Canadian Foreign Ambassadors

Trip Start May 24, 2006
Trip End Aug 02, 2006

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Flag of Macedonia  ,
Saturday, June 3, 2006

Alright, so the first matter to solve is that it's actually pronounced Makadonia, so somewhere along the way the C was put in the spelling and it messed everything up. Macedonia is an interesting region. The rural areas felt more poor than Serbia's did. However Skopje feels more westernized than Beograd. I really like Skopje a lot. People here are more friendly (not to say that Beogradians aren't, but when I was obviously lost, people here did help) and they also speak English more freely here - but perhaps that's also because of my experience during the fair. If I have trouble with shopkeepers, they are more likely to jump into English however.

I really like this city. First off, the exhaust fumes are so much less. It may have to do with the city being in a more wide open space. It may have to do with more parkland. It may have to do with being near grand mountains. Whatever it is, it's welcome with me. It's a bit quieter than Beograd but still commercial and urban for my tastes. There's also a lot to do here. The biggest downside is that there really isn't a cheap place to stay. I'm at this hostel - apparently the only one - but it's more of a small and cheap hotel than a hostel. It's got international cable and a private bath and breakfast included. I'm spending more than I want, but since meals here have been extremely cheap, it's no matter. I'm still on target for budget.

The city has the new side, which is where the commercial centres and main city is. Then cross over the stone bridge Kamen Most and then you land in the old city. The influences from occupations back in ancient times is apparent. There's a large Turkish bazaar and you can also see the Turkish bath houses which are now converted into art galleries. I was surprised at the Turkish influence, but then again, this area was under the Ottoman rule a few centuries ago, so, there.

It's kinda nice I was able to get the Turkish influence here, because I think I'll skip Istanbul. I've heard it's too expensive and too touristy and I'm not sure if I want to travel all that far if it's not going to be amazing. It's too far out of the way. That would just mean more time in Greece, which would be more welcoming.

I was very lucky to land in Skopje when the Baskerfest was going on. It's a nice distraction during nighttime. They have entertainment and a festival atmosphere in the town center. I'm not sure why the festival is going on, but it's been fun. So far the majority of entertainers are from Canada (i don't know why). The story they tell is that the city of Skopje has paid for their plane ticket and their hotel, but were not paid for appearance fees. So basically the festival's entertainment are relying on street tips to make a profit. These guys are professionals too, but I have to wonder what the appeal is to be out here doing the show when they could be homeless on their home streets instead. I would have to doubt that they get more than 50 dollars in tips per show, if even. Basically they're just making enough money to pay for meals - or cheap hookers and blow, since some of these guys look like that type - so essentially they're just getting the experience of being in a different country for free. Not a bad deal, but when you're a performer by day, it is a loss. If they do this as an evening job and don't get many gigs at all, then maybe it's a win situation. But it's fairly laughable that they have to come out here just to perform. Is the Canadian market so dense that there are no jobs for performers? Or is it perhaps that entertainers are just a lost cause and should never rely on it as a primary job? I would think that if you're not getting enough business that you have to go to Skopje for tips only, then it's about time you give up your dreams and realize that yes, your dream job is great, but it's no way to put food on the table. (music doesn't put food on the table - but neither does that ugly dress. ;))
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bsuarez on

I think the whole reason I was confused was because I didn't know what the whole purpose of the festival was. In Cyrillic, the transliteration is Baskerfest. However, the actual translation should've been Buskerfest. Meaning the festival of the buskers. People who busk are basically street performers (thank you Danny Wallace). They busk for money. So it would make total sense that a whole festival that is celebrating the art of busking brings people who are genuinely busking. To give these people money to perform and come to the city would totally be against the whole art of busking. Then it would be something else, which is not called busking.

So I finally have understood what the appeal of this festival was. I previously thought that it was Baskerfest, like some festival of the harvest or something, especially with how the signs looked like. But imagine you're a busker in Canada, and you've been identified to come to Skopje for Buskerfest. You're being singled out for your ability to busk and you will be celebrated and enjoyed in Skopje at Buskerfest, it's a huge honor to do it. There is no reason for someone who is invited to do the festival to not do it. In fact, there's many buskerfests around the world and do the same thing.

I thought that the performers were an afterthought and were the entertainers for some local festival. Had I known that the whole festival was about buskers and what busking is, I would never had made the statements I had.

Still, it was a fun thing to do and it made my stay in Skopje so much better. I liked the whole festival atmosphere and I don't think I would've wanted to land in Skopje any other weekend.

kabamaru on

You had travelled throughout Greece and you still believe that the only problem with the name Macedonia is the pronouncation ? Or the K missing....

You obviously learned nothing. Apart from nice beaches Greece also have a very rich history. Open some history books, it really worths...

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