In early September I entered Macedonia and found myself in Skopje, a city that is undergoing a remarkable if urban face lift. I met Ivana from the Telegraf.mk news in Macedonia Square the following day and had a good chat with her about the journey so far.
The interview was published in cyrillic on Telegraf.mk and in English at Independent.mk. I spent a good amount of time amusing myself with the google translated version of the cyrillic interview. Below is the slightly easier to read english version of events.
A man on a bike just with several small bags is headed towards the city centre, looking like a character from a Jules Verne book.
Aron Austin-Glen travels around the world on a bike and Macedonia is one of his stops. He took off from Great Britain where he has been living in the past ten years and Australia is his last destination. Asked about when this adventure will be over, he said he has no response to that question.
“The trip depends on my finances. I need to save cash. I suppose I will be away for about 10 months”, Aron says.
“I have always dreamed of a trip where you do not have to land a plane but experience all the things on the way. Imagine how many places I have already seen, travelling from London to Skopje. I see how things change in one country, the architecture, the surroundings, the people I meet”, Aron says. He had worked as an event organizer. He makes photos and short videos during his trip in order to make a documentary film later on.
Macedonia is the eleventh country he had visited. The things he had already heard of is the dispute with Greece and the project “Skopje 2014”, i.e. how the city of Skopje transformed.
“I really feel good here, in Macedonia. The surroundings is very much different considering I just came from Prishtina. However, when I first came to Skopje, I noticed the streets are wide, the city is very modern”, he says, adding that he changes the plan if he wants to visit some country.
His next stop is Sofia. Afterwards he plans to travel to Istanbul, Tehran, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, to take a ferry to Abu Dabi and to eventually get to India by plane. He will continue to Thailand, Indonesia and then get back to Australia, his homeland.
Aron says he was really shocked by all the stereotypes presented by the media about the atmosphere in some countries.
“Slovenia and Montenegro are beautiful countries, however, the best part of this trip is when I go to countries that I have already heard so many information circulating in the media, as Bosnia and Kosovo. It appears these rumors are untrue. People in Bosnia and Kosovo are very friendly, I hope Macedonians are the same. When you leave one country and reflect upon the impressions, you tend to think about people and their friendly attitude, their warmness. This is the best part, the part where stereotypes are broken, the part that changes the way of seeing the world”, he says.
His family and friends support him although they were not very delighted when he decided to take this long two-wheel trip.
He usually camps illegally during the night to save money. He gets up early before he gets kicked out, and from time to time he stays in hostels, so he could use the shower and the electricity.