March 2023.

I am enjoying reading about these exotic places that you visit – we are not brave enough” writes top commentor Pauline about these Macedonian posts and I feel a duty to put your mind at rest if you’re considering a visit.

Frankly, the scariest part is the drive through Luton to the airport, and even that airport is a joy these days compared to Manchester or Stansted. No, really it is.

Here’s my reflections on the practicalities of visiting Skopje.


Mrs RM booked flights with Whizz Air for £20 each way, cost to planet unknown. 80% of the passengers seemed to be Macedonian returning home from shopping trips to Luton Arndale Centre.

Our two central apartments averaged £31 a night via, both smart and well-equipped with better Wi-Fi than the UK. The Flat Iron, mirrored on New York, is a real bargain.

I took out £200 on Macedonian Denar from a cask point the first night and had £30 left after four days. £170 covered the buses each day, a concert, approx. 65 macchiatos and all meals. Apartments paid in euros, interestingly.

This was the bill for a typical meal, two omelettes, a beer and two coffees. Think of the 710 as pence and add 50%, so about a tenner, perhaps a bit less.

The only economy we exercised was the internet. It would have cost a few quid to get mobile data so we just used the WiFi in the cafes, which I think is what the locals do.


We hardly heard an English voice all trip, except on the bus back from Pristina. Most people spoke enough English, or at least American, to get by, and our only hiccup was when I tried to buy a bus ticket the first time. In fact, getting a bus card was the only troublesome part of the trip, which is where other bloggers like “Where Food Takes Us” come in handy.

We downloaded Google translate, available off-line, to show the staff in bus stations and bars. Here’s an example.

If in doubt, of course, speak English very slowly.


We never felt in danger, whether walking in the dark at midnight or from unwarranted male attention (says Mrs RM). People were efficient rather than effusive, just like in Greece.

Of course, if your first experience of Skopje is a hotel opposite this,

and a burnt-out car,

you might wonder where you’ve landed, but bar a tendency to drop litter on the side of roads it’s no worse than Pontefract. And five minutes along the river you’re at this;

The biggest risk is to your arteries,

and there may be a sense of panic when the toilets are demarcated by zoo animals rather than “Fillies” and “Colts”.

This is female, apparently.

The toilets are generally immaculate, and unlike Greece you won’t come across the squat. That said, when England fans visit the national stadium this November they may wish to avoid the Gents near the ground (top).

The look of horror on the wall opposite says it all.


There’s a railway station. I think the train leaves on May 17th, and possibly August 5th. When and where it goes, I never found out.

The centre of town in negotiable on foot; as long as you can cross the road within the 14 seconds the Green light gives you. It’s not a pedestrian-friendly place but it’s not manic, and cars DO slow down at the pedestrian crossings.

Best you don’t wear shoes like this, mind;

For trips out of town, you’ll need to negotiate the central bus station, which sells tickets in advance and even tells you which platform to go to. There’s a website called BalkanViator that was more reliable than Rome2Rio, and I salute it now.


It was all good, fresh, recognisable stuff, with an emphasis on pizza, pasta and Germanic meat and potato dishes.

And a lot of cake.


Just one, the Dinosaur Park. They’re not real; the lady presses buttons to make them work. Press PLAY now.

That was the biggest waste of 70p each in a long, long time.


      1. When we visited the Ukraine they had a beer dispense machine on the street. I can’t promise it was Bass, looked more kike Jaipur, and the dispense was attended by a skimpily dressed young woman (so says Mrs RM, I didn’t notice).


  1. In 1983 I first went through that station travelling from London to Athens, so that is where the trains should go. However, at the moment Zagreb – Beograd is suspended (info from Seat61) so the through journey is in abeyance. There are some internal services in Macedonia including one to Bitola from which you could get a cab into Greece where the railhead is Florina. There might be a bus but I don’t recall seeing anything. In theory a railway is to be built (rebuilt?) across the border but I wouldn’t plan on it.


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