March was quite an epic travel month. Between March 1-31, I spent time in five different countries, three of which were totally new! Israel, Macedonia, and Kosovo were all new countries, while I have spent lots of time in Slovakia and Austria in the past. Still, Vienna never fails to impress. In this March travel roundup, I present the top 3 reasons to visit each of the 3 new countries I traveled to during the month, and also who shouldn’t visit each location. Hope you enjoy & gain some new ideas for your next adventure!
1) The Old City of Jerusalem… it is surrounded by an impressive old wall and once inside the walls is full of amazing sightseeing, including the Wailing Wall, the Dome of the Rock, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. There’s an energetic atmosphere in the winding labyrinth of market stalls and narrow winding alleys.
2) The Dead Sea… You can float without trying, and you can cover yourself with mineral infused mud which dries in the sun like a face mask. It’s a completely unique and surreal experience. I think it would be lovely to spend the whole day there in the summer.
3) Breakfast… features hummus, pita bread, soft cheeses, tomatoes, cucumbers, and Arabic coffee. Is completely filling and highlighted as the main meal of the day. If you’re still hungry, head to a bakery for some outstanding baklava, it’s easily available and delicious.
Don’t go if you aren’t okay with a heavy military presence. There are many young Israeli soldiers on the busses and trains and walking around carrying large guns. Some people feel uncomfortable with this.
1) Skopje’s Old Bazaar… its narrow streets lined with shops are picturesque. It’s fun to browse on the Goldsmith’s street and take a look at the hundreds of beautiful wedding dresses on display. Several mosques in the area make it feel like somewhere in the Middle East, especially during the calls to prayer which sound from the minarets and echo through the streets.
2) Matka Canyon boat trip… this beautiful canyon is an easy day trip from Skopje. Once there, you can hire a boat to travel down the length of the canyon and enter a cave on the other side of the river. It’s pretty, it’s peaceful, and its relaxing sightseeing at its finest.
3) Cheap wine… Macedonia produces some delicious wine for fabulous prices. You won’t break your bank even if you drink a bottle every night. Plus it accompanies the minced meat kebabs and stuffed grape leaves very nicely.
Don’t go if you’d like a high adrenaline vacation. Skopje is a fairly laid back city with a thriving cafe culture, a few tourist attractions, and not much else. Your days won’t be packed with places to go and things to do, but you’ll enjoy passing time in a unique city with a quirky feel.
Also don’t go if you want to adopt all of the dogs at the pound. Skopje has lots of homeless street dogs and their sweet faces are enough to break the hearts of serious dog lovers.
1) Statue of Bill Clinton… there isn’t much in Pristina, but pay attention to the street names. Get a pic with Bill Clintons statue before dress shopping at the Hillary boutique around the corner, then stroll down Bill Clinton Boulevard. American military presence is Kosovo was and still is quite strong, leading to many references and monuments to American leaders.
2) Interesting looking library… possibly the most interesting architectural structure in Pristina, the library looks like a mixture between grapes, a snow globe, and a space ship. (In my opinion, of course)
3) Mexican food…. when in Kosovo, you should eat and drink. Because that’s one of the best things to do there. And owing to the strong American presence, you can eat Mexican food. It’s pretty decent Mexican food, for Europe. And there’s strawberry margaritas.
Don’t go if... honestly, just don’t go. We read a few interesting things about Kosovo but were pretty disappointed by Pristina. It’s ugly, dirty, and full of commie looking buildings. I still had a good time because I spent the day with my friend in a new place, but I wouldn’t have chosen to go if I knew more about what Kosovo is really like. If you’re desperate to add to your country count, hit it up for the day. But I don’t think I’ll be returning.
Ultimately, I think everyone should go to Israel because the country is chock full of so many amazing sights and experiences, making it easy for everyone to find something that they’ll enjoy.
And very few people should travel to Kosovo, but if you’re an American looking for a cheap and fairly welcoming place to live as an expat, it might not be a bad option to hang out there for a while.
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