• Bumble

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Updated: Sep 24, 2018

Greek foothills border Macedonia

Monday, 25th June 2018

Macedonian Border 🇲🇰 to Petrich 🇧🇬, 86 miles

Up and off early and hitting the hills. The climbs were good and my guide said that one pass would reach 1394 metres. When I arrived there my Garmin read 1137. It also said that a road sign with bullet holes was a sad reminder of the Balkan War. The guide is about seven years old and quotes prices that are a bit out of date but I don’t think that there has been any significant seismic activity lately. There isn’t much left of the road sign either. All the road signs on the road are used for target practice.

The rear tyre began to deflate but a few pumps hold for a good few hours. As a precaution I head into Strumica for another tube and a decent repair kit. Strumica is a large town in the valley between the hills that I have just descended and the Greek border hills.

In fact there is a large Greek population in the town and Macedonian claims on territories in Northern Greece are as sensitive an issue as the Elgin Marbles. But everyone seemed friendly enough and many people stopped and chatted. Waves and toots from oncoming traffic were frequent and friendly. I just ducked a bit whenever I approached a road sign.

The ride along the valley to the border was without incident. Fledgling storks sat in their nests now as big as their parents. I remember seeing my first nesting pair in Estonia, thrilled to see my first ever stork.

Crossing the border and back into Bulgaria was straight forward and I continued to follow the flat valley road. In the evening I set for a pitch but was unsuccessful. I neared the town of Petrich and fruit farms still had labourers tending the crops and other potential spots were ridden with litter and stench. For £25 I get to stay in a four star hotel. Bats Hotel.

I just hope that the ‘e’ hasn’t dropped from the sign as I jump in the shower.