Don't Call Me Chinky!!!


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Europe » Macedonia » Negotino
June 27th 2012
Published: September 30th 2017
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Finally, A Greek Sign I Can Understand ...Finally, A Greek Sign I Can Understand ...Finally, A Greek Sign I Can Understand ...

... this must be a bus to Sweden!
Geo: 41.4839, 22.0892

A cold snap gripped Thessaloniki today, with a predicted high of only 29 C - better break out the parkas! Though still toasty, sub 30 C temperatures are a nice respite from the heat of the past couple of days in Greece, making strolling around town a far more pleasant experience. However, one thing to keep in mind in the Balkans is the strength of the sun's rays, as 29 C here feels a hell of a lot hotter than 29 C in Calgary!

Of course, the heat here can be a good thing, as it makes the excellent Greek coffee taste even better, when it served over ice. Plus, this type of weather makes watching all the **pretty Greek girls (of which there are many) an even more enjoyable activity.

** If Benita asks, I do not know this personally, as this was only discovered through discussions with male tourists and locals. I do not enjoy girl-watching, nor condone the chauvinistic practice of gawking, glaring, or ogling such nice young ladies. The objectification of women is wrong, and men that participate in this practice are all disgusting pigs!.

Thessaloniki's port area is an interesting one, with cinema and
photography museums, and an art gallery, in addition to the massive Kitchen Bar. You could see this becoming a very desirable place to live, if they were to expand outwards and erect housing - waterfront property close to all the action, with spectacular views, at least for homes facing away from the ugly industrial section of the port.

During initial planning of this trip, Greece wasn't even on the radar - the two nights spent here were originally earmarked for Kosovo, but the flight from Barcelona to Pristina was both expensive and inconvenient, with a connection in Switzerland. The idea of arriving there just before midnight and flying out again at 6:30 AM wasn't appealing, either having to sleep at the airport or check into a hotel for just a few hours. But ... a flight into Thessaloniki was just over half the price, and involved a fairly decent daytime connection through Athens.

It was a good excuse to check out Greece, a country high on my list for a number of years, but never convenient to visit and fully enjoy all that it has to offer during my preferred months of travel. The heat during July and August would be brutal,
Photography Museum ...Photography Museum ...Photography Museum ...

... this was from a series where the artists made cameras out of unusual objects.
and what's the point of visiting during winter when you can't swim in the ocean or enjoy the beaches? But having had a nice little taste of the country, it's making me think of coming back next summer ...

The border crossing into Macedonia was a pain, taking nearly 90 minutes to go through customs on both sides - the checkpoint wasn't particularly busy, making me wonder if it was a result of animosity between the two countries, with the controversy surrounding the name Macedonia. Historically, "Macedonia" encompassed regions of Bulgaria, Greece, and the FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), the most widely-accepted name of the country I'm crossing into.

When the modern nation of Macedonia was born in the early 90s, Greece protested the name, fearing that it implied a claim on the Macedonian region in Northern Greece, resulting in international usage of the name FYROM. But even after all this time it's still a sore point in the region, with Greece not wanting to accept FYROM, which they considered to be only a provisional name until a more suitable one could be chosen. In situations like this, with such a complicated and bloody history in the region, it's impossible
Watching Us Watching Them ...Watching Us Watching Them ...Watching Us Watching Them ...

... funny that the Cinema Museum has a security camera keeping an eye on us.
to know who is right, if anyone is even right at all. But until it's resolved, the name Macedonia remains taboo, at least in Greece ...

The location of the border crossing leads smack dab into the middle of Macedonia's wine country (betcha didn't know it even had one, did you?). Similar to Bulgaria's long and storied history of wine production, it was something I only discovered during trip planning and decided that the Tikves wine region was a must see, despite it not being at the top of most Macedonian itineraries.

Coming from Greece by public transport, the easiest first stop is Negotino, a small little town that is big on wine. The population is somewhere around 20,000, but you wouldn't know it on this evening - it seemed like the entire town was out on patios tonight, watching Spain vs Portugal in the Euro Cup, even though the game played until past midnight.

Negotino had a great buzz tonight, but sadly, I did come across some racism as I ate dinner - though Asian tourists are fairly common in Greece, and there is even a relatively sizable Chinatown in Thessaloniki, I doubt there are many Asians seen in Macedonia. The family next to me kept saying "chinky, chinky" - normally, it would've been offensive, until I remember that in the Balkans, "cinki" means pancake or crepe. They were discussing what kind of dessert they wanted!



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Heavenly Hatzis ...Heavenly Hatzis ...
Heavenly Hatzis ...

... famous local pastry shop, with all kinds of baklava variants.
Trying Something New ...Trying Something New ...
Trying Something New ...

... in hindsight, some of those delicious-looking baklavas would've been better choices, as this cake was nothing special - soaked in a sweet syrup, it was actually a bit dry on the top half, as all the syrup had pooled on the bottom half. Killer iced cappuccino, perfect without sugar since the cake was super sweet.
Phyllo Triangle Stuffed w/ Cream ...Phyllo Triangle Stuffed w/ Cream ...
Phyllo Triangle Stuffed w/ Cream ...

... from another famous pastry shop, Elenidis. The cream was a bit sticky, but surprisingly light and smooth, and not too sweet. Perfectly balanced by the sweet, crispy phyllo. Delish!
Can't Leave Greece Without a Gyro ...Can't Leave Greece Without a Gyro ...
Can't Leave Greece Without a Gyro ...

... great stuff! Never been a big fan of fries stuffed inside, but this was good, since they were crisp and weren't greasy. Unlike the Bulgarian kebabs, which were disgustingly stuffed with soggy potato sponges soaked in oil. The lowlight was the beer, which was a little too bitter for my liking.
Traditional Macedonian Dinner in Negotino ...Traditional Macedonian Dinner in Negotino ...
Traditional Macedonian Dinner in Negotino ...

... not quite! Though there are tons of cafes and bars in this little town, there wasn't a big selection of restaurants. I ended up asking a girl at a fast food burek shop, and she pointed me towards the restaurant down the street, Ema Pizza. At least the first course was traditional, starting with a delicious shopska salad - how I've missed you! The sesame seeds were an unusual sight on a pizza, but the pizza smelled great, announcing its arrival long before it arrived at the table. The highlight was the wonderfully crisp crust, soft and chewy on the inside. Not a traditional pizza but surprisingly good, though it could've done without the blobs of sour cream and mayonnaise. An egg was cracked in the middle of the pizza before it was baked - it might've been nice had it been done at the very end, with the yolk providing a rich creamy sauce over top. It was meat overload, with ham, sausage, and as the menu put it, extra pork meat with pork throat, it was meat-tastic and tasty!
Cappuccino and Gasoline ...Cappuccino and Gasoline ...
Cappuccino and Gasoline ...

... rakia, a Macedonian brandy that is commonly found in other Balkan countries. It went down like gasoline, though to give it credit, it was probably low octane and unleaded! Cappuccino ... with a blob of whipped cream instead of milk foam? WTF??!!?? I miss Greece, and her fine, fine coffee. Usually, I've seen whipped cream as an attempt to mask inferior coffee, but it was surprisingly good, once 90% of the whipped cream was scraped off.


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