Skopje

September 24, 2009 at 11:46 am Leave a comment

Skopje landscape

Skopje is pretty much fucked up, an earthquake in 1963 has leveled the city and triggered a feel-good socialist effort of brutalist reconstruction which has turned most of the town in a grid of concrete highrises, all the same and pretty much dull.
The old Stone Bridge still marks the division of Skopje into two influence areas. South the Soviet-style Slavic Macedonian area, North the Ottoman style Albanian Macedonian area.

Nicola
During our stay there we’ve met a curious figure, a certain Nicola, a shady former alcoholic from Italy. What makes him peculiar is the fact that he’s a former alcoholic that drinks. And much for that matter. How he manages to pull this off we still don’t know.
We were housed in a Student House, the Pelagonija Studentskij Dom. When we first got there, on August 31st Pelagonija was full of Dada installations, such as a pile of dripping and broken WCs in the main hall, a mountain of drawers on each storey landing and so on, the quantitative and classificatory nature of these artworks escaped our comprehension.
On the next day, probably following central committee directives, the artworks were removed.

Studenski Dom
In Pelagonija we experienced slight discomforts such as: psychedelic tiling in bathrooms, Dictyoptera visitations, perforation of our buttocks by mattress springs, view of ectopically decorated christmas trees from our bedroom window, lousy italian music at wee hours and the warmest mess room. Ever.
After a few days of senseless partying we finally found a band which played at least a song we liked. Actually a cover of Kraftwerk’s Das Modell. We had to seriously threaten them of throat slitting in order to extend the performance of that particular song of two mere minutes.

Room 103
Exploring Pelagonija’s corridors we found a room inhabited by three Austrian madmen. They like to call themselves Krafftmalerei and they also like to bury themselves in their dirty hostel room for ages while repeating industrial mantras and recording each other.

Austrian party

The youngest component of this collective has allegedly murdered a Dutch pizza delivery man while under the influence of “magic mushrooms”.

In his words: “HE VAS IN DE MÜD OF KILLING ME”
LC: “and what did you do?”
A: “I killd him bevoor”.

Matka Lake

Matka Lake

Matka lake (sorry croatian link) is a lake that shouldn’t be there, a lake that owes its extistence only to the sturdy Yugoslav hydroelectric industry. Its main attraction is supposed to be the boat trip in the caves, but the water level was so low that the boats hung from the mountainsides like dead ducks. The dam is pretty nice and it has been a pillar of our new approach to tourism, we like to call it infrastructural tourism.

Matka lake

Tetovo

Tetovo

Tetovo is the unofficial Albanian capital of Macedonia. You will not find any sign of a macedonian off-colour japanese war flag there, neither will you find cyrillic script signage. Only two-headed eagles and a lot of ümlauts.

Tetovo main square

Tetovo Bazaar

People in Tetovo live a peaceful life of commerce, we must say that the market is much more colourful and rich than the bazaar in Skopje.

Arabati Baba Tekke

While we were there we visited the Arabati Baba Teḱe, a former Bektashi Sufi Darvish monastery. The history of this monastery is very interesting. During the Tito rule it was converted to casino+art gallery+restaurant and hotel. After the fall of Yugoslavia it was taken back by the few surviving Bektashi (an alcoholic mystic Shiite Islamic sect) and turned into a Tekke (monastery) again.

During the unrest in Kosovo, Sunni Albanian elements took over the Tekke, jailed the old chief Darvish into a wooden blue tower (with the excuse of a contagious illness) and turned the complex into a Sunni mosque and islamist centre.

We were greeted there by a stout security guard, he was very kind to us and showed us the facilities, when we parted, after the customary photo-op he told us he had been there, on the gate tower, shooting Macedonians by the dozen. He introduced himself as a member of UÇK. We bid farewell in order not to compromise our micronation’s neutral status.

Old man

Another funny character on the premises was watering a cemetery ground, he had keen memories of the Italian Fascist domination of Albania, we didn’t, but nevertheless he was a lovely old man.

Solid house

Ohrid

Ohrid Lake

In southern Macedonia there lies Ohrid, both a lake and a lakeside town. Ohrid lake is the seasonal home of the critically endangered European eel, which migrates from the distant Sargasso Sea to this remote place in order to reproduce. The Ohrid lake has crystalline waters, slightly tainted by the recent massacre of Bulgarian citizens, drowned after their boat sunk under their recently acquired capitalist weight. In Ohrid we had our first taste of fish in a month, not fish from the lake anyway, because overfishing has depleted the stock of the even rarest Ohrid trout.

Ohrid boat

In Ohrid we experienced the hospitality of a fine Macedonian family, the quality of their friendship, their propolis flavoured rakija and their tasty tomatoes still bring us to tears.

Ohrid

End of the Biennale

Leaving Skopje

We removed our artwork and fled Macedonia to reach Sarajevo, Bosnia. Our next stop.

Way to Sarajevo

On the border between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (actually the serbian sovereign region, Republika Srpska), we were asked to give five euros in order to cross the vast no-man’s land there. Officially this place is a natural park, called Mokra Gora.

Tetovo
Tetovo is the unofficial Albanian capital of Macedonia. You will not find any sign of a macedonian off-colour japanese war flag there, neither will you find cyrillic script signage. Only two-headed eagles and a lot of ümlauts.
People in Tetovo live a peaceful life of commerce, we must say that the market is much more colourful and rich than the bazaar in Skopje.
While we were there we visited the Arabati Baba Teḱe [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabati_Baba_Te%E1%B8%B1e], a former Bektashi Sufi Darvish monastery. The history of this monastery is very interesting. During the Tito rule it was converted to casino+art gallery+restaurant and hotel. After the fall of Yugoslavia it was taken back by the few surviving Bektashi (an alcoholic mystic Shiite Islamic sect) and turned into a Tekke (monastery) again.
During the unrest in Kosovo, Sunni Albanian elements took over the Tekke, jailed the old chief Darvish into a wooden blue tower (with the excuse of a contagious illness) and turned the complex into a Sunni mosque and islamist centre.
We were greeted there by a stout security guard, he was very kind to us and showed us the facilities, when we parted, after the customary photo-op he told us he had been there, on the gate tower, shooting Macedonians by the dozen. He introduced himself as a member of UÇK [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albanian_National_Liberation_Army_(Macedonia)]. We bid farewell in order not to compromise our micronation’s neutral status.
Another funny character on the premises was watering a cemetery ground, he had keen memories of the Italian Fascist domination of Albania, we didn’t, but nevertheless he was a lovely old man.


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Skopje – BJCEM opening The way back

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