“Macedonia 🇲🇰 ~Got The Green Light for Bulgaria!”

Our COVID Test results were delayed till 4PM today, but we finally got them! Whew! The clock starts ticking from the time we got our test, to the time we have to make it to the border, or the test becomes invalid. 72 hours is easier than the 48 hours rule. But, we are only three hours to the border by car.

Here, in Macedonia 🇲🇰 the results on the paperwork indicate Corona Cov-2 “not detected,” instead of a “negative,” like in Kosovo 🇽🇰. As long as our papers are accepted at the Bulgarian border tomorrow, it will all be good! 

We turned our car back to the rental place, and it feels very strange to not have “wheels.” By The Way, If you ever come to Macedonia, and need a rental car, bus lines, or tours, go to them. 

Travel Agency: BesaTrans-Shkup: +389 70 208 340 besa-trans@hotmail.com

They are super nice and have competitive rates. They were very accommodating to our needs, as we extended our contract on the car for longer than anticipated. We traveled to multiple countries with this one rental, car and it made our trip very convenient! We recommend!

Tomorrow, we are Bulgaria bound! We have found over 20 unique and interesting sites to see in this country, and we wonder if we will be able to get to them all! 

BUT, we will try!

“Macedonia 🇲🇰 ~In Skopje; Covid19 Testing for Bulgaria”

And We Are Excited!

We came back in to Skopje, by early afternoon, where we will end our self-tour Macedonia adventures. We kicked off our Macedonia touring in Struga, and then on to Skopje, last month, after leaving Albania. From Skopje, we left Macedonia and made a gigantic loop into Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and back to Macedonia a few weeks ago to finish seeing this country.

It’s been quite a road-trip already, but we are not done yet, in the European Balkans. 

If you missed our self-tour around Skopje, when we were here last month, here is the link for that: https://2gypsiesinthewind.com/europe/macedonia/macedonia-self-tour-in-skopje/

Also, for our first stop in Macedonia, last month, we also saw Struga near Ohrid Lake, after crossing the border from Albania. Here is the link for that post ,as well: https://2gypsiesinthewind.com/europe/macedonia/macedonia-struga-and-skopje/

After arriving back in Skopje, today, we went straight to Acibadem Sistina Hospital to see if we could get walk-in COVID19 tests done. I had my translated request in hand. It was all very organized and easy.

Who’s that masked man? 🤣
Our registration is complete. Our proof to pick up our test results, tomorrow

There was a tent and mobile office and exam room set up in the hospital parking lot. They got us right in to register after a five minute wait in the tent (with a cooling fan). There were no huge crowds, either. 

We went to the mobile office, with a small window, and provided our passports, and credit card. We were given computer coded ID’s after we we were entered into their system. The COVID19 tests cost us $75 pp. We waited back in the tent for another five minutes, then were taken inside the exam room. 

This second COVID19 testing experience proved the first nurse taking our COVID19 tests in Kosovo was a masochist, since he drilled that swab so deep into our sinuses, We though he scratched our brains! We had tears running down our face! Today, with this second testing, the nurse lightly swabbed our sinuses with one swab, and then the back of our tongued throat with another. It still wasn’t pleasant, but it did not cause tears, and was much easier to take. We now only wait less than 24 hours to get our results.

Tomorrow we have a few errands to take care of, after we collect our results at the hospital. It will be our last day with the rental car, so we have to unload it of our belongings, and get it cleaned up. We still need haircuts, a market stop for road-trip items, and a ATM stop to get Dinar to pay a transfer driver (CASH only).

Once we get our test, we have 72 hours to get to the Bulgarian border, with negative tests in hand, or they become void. So, we are spending two nights in Skopje, in a nice hotel, where the reception has arranged a driver to take us to the border, (150 euros) and that driver has a friend on the Bulgaria side who will meet us over the border in Bulgaria, to take us to Sofia; the capital in Bulgaria 🇧🇬 

In Sofia, we will rent another car, and get permission to enter Turkey with it, as well. We have some fascinating places to see in Bulgaria, and we are super excited to go there, and get started! After Bulgaria, we need to collect a suitcase we left in Istanbul way back in March, (in great care) plus we want to go ballooning in Cappadocia!

Once we are done in Turkey, our Balkan Road-Trip will be complete

Skopje, Macedonia 🇲🇰 to Bulgaria 🇧🇬 (due East)
Map of Europe. Bulgaria is in Maroon and Turkey is the color of peach

“Macedonia 🇲🇰 ~Kokino Ancient Megolithic Observatory Near Kumanovo”

For something new and quite different, we drove out of town about 50 minutes to hike a bit to a mystical site; some ancient grounds which are almost 4,000 years old!

We have been in the car so much the last few days, it felt good to drive only a little way, then get some exercise, and see the most beautiful vista scenery.

The Kokino Megalithic Observatory is a very important site.
Astronomy aficionado or not, this place is something to see, and it is listed side by side with ancient observatories such as Stonehenge (England), Angkor Wat (Cambodia), and Machu Picchu (Peru); which by the way, I have been to as well. Super amazing!
The similar observatories to this one, like Stonehenge and the Cambodian Temples, are considered lunar calendars, which show the phases of the moon, and even the 19-years eclipse cycle. Although this was very advanced knowledge for the period, it seems to have existed all over the world. We may only guess who the people were who built these kind of observatories, and from where did they get this knowledge; an even bigger mystery.

Kokino represents a significant heritage and is definitely of great interested if one is into ancient history, nature, or somewhere between adventure and mysticism. Science reveals that it represents an astronomical observatory, as well as a ceremonial place, which is approximately 3,800 years old.
Kokino consists of two parts. It includes special stone markers used to track the movement of Sun and Moon on the eastern horizon. The observatory used a method of stationary observation, marking positions of the Sun at the winter and summer solstice, as well as the equinox. The importance of the site, was confirmed by the U.S. space agency NASA. It appears 4th on the list of old observatories compliled by NASA.
The road leading to the observatory isn’t perfect by any stretch, but it reinforces the feeling of adventure, out there in the open, at this mostly uncrowded site. It is perfect for taking a hike, a moderate one in fact, especially recommended during summer days.
History wise, it speaks volumes about life back in the day; Pagan rites, prehistoric beliefs, but also curiosity and the effort to improve life of the community by understanding nature. Following and understanding the Lunar cycles easily represented the peak of the human creative thought at the time. This had its implications over not only rituals, but community activities such as agriculture, especially knowing when to plan or harvest.
In this photo (bottom left) you can see the gigantic stone thrones that were carved for Ancient ceremonies. These thrones attracted local physicists who measured and analyzed the archaeoastronomical characteristics of the site, proving that Tatic’s Stone is both a sacred site and a Megalithic Observatory.
Archaeoastronomers believe the main role of the thrones was to perform a bonding ritual connecting the Sun God with his earth-bound representative. One of the thrones has a separate marker cut into its top, and is placed at the highest point at the site. This is where it’s thought the ruler sat. This throne marker was cut with great precision to ensure that on ritual days the sun’s rays would pass exactly where the most powerful member of the community was seated. It is highly likely such ceremonies coincided with the ending of harvest, ensuring peace and prosperity for the year to come. Twenty hand grinders found at the base of the ritual mark support this theory.
At the dawn of the 21 st century, at a place called Tatic’s Stone , near the village of Kokino, in the Republic of Macedonia, archaeologists discovered an exceptional prehistoric megalithic site which dates back to the Bronze Age. It was built on a mountain top at 3323 feet above sea level, right upon a neo-volcanic plate made of craggy andesite rocks. 
According to the movable archaeological material unearthed at the site, archaeologists believe that certain cult activities took place there. Researchers found an abundance of fractured ceramic vessels, molds for bronze axes, and jewelry. Within cracks in the rocks of the towering archaeological site, the remains of vessels filled with offerings were found, leading to the site being dubbed a “holy mountain.”
The entirety of the observatory is volcanic rock. But carving and shapes alone, though interesting, are of significantly less value when compared to what this site once served for. Namely, it has seven markers that were once used for following the Sun and the Moon in order to understand astronomy. Three of the marker cuttings were intended to mark the rising of the Sun in the day of the summer solstice, the autumn and the spring equinox and the winter solstice.
The six remaining marker cuttings marked the spots of the rising of the full Moon in the days when it has the smallest and the biggest declination during winter and summer. The two marker cuttings that were used for measuring the length of the lunar months can be seen from here. They were utilized for the making of a calendar for a periodic cycle of 19 lunar years. By far we can speculate, within reasonable limits, that Kokino observatory served just as much of a ritual purpose as it did for observing and measuring the cycles.
Especially significant is the stone block with a separate marker cutting on its top. It was made for ritual function with an explicit solar character. In mid-summer (end of July) a sun ray from the sunrise that penetrated through the opening of the stone marker cutting and passed by the right edge of the artificially formed trench, illuminated the ruler alone, who set on one of the four stone thrones, made especially for rite needs. The illumination of the face of the ruler, in all likelihood, signified ritual union with the Sun God and returning/renewing of his ruling power.

There is not much else to see in Kumanovo, but we chose it for a rare two-night stay, as we wanted to avoid the big city stay, which will come soon enough. We got our laundry done, and while we searched for a hair cut place, we found none open. It is Saturday, and most of the town shops are closed, as well.

This church was high on a hill and looked interesting, too. But, it had a bar across the road, so no access. Another church we wanted to see was under repair with scaffolding all around it, so no point in stopping at that one either. No worries, since we have seen plenty of churches

Tomorrow, we head back to the capital city of Skopje, (we are only 30 minutes away) where I already have a list of several options for getting our negative COVID19 testing done, so we can cross the border to Bulgaria, with proof in hand we are healthy. Bulgaria is our next stop on our road trip, and since we have never been, we will spend the money for the tests, since its the only way we can get into their country. We are excited, because we will get to head for some coastal waters again; the Back Sea