Nordic HostelApril 17, 2019 in Macedonia ⋅ 🌙 10 °C
Enjoying some Beer and Pizza! Mniam
Enjoying some Beer and Pizza! Mniam
Beautiful views, but unfortunately not very well executed. It could be in better shape. Great for a walk on a hot day.
Nachdem während dem letzten Trip ich es nocht geschafft habe Simit zu essen, konnte ich es diesmal erfolgreich bestellen.
Mit den magischen Worten: Dwa simita i dwa joghurta
habe ich meinem Kollegen und mir das Frühstück besorgt.Read more
Just a quick post to make note that tomorrow I will be entering my 20th country! That's 20 countries in 18 months, not bad for someone who'd never left Australia before now. And no I don't have a favourite. They are all amazing and awesome in their own ways :D
13. Czech Republic
18. Northern Ireland
21. Macedonia - Monday 27 July 2015
Let's see if I can make it 25 countries for my 25th year!Read more
Visiting Macedonia was never on my list. I jokingly said to dad a few weeks ago that during my free fortnight maybe I'd visit there, or Montenegro, or Serbia, who knew! It was an exciting thought.
Last Thursday I found myself in a panic. I had no accommodation after Saturday night, I had no idea where to go, but two weeks to fill before arriving in Budapest on the 9th of August. Getting out of Greece over land through the north is difficult. The Greek government shut down all international trains back in 2012 and buses aren’t always reliable.
I looked at flying into Ljubljana, Slovenia, it was too expensive, another option was flying into Budapest and then bussing it over. But not one to enjoy wasting money, I didn’t want to do this either. I’ve already been to Budapest and I’m going back, I didn’t want to use it as an over night base.
Budapest is the closest I could fly to from Greece, there are no other flights for the in between countries. Oh! And this dilemma is how I found myself looking into Macedonia. My guidebook kept mentioning all the great wine there, and after spending a fortnight in Greece with shabby wine I was looking forward to a good drop.
But getting into Macedonia isn’t that easy. For starters the Greeks aren’t happy with the use of the word Macedonia, they feel that they own it for the area called Macedonia in their country. You can only access Macedonia via a bus from Thessaloniki to Skopje, a bus leaves twice a day. And Skopje isn’t even the main tourist area.
So, with wine on my mind and me looking for a cheap country Macedonia it was. I booked a flight into Thessaloniki for Sunday morning, I found a hostel for Sunday night and showed up at the bus station in Macedonia asking how to buy a ticket for Skopje.
And it has been a fantastic decision! My bus left at 8:30am on Monday and we arrived into Skopje at 11:30am, with me gaining an hour. A bonus discovery is that Macedonia doesn’t count as part of the Schengra Visa – woohoo! It means I have more days in November to come back to Europe.
For the first time ever on a bus, for me, we were stopped at the border. All of our passports were collected, reviewed and stamped. We stopped off to visit the duty free shop, before heading further and being stopped again, so that another officer could view our passports and see our luggage area. Then it was straight on threw.
My hostel, had given great instructions and I found them very quickly after arriving and getting Wi-Fi in Skopje. The taxi drives surround the bus depot like flies to dead meat. Everyone asks you for a taxi, but my hostel had emailed earlier with clear instructions to not use anyone of them at all, but to call them in I needed help.
I find the hostel with ease, it appears to be an old house renovated as a hostel. The gate is opened automatically and Marjan, the guy on reception today, comes out, hand outstretched introducing himself. I feel so welcomed and at ease straight away. I get a tour of the place and told there is free tea/ coffee and juice all day, and there are oils and spices in the cupboard for my use.
At this point it’s nearing 1pm and the hottest part of the day. I’m used to all of the siestas in Greece. So I pull up a spot on my bed, turn on the AC and update myself on the world, it’s been a while since I had decent wifi.
Tonight I plan on visiting a restaurant Marjan has recommended and to visit a grocery store. This is quite possibly my favourite thing to do in each country / town, I love visiting grocery stores.
Ah Macedonia, you have been the right choice for my 21st country.
Where I stayed
Shanti Hostel - str. Rade Jovcevski Korcagin 11, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia
A fantastic place to stay. The stay are so beautiful and nice. You are immediately welcomed in as if you were a long lost friend. There is a full equipped kitchen, with oils and spices to use, plus free tea, coffee, juice throughout the day. There is an outdoor garden and the rooms are quite comfortable. There is ac and it's relatively close to everything. Highly recommended!Read more
After missing the walking tour yesterday by 10 mins today I was 10 mins early and ready to go! I love walking tours, I think they are the best way to learn about a city, both in a historical, cultural and navigational perspective.
This walking tour turned out to be 4 hours long! But it was incredibly and would rate second behind the Berlin walking tour I did last year.
We began our tour at the Mother Theresa memorial house. From here we walked up to the National museum, back to the Mother Theresa memorial house for a tour, down the back of the house to see the oldest tower, up the pedestrian street to see the Alexander the Great statue and water fountain, across to the Arc of triumph, past Parliament House and a garden of statues representing war and peace.
We walked down the river admiring some new buildings and bridges, we crossed the bridge and heard a story of the stone bridge and started into Old Town and the Bazar area. From here we had a break and stopped in at our guide's local restaurant to participate in some local rakti and sausage.
Loaded up we headed up to the castle, across to the mosque and down into the real bazar, finishing outside on old Turkish bath.
Throughout the tour we learnt all about the history of Skopje, stories behind the monuments, buildings, 2014 project and lots of little jokes our guide shared.
our guide jokes that the mayor likes to copy and paste cultural relics. When he visits other countries he sees things they have and immediately wants them in Skopje. And that is exactly what is happening, called the 2014 project (it was meant to be finished in 2014) the city has been building all of these Neo-classical buildings and statues that one is accustomed to seeing in Western Europe. For example, the arc de triophme in Paris, a bull outside the finance building, bridges with statues and so on. There doesn't seem to be any fluidity as to where they lay out things, it's all jammed in. They are even covering current standing building in a neo-classical design. And the statues! You should see them lined up all over bridges and buildings.
Some funny notes our guide mentions:
- Macedonia has never won any battles, so the arc of triumph shows cultural and sporting achievement
- parliament is shared by a number of governments, including visiting ones
- bull, which is often seen outside the stock exchange in economically stronger nations, is seen outside a shoe shop in Skopje. As the guide points out they don't have a strong economy, he jokes they should have a chicken haha
- near the stone bridge you can hear a high pitched noise. It's supposed to only be heard by dogs to keep them away. Some dogs are used to it now and keep coming back, other times it keeps the humans away because they can hear it
- so many statues!
It's just bizarre. You travel to Western Europe to see all of these buildings because they are old. They were built hundreds of years ago and carry with them a historical story of our past. The buildings in Skopje are two to three years old, they mean nothing. It's almost mis-leading in some instances. And as our guide points out, their history and designs is that of the Ottoman Empire and should reflect that, if they are doing any buildings at all.
We end the tour at an old Turkish baths. Afterwards two of the others and I go back to the guides recommended restaurant and share a meal. We try three different types of meats, plus cheese with bread (amazing!) and beers.Read more
Just a quick reflection on my week here. It has been wonderful. The hostel could not have been more perfect! The average temperature all week has been over 40 degrees. However, I haven't found it that muggy, so not too bad really. I've had some interesting roommates and a really annoying Australian.
It would appear that most people here are heading onto the Sunnylake Hostel in Ohrid this weekend. So I'm looking forward to that as I like most of the people here. I've made some awesome Kiwi dudes, who are the nicest blokes around, and love drinking haha.
On Tuesday after we missed the walking tour I did a bus tour to try and make up for it. It sucked. So I had a leisurely lunch, filled with Macedonia style food, before heading back to the hostel, where I intended to have a rest.
However, when I returned I found my Kiwi friends there and they were just headed up to the big mountain to take the cable cart to see the giant cross. So I decided to join them. Unfortunately when we got there everything we shut, apparently every Monday and the last Tuesday of the month the cable car is closed. Guess what day it was?! Haha
So after an ice-block we headed back down to the city for some food.
On Wednesday I made the walking tour and on Thursday I took the bus out to the canyon for the day. Tomorrow I'm taking the 8:30am bus to Ohrid, I’m ready to go. Skopje and it’s addiction to creating a fake past it a little weird haha.Read more
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