1.- Escape the heat like a local
At Matka canyon
You wake up in the morning, and it’s already 30 degrees…the city feels like the beginning of an apocalyptic movie.
Where is everybody?
They are probably at Matka lake. It’s just about 30 mins from the city and the place to be on a hot summer day. This is where boys come to show off their muscles and get their adrenaline levels up by swimming in the dangerous rapids and jumping from the rocks. The usual.
If you forgot your picnic you will be more than happy to find this classy restaurant/hotel, where you can dine in style surrounded by flowers. Prices are quite high, so if you’re not up for it, you’ll find cheaper, more popular options a bit further from the entrance to the lake.
2.- Visit an underground church and learn about the Bible at a glance
At the Sveti Spas church.
6 x 10 metres of wood carvings in an iconostasis showing Biblical scenes, from Adam and Eve to Jonah and the whale (pictured below) among vine leaves and flowers. The guide speaks just enough English to name the scenes but with patience and smiles you’ll be able to understand a bit Orthodox church.
3.- Take a walking tour with this guy
He’ll tell you everything, from the dispute about the Macedonian names and symbols to the real reason behind all those statues, bridges, lights and music. Just when you start thinking you may not survive the heat, he’ll kindly invite you for a Macedonian snack and a drink, making you feel at home
4.- Find your local and sit down for a chat
You will not have to look much. Macedonians have a Mediterranean edge and they love to show it. They will be happy to share a moment with you and will be ready to answer all your questions… and if you have no questions, well, there’s always football to talk about.
5.- Join the party at the old town
No matter where you point your ears at, there will be live music coming from somewhere. The whole Old Bazaar will be filled with energy. Try the Pivnica Star Grad / Old Town Brewery (right in front of the Holy Saviour church). The building itself is worth the visit, perched at the top of the Old Bazaar, with a superb view over the narrow streets coming down. The perfect place to see and not be seen :-). Plus, there’s live music on weekends.
6.- Check out this food (and forget about that diet)
BUREK, your little morning happiness
TURLI TAVA, your most traditional stew, served with yoghourt
AJVAR, a delicious sauce made with red pepper and aubergine
SHOPSKA SALAD (for when you have had enough meat, or as a side dish with anything)