Monday, November 17, 2008
A lot has been going on since my last posting, hence the delay in posting! I'll try to write a few short posts to catch you up, starting with our recent hike up to Mt. Vodno. Mt. Vodno rises majestically 1066m. to the southwest of the city of Skopje,(a medium sized mountain by Macedonian standards) and perched atop the summit is the Millennium Cross. It is an enormous structure composed of steel beams that watches over the city and serves as the ultimate landmark. You can see it for miles and it is comforting to know that as it gets bigger, you are getting closer to home. In the evenings, the cross is lighted and almost appears to float as the mountain disappears into the darkness. We can see the Cross quite clearly from our home, but a couple weeks ago, we decided to try and get a closer look.
Hiking Mt. Vodno seems to be a necessity for all tourists and a regular activity for most Macedonians. It offers the opportunity to escape the concrete jungle below and enjoy the fresh air and exquisite views. A fifteen minute drive up the winding road is somewhat harrowing due to the stunning, yet scary views as you quickly ascend the high peak. I tried very hard not to become fixated on the scenery and just focus on the road ahead of me. We were quite surprised by how crowded the mountain was...lots of hikers, many cyclists, and tons of cars. You are able to drive most of the way up and park for the final climb. The path is paved and curves slowly up the mountain towards the summit and the Millennium Cross. We were pleased to find it very stroller friendly, and the girls were excited. As we walked, I kept looking for the huge structure above us and was very confused when I couldn't locate it. After hiking for nearly 40 minutes, we realized that we were probably only halfway there, and we finally found it above us in the distance! There were tiny little figures meandering about beside the Cross, and they looked like ants. That was an indication of how far we had yet to travel. Though we were willing to continue, the girls were starting to have a bit of trouble proceeding. Especially Arianna, as the thinner air started to aggravate her asthma and we decided to turn back. It was quite a breathtaking experience, both literally and visually. The mountain is absolutely beautiful, the views are amazing, and we really enjoyed the hike. Chris and I hope to try again without the kids someday.
I have attached a couple photos, but they are not very good. Next time I will take the better camera. In the meantime, you can find some lovely photos of Vodno as well as Skopje in general at this website, if you are interested. http://www.pbase.com/alangrant/image/80217692