Macedonia … the moment we crossed the border from Bulgaria, we felt a difference. The drive to Skopje was stunning stunning stunning (not that Bulgaria wasn’t too). I couldn’t possibly capture it in a way that would do it justice.When we arrived to our AirBnB, we were met by a super-friendly, youngish host who provided us with all the ins-and-outs of the city. He recommend we try Gorki Cafe cuz his friend who’s a chef works there and makes things taste different. He wasn’t kidding. The most basic of dishes came alive with his unusual blends of spices + herbs. The face says it all. We noticed everyone at the cafe was ordering fries so we asked if they were super-special, and the waiter said “yeah – they’re kind of famous – would you like to try?” and we said “it’s ok, we’ll come back and try them later” cuz we were utterly stuffed. But then next thing you know he came waltzing out with a bowl full, on the house. We were sold. Never had fries that good in my life. We came back for round 2 the next day (that’s sayin’ something cuz we rarely repeat restaurants).Where we stayed was definitely off the main track. We realized this when we discovered the downtown area.
First of all, our area was quite rundown (our place was nice but the surrounding areas), and there was garbage everywhere. It was gross.
We’d also been warned from several people that the government had rebuilt everything and that it wasn’t original, and that there were statues galore – but there was always a sort of negative tone to their descriptions (rightfully so? there’s a lot of controversy about the Skopje 2014 project that is still incomplete)…
Anyway, when we got to the old town area we were blown away. We just didn’t expect it to be so…nice!?! And fancy?!I just thought this fountain was kind of cool! The lions spewing water onto all the army soldiers, and at the very top a huge horse rearing up. Brand spankin’ new buildings (built in old style) everywhere.I actually really enjoyed the statues in Skopje. Even if the people in the town don’t appreciate them – I thought most of them were pretty unique looking and had an artistic appeal. A boat restaurant on the river.Daytime Skopje. So there is a LOT of unfinished projects…And this is part of the controversy. From what I understand, it’s definitely not the whole story (there’s a whole lot more drama going on) but regardless, the people are upset with their government. The day we arrived there had been paint bombs thrown at many of the buildings and statues – a display of the people’s anger. I think it kind of adds to the beauty!After a bit of work in a cafe, we set off to hike up the mountain on the edge of the city.Favorite time of day for light.We hiked and hiked and hiked…And accidentally ended up at the back of the mountain! Whoops.This tower gave us some good views though (even if they weren’t of the city).We hiked back partway and then found a ledge that gave us a better view of the city.Then we drove a little ways and came across an even better lookout spot with another tower (this time a more sturdy metal one). So naturally we climbed up and snapped away.Bear with me, I was loving the opportunity to mess around with the lights.Next morning, we were spoiled by the guesthouse owner’s ma with some homemade sour cherry jam/chutney. She said in her raspy smokers voice… “remember me, I’m mama Goldie” – and there was something in her voice that sank right to the bottom of my heart and made me want to…I’m not sure…be her friend maybe. You know when someone just has that little twinge of sadness or loneliness or something in their voice that makes you want to wrap them up in a big warm blanket of love?We left the cute little place and headed off (PS how awesome are those portraits, illustrated by the host himself? shoulda got a close up).