I have been on holidays for the past three weeks and I thought I'd share my experiences.
First of all, an overnight stop off at Hong Kong before I continued on to Europe. And to be honest, Hong Kong was not very good. The smog was so dense that you could barely see any of the mountains or the taller buildings in the distance (as seen in the pic below). Some people were also wearing those masks to breathe better.
Also, it isn't anywhere near as impressive as movies like The Dark Knight would have you believe. Sure, there are some tall and modern sky scrapers which look good but there are just as many old apartment buildings (in which the locals live in) that are so poor and run down that you can't help but be disappointed.
There also isn't much to do in Hong Kong for a tourist apart from shopping which I don't care about. Anyway, enough of that, let's move on...
Next stop was Zurich airport which looked really nice and clean. There were a heap of expensive cars outside waiting to pick up important people and I made a mental note to try and visit Zurich before I left for home.
Then, the short flight to Skopje Macedonia with 90% of the passengers on board being Albanian. No issues with anyone though so no problems.
A vew of the Swiss Alps from the plane. Yes, those are clouds and the mountains rise far above them.
Upon landing at the airport in Skopje I couldn't help but be disappointed. After the lavish airports of Zurich and Hong Kong, Skopje suddenly seemed poor and dirty. As I was being driven to my uncles place, I saw rubbish on the streets, broken houses and begging gypsy's which is not something I'm used to. It started to snow just as I arrived though (and I like snow) so I wasn't completely unhappy.
I went straight to bed for a 12 hour sleep (due to jet lag) and the next morning I took a few snaps of the suburb my uncle lives in.
My expectations weren't very high so I wasn't disappointed or anything. It looked like an ok place to live in. Most of the cars people drive there are new and modern but some of the others, well looked like this.
There were a heap of stray dogs and cats, living on the streets. [/img]
The great divider in Skopje between Macedonians and Albanians, Kameni most (Stone bridge).
I went over the other side to see Bit Pazar and it was like walking into a different country. Very Islamic/Turkish, with women wearing their veils and chants from mosque's. I didn't take any pictures in case I offended anyone.
I then went to the house I gew up in (it's till ours) and the school I attended. I have to say, schooling in Macedonia is much changed from when I went under communist Jugoslavia. There is now graffity everywhere and the kids seem to be running a mock. Back when I went there, it was much, much stricter.
Anyway, the next morning I wake up and look what I see outside my window.
For new years eve, I went to Ohrid. This place is seriously beautiful.
Amazing lakeside views, churches, a fortress, etc. Ohrid has huge potential to become one hell of a tourist destination for the entire world but it seemed to be overrun by Serbs. Honestly, every single person I saw in Ohrid was a Serbian tourist. Even the night club I went to that night was filled with Serbs and the music they played was 90% Serbian.
Don't get me wrong though, I'm not complaining because Serbs are very good people. They were all friendly and seemed to mingle with the Macedonian people perfectly fine. Serbs are also very good looking people. Especially their women which are just amazing. Not that they're all the different to Macedonian women but they were more consistently tall and good looking whereas we have a mix of shorter and taller types.
Before I left back for Australia, I decided to stop off at Ljubjana and then Zurich. The bus ride from Skopje to Slovenia was agonising. It took 13 hours with only brief toilet breaks every 3-4 hours. Also, it was incredibly foggy in parts of Serbia and Croatia but the driver kept going at full pace which amazed (and scared) me. And again, most of the passengers were Albanians but they were all good and had friendly conversations with the Macedonians.
Now, Slovenia. On the surface it seemed like a very pretty, and rich place. Some pics:
But there is a glaring issue and that is, the Slovenian people. I have heard them being described as Germanic and cold and I never knew what that meant until I spoke to a few of them. They have NO PERSONALITY. Not a single one I came across knew how to hold a conversation. Don't get me wrong, they were all friendly and seemed happy to answer my questions but their answers were short and dull. There is nothing Balkan or Slavic about these people. They don't even look like Balkan people. They look like shorter versions of northern Europans. Apart from their language, they are westerners. Which is fine but not what I expected.
I finally struck a conversation with two girls who overheard me talk Macedonian on the phone to my sister and were curious what language it was, but they were Russian and Ukranian. And they said the same thing, that Slovenian people don't know how to communicate.
Lucky I was only there for one night because I would have died of boredom if I had to stay any longer.
Speaking of dying of boredom, Zurich was next and oh boy, what a disappointment. If the Slovenians were boring, Swiss people are actually even worse. Again, all very friendly and were happy to answer any of my questions but they were like robots. All they seemed to do is work and then go home and sleep. The nightlife is non-existant. I went for a walk a couple of late nights and the streets were barren. No nightclubs anywhere, only brothels and druggies.
That's another thing which suprised me about Zurich. It isn't clean and perfect at all. There are a lot of African and Asian immigrants and most of them are scummy drug dealers and prostitutes. I accidently walked on the business side of town one night and came across a street call Langstrasse (which I later found out is famous for a specific reason) and I couldn't run fast enough to get away from there. It's horrible and dangerous.
Also, Swiss people are either perverts or their (mostly German) tourists are. Because after 11pm, on television, all they showed were sex ads and escort girls. On every channel.
I won't even bother posting pics of Zurich because it all came across as artificial. Modern day Swiss people don't seem like they are in any way linked to their previous achievements and culture.
So that was my trip. Zurich and Ljubjana, the two cities I thought I would like most actually disappointed me most. Maybe my expectations were too high but I would never want to go back there.
The biggest suprise was Macedonia. I know people complain about poverty and whatnot but it really isn't that bad. Those who work, have money. Lazy people don't work and whinge. Their salaries are low but everything (except for cars) is cheap to comphensate. And I'm sure it's the same in Bosnia and Serbia.
A few things to note also about Macedonia, I didn't see any attention paid to Bulgaria. The people all watch Serbian television and listen to some Serbian music. Also, nobody want's to go to Greece for a holiday anymore because they don't feel welcome.
And another thing, this forum actually turned me off from going to Serbia due to the hostility certain Serb members display towards Macedonians. And I regret not going now because Serb people are really good people. On my next trip, I'm definitely going to Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia. Croatia I'm not so sure about anymore because I hear they are becoming more and more like Slovenians which is just a complete turn off.
Skopie looks like a small Bulgarian town. OOOOOOOps... it is a small bg town. Ohrid is beautiful. Strangely, fyrom and Albania are the only Balkan countries I ve not been to. And Slovenia if u count it as a Balkan state. From what I ve seen I think I d love Lublyana and Zurich and dislike Skopie and like Ohrid. I mean lots of bg people dislike Vienna or Brussels, but I loved them, especially Vienna!
Yeah I do love them . But I am not suprised in fyrom them do not mention Bulgaria. They are though to hate us for 50 years and to worship the serbs. Its the base of the Macedonioan ethnicity. If a closer relations with Bulgaria are established I m sure they d get we are one people no matter what we call ourselves.
Oh I'm not taking it personally. I can see that Serbs who write offensive messages about Macedonians are a minority because all the Serbs I came across on my trip were good towards me and the Macedonian people.
The fyroms are tought to hate Bulgarians. In their books it is written that we are tatars, mongols, yellow race that enslaved the slavs on the Bolkans. Its that lie that "justifies" the "macedonian" nation. Why? Because we are indistinguished from the fyrom people. Both nations are mixed people: Slavic, Thracian (in fyrom-the Peonians) and Bulgars (in fyrom the one led by Kuber).
Wonderful. Thanks for the photos. I especially enjoyed Ohrid. The photos of Macedonia reminds me very much of Russia and some former eastern block nations I had visited. Remnants of Soviet infrastructure everywhere.
Looks like Macedonia is bouncing back nicely from those dark days.