Saturday, July 15, 2017

Skopje: Our Neighborhood

I recently posted about our apartment in Skopje.  (See this blog post about our apartment )

Here I thought I would share more about our neighborhood.

Initially, I thought the apartment was a little too far from the heart of the City Center.  But after the nightly protests began - which lasted for 69 days (starting February 24 until May 15, 2017)  - I was glad we were close to the center - but not too close to the protests.  (More on that elsewhere on this blog)

We came to love our apartment and our neighborhood.

We had a convenience store in our building - which had a wide array of supplies.  Of course, this was where I was planning to buy our 5L bottles of water, but, after I hurt my foot, when I found the walk down to the Vero grocery store to be too long, we could actually buy everything we needed in that store - from laundry detergent and toilet paper to bread and milk.

The ladies who worked there took a liking to my daughter, who, even back in January, was asking them to unlock the freezers outside so that she could select an ice cream treat.  (Several  restaurants that had ice cream on the menu did not necessarily stock ice cream before June - and my daughter found this perplexing (and frustrating). For us, from sunny Florida, ice cream is a year-round treat.)  So there we would be, in January/February, out on the street where the ice cream freezers were, standing on the snow and ice in our down coats and boots, while my daughter would select a frozen treat. Anyway, it was nice to have this convenience store (with friendly staff) right in our building, so we were never far from basic necessities.

one of my daughter's favorite spots in our neighborhood - the ice cream freezer at the corner store (March 25)

Also in our building was a hair salon -- where I could get a blow out for 200 MKD (less than $4) and my daughter could get her hair washed and braided for 200 MKD.  We are really going to miss those stylists and their salon - and having such a salon in our building! (Here is a separate post just about that salon: blog post about the hair salon in our building)

I have already posted about the Red Hot Red salon, where we could get manicures for 300 MKD and massages for 600 MKD.  (see blog post about Red Hot Red salon)

We had a wonderful life in Skopje. Case in point: going out for dinner and a manicure (at Red hot Red) before finishing our homework
and being able to get a manicure at Red Hot Red for special occasions
About 2 blocks from our apartment was a taxi stand (across from Universal Hall), so, for the most part, we did not need to learn how to call for a taxi in Macedonian, as we could just walk down the street and hop in a taxi.  (We could get a taxi to most anywhere we needed to go for 100-150 MKD -- under $3)

(There seemed to be ample public transportation - including shiny new red double-decker buses that my daughter and I had intended to try - but we never did figure out the routes. It was so easy to walk everywhere, or to take a taxi when we had to go farther distances - that we never needed to learn how to use the public transport. We will have to keep that on our list of things to do on our next visit to Skopje.)

We were a close walk to a variety of grocery stores - but  most often we would go to the Vero at the other end of our street or the Ramstore when we were at CityMall.  I would bring one of my re-usable shopping bags with me whenever we were out and about - so that we could pick up what we needed (and potentially saving another trip to the store).  (See here for a separate blog post about our adventures at the grocery store: blog post about the grocery store)

We did not have a problem finding anything that we needed.  (There were even bookstores at the malls and in the city centers that sold books in English.)

We were a short walk to a shopping center called Ramstore Mall, a shopping center called Beverly Hills, the Vero (actually - there was one about a 5-7 minute walk, and a larger Vero about a 15 minute walk), the green market. And then we could take a taxi to Vero Jumbo mall, Capitol Mall, CityMall...

We had a nice new kitchen in our apartment, and we had a variety of grocery stores and green markets all around us, but, if I were to be completely honest with you, I did not spend a great deal of time cooking.

There was a nice cafe/restaurant next to our apartment building:

from our first visit back in February
we tried to order it every time, but we never did learn what was in a "sexy salad"
shopka salad is my favorite
a little disappointed when she was told they would not have ice cream until the summer...but the nutella crepe was yummy
towards the end of March, we were able to enjoy their outside seating

And down the street (about 2 blocks) - there were 2 nice bakeries (where we could pick up pastramalija or burek or any number of variations of bread/pastry stuffed with cheese and/or meat and/or vegetables -- and, of course, delicious desserts). For 40 MKD  you could get a satisfying and delicious meal.
some of the treats at the Silba bakery just down the street from our apartment
(March 11)
in the foreground you can see our pastramalija -- like a "Macedonian pizza"

And there was also a cafe that we called "the chicken place" - where we could get a "chicken steak dinner" platter that included rice and a cabbage salad. I am trying to remember now how much that platter cost.  120 MKD?  For about $2 you could have a delicious meal.  If we walked to the park, then we would pass this chicken place on the way home.  (There was a wall-sized mural of Paris Hilton eating a hamburger, which struck us as odd at first, but, we later accepted that she was eating dinner with us.)
(April 4)
the chicken steak dinner - our go-to quick service meal

If we had more time to walk to the city center -- then there were many nice restaurants from which to chose.  I think I have posted about a few of them before? You can go out to a nice restaurant in the city center - have appetizers, entrees, desserts, water, wine -- for a small fraction of what a similar meal would cost here in St Pete.
(January 30)
at the La Terraza restaurant in the city center -- celebrating my daughter's first day of school (January)
the pumpkin soup at Pelister restaurant -- I was sad when this was no longer in season
always macchaitos!
we had to resist the urge to keep going back to our favorite places -- here we are later in May discovering our new favorite Chinese restaurant
There were also several coffee shops near us.  I have already posted about Cafe Broz, for example, that is across from Universal Hall.

my penultimate macchiato at Cafe Broz

my very last macchiato in Skopje .... i heart you, too!
In sum -- we were close to everything that we needed. And all of the basic necessities (and luxuries) were affordable.  We had a wonderful life in Skopje, and we relished every minute in our new home with our new friends.

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