Home Sweet Home for a week!!!

Trip Start Jun 08, 2011
Trip End May 16, 2012

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Where I stayed
BnB de Spasova

Flag of Macedonia  , Strumica,
Monday, August 15, 2011

Following on from my tale of terror in the bus trip....

We arrive in Skojpe at the un-godly hour of 4.45am. Not in the best of moods and it takes all my will power not to cuss the woman who pushed in front of me as i queue for my ticket to our final destination Strumica, where my friend Suza lives with her newborn daughter. She moved back in January and i cant wait to see her. and this b**** in front of me is pushing my buttons big time on my 2 hours sleep. So i breathe, otherwise i will end up being arrested!

We board the bus for Strumica which is the final destination of the bus. we bag the back seat and  the bus ride was uneventful although we got to see quite a bit of the country as we travelled through different towns - verles, Stip and Radovis. 
As we head into Strumica, the road is very bumpy and reminds me of a cobbled road that you would find in London. So 3 hours later w e pull in Strumica... Suza´s town. Am I surprised that she is not here already?? errr no. I have known suza 11 years and apart from college, punctuality is not a strong point. (sorry Suzi). I ring here and she says ´oh you´re there already´. err yes suza we just sat on a bus for 3 hours!!! lol. ´Ok, dont go anywhere´. yeah sure like im gonna wander off in a town i dont know on 2 hours sleep!!!

Anyway, Michael bets me a pair of shoes that she brings Angelina. I stupidly say she wont. I was wrong. dammit i lost a pair of shoes. Suza arrives with Angelina, who is adorable! Her dad Natse is driving so we all pile into the car and i get my first shock as there are no baby seats at all. Angelina sits on suza´s lap in the front seat. Also, seat belts are not used. Wow. How different is this? 
We meet Auntie Irina (suzas mum) and have a big welcome!

I am exhausted as is Michael but we are both starving and in dire need of some breakfast. well it is 9am! suza suggests that we try the local breakfast of ´Borak´which is a pastry filled with mincemeat and accompanied by yoghurt. I give it ago while Michael turns green at the thoiught and orders a sweet pastry. Can you guess what happens next? yes, he eats half of mine. (always stealing my stuff!) How rude.

We chat for a bit and enjoy lunch that Auntie Irina has made - peppers and rice which end up being my favourite -  and then we go for a long sleep!! . We get up at 8pm to eat dinner together. Lunch is the main meal of the day here, and dinner is generally small. 
My mum has sent a package i asked for and she included a little letter which was sweet :))

We quickly fall into a routine within the household and getting up, have breakfast, chat and chill with Suza and Angelina as its far too hot to go out during the day, and if you do it is only for a short hop. The temperature is getting to the late 30´s, early 40´s. Far too hot for my Irish skin. Even Michael finds it hot!
Iced coffee time is mid morning - i have yet to find anyone who can make iced coffees like suza!
We have lunch together and then go for a snooze and then go out in the evening when its cooler. 

The night after, Suza is our tour guide and shows us around. The town has changed since she left - the square has been redesigned and many buildiungs are new. Suza knows i love Twister ice cream so we get a mixed fruit one - i have not seen these in the UK - all before dinner. whoops. We walk around town and then eat out at her favourite meat restaurant. 3 mains, a salad, a starter and 2 beers for 11 quid. Not bad eh??? Its here that i am introduced to what we nick-name ´fingers´. Their name is really Kebabpi (i think i will need to corect spellings??)

The next day we visit Suza´s church. It is during the day before lunch so its not too hot and its only a 5 minute walk. Here i am really educated - Suza and her family are Macedonian Orthodox and their practices are very different to mine being a Catholic. they bless themselves from right to left instead of our left to right. They do this 3 times with abowed head before entering the church. Inside there are no seats apart from chairs for elderly people. You stand for mass. As you leave, you tend to walk backwards as turning your back to the alter is considered disrespectful. The alter is adorned with Icons of saints and it is custom to kiss the icons on the alter.
The candles are also different. You buy the candles from the shop next door and you have 2 large circular stands with 2 rings. They have sand and water in them to hold up the candles. The top ring is for the living and the bottom for those who have died. You never light a candle for the dead with one that is already alight for the living. 

The church also has space to house people who want to visit and help out - very similar to the manastery that Michael stayed in before we got married. The garden s pretty and they have a small little selection of animals living there under the shade of the kiwi vines hanging above us
We eat out in town that evening and relax with a beer with Suza and her brother. I must be honest and say that the beer in Macedonia is to strong for me. I just couldnt get used to it!! i know... the shame.

One evening we pay a visit to the ruins above Strumica -  a 40minute hike - but a good hour by car as the road starts out ok but then is very bad. The major apparantly has a lot to answer for!!!
The ruins have been excavated but have fallen into disrepair since doing so in 2000 and they are a little overgrown and unkept but the view is lovely. 

I must point out at this point that Michael is picking up some Macedonian words where as i am not!! my language skills leave a lot to be desired.

Here is the extent of my Macedonian:
Falah - thank you
Dobra - Good
Yardie (yes i know) - Eat
Kebapi - Kebab ´fingers

ahem... anyway.....dont say i didnt try!

Auntie Irina is impresed with Michael! I should also say that her cooking is amazing.
On Friday at lunctime she made us home made fish and chips. Awesome.
But the peppers are still my favourite :)

For some reason, Michael and I decide to go down to town during the day. Suza did warn us... Oh my god its so hot. Its like 40+. Help. We are visiting 2 monastery´s in the afternoon so we dont spend long, plus i am unable to take the heat so we head home sharpish!!!

As promised, that afternoon we visit 2 monastery´s -  Vodica and Veljusa. Both very different but very beautiful. (see pictures). We spend some time talking to the nuns at both and they give us a background to the Monastery´. There are many icons still on the wall remaining from the time they were built.
Our next stop on our tourist trail is the Waterfall at Koleshino. Its beautiful. and the air is cleaner up here after we walk through trees and over streams to get there! It was a lovely day.

Irina and Natse grew up in the same village near to Strumica so we take a visit there and meet some of Suza´s extended family - aunts, uncles and cousins. They all still live in the same area and the homes have been passed down the generations. 

Our week passed really quickly and before we know it, its sunday, the day before we leave. We spend it finding a place to stay in Ljubliana, Slovenia, washing clothes, packing and basically running around!
Monday morning comes too soon and saying goodbye is difficult. We have really enjoyed our stay here and more than a tear is shed. When i next see Angelina she will be a year old!!!

Suza left London before the wedding and it was a it crazy then but i know i will notice the difference when i get back. I guess ill just have to present myself in Macedonia often!!!




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