5 Tips for a Fantastic Holiday in Macedonia

macedonian food

It is quite an experience, going on a holiday in Macedonia. This mostly overlooked Balkan country has a good deal to offer, such as beautiful nature, ancient history, plenty of sunshine and interesting culture. To make your holiday in Macedonia even more fun and memorable, it is a good idea to do what the locals do. This mainly revolves around trying to enjoy life as much as you can. Which is simple – you just need to eat, drink, sing and dance. If you also speak a word or two of Macedonian, then you are all set. What are you waiting for?

1. Drink (homemade) rakija
Most families have members living in the countryside who make their own rakija, a very strong liquor made of plums or grapes (similar to brandy). And if there is not a family member who moonshines, then there is definitely a family friend who does. As a foreigner, you will probably be asked to drink along. This is not for the fainthearted, with alcohol contents rising well above forty percent, but it’s worth it to feel welcomed. To still feel welcome the following day, it is a good idea to slowly empty your glass instead of draining it in one gulp. Luckily you do not have to do this on an empty stomach, because rakija is usually served with a salad prior to the main meal.

2. Buy Macedonian wine
While rakija is the number one drink of the country, Macedonians rarely buy it as a (dinner) gift. After all, every family has their own stash. Macedonians do not hesitate to drink rakija in a restaurant or ‘kafana’ (informal eatery with comfort snack food to share, simple main meals and alcohol), but not many people actually drink rakija from the supermarket. Macedonian wine is a good purchase instead. The vineyards of Macedonia, such as Stobi, Popova Kula and Tikves, produce many brilliant reds and whites. The small bottles of wine from the supermarket are also easily taken home as a souvenir in your suitcase (well wrapped in a plastic bag of course). And while the Macedonians rarely do this, you can of course purchase rakija to take home as a gift for a loved one or as a sweet memory for yourself. Tip: all types of alcohol are being sold in the supermarket, in the summer until 21:00 and in the winter until 19:00, even though the shop might be open until as late as 22:00.

3. Accept all and every food you are offered
Guests sometimes seem to be seen as starving creatures. “Eat something! Drink something!” Just deal with it. You have to eat and drink like there’s no tomorrow. Just realize that the faster you eat, the more food will be added to your plate. So learn to eat slowly. And learn to eat cooled down food. By the way, it doesn’t matter at which time you arrive at someone’s home (or a restaurant). There will always be food. To make things even more interesting, while visiting a village, rakija can be on the menu as early as breakfast. And another good piece of advice: make sure your teeth are healthy, because if there is one thing that’s certain: sweets will be sweet.

4. Speak some Macedonian
Macedonians are very proud of their language, which uses a Cyrillic script. The beauty of the Macedonian language is that each letter is always pronounced in the same way. Which means that you can read words exactly how they are written, and therefore you can also write as you speak. Double consonants are not necessary and you sometimes feel like a kid in first grade. This is a treat for learners of the language. And a source of great joy when you realize that even movie stars and English terms are ‘cyrillized’ – Michael Jackson becomes Мајкел Џексон (Majkel Djekson) and consulting turns into консалтинг (konsalting). The fact that all words have male, female or neuter endings is something annoying you have to live with (see below: good morning, good day, good evening). Another Macedonian language fact: The modern Macedonian alphabet consists of 31 letters and is based on the first Slavic alphabet developed by the saints Cyril and Methodius in the ninth century.

Here are some essentials:
Zdravo – Hello
Dobro utro, dobar den, dobra vecher – Good morning, day, evening
Na zdravje – Cheers (when clinking your beer)
Na zdravje – Bless you (when someone sneezes)
Zdravje da imash – Health to you (when someone blesses you after you sneezed)
Fala, blagodaram – Thanks (more polite)
Ciao – Bye
Prijatno – Goodbye (when you leave)
Prijatno jadenje – Bon appetit
Ja sakam Makedonija – I love Macedonia

5. Dance some oro
This dance is really very simple, but participating will earn you many appreciative glances, words and/or pats on the back. The oro is danced in a long line, with people holding one another by the hand. The dance is mainly used to celebrate occasions such as weddings, but can really be embedded into making any gathering a happier occasion (for instance a night out in a kafana). All you need is some national folk songs and some space. With one person taking the lead, preferably with a handkerchief (or paper napkin) in hand. There are some different kinds of oro, but if you master the simplest one, you will already make most Macedonians proud. How to do it, you ask? Well, you do need some sense of rhythm, but basically you just put two steps forward (sideways to the right) and one step back. Do not worry if it seems that the dance never stops, because these folk songs often unnoticeably blend together. It is well accepted to sneak out of the line after some time.

Do you already have plans to visit Macedonia? Let yourself be seduced by the sweet Macedonian life. Immerse yourself in the local customs and experience a holiday you will never forget.

Walking through Ohrid and Skopje in 2015

Kale Fortess Skopje

After a good walking season in the spring, summer and autumn of 2014 we took the print versions off the shelves just before the winter. We are reaching most of the people online anyway. The new Ohrid City Walk and the renewed Skopje City Walk have been eagerly ordered as PDF and printed at home, and/or stored on the iPad. Even in the winter the occasional brochure has been ordered.

New walking season 2015

With the cheap Wizz Air flights, more and more tourists visit Skopje for a city trip. Now that summer is on it’s way, Ohrid with it’s clear blue lake is also getting popular again. The first city walks for this spring and summer season have already been sold. Let’s make the most out of the upcoming beautiful walking months!

Let the tourists arrive!

Bit Pazar Green Market Skopje

While the last spring rains are still hanging over Macedonia, we are ready for the summer. Firstly, our new website is in the air, as you can see. We are no longer Skopje City Walk, we are Walking Macedonia. Because besides Skopje, also Ohrid now has a brand new city walking guide for tourists who like to explore cities on foot.

The beautifully designed city walks of Walking Macedonia, interesting information, photos and all previous blogs can be found on our new website: www.walkingmacedonia.com. And you will be able to purchase the city walks in one click, which will then be directly sent to your mailbox. Discovering Macedonia has never been easier!

City Walks 2.0 – the final bits

sv kaneo ohrid

Over the past few months, we have been working hard behind the scenes.

● Firstly, we gave the Skopje City Walk an update: the text has changed here and there and the design is now even prettier.
● We began with creating a mobile app as well, something that was high on our wish list. We need a little more time for that than we had imagined, but the app will come out soon nevertheless!
● We also spent a working weekend in Ohrid, to create an Ohrid City Walk as well. Ohrid is by far the most popular city of Macedonia and truly a tourist attraction, but even there was still no city walk available.
● Our fourth project this winter and spring was to create a new website that looks more professional and is better suited to our extended selection.

In two weeks, we expect to complete most of these projects. At that time, the latest versions of Skopje City Walk and Ohrid City Walk will be available online as nicely formatted PDF versions, which will be automatically sent to your inbox. We will then unveil our new website as well, in the same colorrful design as the brochures. We are looking forward to it and we hope you are as well!

Ohrid City Walk is taking shape

ohrid lake

Greetings from Ohrid! It’s Sunday morning and we are sitting in a cafe with our laptops, working on the Ohrid City Walk. In the last two weeks, we wrote our first draft and yesterday we walked along the route to check all the information. Now we are enjoying a cup of Turkish coffee, while at the same time rewriting some parts of the text. Later today, we will walk the route again to be sure everything is perfect.

In 100 days, the second edition of the Skopje City Walk will be published. In addition, we want to bring out the Ohrid City Walk simultaneously. But to keep up with the modern world, the Ohrid City Walk will not be published on paper, but as an app. That will still take quite some doing. So while working hard, we keep our fingers crossed, because for now it all remains exciting.

Well, we are going back to work!

Skopje City Walk 2.0

skopje 2.0

What should definitely be included in the update of the Skopje City Walk, according to you?

The fun thing about Skopje is that it is a city in development. This was already the case before the project Skopje 2014, but is all the more so now. At an alarming rate, the center of the city is taken to task. Large and small changes stack together and contribute to a new sight of the city.

Skopje City Walk cannot let this go by unseen. We are working hard on an update, to be ready in the spring for yet another tourist season. The number of visitors to Macedonia and Skopje continues to rise and thus we expect a great demand for the city walk again this summer.

We are interested to hear your ideas about which sights or information about Skopje must be included in the new version. What are the key ingredients that one should not ignore when visiting Skopje?

If you have not ‘walked The Walk’, we would like to hear what your motivation to purchase would be. How will Skopje City Walk in your opinion become essential for a tourist in Skopje?

Happy walking in 2014!

skopje city walk winter

Wow, who would have thought a year ago that today we would be sending out New Years Wishes to our designer, cartographer, advertisers, points of sale, and all the other people who helped us, supported us and cheered us on?

What started exactly a year ago with a simple idea, grew to something extremely big in only 365 days. We thought to ‘quickly’ create a city walk and learned along the way that there was much more to it than we could have ever imagined.

Despite the many obstacles on our walking trail, the first edition of the Skopje City Walk was a great success. We are already working hard on the preparations for the second edition, with even more information and maybe some extras.

Also our readers, everyone who has purchased the city walk and our Facebook fans deserve a big ‘thank you’. Without your support, the Skopje City Walk cannot exist. We therefore wish you all much happy walking in 2014!

An autumnal city walk

autumn in skopje

We walk onto the square. It is early November, but the sun is shining delightful. The fountain of the Warrior on Horse is being covered with thick plastic to protect it from the cold of winter that will soon arrive. Next to the entrance of GTC mall it smells like a log fire. Men are roasting sweet chestnuts. We get a small bag for only 20 denari. While peeling, we walk to the Vardar. The half-finished ship in the river promises to become an attractive restaurant, but for that we will have to wait for spring.

In a bit, dusk will fall. We pass by the new pedestrian bridges and walk along the promenade the Kej. In which restaurant will we order a hot chocolate? This chocolate treat is different than in any other country we have ever been to. It is not hot chocolate milk, it is not hot chocolate pudding, it is simply ‘hot chocolate’. A perfect way to warm yourself up after a beautiful Skopje city walk in autumn.

Skopje City Walk on television

porta makedonija skopje

There we were, on a crisp Monday morning, standing next to the Porta Makedonija. We arrived well in time so we could mentally prepare each other for our first television appearance. When the reporter and the cameraman arrived, it became clear that we should not have worried. They were nice and very well informed about our story. That gave us the confidence that they would make a good item. Which turned out to be true. Our item about Skopje City Walk, which lasted an ample 5 minutes and was broadcasted at various times on Saturday and Sunday, was informative and personal. This is a good way to start the winter!

A nice and useful business gift

karpos skopje

The tourist season is over, but that does not mean the walking season is over as well. Many business travelers visit Skopje the whole year round, and they want to sight-see the city as well. We will therefore use the winter months to promote the City Walk as a corporate gift. Business partners who do not have much time to show their business relations around, will find a good alternative in Skopje City Walk. In addition, the brochure in itself is a beautiful reminder of the city. The media attention really helps us in this. We have already been approached in response to the article in the newspaper by a party who wanted to receive a quote for ninety brochures. Such requests are very welcome!