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I arranged a day trip through the proprietors of the hostel where I stayed. It’s a friendly, family run-place that has about a dozen beds for rent. And a couch for guests they like but don’t have room for elsewhere – party crashers like myself.
There were eight of us going to the canyon, which meant two taxis. They arranged everything and we were on our way.
Our party consisted of me, a Portugese guy, a German couple and two young couples from Minnesota. We became friends quickly and unofficially elected the Germans tour leaders since they had a guidebook which mentioned Skopje. And the taxi driver spoke more German than English – but only by about 3 words.
We strolled down the road a bit from where the taxi dropped us off and made it over to the Church of St. Andrew and one of the restaurants. Ordinarily these sit right on the lake. However, the lake was down for cleaning so only a small, shallow creek trickled below.
We began walking around the canyon walls, following a trail. We hugged the walls, as our narrow ledge was about 2 feet wide in some spots, with a 20 foot drop off to the mud flats below. We hiked on until we came to a slight clearing. I suggested we might want to turn around and head back another way. But the intrepid Germans pressed on.
When the ledge had gotten thinner, the overhangs lower and the drop higher, the Germans finally conceded defeat. The trail had beaten them. We turned back and decided to take a different route. We’d go up a couple of marked trails to a scenic overlook.
These trails were possibly made for billy goats or rabbits, but not for people. They went straight up the mountain at greater than a 45 degree angle in some places. It was difficult for me, being the fattest one of the group. But eventually I made it and the view was worth the hike.
Back in Skopje we were told that there were other monasteries in close hiking distance and that they were better than the one we actually visited. Score another win for unmarked tourist spots in Macedonia.