Our family thrives on adventure, which means we can’t stay home all day. This winter break has been rather long with the kids out of school and holidays that will continue until the 7th of January. So, we spent a couple of days inside the house playing board games, eating delivered pizza, and watching too much television. On Dec. 31st, my hubby decided that we needed fresh air; we needed a beautiful hike and a road trip. To achieve this simple goal, we need to figure out where to venture forth. It is always good to have amazing friends and coworkers who love to hike and always have suggestions for possible journeys. My husband reached out to his network and we had multiple suggestions: waterfall in Mavaro, local Matka canyon, or Kokino, a megalithic observatory. Now, my kids and husband jumped at the idea of a megalithic observatory. Spoiler Alert: It was not what they had envisioned. Hubby found some websites, looked at Google maps for a while, and set a route for January 1st.
After the kids had watched a couple of cartoons in the morning, we packed our daypack with water, snacks, chocolate, and tissues and everyone dressed for a cold day out. My kids don’t need help to put on jackets but my oldest is in the stage where he believes that cold doesn’t affect his knees and shorts are all season clothing. So, the first argument began with the statement or question, “Do you think that you will be warm enough in those?” The second argument was about hats and the need to protect your ears. My husband loves to repeat the saying, “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.” The third argument was about sunscreen. As a mama, I love the sunscreen sticks because I can paint their face while they argue with me that they don’t need sunscreen. We decided that we would leave the small puppy at home and bring the big dog because he travels well in the car.
The drive to Kokino was easy. Kokino is located outside of Kumanovo in northeast Macedonia. It would be hard to get there if you didn’t have a car and Google Maps to help. The total drive was 55 miles about an hour and a half on the road. The kids were excited to get out of the car and I was hoping that there would be a bathroom near by. (Two cups of coffee in the morning and a long car ride was too much for my bladder.) There was plenty of parking in a small lot next to a sign to announce our arrival to Kokino. There were no bathrooms, no entrance fee even though there were signs claiming a fee, and no one around except for two parked cars.
Our adventure had started and ended rather quickly. As we started to hike up the mountain, my youngest started to claim of frostbite and his adamant claims of it being “too cold” only got worse with every step. I tried to ignore the protests, I tried to stay positive, I tried to give positive reinforcement, my hubby tried to create a game, we tried to bribe him with chocolate and promises of more chocolate if he could reach the top. My mama will power didn’t last very long; we got half way to a sign that allowed us to pick the hard trail or the easy trail. My youngest choose the trail back to the car and his whining was stronger than my desire to see the top. Hubby and my oldest continued on to see the beautiful views while the youngest and I returned to the car to look at pictures of our half hike and play a math game.
This was not a failed attempted at adventure because we left the house, got some fresh air, and saw a new place in Macedonia. This was a win for our nomadic family adventures even if it was not completely achieved by all members.
We waited for my husband and older son to return to the car with gorgeous pictures of the neo-volcanic peak with bright blue skies. We decided that we needed some lunch and my husband said that his coworkers had recommended a restaurant called Etno Selo Timcevski.
Our restaurant experience was our second adventure of the day. My kids were hesitant to go out to eat because they are not adventurous eaters, but they will drink Sprite. We hesitantly walked into the “fog”. Inside the restaurant was a thin layer of smoke haze that could not be avoided. To better explain, Macedonia has a law of no smoking inside restaurants yet they will allow smoking on the outside porch/veranda. During the winter months, they close the windows and the outside veranda/porch is only open to the inside restaurant hence the haze, fog, smoke that sits in the air as people continue to smoke during their conversations and coffee. We came for food and we needed food, so we asked to be in the non-smoking area (which didn’t really exist).
“We don’t have an English menu. What do you want?” asked our waiter. He stood patiently waiting and we sat wondering, “What is on the menu that we can’t read or look at?” Luckily, we have lived in Macedonia for six month so we know what is commonly on the Macedonia menus. “We would like Shopska salad, vegetable mezzanine plate, and meat, the large round meat with rice.” The boys put in their request for Sprite and sparkling water for the adults. The waiter nodded and left. This is the time that we should have worried about what food will arrive, but sometimes you need to trust in the beauty of the unknown even if it involves food. To be honest, the food arrived and it was delicious. The vegetable mezzanine was a large plate of shredded beats, cabbage, carrots, and loads of pickled vegetables. Shopska salad is a mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, oil, a little vinegar, and lots of shredded cheese. The large round meat is called Sharska Pleskaviča and it is a giant beef burger. The story ends without a large conflict or exciting climax; instead we ate our food happily, drove back to Skopje, and admired our photographs of our small nomadic adventure.