As I mentioned I spent quite a bit of time in the area of Skopje known as the “Old Town”. It was generally alive with pedestrians primarily from the Balkans area but from time to time I bumped into someone from the west.
It’s a maze of small streets and sidewalks full of restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, the Bazaar at least one Mosque and another that was converted into a Restaurant as well as several bridges linking it to the new center.
I was busily taking in the sights and sounds of the area when I passed a small shop and heard someone tapping on a window. I wasn’t sure where it was coming from due to the incidental noise but I quickly recognized a couple friends of mine sitting in a window motioning me to come over. The had evidently decided to drive down and hadn’t told me which was fair as I had done the same, albeit at the last minute.
So I spent a few hours wandering around the venue with them after having a sandwich and learned that they planned a road trip which I’ll cover in more detail on another page.
As I mentioned, I passed by what appeared to be a walled compound near one of the bridges and it turned out to be a structure that had been re-purposed over time. It had been a mosque, center of commerce, a place for the locals to live and a restaurant and had been in existence for centuries. I wandered in and it did indeed look old and I happened to bump into the owner who showed me around the place. It was very well maintained and had memorabilia hanging everywhere from centuries past. There was an area for outdoor dining, a room inside for large groups to gather and you could also grab your drink and wander around the place as it was within the walls of what appeared to have been a small fortress. One of the many dining experiences I had while in Macedonia and it turned out to be quite interesting.
I also made my way up one of the hills that runs the main route up a hill where a restaurant that is mostly open air lies. It was the evening and the place was hopping with people, dancing, eating and enjoying themselves. One thing I can say about the people in the Balkans and Macedonia in particular is that they love to hang out and party. It makes for a great time. We had a few drinks and then made our way down the prime bar area which was packed the entire length with people. We stopped again at a multi-story place to have a look around. I think I mentioned that work is hard to find and when the waitress walked up it turned out she spoke just enough English to ask a few questions. She looked young so I asked her what she was studying in college after which she and the other waitress laughed. Not knowing what was so funny I asked what all the fuss was and she answered that she was in high school. I wondered how someone in high school could be working at a bar let alone a bar around midnight and was told that this is not a big deal in Macedonia. So, live and learn I guess.
I sat with my friends after that and watched the people go about their lives and generally enjoy the evening til we all grew bored and made our way to an Irish restaurant in the city center. While I was in the Balkans it seems I couldn’t go to any major city without seeing an Irish pub. They were literally all over and with the same name as well. I was never able to determine if all had the same owner but if not, it’s a heck of a coincidence. They were all fun and generally packed with tourists as I’ve found that when people travel they attempt to find what’s familiar at least on occasion. This is what perhaps draws them to the Irish Pubs that were seemingly omnipresent.
I covered the old town on the Skopje page a bit so if you need more info take a look Suffice it to say that if you’re in Skopje, head over to the Old Town, especially at night as it’s very active.