Thursday, October 13, 2011

Harvest Festival in Gostivar

As I sort of woke up this morning (only to go back to sleep until a more decent hour) I comprehended this outside my window and like any decent person went- I have to get a pic! So:

With such a beautiful day to start, what could go wrong? (spoiler- nothing did)

Jen was coming over to hang out so we could go to Gostivar the next day and attend the Harvest Festival. So we wandered around the old town and got some souvenirs for our families. And we special ordered a few Christmas gifts! I’d tell you what they are, but those people read my blog- so no spoilers for them. But it should be cute with a flag and the name of the country on it. Later in the day, Justin and Lizzie came to Skopje by rent-a-car and we had to return the car to National (which I knew where it was because that is where Erin had rented the car from!). We then went to this Chinese restaurant where I walk past almost every day when I go to the institute. The food was mediocre at best and over priced. I won’t go back, but the others seemed to like their food. Mine was just super vinegary-and veggies shouldn’t be doused in vinegar. We went out to VinoSkop which is a local wine fest to try a few different wines. I even got a fancy VinoSkop glass for my tasting. You had to pay by the glass, but prices were pretty cheap- way cheaper than a glass in a restaurant. However, I was tired and sore and we had to get up early the next day (and me earlier than them, because I had offered to cook breakfast). And we were planning on walking all day the next day exploring Gostivar, so I went home. (best decision ever by the way!)

On Saturday we all woke up and had scrambled eggs, bread, tomaotes, and grapes. Then it was off to the bus station to catch the bus to Gostivar. Note, the bus cost us 200 MKD and the taxi ride cost us 100MKD to the bus station). About 1.5 hours later we arrived in Gostivar. Instead of riding the bus to the bus station we got off when we saw the Obama Café.

Yes. There I a café named after Obama. It has his pic everywhere. However, it doesn’t have hot chocolate, only tea and coffee. After our refreshing stop there (because it was cold and rainy- just plain icky weather outside!) we wandered down towards the center, and decided to walk towards all of the shouting figuring that must be where the festival must be! And it was- in a way- it was the end of the 5K. So we met up with some of the Peace Corps who were putting it on and then wandered around down town.

Afterwards we were hungry so we stopped for pizza. This restaurant was good- right of the square next to the church if you are ever in Gostivar. (still no hot chocolate) But the menu was in Albanian. And the guy had problem understanding my Macedonian- and his only languages were Albanian and Macedonian. So we ended up getting hibiscus tea because I had no idea what type he offered, but he only offered one type- so I said yes! But we ended up getting hibiscus tea- and let me tell you if it wasn’t hot tea and I wasn’t so cold I could have never drank that stuff! It tasted like vomit! However- the pizza was delicious! We had one cheese pizza and one mysterious meat pizza (read above about not speaking the language!).

Daniel called right after we finally got directions from some of the Peace Crops people about where the festival was to take place and directed him and his family there as well. Then we began walking up the small hill and over the river and through the city to this university building!

Most of the festival had been cancelled because of the horrendous non-stop rain almost all day. But they still had a kids corner and two or three performances with folk songs and dancing. I was able to record most of it for other enjoyment.

After the performances we all wandered towards the Old Clock Tower and mosque. It wasn’t that long of a walk, although cold and rainy. After taking some pictures around the tower and the mosque we went to see if we could go into the mosque and look around. This nice older gentleman said of course we could (American? We love you!), but women had to cover their heads. I was the only one willing to do so/had a hat on, so only Daniel, his kids, and myself went in. This guy was super nice and told us all about the mosque and what everything was for both upstairs and down stairs. It was very pretty as well. I had never been in a masque before, so that was kinda cool. When we got back down, he offered to show us the minaret, but there were other people worshiping in there, so he said he couldn’t right now.

Then we stopped for delicious desserts at this little dessert bar on our way back to the center. It was so delicious that I wanted to get some to take home, but the guy behind the corner just kept looking at me like I was crazy! So I walked out without spending more money there. Then we caught a taxi to the bus station, then it turned out that we just missed one and we were going to have to wait an hour and a half for the next bus. But we got the tickets and then just kind of hung around. We went to this little restaurant and got French fries and soda as we waited.

Then a bus ride back and out to dinner at the Mediterranean place where I got regular hot chocolate and a falafel sandwich! Lizzie and Justin headed home that night while I got prepared for a last minute trip I was taking the next day! More later.

See you around the globe!

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