Balkans 2016 – Day 19 : Blagoevgrad to Delchevo, Macedonia

The apples started dropping almost in tandem with the rain drops as I woke for a great night of sleep. I was hoping it would be a dry day but it was not to be. 

I waited for awhile in hope that the rain would stop and it did eventually at around 930 am. 

Trying to get on track was a challenge as I have to find the connections out of the city. After  going back and forth on several occasions , I finally found the connection and was soon on the way heading towards Macedonia.

The climb started maybe around 3km out of town and it continued for what felt like eternity.  The beautiful scene and cold weather helped motivating me on. I stopped many times to take photos and to rest.  As I climb higher and higher the skies became cloudier and darker and rain seem to be wanting to show itself.  

It was a long and tough climb of around 25km reaching a height of around 1,300 m. That’s massive since I started at around 350m. In the distance towards Macedonia I was encouraged to see blue skies peeping out of the darkened clouds. It as as if Macedonia is calling me to come to the bright side.  Spurred on with this and with renewed energy I edge myself forward to the control which I am certain is at the peak. True enough it was and clearing immigration was very fast and soon I was in Macedonia. The skies opened up to bright sunshine. What a fantastic welcome. The temperature oddly enough dropped to around 6C. 

Without wasting time I began to speed downhill towards Delchevo which is around 10km from the peak. What ! Almost 30km of climbing and only 10km of downhill ? 

Anyway the downhill was thrilling and it was a blast as usual and very soon I was at the edge of my big first town in Macedonia. 

And what an introduction. I decided to stop for a while to orientate myself as the immediate plan was to go get myself connected and buy a prepaid SIM card and then to have something to eat before moving on. As I was busy trying to look for directions a friendly young couple approached me and we chatted. Turns out Jared and Andrea are Americans teaching English in Delchevo and they have been living here for more than 2 years. They will soon leave Macedonia sometime in November. Jared mentioned that it was his birthday and they are going for a birthday lunch and they could show me the T Mobile store on the way and help me buy a SIM card.  With that done Jared invited me to have lunch with them together with their host family at a local restaurant nearby. What a fantastic welcome to Macedonia. I am already liking it here. 

At lunch I was introduced to the Stojanovski family, Ljubinka the grandma and Alexander the grandpa and Alexnder the grandson. Ljubinka’s son and daughter lives overseas. Alexander is a retired truck driver and Ljubinka is a former bookkeeper. Together I experienced a fantatsic Macedonian family lunch and also had great conversations together.  I had a fantastic time.  To top it off I was invited to stay the night with them! 

After dropping off the stuff at the house Jared, Andrea and me headed to town to a local pub to have a drink and met with some of their friends. We had a fantatsic time. We ended the day at the Stojnovski’s home to celebrate Jared’s birthday and a delicious apple pie baked by Andrea and some sing song with the Ukele and guitar. 

Today couldn’t have been better and I experienced what we cycle tourers seek most on our journies. Warm hospitalities, kindness, friendliness and most of all connections with fellow humans. 

Lions Project : RM 82.48

Dark skies but fantastic vista all round.
Smiles all round
Can almost touch the clouds
Views like these keeps me going
Border crossing. Soon I will be in Macedonia.
Fantastic family luncheon with Jared, Andrea and thr Stojanivskis
A huge plate of salad to start
The meat platter was very very delicious.
The garage that my trusty would sleep tonight.
The beuatiful anf lush home of the Stojanovskis
Grapes everywhere
More grapes
A very bountiful apple tree in the garden

Author: krankster

I am an avid cyclist that loves mountain biking, bike commuting and most of all bicycle touring. I am a freelance leadership coach and hope to inspire others through my cycling adventures.

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