Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A night in Skopje, Macedonia.
oh the pains of traveling.

Arriving in Macedonia for the night.

OK, I'll give you guys a little taste for some of the not so fun things of traveling. (Read if you are interested in some random daily stuff, or just skip ahead for more pictures :) I won't be offended.) While I am not complaining, it's not always a picnic in the park. OK, so transition from place to place is always the hardest. Figuring out how to get there and where to go once you are there tends to be the most stressful.

So, Macedonia was not in the itinerary. I had planned to take a series of buses and trains to get from Kotor to Istanbul. It didn't LOOK that far on the map. And I looked up some forums and it seemed possible. However, I couldn't easily figure it out. Bus and train schedules and routes were uncertain, and being a single female traveler, I was uncertain of the safety status in certain places and didn't have a trusted guidebook for them. And train and bus stations is where we are targeted. The day to travel was approaching and I spent a lot of my precious Dubrovnik time and money on internet ($7/hr!) exploring options. So, after much searching online and asking around, I decided to fork out an absurd amount of money for a crappy flight from Dubrovnik to Istanbul (thinking in the back of my mind, my mom would want me to pay much more for my safety).

First this involves returning to Dubrovnik and spending an extra night and day there which at first is annoying, but I get an awesome clean room to myself and take a real shower and feel clean for the first time. a treat! The room is in a different part of town so I see a different angle that I would've otherwised missed. I just chill and read, having my travel plans set and nothing to see, so it was a well spent day. The boarding house owner was a really nice old guy, a little too nice though (like the old lady in Montenegro- what is it with me and attracting ppl. I get more hugs, pats on the face and kisses. Ugh. I think it's a single female asian traveling in Eastern Europe thing...). This guy is infactuated with Asians. He says Americans no good. Chinese good. I try to explain that I am American, not Chinese, but give up after awhile. He ends up offering me a panoramic view which i decline. He allows me to use internet, which I am dying for, in his "office" which is just an extra room in his house. In the end, he forces his wife to give me a home cooked meal. Paprika with beef, which was amazing!!! Though awkward, it was another time to get a great inside view into a Croatian home and culture.

OK, now transit time. The first flight goes from Dubrovnik to Zadar, the capital of Croatia. Then I connect to Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. I arrive at 10:30 pm, and have an overnight self-imposed layover until 11:30 am. But then it dawns on me, what if Skopje is not open 24 hours? It's the capital, but the capital airport in Croatia only had 4 gates... So I land, attempt to go out, but only see the outside. I did read that you can't get to town easily - the airport is in the middle of nowhere. Great. so I run back in and just sit in the arrival place for a few hours. Midnight rolls around and the guards notice I am still there. They ask if I am waiting for someone? I say I'm waiting for a flight the next morning. They are a little confused. But then one guard is really nice and leads me outside, past the lines of waiting Macedonians and to the departure terminal, which is legit and has ppl and flights leaving early in the morning Whew! I happily camp out there for another 11 hours, sleeping a few hours on the bench closely guarding my backpack.

13 hours later, after one of the more stressful/crazier nights of traveling, I'm on my way to Istanbul.


sharock said...

that story totally reminds me of staying up in the helsinski airport for my flight to frankfurt to ny. i didn't sleep tho

Michael said...

Debbie and I drove from Skopje to Dubrovnik in 1975. The hotel in Skopje limited the hours for hot water. There were horse plows in the market. It took three days for the drive - Skopje to Djakovice to Titograd. The Serpentina was the most beautful road I ever drove.