Street Safety, Skopje
when in skopje if you are surounded by begging gangs put your back up against a wall so they cannot get hehind you, also watch out for the news paper trick were they push news paper against you then go into your pockets, this happend to me once and only once i just cliped one of them round the ear told them to clear of then they leave you alone. or if ur drinking in the irish pub just tell the stuff in there you are going outside they will always come with you very very kind people in there and you will always find english people in there drinking but i must say grat place to visit
Watch out for the gypsy kids near the Holiday Inn and Irish Pub on the river. They are very aggressive and work together as a team in a well coordinated attack. Two girls approached me and started grabbing my arms and begging for money while three little boys were in my pockets searching for anything they could steal. They would unzip my coat pockets without me even knowing it. Luckily, I had all my property consolidated in one pocket so they could not get it. If I would not have known about them, they probably would have had my phone, camera, and wallet no problems. DO NOT underestimate these little thieves. They are aggressive. I will consider using pepper spray next time, if they are going to steal, they will have to pay the consequences!
If you come from a place where cars stop, or at least slow down at pedestrian crossings, then beware! It seems to be the exact opposite in Skopje. Cars either continue on as though the crossing lines are invisable, or they speed up to scare any brave souls who think there are good drivers out there. Many people are killed at pedestrian crossings, particularly the elderly.
Because everyone parks wherever they like, most of the cars are parked on the pedestrian sidewalks, particularly around the centre. This means that pedestrians have to walk on the street or weave their way between the cars. Watch out for people reversing in all directions and generally a total disrespect for any road rules.
An additional hazad is traffic lights. People often go through red lights especially at peak times, so even though you might have a green light, be very aware of the traffic around you
Some of the run down, claustrophobic streets on the north side made me feel a bit edgy, but in general the city felt safe to walk around at all times of the day or night, especially in the streets near Makedonija Square. I only saw one beggar, and there was no hassle from anyone of any kind.
The alerts about Roma (gypsy) gangs were brought home to me last night,
Good Friday evening. It might seem insensitive to stereotype a group of people that have been much maligned, but the danger is real.
Coming out of the Opera House after watching an outstanding dance performance, friends and I had our guards down while walking on the bank of the Vardar River near Holiday Inn. In the blink of an eye, a Roma family (mother with baby in arms, a boy) came after one of us. I went to help and was then accosted by one small boy, who had his hands on me.
Before my brain caught on to the danger I saw that my purse had been opened and my wallet, which was in a zippered compartment under a buttoned flap, was missing. I had the child in hand and demanded my wallet back, but amidst the confusion the boy wriggled away.
I recognized my own stupidity at once. But I managed to do one thing right: before the little thief managed to take off I told him that he could keep my money but I wanted the rest of my wallet back - I said I would give him money if he brought back my wallet.
My heart sank after he disappeared, because my only ATM card was in the wallet and I just knew I would never see it again. Even though there were lots of people around in the area, no onlooker came to my assistence in spite of my shouts of "thief". The area was dimly lit in phorescent lights and no policeman was on patrol.
But a miracle happened: the little scum took my bait and came back with the wallet, with all money i(including coins) emptied but the cards intact. He asked for the money I mentioned but my friends refused to give him any - the boy left with a scream of anguish.
I was extremely lucky but I fear that others will not in the hands of this little thief. In all likelihood my wallet, with the ATM card and credit cards that I so need, would have been tossed into the Vardar River after the money was taken out.
I would advise anyone to carefully watch where they walk (especially in the dark) because I have seen open/ broken manhole covers and storm drains. It would be very easy to break an ankle (or worse) and this would ruin your overall impression of Skopje !!
Ok, in my opinion I don't think Skopje is a particularly dangerous city. I mean, like in any other city, there are certain areas that I wouldn't suggest visiting (like certain locations where it is simply known that there are dealers), but other than that it is a city where you can take a walk in the middle of the night and "survive" just fine.
When traveling by car, make sure your doors are locked and windows rolled up. There are a lot of Gypsy's around town that try to wash windows when stopped at traffic lights. If you don't give them money they will try to open your car doors.