"Vardar River is Flowing Through the Center of Skopje"

When you loose someone from your family, it is hard to turn back your daily life. A huge emptiness occurs inside you. At times like these you want share your pain with your friends. Some of them understand you, but some of them even don't need to say anything probably they have never felt that kind of emptiness. Maybe they are passing through a friendship test at times like these. The real friendships show themselves.

When I declared to my friend Macedonian artist Monika Desoska that I have lost my father, I didn't think that she will call me immediately. After a few minutes, she called me and invited to Skopje. She was telling me that she could host me at her house and probably a change of air will make me better at the phone call. I thought over and decided to go yo Skopje

Turkish Airlines flies to Skopje three times a week on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. My travel is beginning on 23 May 2006. First I am flying to Istanbul from Antalya. I need to run from domestic flights to international departures quite a few. When I get on the plane, Turkish and Macedonian voice are mixing to each others. I don't feel much that I am going to abroad. After a one hour travel while the plane is putting down in the airport, a huge green are is welcoming me. I recognize how little is the Skopje airport after Istanbul International Departures. I am hearing that many Turkish passengers have come to Macedonia because of several reasons. It is not being hard to pass the passport check point for me. Because it is possible to travel in Macedonia without visa. And that provides big comfortableness.

When I get out of the airport, I see that Monika is waiting me and that makes me happy, the we hug. She has come with her friend's minibus to take me. They say there is a way of 18 kilometers from the airport to the city center. While they are talking among themselves in Macedonian at the front of the minibus, I can't take my eyes off the greens among the road. The poppies in the crop fields make me remember the paintings of Monet. Single-floor houses with red tiles are lining up far away from the road. They seem like the houses being remained at the pictures of the children which are not preferred now in our country. While we are approaching to the city, the apartments being to be seen. But these are old apartments in a certain architectural harmony which doesn't irritate human. It is possible to see Turkish signboards like “Biricik”, ”Marmaris”, ”Ekol”. We reach to the apartment in which Monika is living after a comfortable trip. An old house had been destroyed and a new apartment has been constructed on its place. Her flat is a very cute artist house at the first floor. Paintings, books, flowers are at one side and a comfortable relaxation armchair at the other side. The house is comprising of a bedroom and a salon. It is very proper to a person living single. I can't understand why such type of houses are not designed in our country. It is hard to find a flat under a hundred meter-square in Antalya.

I thought Skopje would be more chilly. But I met a weather warmer than I had expected. The weather is almost more than 35 Cº degree. We throw ourselves to the the streets of the city after a short rest. It is unable to learn a city without walking in it. You have to walk in the city so that you will feel the city and also the city will feel you.

After lunch we walk among the Vardar River dividing the city into two. Vardar is flowing blurry. The young ones are enjoying the spring while billing and cooing on the park benches lining up among the river. And the old ones are pacing up and down among the river. The old city having bazaars and hammams remained from Ottoman Empire is connected to the new side of the city by a stone bridge. This Ottoman heritage “stone bridge” is open for only the pedestrians. The vehicles are passing on the the bridges built afterward. After taking a few photographs from the bridge, we want to sit down in one of the cafes lining up among the river at the new side of the city. All tables beside the river are full. Perhaps the people are expecting to get a bit chilly from the river. We are sitting down in a cafe. After a short rest, we turn back to the home by walking. I was bored and tired of the heat. I have slept very well.

After the breakfast, we decided what would do. There are many museums and exhibitions here to visit. First we visit the gallery named “Mala Stanica”. This gallert remind me the “Project 4L” which was very active once upon a time. It is a very big exhibition place. There are two different exhibitions at down and upside. The exhibition of a young artist named Jasmina Novkovska is attracting me very much. She has worked on paper. It is possible to observe the different situations and problems of humans. I want to visit the Skopje City Museum again which I had visited before in 2003. I had written before on the international meeting organized for the establishment works of Antalya City Museum. I want to examine closely again what kind of art pieces are exhibited in the Skopje City Museum. The paintings of today's Macedonian artists are exhibited in two different galleries at the entrance of the museum. These places are reserved for changing exhibitions. Also there are two departments for the permanent exhibitions. The historical ruins from ancient times are exhibited at the downstairs. At the upstairs, different cultures which had been lived in Macedonia are being reflected. It is possible to see the photographs of Serbian, Jew, Greek, Albanian,Turkish and Gipsy people and read some information about their daily life. Monika is translating this information because it is in Macedonian. Also Alla Franca (Europen) and Alla Turca (Turkish) domestic living style in mentioned time period has been demonstrated. Today's Macedoina consists of Macedonian, Albanian and Turkish people.

I am observinf that my friend is using Turkish words sometimes while speaking. There are many Turkish words in Macedonia Language. These are used in daily life. For example: cup, coffee pot, window, sugar, eggplant, almonds, here you are, but... We come by the public bazaar while touring Skopje. The public bazaars have the same destiny in everywhere. Most of the place of bazaar is reserved for cloths and daily used wares. Huge amount of fresh vegetables are sold at the other part of the bazaar. The bazaar stands are full of tomatoes, peppers, long cucumber, zucchini, cabbage, lettuce, radishes and carrots. It must be season of strawberry and cherry season here. It is possible to see people returning home with full packet strawberry and cherry.

The center of Skopje is full of cafes spreading to outside. I think cafes are one of the properties of being a big city in everywhere. There are umbrellas in front of the cafes protecting people from the sun shine. Coffee, especially Turkish coffee is being drunk very much here, but they don't use small cups like we do. Mostly they drink Turkish coffee in big cups.

The folk song of “Vardar Ovasi” is turning in my mind which I can't finish while I am touring the streets of Skopje. Maybe I will remember the remained part of the song, who knows...Far away from homeland, but not a very much stranger country for me.