I am now in Macedonia since Sunday. There are rapid and quite visible changes taking place here and it seems like a lot has happened since I first started coming here just a few years ago. The first change that met me when I arrived on Macedonian territory was the new airport which has been under construction for quite some time, but which now apparently has opened. Or rather, it is an extension of the old airport. It is very modern and it seemed to have opened very recently as it took the airport crew about five minutes to match the newly installed airbridge to the door on the aircraft! Other new additions to the city are a number of rather large monuments decorating the main square in Skopje, but I also have the impression that things have changed in the institutions that we work with. And new cafes and restaurants seem to have popped up every time I come here.

It has been a very hectic week here during which I have been working on four different tasks. But it has also been also interesting and exciting. Monday was rather quiet and we only had two meetings as we also needed time to organize the rest of the week, but Tuesday, I had my first meeting at 7:00 am, following by meetings at 9:00 and 11:00, a fourth at12:30 – 15:00, and the last meeting of the day at 15:00 – 17:00. Wednesday, we started at 7:00 am again, going off to a meeting in Macedonia’s second largest city, Bitola (which seemed to be quite an interesting town – I wouldn’t mind getting to know it a little better some day), followed by another two meetings when we finally got back to Skopje in the afternoon. Similarly, Thursday, we had farmers consultations about two hours north-east of Skopje, followed by meetings in the capital in the late afternoon. And today, we ended our week here with three rather intensive but productive meetings. Needless to say, I am quite tired and after a walk around town in the late afternoon, I am now resting in my room. A great thing with this hotel is that is all the rooms are equipped with a kettle so that the guests can make a cup of tea in the evening. So now I am relaxing with a nice cup of tea!

The above pictures are from the old part of Skopje

Evening walk along the Vardar River that runs through Skopje

Bitola: Macedonia’s inhabitants are traditionally from several religions, hence the minaret at the end of the pedestrian street in Bitola. 

The joy of having a kettle in one’s room… A less great thing about this hotel (Best Western) is that the internet basically doesn’t work here. I have been staying here one before and both times, the staff told me it was temporary and that they would fix it… It can be a little stressful when the evenings are the only time available to catch up with the rest of my work. Anyway, tomorrow I am off to Vienna and I hope to forget about work until I get back to DC!

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