So, I headed to the capital of Macedonia, Skopje. I stayed at a cheap hostel called “Valentin’s house” thanks to two finnish guys (met them in Kosovo) recommendation. Valentin is actually the host. He’s a very experienced man who knows almost everything about his country. His hostel is close to everything, I mean yeah, Skopje is not so big and its touristic areas are close to each other, so you don’t need to put too much effort to stay in the downtown of the city.
Skopje is a statue-land which strongly reminds me of North Korea. Obviously I haven’t been there and not interested at all (Not given a chance to go there anyway! lol), but from what I’ve seen through pictures and video materials that feeling just crossed my mind. So, not a very pleasant (but sufficiently interesting) impression to begin with. According to the Skopje tour office, the Macedonian government is ambitious to invest their tourism and have spent a big amount of money on it but unluckily due to lack of tourist attractions in whole country (maybe except for Ohrid) they began to build as many statues as possible. I find it a bit too odd, why does it have to be statues? You could build something more interesting in stead.
They use Cyrillic characters in stead of the Latin just like Serbia, so if you know or are able to read at least some of them, traveling in Macedonia would be a lot easier, because not everyone over there speaks english, yet, very helpful. I think an exploration in Skopje may be done within 2 days, even one day if you have a tight schedule afterwards. the Museum of Mother Teresa is definitely worth a visit and walking around through the old town would be nice as well.
On the second day of my stay I hiked with two spanish dudes that I had met in Kosovo. Actually 3 of them, but one of the Javis got super drunk the day before, so it was the older Javi, Jesus and me. In order to take a hike in Skopje, you’ll definitely need to get to the Millenium center. Despite the effort we had put, it took such a long time to get there as not many buses provided. But well, the hike was pretty amazing. I started to swear like an animal while climbing up. We had a little lunch, talked a lot, made a lot of funny jokes. A little later we met a local climber and he invited us to a small house on the mountain.
I never expected this situation to be honest. But in the Balkan, it’s always possible. We were just a couple of foreign strangers passing by, but they found us interesting and provided us a cup of coffee. Despite the language barrier we managed to communicate and take a picture together. The house owner said he uses his apartment as a small guest house for hikers, they can stay for sleeping or just resting for a few hours. What a great hospitality.
Well, obviously after the hike all of us became utterly zonked out and decided to go back to the hostel and then meet up for a drink for the night later. There was a new japanese girl from Oita at my hostel, we talked a little bit. Apparently Japanese travelers are everywhere, I met some of them in Turkey, Czech Republic and actually everywhere. Mika (her name) had adjusted this trip two and half years ago and after quitting her job she came over to Europe and would keep traveling until April of 2016. We had good chemistry between us as I also had to quit my job before the trip and I have been to Oita. Her face was hilarious though. “You were in Oita? 😀 Why? It’s a countryside!”
So, I met up with the spanish (or catalanes) guys again at a bar. We had a fantastic dinner and drunk some local macedonian beers. It was a pleasure to have met them and talked to them in Spanish most of times, I thought my spanish had gotten extremely poorer compared to the past. But they told me it was very good and much better than I ever believed. It’s very important to be confident when it comes to speaking languages. Gracias guapos! 🙂 It was their last night in Macedonia so they wanted to get borracho (literally means drunk in spanish) and I happily joined them.
The day after I headed off to Ohrid while the Barcelonians heading back home, which is like 4 hours away from Skopje. Very nice small city. I was going to stay there for a couple of hours and then come back to Skopje in the evening, but just stayed over. As soon as I got there, I felt like someone was following me behind, and it was an old guy convincing me to stay at his guesthouse. He showed off a short recommendation which was written in Japanese. I was like “I don’t know Japanese, I’m sorry.” Whereat he took out another small paper, it was in Korean 😀 Okay, he made an effort to attract me at least, so I followed him and stayed at his hostel. And guess what, it was so freaking cold in the night, even though there were three blankets ready on my bed. They were useless because the heater wasn’t working at all and it was too late to ask them to turn on the machine. Despite all that, my stay in Ohrid was nice, the city is very convenient to move around, great atmosphere, tasty foods and wines and actually everything. It seemingly has more attractions than Skopje, there’s no doubt why it’s been loved by tourists much more than the capital.
All information about Skopje <-> Ohrid bus trips, or anything in the Balkan.
I felt super nervous on the last day of my stay in Macedonia, I think it was mostly because I had to leave my hostel at 3:00 A.M in order to catch my early flight heading for Oslo, Norway.
Three things about Macedonia
- As for Skopje, don’t ever get surprised even if there’s more statues than human beings on the street. I’m not freaking kidding! It’s a fact. You will see scary statues endlessly that may make you think you’re in North Korea.
- Macedonia is a very cheap country. Hence you don’t have to save up all the money. Go and get some nice local cuisines over there. There’s one huge supermarket (apparently also a shopping mall…kind of), you can shop there if you want. Everything there is like ten times cheaper than Norway which was my next destination. I mean yes, it’s almost impossible to put those two countries on the same flat, nonetheless.
Eating out in Macedonia.
I will be back with a bunch of fun stories from my Norwegian adventures.
Peace and love.