Right so, aside from the bus dying and us having to switch to a new bus, after several attempts to keep it running they called it a day and stuck Kalle and I and the remaining passengers on a new bus. As stated we headed off to Art Hostel in Skopje. I dropped my bag and headed into town (I know you thought something else was going to happen…ha ha…). So into the center of Skopje I went and did some tourist stuff.
The city centre, contrary to what it says in Lonely Planet which is a right pile of shit, is rather interesting. There’s a massive square that is sort of the central place for the entire city. Connected to one end is the Stone Bridge which crosses the river, as bridges do, to the older part of town. It’s an old bridge said to have been built by the Romans and/or then rebuilt by the Turks (they’re not quite sure as it was rather old and the records from that time aren’t so good).
Then I went and took some photos of the fortress and headed back across the river and ran into the Government building. There are a ton of cool statues around it and so I started snapping some photos of them. During the photo shoot I saw a police officer watching me from across the street and knew we were going to have a conversation…it went something like this.
“Good Afternoon,” he said.
“Hey, how’s it going.”
“Can I see your passport?”
“Sure, here you go.”
“Ahh, America and why are you here?”
“Oh you know, learning about your country as most Americans couldn’t place it on a map.”
He nods approvingly and returns my passport.
“You want to see the photos I took,” I knew this was the reason for stopping me.
“Yes, please.” He was possibly the politest police officer I’ve ever met.
So we flip through the photos on the camera and he says the following in no particular order:
Wow, that’s a really nice one (of the flags).
You did a great job of capturing the light playing off the surface of that statue (several of the photos of the old statues in front of the building).
Your photos didn’t manage to get the government building in them, that’s good. (Which I knew and worked to avoid doing).
After a few minutes, in which he told me some stuff about the big statue and some other things he let me go on my way. Now some might find it strange that there was police officer just loitering across the street from the government building. I did because I would have expected him to be at the building instead. So I continued on to take some photos of the church that was nearby and I saw a few more officers stationed on the street. Shortly after a motorcade went by with what was apparently one of the higher ups in the government or a visiting dignitary of some import.
So that explains all the police presence and so I decided to make my way towards the more commercial, populated area of town. Further photo shooting led me to the statue of Mother Theresa. This just so happened to be near Cinema Paradiso (which was closed, last films shown were Aeon Flux and Basic Instinct). That just so happened to be right next to the Irish pub, Snug…so I had a couple Guinness (see photos). After that it was getting dark and I decided it was time to head back to the hostel. I got back around 10pm and sat down to take care of some stuff and do a little work. So I went down to the room to drop off my bag and lo and behold… (cue Psycho music!) BIZARRO URAINIAN!
He looks up from his Lonely Planet, which I forgot to mention he had read endlessly in Pristina, and says in his creepy squeaky voice ‘Hi, how’s it going? How was your bus ride? Did you have your coffee in Pristina?’ and other questions that followed me out the door as I didn’t really bother to answer most of them and he didn’t bother to stop asking them even after I backed out the door, closing it behind me and spun on my heel to put more distance between us. Fortunately he didn’t follow me up to the common room where I made some tea and wrote some.
Now, the room in the hostel had 6 beds, 3 sets of bunk beds… Two sets of which formed an L. One would think that if you were in either one you would put your feet AWAY from the other. Not so for the foul-footed Bizarro Ukrainian who decided that it would be wiser to put his feet nearest my head. Fuckwit… so when I would roll over in the middle of the night I would be assaulted by the stench of his putrid Bizarro feet and wake up so that I could promptly roll back over…
Hostel Etiquette: When beds are joined in one one, put your feet AWAY from the other bed…
Waking up the next day I decided to have my revenge for the previous morning when he unpacked/repacked his entire bag. Now I didn’t want to make too much noise as there were others sleeping in the room. So I just ran into his bunk a few times to jostle him about. Then I left the room, came back and jostled him about a bit more as I took my stuff out of the room. For good measure I did it a 3rd time, just to make sure he was awake…
He was, by the time I had showered, packed and was getting ready to leave he was wandering about the hostel half-awake. My job being done, as far as I was concerned, I took a really cheap taxi to the bus station and booked a ticket to Struga where I was to meet Josje…
That bus ride deserves a post all its own and so I shall tell you about it tomorrow…
Good luck and safe travels everyone.
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