Friday, May 6, 2011

Off The Beaten Track: Macedonia and A Story About Time

Igor Pandurski is a software engineer, an avid cyclist and mountain climber, a resident of Toronto, and a lover of all things Macedonian. He’s also a talented photographer, as you’ll soon see. 
Can you imagine the beautiful feeling of the first time you fell in love? Remember the butterflies in your stomach that would bring a smile to your face and fill you with happiness? Well, these are the closest to the feelings I experience when I think of my native country – the Republic of Macedonia or, simply, Macedonia. 

It's a unique country in every sense: it has a history that goes back a few thousand years, contributing great names to the world, and now has more Macedonians living outside of Macedonia than in it. It’s located in Southeastern Europe, and among its many wonders, it boasts the world's fourth oldest observatory, Kokino, which according to NASA, was established between the 20th and 18th centuries BC).  Expressing the shape of my thoughts would look like this: a great and shaking history, a shimmering immediate past, a lovely present, and hopefully a great future!

So let me tell you a story about love, beauty and history, or in a word, a story about time!

Macedonia is a small, beautiful, and friendly country located just north of Greece, south of Serbia and Kosovo, between Albania and Bulgaria, right in the heart of Balkan Peninsula.

It is so beautiful that even Saint Apostle Paul, who’d heard about its many wonders, decided to visit it (during his Second Missionary Journey, Acts 15:36-18:22).

I now live in Canada, but before that I lived in Macedonia and in between, in the United States. Great countries, great spaces filled with such diversity, great places that must be seen before we continue our journey to other worlds.

I am nearly positive that everyone reading this has heard about Mother Theresa and Alexander the Great – both remarkable Macedonians who gave the world so much, their contributions will last for eternity. And they are still alive; every Macedonian has a bit of both of these heroic figures within them. Welcoming people, adventurous, friendly, and almost always smiling.

As an entity, Macedonia received its independence from Yugoslavia on September 8, 1991. It has about two million people and is working its way into both NATO and the EU. It has a name dispute with Greece but this issue is much deeper than it seems to the world. Greeks call themselves Macedonians, though more than 130 countries in the world recognize Macedonia as unique from the Greeks and the true land of the Macedonians. Regardless, everyone in this beautiful free world can call himself the way he or she wants. 

As an idea, Macedonia has existed for a few thousand years. And what is so beautiful about this country? It’s physically gorgeous, for one thing. It has three beautiful lakes (though no sea) and an array of gorgeous mountains. But where do the butterflies in the stomach come from?

Well, let’s start with love. If you go to Macedonia, it is amazing and astonishing how sincerely welcomed you will feel. Everybody is exceptionally friendly, so much so, you will even forget that you are not at home. You will feel that everybody there loves you! You see, it is all about love and butterflies!

Usually, the doors of the houses are not locked. Never! People are not scared, they are just happy! Off course, I was happy there as well. With over 250 sunny days in a year, all four seasons clearly distinguished, and with delicious organic food!

And wherever you turn, you see beauty! Macedonia has a unique mixture of cultures, and contrary to what you see in the movies, it's one of the rare places where Muslims and Christians live together without major issues. 

The natural wonders are as gorgeous as the social ones. It’s the only place in the universe where you can find the mineral Lorandite in its natural form and in one of the largest known quantities! If you want to take a walk or a refreshing swim and find out what it feels like to be a god or a goddess, go to Ohrid! It’s the birthplace of the world’s very first university, the area where Christianity founds its roots in Europe.

And keep looking back into history. If you want to continue to feel what the Greek gods felt, try a vino that is sweet as nectar – go to Tikves! If you want to experience settings reminiscent of Wuthering Heights, places that show you where the gods themselves lived – go to Heraclea, Stobi, Malesh.

Wherever you go in my homeland, you will feel divine!

Macedonia abounds with archaeological sites that date over 12,000 years. It is the place where the Saints Cyril and Methodius planted the roots of the Cyrillic alphabet.

If you’re ready to plan your visit, catch a plane to one of the nation’s two international airports. 

Yes, there are only two! One in the capital city of Skopje (Alexander the Great) and the other in the lake city of Ohrid (St. Apostle Paul).You may just decide to stay there.

I, for one, am packing my luggage, calling my travel agent, and booking a flight to Skopje to enjoy my next great adventure!

How about you? Care to join me?


  1. Igor, your love of Macedonia is contagious. I'm ready to pack my bags! Lovely photos of a beautiful country.

  2. Paul the Apostle never set foot in your country. Neither did Alexander the Great. Sorry.

  3. Very beautiful images.. But this issue with the "Macedonia" propaganda is not right. People are getting confused. Macedonia is located at northern Greece. This land that you refer to, has nothing to do with the name "Macedonia', ancient Greek history, Alexander the Great etc.. The name that this land had was 'Vardarska" and the ancient name of that area was the Ancient Greek Kingdom of "Peonia".
    Sakis Nomikos. (sorry, I have no account here)

  4. Thanks Haidi and Supriya,

    Looking forward to see you hitting the road :)

    @ Sakis Nimikos and the 1st Anonymous -

    Guys, have you ever been to Macedonia - Ohrid, Skupi, Tikvesh, Malesh...? In case you haven't I am strongly suggesting...It is a great country... In case you have been: It’s a real divine country, isn’t it? :)

    Cheers guys... and yes, I've been to Greece so many times- I love it!!!

  5. Great story and beautiful photos. Love the way you presented Macedonia!
    Not really the place to start a debate on history, so I'll just second what you said here :)

    Cheers, Mire

  6. Igor, what a lovely post. It's so nice to see someone so passionate about their home country. It does sound like an amazing place. I'm packing my bags, too!

  7. These photographs are stunning. It is so refreshing when there are photographs in blog posts. I have to say, this is my new favorite blog!

  8. Amazing photos, great article, proud to be Macedonian just like Alexander The Great!!!

  9. Fantastic images my dear friend, yet almost all of your story refers to Greece. Looks like geography is not your strongest point. Stick to photography.

  10. Pictures are beautiful. As to the geography, I hope to go there one day and find out for myself.

  11. Igor, many thanks again for blogging with us! As you can see, you generated some discourse. :)

    And Rebecca, we love you too! Thanks for the follow.

  12. Igor,
    I am really proud of you; fantastically presented and you are certainly in love with Macedonia. I am glad IT world did not make any harm to you romantic nature :)