Not much shade at the Niš bus station waiting on our ride to Skopje. It’s 30 degrees and I’m just cooking in my black bitch pants. The bus arrives and we stash our bags below and climb on. Don’t see any seat numbers. We just grab some seats and go with it. It is hot af in here.
We review the map and our newest revisions to Plan B, “Alright so over to Musquodoboit Harbor then Kejimkujik?”, “Oh ya, haha. Then into Ecum Secum and Tatamagouche”, “Steak sauce!”, “Steak sauce? Is that your new catch phrase or something?”, “Maybe. I remember hearing it on some sitcom”, “Reminds me of an old Nintendo golf game where the guy drives the ball and yells, ‘Cream Cheese!!'”, “Lol I like it. Steak Sauce!”, “Cream Cheese!”
MacKay preps some more Spittin’ Chiclets
The bus gets rolling and it may be time to catch some hangover zzzzzzs. I biff Air’s Talkie Walkie album on to start the process. Sounds so good in these Bose earbuds I can’t not pay attention though. So I look into hostels in Skopje instead and find a winner at a new place called Mickitos. Private room for 16 bucks and they have laundry. Done.
A little warm on the bussy and no sleepy. Still silly from our goonfest last night and the drinks this morning. Might as well toss on another album worth paying attention to. Nicolas Jaar’s releases under Against All Logic have been stellar. 2012 – 2017 up next. Perfect. I watch the little Serbian towns flit by as the sun roasts my chest and inner thighs from the window across the aisle.
We make a stop in a small town named Vladicin Han in southern Serbia. Nice looking place. I’m enjoying this drive through the Serbian countryside. Pace of life has slowed a bit down here and it looks remote and peaceful. Just blasting through the albums here too. What else did I take offline? Hmmm the Errors album Come Down With Me? Not sure I’ve listened to that. More perfect passing scenery tunes. Cream Cheese!
We come into a town called Vladičin Han as the sun is setting behind some mountain.
This bus is hitting a lot of little places along the way. Didn’t realize we were on the milk run. We might be getting into Skopje pretty late. The sun starts to set and it’s just the lights of everyone’s phones on the bus now.
We pass an accident near Srpska Kuća. A wagon of wood must have come unhitched and absolutely destroyed the front half of a hatchback. The vehicle is crumpled in on itself and I don’t see how anyone could have survived such a crash. The truck is up the road a bit and police are on the scene already. We delicately weave through it all. Scary.
Just after this we pass a field that looks to have been deliberately set ablaze. The flames lick the shadowed mountains behind, erratic in the wind. Hmmm maybe I should pull up the tempo a bit here to match all of this randomness streaming in from the bus windows. Polygondwanaland should do the trick.
We slow down on approach of a place named Čukarka. Small place. About the same population of Seabright. The bus rolls up to the border soon after. There are back to back border guards in adjacent booths. The first guy rifles through all of our passports and then just passes them through a window to the other guy. Simple.
Alright, we’re in North Macedonia. Steak Sauce!
(yaaaaaa, I don’t know about these catch phrases. Probably ditch em)
It’s not far to the capital now. We change buses outside of Skopje. This one is packed and I motion to an empty seat by a hoodied dude with one of the only available empty seats. He nods in agreement. We’re shoulder to shoulder. Glad it wasn’t this full the whole way here.
We get in at around 830. So what could have been a 2 hour trip took about 5 hours. Hop off grab our bags and scan for hostel directions. Alright this way. No just kidding, this way. It’s about a 15 minute walk to Mickitos which says it’s right in Old Town. Having no knowledge of Skopje, or North Macedonia in general really, we don’t know what to expect.
The city looks nice so far though. Big place. Some fancy lights across a bridge indicate we’re getting somewhere notable. I don’t know if Manu Chau is gonna be around while we’re here but we’ll be just missing this fucking guy.
That’s probably for the best. I can’t imagine any new Bryan Adams tracks making waves on today’s music scene. Fun to see some CanCon here in Macedonia though. That was unexpected.
“Dude, is that Alexander the Great over there?”, “Hmm maybe. I mean, there’s got to be a statue of that champ around here somewhere.” We get closer. Nope, not Alex da G.
I think we’ve found our way into Old Town Skopje at this point. There are a ton of statues and stone laden walks, old looking shops and signs for a bazaar. Looks like a fortress is lit up on the hill. Ya, some history here for sure. Alright cool, this is looking sweet. Not many people around but I guess it is Sunday night. Just around the corner we find the hostel, Mickitos. Or at least we find a cafe called Mickitos and assume it’s where we can begin the investigation.