Friday, 20 February 2015

Skopje 2 - Matka canyon and lake

Today was a fantastic day on the canyon of Matka along the edge of a mountain we went 4 kilos one way and then back. 

At the beginning we found a little restaurant and went by it thinking that maybe we would eat there. 

On the way there were a lot of pebbles and we threw one in the lake and realized we could do echoes hello hello-o-o-o-o-o. 

Then we had a rest and sat down in the sun. It wasn't that comfortable but we were ok.

When we came back we ate in the restaurant - some giant pork ribs - and the waiter said we could go on a boat.

So we went on one and ended up in a cave. We took a picture in front of the cave and inside the cave. There were stalactites and stalagmites but they really didn't look like themselves. The red one was iron and the green one was alga.

When we went back I had to go to the toilet while Tonio and the waiter were talking. But we had a great time and I will see you later.


By "My Dad":

The Matka lake was originally a river inside a canyon. Then they built three dams along its run, to generate hydroelectric power, and it became a lake.

Our adopted Macedonian taxi driver, Vele ("During the Tito days everyone in Yugoslavia was happy. Everyone!"), dropped us at the end of the road leading to the first dam. We agreed I would call him about 3 hours later, which was his estimate for our exploration of the area.

We started to walk along a path leading through a hotel/restaurant area and further along on one side of the canyon. The distance between the lower two dams is 6 kilometres, and the second dam is accessible from this path, which goes up and down continuously. There were rocky patches, one or two icy patches, complete with icicles hanging down from the hewn rock above, soil patches with vegetation and trees, and complete silence...

Ah, I forgot to mention the spectacular views.

The path, formed by Russian prisoners after the first world war, was intended to connect Skopje with another city for delivery of supplies. This never happened due to construction of the dams. The ground was tricky and the path narrow sometimes, so we had to pay extra attention as we walked. We exchanged positions, with me walking ahead and holding Gianluca by the hand in the narrow bits, while Gianluca led the way in the safer wider sections so I could keep a close eye behind him.

Up and down and up and down went the path. It was getting warm and time was passing by. After one and a half hours I thought, we have another one and a half hours to walk back again, with Gianluca getting tired. So we sat down for a few minutes and then turned back.

For some strange reason, in such situations the way back always seems to be shorter. This was no exception even though we were stopping every now and then to rest. We stopped at the restaurant where we had a hearty lunch, and were getting ready to call Vele to come pick us up when our host suggested we take a boat trip to see "the cave".

We accepted, of course, and back into the gorge we went again, this time through the middle of the lake. The boat took us to the base of a metal staircase that led up to the cave. The boat driver was holding a plastic can in his hand. It contained fuel for a generator that would light our visit into the cavernous depths. The underground lake inside was at least 200 metres deep and, still, Belgian and Italian diver explorers have not yet managed to reach the bottom. Eerie sounds were coming out from the darkness, like the screaming of ghosts, which were due to air being forced in and out of a water outlet further in.

By the time we were ready to call Vele we had spent, not three, but five and a half hours at the beautiful Matka canyon.

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