Dear all, these are the days we can’t travel but we can (and should) remember our experiences abroad. That’s one of the reasons for me to travel: to create wonderful memories.
Skopje is a very special city to me. Exactly 11 years ago, in february, I had the chance to move to the macedonian capital to volunteer during 6 months.
It was one of the best experiences in my life: I had the chance to collaborate in a local youth center; I worked with other volunteers from different european countries; I made a lot of new friends; and I discovered all the Balkans.
This chronicle was published in 2014 but it keeps the feeling of those first days for someone that arrived in a new city, meeting new people and trying to understand a new culture.
– Poleka! Poleka! (Slowly! Slowly!) – told me Dragan before asking a fourth round of Skopsko. It was my first day in Skopje, I was more than excited to discover the capital of Macedonia and, with me, there was a guy concerned in drinking beer – an activity we can do anywhere -, instead of showing me the highlights of his hometown.
– I´m affraid I will not have time to see all that I´ve planned: Stara Carsija, the old bazaar; the Kale, a fortress situated prominently on a hill, just across the Stone Bride.
Matka, an impressive canyon and lake just 30 minutes from the city center; and the Millenium Cross, on the top of Vodno mountain – (please note that I mentioned it by showing some brochures and information taken from an intensive touristic research).
– Ima vreme PedroL, ima vreme! (We have time PedroL, we have time!), answered me back Dragan giving a shot in his beer.
Macedonians are open and friendly people. They are interested in knowing more about other countries and cultures and, of course, in transmit their history and traditions.
That´s why we love to travel right? If you are thinking about going to Skopje, I would like to suggest you to start your trip by visiting the Old Railway Station. On the wall of this disabled train station there is a stopped clock. It marks 5:17 am, the moment when Skopje was reached by a 6.1 (on the Richter scale) earthquake, in 26th July of 1963.
After living some months in Macedonia, I realized this clock is the perfect metaphor about this country and this people: although macedonians don´t have the power to control the time, I believe they know exactly how to extend it.
In Skopje, and most macedonian cities, there is no rush hour and I rarely saw people running for whatever it was. Well, there are some people practicing jogging close to Vardar river, but even those do it for self-pleasure.
So, if you want to meet macedonians and know about their rich culture, go to a promenade or a kafana and take some time to speak and drink with the locals.
But do it poleka! (Slowly!) There is a lot of time in Macedonia. And time is the most precious thing in life.
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