A quick, one-day visit doesn’t do this place justice. There are so many layers of culture and history, I could spend weeks here and still not have enough time So instead I played the simple, hungry tourist eating my way through town, guided by a fantastic friend and Skopje native.
First stop: Sveti Nikole, a little bakery on a busy street. It seems to always have a line of customers. The thing to order: simit pogacha.
Step one: take filo dough, smother it in oil, stack up the pieces and bake them ’til crispy. Step two: Slice the greasy filo and serve it in a soft, slightly sweet, white-bread bun. It’s more white flour than I eat in a month, but it was fantastic. The bun soaks up the grease and the filo gives it an addictive crunch. Very hard to stop, but I had promised to share.
Next stop: a bar called Cobblestone, and indeed, half of the floor was made of recovered cobblestones. But that wasn’t even my favorite part of the decor. It was the mosaic-like display of iron lanterns in color-lit boxes:
And a fun mural:
Then on to… dessert(?) in Apche, a tiny, unassuming bakery full of sugary pastries. We got a traditional combo: boza and tulumba. Boza is a drink made from fermented millet. It’s slightly bubbly (it is fermented), but also thick and creamy, a bit like a non-dairy milk (and I guess at some level it IS millet milk). I enjoyed the drink and would gladly order it again.
The tulumba is sort of like a Turkish gulub jamun: deep-fried dough soaked in sweet syrup. It was tasty, but intense.
Then a quick trip to a small farmer’s market, where I saw beautiful local peppers, called embroidered peppers. They look like they’ve been covered with thin brown thread: The small red berries are something like a cranberry, but I didn’t get a chance to try them.
I got a glimpse of Skopje 2014, a group of new-classical buildings. The photos are too forgiving. In real life, these buildings look like Disney / Vegas creations.
The simple, comparatively-sober shops and cobblestones of the the old Skopje bazaar, the Charshija, were a welcome relief.
We then climbed up the hill to the citadel, where we were treated to a gorgeous statue and an amazing view.
I confess, I didn’t make it out of there without stopping for dessert. This time it was a Macedonian macaroon, made with ground walnuts. It looks a bit like an oatmeal creme pie, but it is oh-so-much more delightful.
It was a gorgeous, delicious visit.