shops but there is also a historic monument and war memorial dedicated to the victims of Kosovo war.

2019 Kosovo Pristina Skanderbeg Square
#10: Skanderbeg Square

2019 Kosovo Pristina National Theatre
#11: National Theatre of Kosovo

There are few things that I missed out when in Pristina - Ethnographic Museum and Kosovo Museum cause I wasn't into history. Frankly speaking, I'm more into architectures and structures of buildings. So if you a history buff, you should include two of the above in your itinerary.

One thing that I didn't expect in Pristina is the food - there are wide variety of restaurants with something for everyone's tastebuds. And surprisingly, I found not one, but two restaurants served Thai cuisines.

2019 Kosovo Pristina Lunch & Dinner - Thai Cuisines
#12: Thai food for lunch, Thai food for dinner - I was craving for something spicy and savoury.
Left: Thai curry noodle cost me €4 (approx. to RM18.60)
Right: Three course meals cost me €12.40 (approx. to RM57.70)

2019 Kosovo Pristina Oda Hostel
Oda Hostel
Date Stayed: 17 April - 19 April 2019 (2 nights)
Room Rate: €15.34 for a bed in 6-bed dormitory room for 2 nights. They even provide free breakfast to all the guests. (Booked from Booking.com)

Apart from the one I stayed in Brasov, I can say that this is one of the hostel I enjoyed throughout my trip. Both of the hostel staffs were exceptionally friendly and they even gave me great advise of what to do and which restaurant I shouldn't miss out. I went to that said restaurant on my second night in Pristina (will share in my next post). And on my last day, they even purposely went out to buy breakfast for me when it hasn't reach breakfast time yet. Both of the room and bathroom were spotlessly clean and there is more than a bathroom. Don't have to worry during emergency period. 

Albanian might be the main language of Kosovo, but don't worry as English is widely spoken here. I don't have any issues when communicate with the local and they are quite friendly and helpful as well.

However, there's one thing you should take note if you are interested to visit the Balkans Peninsula - do not enter Serbia from Kosovo. This is because Serbia doesn't recognise Kosovo as a country. It's very complicated and if you want to know more, you can check out here. For me, I didn't include Serbia for this trip cause visa is required for Malaysian passport holder. The hardest part, the application of Serbian visa could only be made at the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Jakarta, Indonesia. That's why I skip Serbia.

Read More

Sunset in Kota Kinabalu During MCO

If you ask me where's the best spot to watch the golden sunset from all of the places I've been - I would proudly to say my own sweet little hometown - Kota Kinabalu (KK). Do you know that KK has been recognised as one of the best sunset spots in the world to savor this glorious and dramatic egg yolk? [Refer this post: Eight Great Places To Watch The Sunset]

Besides all the things I did at home (here) during the Movement Control Order (MCO), sometimes I would also spare few minutes at my balcony waiting for the opportunity to capture the sunsets. I might not able to capture everyday because either I was busy preparing for my dinner or happened to be at my parent's place, but the sun's final ray never disappointed me. 

Here's a collection of sunset photos I took using Huawei Mate 20:

Sunset in Kota Kinabalu - 21 March 2020
21 March 2020

Sunset in Kota Kinabalu - 22 March 2020
22 March 2020

27 March 2020

Sunset in Kota Kinabalu - 28 March 2020
28 March 2020

Sunset in Kota Kinabalu - 13 April 2020
13 April 2020

Sunset in Kota Kinabalu - 16 April 2020
16 April 2020

Sunset in Kota Kinabalu - 17 April 2020
17 April 2020

Sunset in Kota Kinabalu - 19 April 2020
19 April 2020

Sunset in Kota Kinabalu - 20 April 2020
20 April 2020

Sunset in Kota Kinabalu - 21 April 2020
21 April 2020

Looks my balcony rewards me a million dollar view. Even I have changed my workout spot to balcony now, in order to encourage me to do more workout while waiting for the sunset. 
Read More
, , , , , , , ,

Short Day Trip From Skopje To Ohrid, North Macedonia

<< Previous Post: Skopje, The Capital City of North Macedonia <<

If possible, I don't want to spend most of my days in the bustling and hustling capital city but at least, try my best to make a trip or two to nearby towns or small cities which not far away from the big city. And so on my second day in Skopje, I decided to make a short day trip to the Lake Ohrid, the oldest existing lake in Europe.  

2019 North Macedonia Bus Skopje to Ohrid
#1: Bus from Skopje to Ohrid

Sometimes, transportation isn't that easy to master and can be frustrating too, especially when travelling within Balkan Peninsula. And that's happen when I was in North Macedonia as it's really hard for me to search for ticket machine in order to hop on into the local bus. Therefore, I chosen to walk from the hostel I was staying in Skopje to Skopje Bus Station which takes about 25 minutes. Like I mentioned in my previous post, travelling alone in Skopje especially for female traveller is pretty safe and I didn't encounter any issue throughout my days in North Macedonia. 

When I arrived in Skopje Bus Station, I went and look for the information counter first as I wasn't sure which bus company that offer the trip to Lake Ohrid. I was told that I need to get bus ticket from Galeb and it will depart at 8am. Luckily, I arrived 20 minutes earlier. The bus timetable posted in the hostel was totally different from what shown at the bus station. Same goes to Wikitravel too, which I heavily rely on shows different timetable. The actual timetable I saw from the Skopje Bus Station is; 6am, 8am, 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4.30pm and 6.30pm and a-single bus ride costs 520 denar (approx. to RM39 / €8.50) for 3 hours and 30 minutes journey. Pretty cheap right?

2019 North Macedonia Ohrid Bus Station
#2: Ohrid Bus Station

So now I have arrived in Ohrid Bus Station, what's next? According to Google Map, in order to get to the Ohrid town and the lake, the distance is about 1.5km away and it indicates that it's about 20 to 25 minutes of walking. Because there is no public bus to get there and taking taxi isn't best option as I was travelling alone, looks like my one and only last resort is to walk again. Walking to the town isn't that hard - head to the petrol station and turn right to 7 Noemvri street and walk straight until you see main square with fountain in the center.

The town of Ohrid is pretty small and compact, hence you can cover almost everything simply on foot. A fascinating walk that takes in the main attractions begins in the main square and leads you further to the turquoise clear water lake. While walking through the main square, I found out that it cause some distractions because there are plenty of souvenir stores on both of my left and right side. Postcards, magnets, keychains are keep running around my mind but hey, I'm here for the lake, please.

2019 North Macedonia Ohrid Main Square 1-1
#3: Main square filled with various shops, restaurants, cafe and boutique stores.

2019 North Macedonia Ohrid Main Square 2
#4: What a sunny day in Ohrid. And the blue sky too.

#5: A restaurant overlooking the stunning and amazing lake view

2019 North Macedonia Ohrid Lake Ohrid 2
#6: Me, myself looking the lake view alone

2019 North Macedonia Ohrid Lake Ohrid 4-1
#7: How I wish there is someone to help me to take photo of myself at this spot

2019 North Macedonia Ohrid Lake Ohrid 3
#8: The shore

2019 North Macedonia Ohrid Lake Ohrid 5
#9: Love the formation of this rock

2019 North Macedonia Lake Ohrid Cruise
#10: Lake Ohrid

2019 North Macedonia Ohrid Catamaran Cruising
#11: Catamaran Cruising. Not sure about you but €20 seems pricey for me.

Apart from the lake which is the main highlight of the town, Ohrid is also well-known for its ancient churches, basilicas, and monasteries which completely look different from what you've seen in other parts of Europe. However, due to I arrive this place with unprepared, I only managed to dropby St. Sophia Church. Those must-see like St. Naum, ancient theater, fortress and Plaoshnik - I tend to give a miss. What a shame!

2019 North Macedonia Ohrid St. Sophia Church 1
#12: St. Sophia church front view

2019 North Macedonia Ohrid St. Sophia Church 2-1
#13: The overview of St. Sophia church

2019 North Macedonia Ohrid Lake View From Top
#14: Caught this gorgeous view from somewhere on a hill

2019 North Macedonia Ohrid City 3
#15: Old town of Ohrid

Ohrid is like a hidden gem of Macedonia. This town is largely unexplored and the tourist crowds are nowhere to be seen here. It seems like I was the only Asian lady who wandering around the town. The only thing I regret the most is not spending a night here. So if you intend to include Ohrid in your itinerary, don't be like me - try to stay at least for a night cause I heard that the accommodation is pretty affordable.

2019 North Macedonia Ohrid Magnets
#16: Grab at least one magnet before leaving the town - it's a must. I will do my fridge magnet tour someday.

Read More
, , , , , , ,

Skopje, The Capital City of North Macedonia

<< Previous Post: Sofia, Bulgaria - Things To Do & See In A Day <<

Sofia is really special. And unique too. It's one of the capital cities that literally captured my heart. However due to my tight schedule, I have to leave and proceed to another new country, Macedonia. A country in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe, Macedonia most commonly refers to North Macedonia and it gained its independence in 1991 as one of the successor states of Yugoslavia. And the city I'm heading to is Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia.

2019 Bulgaria Sofia Central Station & Pizza
#1: From the hostel I stayed in Sofia, I walked to Sofia Central Station which takes about 20 minutes, or even more. I even got pizza for 1 leva (approx. to RM2.40 / €0.50) and it's huge.

It's impossible to purchase bus tickets online and so, I prefer to get the ticket one day earlier. Always remember to bring along your passport when buying the bus tickets as it involves crossing between two different countries. Sofia Bus Station is kinda confused cause I found out there are two different terminal, but as for the international transfer, the ticket counter just located in front of the Sofia Central Station (as the photo on the top right). For my trip from Sofia to Skopje, the bus company I booked from is Matpu 96 and a single bus ride costs 30 leva (approx. to RM72 / €16). It runs daily at three departure time; 9.30am, 4pm and 7pm and as usual, I prefer to get the earliest departure time.

2019 Bulgaria Bus Sofia to Skopje
#2: The bus journey from Sofia to Skopje is about 4 hours and 40 minutes. So make sure grab some snacks and food.

Since the bus journey exit one country (Bulgaria) into another country (North Macedonia), hence there would be border security checking. And again, make sure your passport and your bus tickets come handy, or else you might cause the delay of the bus journey. For Malaysian passport holder, we don't have to apply visa to enter North Macedonia and we are allow to stay in the country up to 90 days.

Once I arrived in Skopje Bus Staion, one of the staffs from the hostel I'm staying picked me up from there. How nice and thoughtful they are! I can save my time and my energy too from figuring out how to get to the hostel from the bus station.

2019 North Macedonia Skopje Hostel
#3: Skopje Hostel

Skopje Hostel 
Date Stayed: 15 April - 17 April 2019 (2 nights)
Room Rate: €20 for a bed in 6-bed dormitory room for 2 nights (Booked from Agoda)

My review of this hostel - everything is perfect and great including the location, bed and common area, except for one minor issue which is the bathroom. There is only one and  only bathroom to be shared among 10 guests. And so if you are urgently need to use it, you might having some problem here. If you know what I mean.

2019 North Macedonia Denar
#4: The banknotes and coins of North Macedonia

North Macedonia has its own currency and it's refer as Macedonia Denar (MKD). So before I start to venture around the city of Skopje, I went to the Old Bazaar to exchange some MKD.

€1 = MKD61.40 

It's my first day in Skopje and I try not to go further away. What I normally do is to get to know well of the city's surrounding first, before taking any trips out from the city. Almost all the city's top attractions are just around the corner (except for one or two), therefore I don't have to bother of getting any transportation day pass or doing my research on how to get around the city.

#5: Memorial House of Mother Teresa - Do you know that the humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mother Teresa was born in Skopje? This memorial house is just next to the building of the hostel I stayed

2019 North Macedonia Skopje Porta Macedonia
#6: Porta Macedonia - Gate of Macedonia

#7: Not far away from my hostel is the Macedonia Square, the main square of Skopje. You will see countless of statues and monuments here.

2019 North Macedonia Skopje Vardar River Building-1
#8: Government building by the Vardar River 

2019 North Macedonia Skopje Old Bazaar
#9: The Old Bazaar, sits on the eastern bank of the Vardar River, stretching from the Stone Bridge to the Bit-Pazar and from the Skopje Fortress to the Serava river. This is where I exchanged my money to denar and I got my postcards, stamps and fridge magnets here. And if you are looking for halal food, there is the right place to be. 

2019 North Macedonia Skopje Fridge Magnets
#10: Variety of colourful fridge magnets. Now this is causing me a headache, which one should I choose? The cheapest I found is 60 denar (approx. to RM4.50 / €1). 

2019 North Macedonia Skopje Kale Fortress
#11: Skopje Fortress. Some known it as Kale Fortress.

2019 North Macedonia Skopje Red Double-Decker Bus
#12: Does this red double-decker ring a bell to you? Yes, this London's famous bright red Leyland double-decker bus is currently the city's public transportation. 

2019 North Macedonia Skopje Vardar River Ship Restaurant
#13: A ship restaurant. I love walking along this Vardar River, especially during the glory sunset time. 

2019 North Macedonia Skopje Stone Bridge
#14: One photo with the Stone Bridge, the city's symbolic. This bridge is the one connects the Macedonia Square to the Old Bazaar. 

2019 North Macedonia Skopje Macedonia Square
#15: Macedonia Square at night. Though I was wandering alone, I felt pretty safe and I was enjoying walking around the square even during the night time. I can assure that it's pretty safe for a female travelller to travelling alone in Skopje but always be careful on your valuable belongings, especially money. 

2019 North Macedonia Skopje Supermarkets
#16: Last but not least before heading back to the hostel, I dropby at the supermarkets. There are two supermarkets located at the basement of Vero Center Mall, less than 5 minutes walk from the hostel.

Some travellers found that Skopje seems to be unattractive and boring cause there are plenty of statues and monuments which cause the city looking significantly messy and chaotic. When I said plenty, I really mean it. It's like almost everyone around the city. However on the other hand for me, I found it differently - I felt the city is genuinely calm, peaceful but at the same time, lively and vibrant. What I love the most was strolling along the Vardar River where the cool breeze of wind softly touch my face, listening to the flowing river sound and the city is lit with hundreds and hundreds of tiny yellow lights when the day gives way to the night. This is definitely an ideal spot for the couple, but not me cause I was all alone. How pity?

Read More