Tourists from Turkey visit Macedonia for several reasons. Firstly, they love Macedonia, and they see its citizens as their brothers. Secondly, they don’t need visas. Thirdly, according to them, and most importantly is that they want to spend their money in a friendly country.
In order for someone to enjoy himself in his hometown, he has to become an “actor“ and to play the tourist role. Only then, without any strain, and by forgetting all of his day to day obligations and problems, one can take a stroll across Skopje’s many strees, to share a smile with the people around you, to greet them, to take photos or simply put, to enjoy the beauties of one’s hometown. As a tourist in Skopje all that you see will seem “different “ and even the grass at the Kale fortress will seem greener. Eventhough the fortress is still a regular stop for the visitors, it remains closed and is mercyless towards the toursist that have travelled thousands of kilometers to see it closely as it is the most attractive and provocative place in the city.
There were 20 guests from Antalia and Alania that were awaited by Balkon3 at the Kale’s parking lot. They are visiting Skopje for the first time. They are travelling via turkish traveller’s agency “Bejaz Lale,” and they are awaited by a tourist guide from a traveler agency from Skopje, “ Badem Tour.” The guests are predominantly emigrants from the Balkan countries and they have come to see their homelands and relatives.
The tourst package named “Hello Rumelia” that includes 4 logings costs 559 euros for half-board arrangment. They are travelling the folowing schedule-they arrive in Pristina by plane and then they visit Skopje, Bitola, Resen, Ohrid, Struga, and for the end, Prizren. “There are several resons why we have come to Macedonia,” says the 42 years old Mustapha Mavi, owner of a chain of stores in Antalia. He also says: ” For a start, we love Macedonia, and we think of the people of this Balkan country as our brothers. We wanted to learn about our cultural differences. Secondly, we don’t need visas and the third and most important reason are the finances. Instead of travelling to Germany, a country where a visa is required, and above all the customs officials ask you where are you travelling, why are you here. I can’t stand that. I prefer to spend my money in a friendly country.”
NOT MUCH INFORMATION ABOUT MACEDONIA ON GOOGLE
We continued the conversation with Mustapha at the courtyard of Mustapha Pasha’s mosque. We were accompanied by his son, the 20 year old Arda. He shares the same name with Galatasaray’s former best player, but he supports its eternal rival, Fenerbahche. I support Beshiktash, so we coudn’t find a mutual ground who will be this year’s champion.
“Before coming here, I was searching information about Macedonia on Google and except for the blogs, I couldn’t find any information about your country. The stories from the blogs were not relevant information for me. I wanted to know about customs in Macedonia, its national meals, beverages, cultural sites, says Mustapha.
” For example, a year ago I was visiting Damask, the capitol of Syria and we were taken to a big tent where all of the information about the country was presented” says one of the tourists.
From the mosque, we continued toward Kurshumli An, and the group was in for a surprise there. The gate of the An was closed and the guide told them many facts about the monument. They took photographs from the outside and then they moved along toward the Old Bazaar. They had some tea and went to see a souvenir shop. We were interested what they bought. They replied “nothing.” We have all of this in Antalia.“
ONE SKOPJE, BUT TWO CITIES WITHIN
The next destination was the city square, Macedonia. Before that, the group passed by the Assembly, and they had an afteernoon cup of coffey at the Ramstor shopping mall. „The warrior with a horse” drew a lot of attention. For them the monuments at the city square were a pleasant surpise as well as the costs for the “Skopje 2014” project. After a photo session at the square that lasted half an hour, it was time for supper, which was appropriate timing for us to ask the perennial question about their impressions after the 6 hour walk throughout Skopje.
Erdal Kijak, a teacher from Antalia, was very pleased from the site seeing and said the following: „I’m visiting Skopje for the first time and it is obvious that it is a historical city that momentarily is going through a build up phase. It is a small developing country, has different cultures, the people are friendly and very polite, which is nice and positive.” The inspector from Alania, Enes Odzak, said the following about his impressions: “It is below my expectations, as it is a european country but still it is a very filthy place and it doesn’t reflect its culture. I don’t feel at all that I’m visiting another distant place. Another impression was the division of Skopje into two parts. That is very bad. The city has to act as a whole. Everything has to be shared. There are two cities actually” says Odzak