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Fiery Rednut up to no good

New Year's Eve in Macedonia

MACEDONIA | Friday, 5 January 2007 | Views [2963] | Comments [3]

After some heavy drinking over Christmas I set off with Colin, an Aussie I met in Bratislava, for new years in Macedonia. No one in Barcelona could understand exactly why I was going there, but I dodged their criticisms and it turned out to be the best new years celebration I have had and one unforgettable road trip.

We landed in Munich on Boxing Day afternoon and Uwe, our chauffer, was waiting at the gate. We caught up over coffee for about an hour until Dorota, another ex Barcelona trainee arrived from Poland. So with all the introductions and reuniting out of the way we packed the boot of the car and set off towards Graz to where we were to meet the last person before continuing on.

What was that saying again? "The best laid plans of mice and men", yeah that was it. It seems as though our haphazard planning of this trip didn't take into account the greasy conditions on the road around Munich airport. So, on the first on ramp to the motorway we careered over the side barrier and into a sign post that was intended to tell us to slow down.

After the police, the "yellow angels" and the storm clouds threatening our road trip had cleared, we found ourselves in quite a nice little hotel in Munich being paid for by Uwe's insurance. So we killed a night and a day in Munich, seeing the sites and sampling the beer and met back at the mechanics around 3pm the next afternoon. The car was totally drivable but just looked like a really fat person had sat on the bonnet. Good enough for us so we headed to Graz to meet Werner who showed us the sights of his city and took us for some beer and that wiener schnitzel I never got to have in Vienna.

Up early the next morning for a brisk walk up the Schlossberg then we were off, with Dubrovnik our target. Those mice must have been nibbling at our plans again over night because when we stopped for petrol just after Zagreb the spanner fell into the cogs. I inhaled a cream doughnut as I hadn't eaten much all day and I perused the pages of a lonely planet guide to the western Balkans. I was previously a little stressed about my needing a visa for passing through countries like Serbia and Bosnia. But I found out it was all clear. I flicked over to Macedonia, which I was sure was fine, but the spanner dropped right there. Aussies need a visa, shit. What was worse, New Zealanders didn't, those bastards.

After some broken English conversations with the service station workers, we explained our predicament and eventually got hold of an address for the Macedonian embassy in Zagreb. We rang the embassy and whittled down their offer of "be here in half an hour", to an hour and ten minutes. Back on the motorway doing 160km/h found us in Zagreb with no map and lots of traffic and one way streets. Eventually got the visa after some calls to Macedonia and we were back on our way.

160km/h is ok for Germans driving BMW's on the autobahn, however we were a very over loaded Opel Astra, the roads were good though and we made good time down to Split. We arrived fairly late and decided to stop there for the night, but dinner seemed more important to us than a bed. Funnily enough they both came from the same place. We ducked into a nice little Croatian restaurant around the corner from where we parked the car. After eating, Uwe asked the waiter if he knew any cheap places to stay. Not long after, we were following him down an alley behind the restaurant and into a nice little private apartment within walking distance of the city centre. We investigated the city but decided to head to bed pretty early because of the long drive ahead of us tomorrow, none of knew quite how long it would turn out to be.

We swayed back and forth down the windy road from Split to Dubrovnik and arrived there for lunch, later than we expected. We sat in the sun on the outside of the city wall away from the wind and had a beer. We were all so relaxed we didn't want to move from Dubrovnik, we also didn't know what to expect after there. A quick swim in the chilly winter waters of the Adriatic woke us up and we headed back to the car to continue on.

We were right to be a little apprehensive about the next part of the journey, the 400kms or so took us 12 hours to cover, but it was a very memorable drive. We pasted so many new things in that drive but there were a few stand outs. Relaxing on the ferry across one of the lakes as we admired the mountains around. Climbing up the mountains away from the sea and into the middle of Montenegro as the sun was setting. Stopping for coffee in the middle of the mountains at a little town with icy streets. Nervously waiting at the UN border post as we tried to enter Kosovo. Seeing our first blue hated UN soldiers standing next to their white tanks. Seeing a big KFOR road block, guarded by guys with big guns. Driving through rubble strewn streets with a large razor wired fence protecting a military base on one side. Arriving in Skopje, at 2.30am, and going straight to a nightclub.

Leaving the nightclub at closing time we headed back to Desi's house, our host for the New Years period. She told us we can't go to sleep because there is a bus coming at seven to take us out to the lake. OK, sweet, so we stayed up and got on the bus rather drunken and promptly feel asleep. There are photos of me awake on that trip, but no memories. We woke up three hours later at Lake Ohrid in the mountains in the south of Macedonia. We couldn't resist another chilly dip in the lake, this time not for quite so long, it was bloody cold. Desi showed us the sites of the city and worked up an appetite for my first taste of cevapcici. Not bad at all.

Once again no rest when we got back to Desi's, hung about talking and polishing off some Albanian brandy I bought duty free in Montenegro. Then off to an awesome restaurant for a traditional Macedonian meal, washed down with beer, wine and rajkia. That was followed by some traditional dancing in the restaurant as the band sparked into life. So we all twirled hand in hand, back and forth around the crowed restaurant until it was time to head out to a night club.

After dealing with the beggar children clinging to our legs in the line, and noticing the "no guns" sign on the front door, we headed into "Betwo". We spent the rest of the night there and polishing off plenty of vodka and Red Bull in own little private area. Not exactly sure what happened that night, but I woke up back at Desi's just in time to see her on Sunday morning TV. So weird seeing someone you know on television, especially because I had seen her not that many hours before dancing and partying like crazy.

Desi returned home and took us all for a tour of the centre of Skopje. We spent half the time trying to change money on a Sunday and ending up doing it at a bakery. The other half was spent admiring the old part of the city as our tour guide explained everything as we went along. We had a late lunch in a nice restaurant near the main square, dusted off a few beers and crashed at Desi's house when we arrived home. After a quick few hours we got up and readied ourselves for what was my best new years celebration to date.

Enter scattered memories here!

The party started early and finished late with different crowds of people sweeping through over the hours. Most had one thing in common, they were all very well boozed. When looking at the mountain of alcoholic liquids before the party started, we thought maybe Desi bought too much. No. At some hour of the morning someone was sent out to acquire another six liters of vodka, only a fraction of that which was already drunk. After that was promptly polished, a huge tub of sangria appeared. Oh my. So the music, strobe lights, sparklers and fireworks continued into the night until I heard the sound of trumpets, drums and other assorted horn instruments bustling through the door.

Around 1.30, I think, the Gypsy band that Desi organized arrived. It was unlike anything I have ever seen, or heard. The music just made you want to dance and shake around. The musicians scattered themselves throughout the room and blasted their music into the wanting ears of all and sundry. After tucking a few hundred dinar into their coat pockets I let the honking of a French horn envelope my face and body and watched the two or three people dancing on chairs in the middle of the room. The party was absolutely unstoppable at this stage, too much fun.

The gypsy band left and the party kept on going into the small hours, fuelled by hard house music and vodka. Eventually the punters thinned out those who hadn't lived in Spain got tired and retired for the night. Those left awake decided it was a good idea to play hockey in the main room with a little soccer ball and foam covered sticks. We figured the room couldn't get any dirtier than it already was.

Eventually there was only the two Aussie left. True to form, we were too drunk to lie down in one spot without the room swimming around us. So we went for a walk. To the closest bar we could find open. They were closing up and counting the money for the night but they were very welcoming and fed us a few more beers. After talking shit with them for an hour or so, the owner decided he would take us to his friends coffee shop and buy us a little wake up. So in the back of his car we screamed across town and made small talk. Coffee was good and I learnt a little about the history of the region from this guy, if only I could remember.

New Year's Day wasn't filled with leftovers, beach and cricket like it is in Aus. More like very hardcore dregging out and one hell of a large clean up mission. It got done but we just couldn't get rid of the dank alcohol smell, meh, time heals all wounds. After a video session we headed out to the last of Desi's organized trips that I would get to take part in.

After downing a few beverages, singing a few songs and enjoying the view of Skopje from the mountain behind the city, we pilled back in the minibus and headed out towards some hot springs. We found ourselves out in the darkness with a little thermal pool bubbling at our feet. Didn't take long for us to get starkers and jump in, it was bloody freezing. But the warm sulfurous water soon warmed us and soothed the alcohol induced aches and pains. With candles around and plenty of skin to look at, it was the perfect end to 4 days in Macedonia.

The five Opel Astra companions were up early again to hit the road for long but fairly uneventful trip back home. Uneventful the whole way except for my little effort at driving. It being my first time driving on the wrong side of side, with the wheel on the wrong side of the car, I found it a little disconcerting. When the rain started coming down in torrents I suddenly found the roads in southern Serbia a little scary. When I aquaplaned doing 140 km/h I thought it was time to change the driver again.

So we arrived back to Graz and said our goodbyes to Werner and Colin and continued to Munich the next day and jumped a plane back to good old Barcelona.

Such an awesome experience and it was really good to see everyone again, but equally as difficult to say goodbye. Hopefully we can all meet up again for New Years in Brazil to see what Amanda can organize for us.

Big thanks have to go out to Desi, Vlado and everyone in Macedonia who looked after us. Also Uwe for putting his car up for the road trip and also for doing some of the longest driving stretches ever. Werner for sitting on 160 km/h down the motorway. Pretty much love and thanks to everyone. It was an unforgettable experience.

Tags: Party time



It was the biggest pleasure in the world to party with you in Spain, Macedonia, or whereever!! We are still abel to live in my hous (if anyone was wondering :)) but the smell of alcohol doesen't go away!! No worries... remindes me of the best new year ever!!! I invite you again for more! anytime!
Love you sooooo much!

  Desi Mar 21, 2007 1:29 PM


I can't agree more with Desi, best party days ever!!!!
Hope to see all ya guys again soon.

  Vlado Mar 21, 2007 6:40 PM



  Kasssandros Apr 22, 2007 8:54 AM

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