- Tell us about yourself and where we can find more about your travelling.
I’m Sandra from Macedonia and I’m an IT engineer working as UX designer. My first trips were made thanks to an international organization for the exchange of students for technical experience (IAESTE) and after my first completely solo trip in 2006 which I survived and fully enjoyed, I got the travel bug and have a constant wanderlust ever since J In November 2011 after a completely affordable trip to Cuba, I decided to share my experiences and motivate people to travel more on their own even with low budgets, so I started the blog “My trips” or in Macedonian – “Moite patuvanja”.
- How many countries have you visited and where would like to settle down at some point (I know you fall in love in so many places, but choose one and tell us why)?
According to my TripAdvisor map, it’s only 24 countries J Mostly in Europe, plus Cuba and Dubai. I definitely have the urge to visit South America and Asia in the following years.
I found my second home in a smaller town close to Barcelona where I have lived for three months, it was near the beach – close enough to Gaudi, but far away from the tourist madness. But unlike most people I know, I still hope I could find a way to travel the world and always come back to my home in Skopje.
- What do you miss most, aside from your family, from home?
I definitely miss many of my friends that have moved out from home and settled down all around the world, but visiting them is another very solid reason to travel.
- Is there any place which you wouldn’t visit again and why?
When I go to vacations, I try not to repeat a place I have been before – there are so many other places to discover! But I have been to many cities for several times because the road led me there, and if that’s the case I don’t mind repeating 🙂
- Where did you meet the friendliest people and how did you feel about being around them?
There are many countries with friendly people, but definitely the most curious and talkative were the Cubans, they all wanted to know where we are from and wanted to chat about Tito and Ex-Yugoslavia 🙂 Around Europe, I have noticed that the poorer the country – the friendlier the people. The same is valid for Macedonians, too 🙂
- Funniest or most embarrassing travel moment?
In the middle of a dinner party, I had to go and look around for a supermarket late in the night in a crowded part of the old town of Barcelona, along with a male friend who was organizing the event I was attending there. A police car stopped next to us in the narrow alley and my friend asked them something. The next moment, a female police officer opened the door on the other side, circled around the car, guessed what I was looking for and asked me “Necesitas Tampax??”! :)) I turned completely red and nodded, so she pulled out a small vanity bag from the trunk of the police car, gave me two tampons and saved the night :)) I haven’t been more embarrassed in my life!
- What has been the most under-rated country/place you have been to and why? Most overrated country/place?
Besides small towns of Macedonia, I guess I would say Bratislava is the most under-rated place I’ve been to – everyone has been to Vienna, but not many have spared the time to visit this really nice and cheap city just an hour away. The most overrated place was definitely Dubai, it’s nice to visit but it was shocking that its superficial brilliance is built upon some sort of a modern slavery. It was nice to visit the desert life though, the food is wonderful and I would recommend to pay a visit of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi which is built with Macedonian white marble 😉
- Tell us about a favourite dish from the world and one from your country that everybody should try (If you have a picture, share it with us).
I love to try the local food everywhere I go, maybe the most significant meals were my first ever amazingly delicious lobster prepared by our Cuban host Mrs. Addys in Trinidad and a very special large raspberry macaron with kiwi filling in Paris which literally made me cry of joy… and the cost of both were pretty much the same 🙂
If you have any doubts, I would definitely recommend Macedonia as a food-travel destination 🙂 We have amazingly delicious fruits and vegetables, you must try our cottage cheese on top of Shopska salad, baked beans in traditional pottery, a grandmother’s home-made pie with sour milk, our traditional red pepper dip called ajvar, burek and kebabs and some baklava in the Old Bazaar in Skopje, gjomleze – a pancake-like pie in Ohrid, shirden with mixed meat in Prilep, pastrmajlija in Shtip, Vranec red wine and strong rakija in Kavadarci, etc. Better look at this drooling video for yourself which was made by a dear friend 🙂
- What is your favourite author and what did you like about his style?
I think my favourites are detective novels,especially the classics of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock. I like their mystery stories and the lack of horror in them 🙂
- What is your favourite music (You can share a playlist/link)?
I love the Foo Fighters and the early albums of Arctic Monkeys and lots of not-so-famous bands. I was obsessed with old Catalan rock bands quite a few years back and I also like a lot of Macedonian bands that have amazing music, like Foltin, some of them finding inspiration in our traditional and rare 7/8 rhythm.
- What song from your country everybody should know?
There are a lot of old songs that are traditional from unknown authors and have been passed on through generations, unfortunately most of them with mellow sounds because of the circumstances in our history. The most known song might be “Makedonsko devojche” (Macedonian Girl) which is more cheerful and praises the beauty of our girls, which is why it’s the unofficial anthem for our women’s national handball team 🙂 I would recommend to listen to “Zajdi, zajdi” (hm… can’t translate that like “Set, set”, maybe something like “Set, you bright sun”) a version by one of the best Macedonian singers ever – Toshe Proeski.
- Give us one of your favorite phrases in your mother tong and explain what it means.
The first words we teach people who come to Skopje are “Edno pivo iedna shopska vemolam”(One beer and one shopska/salad/ please) and the next are some of our juicy swearing words that I wouldn’t share here, you’d have to visit 😀
13. You have a chance to ask one question to anyone in history and get an honest reply – what is your question and to whom?
I never think about these things 🙂 Let’s say that in the context of a travel blog, I would ask Evliya Çelebi to tell me some stories about Skopje. He was an Ottoman Turk travelling around the empire and documenting the world including Macedonia, so he might have been the first travel blogger – offline – on the Balkans 🙂
14. What is your favourite website (apart from social media platforms)?
I would say Medium. It’s quite new, has loads of different content enhanced with an amazing user experience – it made me enjoy my online reading again.
15. One thing you don’t like about other travelers or traveling?
I don’t like when people disrespect the locals when they go somewhere, but I’d say those are typical tourists, not travellers. I like to believe that travellers try to explore and discover the place they go to, not just go to some place just to brag about it or find a cheap place to get wasted.
- What has been your most valuable lesson learned from travel?
I’ve learned some general life-skills along with organizing the trips – how to manage my own budget, find my way around any city, how to pack light, to open up to new stuff (especially food), and to take notes of your memories which can be really helpful when you start to forget.But I have also learnt how to appreciate my own life more even though I often complain about first-world problems,to respect different cultures and other people’s points of view, to learn from my own mistakes, and most importantly – to enjoy, not just the sightseeing locations, but the whole valuable experience of a journey.