Showing posts with label Macedonia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Macedonia. Show all posts

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Security in Macedonia


Tuesday 2 February 2010

Skopje - A Divided City

There is one city that Skopje reminded me of. When I visited Casablanca (a city in Morocco) I had a similar feeling, but the line between two sides of the city was not so obvious there (you can read more about the "Moroccan city of contrast" in this post).
In Skopje the river Vardar acts as a barrier between the two worlds. However this barrier can easily be breached using the Old stone bridge, linking the two sides for centuries.

On the right side of the Vardar river is the new town. The main city square looks quite new and could be easily placed in some other modern European city. The nearby streets lined with cafes and most of the famous trademarks are sold in many of the very European looking shops. Unfortunately, judging by the average monthly income which is somewhere around 400 Euros, not many locals can afford to go shopping there. Not only the looks but also the prices in these stores are also very European.

On the left side of the river stands the old - Albanian part of the city, overlooked by an old fortress (it is supposedly being rebuilt for quite some time now). If you get lost in the grey streets, you will find the old bazaar easily. With tons of junk sold there, it definitely has a special kind of charm. If the right side looks European, the left side of the river definitely looks at least a bit Asian.
Rumor has it that the police don't patrol the Albanian side of the river. I didn't feel unsafe for a moment, but then again I did not try to wander these streets by night.

My intention is definitely not to make people turn away from exploring "the darker" side of the city.
On the contrary... If you get a chance to visit the city of Skopje, I strongly suggest you take a trip to the other side of the bridge and also get a glimpse of the old charm.

Apart from all that, there are also other things enforcing this feeling of contrast. For instance new and shiny buildings stand right next to collapsing old grey houses.
Even those new buildings usually only look nice and shiny from a safe distance. If you take a closer look you can usually find quality materials put together in a hurry and without much thought. This was also the case with our rented apartment. It had two nice bathrooms with a leaking bathtub/shower in each.

The building our apartment was in had a fancy video intercom at the front entrance and the front door could be opened via a numerical pad. In theory that is...
In reality none of those things actually worked and when the door bell rang, one of us had to walk five stories down to open the front door manually.

Another instance of diversity are definitely cars. One can see a great variety of those in Skopje. They range from the latest models of BMW and Mercedes-Benz to old Zastava Yugos and even ancient 750s.

The list just goes on and on...


Wednesday 13 January 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Kale Fortress in Skopje


Monday 11 January 2010

High heel obsession

One of the things I was surprised to see in Skopje (the capital of the Republic of Macedonia) was an obsession with high heels. Almost every woman was wearing them. I have a strong feeling that those few maladjusted ladies without high heels must have been tourists.

There is even a metal statue set up in the city centre representing the beauty of local women. At least I saw it like that. If someone has a better explanation, please do let me know.

Despite the time of year (middle of winter) and quite low temperatures the majority of women were also wearing very short skirts or at least some kind of tights and had obviously spent quite some time in front of a mirror.

The male part of our expedition didn't mind the situation. Even our female companions were impressed by what they saw. In fact M. was so thrilled with the whole thing that just had to buy a pair of fancy high heel shoes herself.
I must say I didn't have anything against it. It was not a very cheap thing but definitely a good choice anyway.


Thursday 7 January 2010

Macedonia trip impressions

I have returned from Skopje (the capital of the Republic of Macedonia) a couple of days ago. It was quite a short trip and I must say I was a bit exhausted when it was over.

We went there as a group of 10 friends to celebrate NY 2010. We planned to enjoy what Skopje has to offer and now I can say we definitely succeeded in doing that.
If I had to describe our trip in three words I would do it like this:

Train - Food - Skopsko

Let me explain those three words...

Train is there because we had a really loooong train journey from Ljubljana via Belgrade to Skopje - it took us more then 20 hours (including an one hour stop in Belgrade) to get to Skopje and even more for the trip back. On the way there we couldn't get a reservation, but were lucky to get free seats anyway. On our way back we would probably have to stand the whole way from Belgrade to Ljubljana (almost 11 hours) if we didn't have reservations. Luckily we did.
Even with reserved seats it was not a very pleasant experience. I recommend you take a plane if you can afford it. Let me just say that trains we used have definitely seen better days.

Food is a real highlight of Macedonia. It is quite cheap to eat out and if you know where to go, it is also very delicious. The main ingredient of almost all of our meals was meat. I couldn't single out one particular favourite dish - everything we tried ranged from very good to excellent. Among other things I tried Grilled vešalica, Šapska pleskavica, Grilled ram-steak.
If you are lucky enough to go there during the summer months, fresh vegetables and fruits are also definitely worth mentioning.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention great desserts we were all excited about. One instance of that would definitely be Tufakija.

And the last one... Skopsko is a quite drinkable and also very cheap local beer brand. For a large lager we were charged between one and two Euro - depending on the location. A bargain if you ask me.


Monday 28 December 2009

Going to Macedonia for the holidays

Finally it is time to travel somewhere again. This time the destination is Macedonia and considering my travel companions, the trip is definitely going to be an interesting adventure.

We are taking a train from Ljubljana (Slovenia) via Belgrade (Serbia) to Skopje (Macedonia) which is going to take no less then 19 hours. We are planning to spend a few days in the capital of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (or FYROM) as it used to be referred to due to a naming dispute with Greece.

EDIT: I have been reminded by one of my readers that now the official name of the country is Republic of Macedonia.

The main plan is to check out the city of Skopje, try some local food and drinks, and generally have a great time. We will have four days to explore the city and maybe also take a day trip somewhere else - I think Ohrid is one of the more obvious choices. Let us just wait and see.

Unfortunately you will probably have to wait for the report until I return. I guess it is going to be a whole new year by then.

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