We got up just in time to run up to the top floor of our hotel, the Hotel Super 8, here in Skopje, Macedonia and get breakfast. We were the only ones up getting breakfast at the time that we were there.
After breakfast we set out to go for a walk and see a little bit of Skopje’s old town, Stari Grad. In 1963 80% of Skopje was levelled by a massive earthquake. Nearly all of the city has been built since that time and now there is a new project to rebuild much of the city in an older style since the work done since 1963 was mostly done in a drab, modern, grey block style that was en vogue at the time. But today it looks boring and ugly and the original project was never completed so a new project to build a bright and beautiful city in a classic style is under way.
The old town is small and leaves a lot to be desired. It was full of panhandlers and was not very pleasant. It is loaded with jewellery shops, if you are looking for that kind of thing. There were a few restaurants and cafes but nothing that we saw that was very interesting. Nearly every shop was a kabob place.
So we just walked around for a little bit, saw most of the stari grad and returned to the hotel where we ate in the restaurant downstairs for lunch. I decided to not order any food for myself and just see if I could eat enough from getting the leftovers from what the girls did not eat and, without any surprise, that worked really well. It is very easy to do that as they are always leaving way too much food that they do not touch. They both order ridiculous amounts of food and eat almost nothing.
After our late lunch we hung out in the hotel. I had a lot of catching up that I wanted to do so I put in a long day of writing and posting from the hotel since the Internet access was pretty good. Everyone was glad to have down time and the girls just played in the room all day. It is a very large room so this worked out really well. They could even run around in it.
This evening, while on a call, we suddenly heard a commotion out in the street. So Dominica and Liesl ran to the window to see what it was. It turned out to be six thousand protesters in a huge march coming across the river past the Department of Foreign Affairs and turning right by our hotel and going down the main street and under the bridge all within full site of our hotel windows. This was amazing, we had never seen anything like this.
It turns out that this is day fifteen of marches against the government here in Skopje. There has been a major issue with corruption and scandal and things are getting pretty serious. The military was deployed to keep things under control, but nothing got out of control or felt dangerous. We were watching the news and Twitter to see what was happening. It was so interesting.
The mob painted over murals of the president, paint bombed the Department of Foreign Affairs, marched on to parliament and buried a tombstone to human rights in front of it. This is one major political learning experience for the girls, Liesl at least. She and Dominica got to watch a lot of it. I can’t believe that we managed to be right in the centre of things! This explains so much of what we saw last night.
Given the events of the evening, we opted to just stay in and go to bed early. No one was all that hungry and we have to be on the road early tomorrow, anyway.