@VacaWanderer started wandering to the U.S. and Thailand right after work on 2nd. It’s not the typical round the world wander one might think of. I will only be visiting the United States and Thailand, so it’s a lot of flying just to be in two places during a two-week break. I started out by driving down to Alexander The Great Airport in Macedonia with a coworker. I had forgotten how far it was from my location in Kosovo. Be advised that Macedonia doesn’t believe in posting signs all that much for this airport either. Luckily I had been there before in a taxi and watched the route the driver took. It looked at one point that we were headed to Serbia and the first sign for the airport announced it was 11km away. Another important fact is most of the road direction signs are in cyrillic.
Alexander The Great Airport is fairly new and very modern compared to the terminal it replaced and is a lot more modern than the one in Pristina, Kosovo. Pristina’s airport reminds me of a place you would load cattle; only its human beings they are dealing with. If you ever travel in the Balkans, keep in mind that everyone wants to be ahead of you because their needs are way more important than yours or the other people who are waiting. They will cut in line, glare at you, and try to muscle their way ahead of you even if you are standing in line at a customer service window or counter and you’re the one currently being served. You have to act like they do or you will find yourself at the end of the line again if you let them have their way or may find them shouldering you and pushing their paperwork through the window ahead of yours which is already sitting there. This is especially true at passport control. Anyway, I am transgressing. (That’s probably because I am sitting in Istanbul airport now writing this and it’s close to 0100 in the morning and I’m functioning on less than four hours sleep from the night before which is not cutting it.)
Right inside the Alexander The Great Airport terminal is a great place to have a drink and something to eat until its time to get your boarding pass. The shop is called CAKES AND BAKES.
They sell sandwiches and fresh baked goods that are worth a try and the prices don’t hurt your wallet too badly. The restaurant / café provides counter seating around the perimeter of the shop and there are outlets to plug in your computer or any other gadgets you may need to charge. You will need a plug adapter if you have a U.S. plug. The type you need in the Balkans is similar to the one they use in Germany. Its a two prong plug, but instead of flat blades the prongs are two round tipped posts. You can sit there in CAKES AND BAKES as long as you like it seems and watch a movie or type a story for your blog because the staff doesn’t seem to mind. There is wireless service available but it requires a prepaid card. I wasn’t staying long enough to need internet so I don’t know which kiosk has the cards or what the cost is, but I will be returning that way so I can find out.
After having a cappuccino I wandered around the terminal shooting pictures. The ticket counters are plentiful, but only four stations were staffed for check-in and boarding pass issuance
Why airports and government services do this I don’t understand because its such a waste of space. When they called for my flight to check in, it was the wacky races to get in line. Everyone started to scramble for the correct check-in line. I don’t have any baggage to check in so I was able to jockey my way to the front of one of the two lines. I have clothing in the U.S. and Thailand so I love being able to travel light. You have to have a LOT of patience traveling in this area. There is no sense of time or urgency displayed so although we were directed to get in line, we stood there for 15 minutes before two agents sloooowly strolled over to their stations. I finally got my boarding passes and made my way upstairs to Passport Control; yet another enigma of this airport… A line of passport booths and only two stations were functioning. Everyone is in line for the left side officer and the other lane stood empty. As I got closer I noticed why; “VIP and Diplomatic Passports Only” The female officer at that counter however was directing people to her station which helped, but the line was a lot longer than it needed to be. I made it through passport control and now comes security. I wore Crocs so I wouldn’t have to worry about taking my shoes off, but they wanted to recheck one of my carry-ons and run it through the x-ray machine again. I know what they see and one of the officers calls me aside and asks me to open my fanny pack up. (Yeah… I still use one…) I have a ziplock bag holding my chargers and cords. Of course I got this fanny pack in Thailand and it has a bunch of small pockets as well as the split main compartment AND of course I used ALL of them. The search begins. Meanwhile while this is all going on, I am holding my shorts up with one hand so my pants don’t fall down and I am trying to pay attention to the security officer who is talking to me in broken English. The officer has to look at everything to include a jewelers loop I have in there. FINALLY he smiles and makes a wave of his hand over the fanny pack, a security blessing perhaps?, and I am free to gather my belongings and finally put my belt back on so I could get rid of that plumbers crack that had started to develop.