The common room of the hostel was friendly and decorated with very bad aerosol art, I was the only one there, and warm, had wi fi, but the dorm was like a very cold prison. The art bit ended in the common room
. Went for a walk to the local shops (am self catering to save money) ... everything closed except the supermarket, instant pasta for dinner and a 1.5l plastic bottle of beer for dinner, cheap and flat. Back to bus station for Lake Orhid the next morning, left 3hrs for a walk around the city (far too long!!), just to confirm that it was as bad as I thought... walking along the river got surrounded by about 6 kids 'begging' grabbing at my clothes and going for my pockets, definitely not taking NO for an answer, so I matched push with shove and thumped them by swinging my shoulder bag in a large circle in the general direction of their heads. Worked a treat, but left me feeling rather stressed when I actually managed to club one. Had no idea self defense could be so debilitating!
Walked on through the cold grey streets, surrounded by cold grey people along the dingy brown river to the old town that was wall to wall crumby shops selling cheap nasty western clothing, alll made in China. Got my shoes repaired for the third time and bought some cheap reading glasses though, that was a bonus. Stopped for a tea and sat outside so I could smoke, no you can't smoke at the outside tables, you have to stand on the other side of the railing and put your tea on the tables, so that was why all the tables were lined up against the railing, live an learn.
Back to the bus station to buy a hamburger (where everyone smoked at the outside tables) and catch the bus
. Hamburgers in Macedonia are served in paper bags open on two sides, think cone shaped, with great open gaping bread roll 'mouths' stuffed with chips, smothered in mayonnaise and acidic ketchup, with cocktail forks stuck in them to eat the chips until you can close the burger enough to actually bite it. Had indigestion for hours after...yummm. On to the overcrowded, over heated mini bus for some stunning scenery and Lake Orhid, which was a completely different story...
Not my fault if all the pics are grey, it is that kind of place!! I have put all the pics I took up because I just couldn't decide which were the worst...and delete them!
You ever been to one of those cities that you know you just don't like even before you set foot on the ground?? Is it the view from the bus or train of depressing, grey apartment blocks? no trees? dirty streets? a concrete lined 'river'? Well Skopje has all of those and more. Experienced one of travel life's really bad on-arrival taxi rip-offs. Stopped for a smoke at a deserted 'high' table outside a cafe, with no stools and was informed by friendly locals that you will get fined for smoking there, you have to stand next to the ashtray 2ms away. Inquired from them about taxi fares and directions, bargained hard, ignored of the drivers offering less than I ended up paying, and settled for the one who had a 'meter' and still got done for about 12Euros ouch...Welcome to Macedonia!!