Macedonia struck me as being the most prepared for international tourists in comparison to the other two countries I visited (Kosovo and Albania) though it’s only a matter of time before all three are totally ready and getting bombarded by backpackers and jet setters alike. Now I rocked up not really knowing a single thing about any of these lands, and while that’s totally fine to do, I compiled a list of 15 things I think you should know about each before you go in case you were curious – starting with Macedonia. The name of the country and some of its national heroes are contested The fact of the matter is I’ve probably already offended someone with the title of this post.You see, there are some people out there (a large portion of them Greek, though there are others) who are adamant that the country be referred to as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), not Macedonia.You’ll just have to mind the government’s (hopefully) temporary mess. Skopje has the largest bazaar in the Balkans outside of Istanbul This is frequently mentioned fact though to tell you the truth, it wasn’t that obvious to me. I don’t know if this is an accurate number, but I heard that it is something like 13,000 square meters.When I think of Istanbul’s bazaar, I think of the covered and enormous Grand Bazaar which Stara Charshija is nothing like. This photo doesn’t do it justice but at least you will know what you’re looking for. (Note: It’s the building in the distance on the left, not the one closest) 5.
Countless mountains, 3 national parks, 53 lakes, the Vardar River, valleys, caves…it really has it all so no shortage of things to do if you are a fan of the great outdoors.Something to think about for all the ladies out there headed to Macedonia looking to attract local men…. People smoke everywhere People smoke everywhere, and when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere. It is incredibly cheap I knew Macedonia was going to be cheap, but I didn’t expect it to be that cheap.A lot of places do have designated smoking areas (most restaurants), but the effectiveness of that has always been lost on me. I found it to be even slightly cheaper than Kosovo and Albania.From a traveler’s perspective and politics aside, I have to say I do feel like they are overdoing it a bit.With 1/3 of the country still living below the poverty line, one can’t help but be baffled and even annoyed by the excessive amount of new statues and monuments that have gone up or are going up every which way you turn.They have a good sense of humor and were just so damn welcoming everywhere I went.Even when we couldn’t understand each other, the Macedonians and I got along which means a lot as a traveler.To anyone who is from Macedonia or who has traveled there before – something you think I need to add to this list?Interactiveness is one of the beauties of blogging, don’t you know.That is not to say the standard of agriculture or food production there is lower; on the contrary, it might even be higher.I’m not kidding when I say I’ve had some of the best salads of my life while in Macedonia. If anything, it’s because all of it is being consumed before it even has a chance to cross the border.