Saturday, July 15, 2017

Skopje: adventures at the grocery store

I started this post when we first arrived in Skopje -- and it has been in my "drafts" folder for months. Now, of course, I can navigate my way around the stores effortlessly.  I know my way around. And I know what products we need.

At first, of course, it was a challenge.

Macedonian is written in the Cyrillic alphabet (which we had learned when we were beginning to learn Russian in Moldova). I could sound out some words, like banana:

I took this picture on my first trip to Vero.  I was pleased with myself that I could "read" the sign that said "banana"

But -- it was all of the other labels that I needed to be able to read, that weren't so self-explanatory as a pile of bananas.

For example, I spent a long time pouring over a bottle of cleaner -- packaged in German.  It was in the middle of several different carpet cleaners.  I was looking for something like Oxi-Clean or Spray-n-Wash spot remover treatment to use on clothing.  I thought this bottle was such a cleaner.  But its placement in between several brands/types of cleaners that were more obviously labeled for carpets left me concerned.  (As it turned out, I made the right choice.  And so I stuck with that product in future)

Which is what happens, of course. You do the best you can trying to understand what things are. Sometimes it is trial and error. Eventually you figure things out.

But those first weeks in a new place can be stressful, when you walk in to the store and can read nothing. And things take longer than you think they should, as you walk around, like you're trying to find your way in the dark.

Which is why when I saw these

in 10 languages we learn that these are packages of tissues?!
Honestly!  Anyone can see that these are tissues.  But here the manufacturers are kind enough to label them as such in 10 languages.  10!  There were so many other packages on which I had wished there was information in the English language!!  (or, even a Romance language like French or written in the Latin alphabet....or some pictures that would depict what is inside...)

In the US, I am an avid reader of nutrition labels. So, not being able to read the info on the packages was in itself a frustration.

There was also the issue of store layout, and where to find what we needed.

I came to an understanding, of course. But -- there could easily be 2 different places for cereal (one for my museli and one for my daughter's corn flakes), 2-3 different places for cheese, 2-3 different places for milk, eggs not located in a refrigerator section, etc, etc.

Again, once you go to the store a few times, you learn your way around. So it is kind of funny trying to put myself back in my shoes from January....

my daughter's soy milk could be found with these other gourmet items - like quail's eggs and French cheese -- not with other milk products

this Winx Club packaging got my daughter's attention - these peanut flavored snacks (shape of cheese puffs in the US) also come with toys inside  (I thought we were going to bring a few packages home with us - for her friends back in FL - but by the time we left she was too mature for these "kid-ish" snacks -- how much had changed since January!)
at the larger Vero (about a mile from our house) there is also a cafe -- nice to stop for a snack and a macchiato (of course!) before we went shopping
my helper
on our way back towards our apartment
that's the Millennia Cross at the top of Mount Vodno...later in the spring we plan to take the cable car to the top

there's a grocery store in every mall -- here is the Ramstore at CityMall - which we thought was funny since my husband's name is Ramsay -- this cow just gave my daughter a sample of something like the "gogurt" we have back home

(While this post was still in draft form, there was a recent)  Washington Post article about a new trend in the US to replace Macy's and Sears locations at malls with grocery stores:

I loved that we could combine the mall and the grocery store - epecially since we didn't have a car to get around.  We could combine leisure with necessity.  (Whenever I left the house with my daughter on an outing - I would bring one of my re-usable shopping bags - so we could always pick up whatever we needed while we were out - saving the need for additional trips just for the grocery store.)
ajvar! (I have already googled where we can buy ajvar in the US -- it is possible -- but SO expensive!!)
very handy that you can buy the packages of toilet paper with a handle - we (and I am sure everyone else in the apartment buildings in our neighborhood) are walking to/from the grocery store - and we need the handle to get this larger package home easily
someone is glad to be back in a country with scented toilet paper...this time we went for the peach
did you know there is such a thing as instant Turkish coffee?! neither did I.  But I sampled some from this nice person - and - it actually tastes pretty good!

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