On the Road: Poleka! Poleka! You are in Skopje

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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14 responses to “On the Road: Poleka! Poleka! You are in Skopje

      • there is something better than turbo folk to fit kafana, it is literally called “kafana” music – if you write in youtube Toma Zdravkovic, or Silvana Armenulic you could get a bit of the that kafana feeling in Portugal … I don’t know what you will do about rakija though 😀

  1. Never been to Macedonia, but having explored the neighboring Balkan countries and loving them, I’m interested in visiting this country, too! One day, I hope to go; it looks like a beautiful and convivial place!

    • if you were already introduced to the Balkan spirit and you like it, don’t worry, you will love Macedonia 🙂 thanks for your feedback Rebecca!! have a great weekend, PedroL

  2. That is the joy of travelling and I wish to feel it again! So interesting that we can feel time change in different places. Spain was the first place I went to where time felt like it slowed down. There’s something about these cultures that appreciate time. More enjoyment of life and each other?

    • Yeah, probably is that… Also I felt in Macedonia that they were really open and interested to meet people from a different background eheh thanks for the feedback 🙂 PedroL

  3. We only trvelled in the northern parts of our world. We don’t like the permanent sunshine und heat. We travelled a lot in Greenland and Svalbard. There time is different as well. Time and weather are very much connected in the North. They have the patience to sit for hours without moving on the ice waiting for a seal. During snowstorms and during the polar winter they are just doing nothing. It’s different to our handling of time, but is it better?
    All the best.
    Stay well
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Whatever makes one happy it is what is better, so, in my opinion, it depends on the person 🙂 would love to visit and experience the North side of the world, it is so beautiful 🙂 some years ago I was in Iceland and would love to return 🙂 thanks for your comment and have a great weekend 🙂 PedroL

  4. Skopje sounds like it has a great vibe. I’ve visited a number of the former Yugoslav countries and really like that part of Europe. Skopje and the wider area are all on the to-do list when this wretched pandemic ends.

    • thanks for your comment 🙂 I was lucky to live 6 months in Macedonia, thanks to a volunteering project I took part 🙂 it was the best chance to make a lot of local friends and discover the Balkan region, one of my favorites to travel because, nowadays, it still keeps their traditions 🙂 PedroL

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