We showed up in Gevgelija raring to hit the casinos. Gambling is one of our favorite vices and Gevgelija, a small city on the border with Greece, has a reputation as Macedonia’s gaming hot spot. But even though a casino was just across the street from our hotel, we ended up taking a rain check. What went wrong?
This is why Jürgen and I have a blog: to fully explore fascinating topics like “The Reasons We Reluctantly Decided Against Gambling in a Macedonian Border Town.” If this piques your interest, please read on. If not, well, feel free to skip ahea… I’ve lost you already, haven’t I?
Reason One: We had spent the day visiting ancient ruins and an archaeology museum. After admiring artifacts and artwork which have stood the test of millennia, staring at a spinning roulette wheel felt somehow unworthy.
Reason Two: In Skopje, we had visited a casino in the Holiday Inn, supposedly the best in town. It was a Saturday night, and I kid you not: we were the only two people inside. For forty minutes, we played low-stakes blackjack, accepting free beers and chatting uncomfortably with bored dealers. We had always talked about how awesome it would be to have a casino to ourselves, but it turned out to be kind of depressing. Gambling in Gevgelija would have likely been different, but this was a bad first impression.
strong>Reason Three: On a recommendation, we ate dinner at the Restaurant Gjoko Javor, which is just outside Gevgelija in the town of Mrzenci. At the table next to ours was this enormous guy from Greece, who was as obnoxious as it’s possible for a person to be. Throughout the evening, he bragged loudly to us about his money, his life and his country, and we were forced to watch him consume a horrifying amount of food. Well, we weren’t literally “forced” to watch, with our eyelids forced open like in A Clockwork Orange, but this was an eating performance for the ages, as hypnotizing as it was revolting. Impossible to look away.
Our jovial new acquaintance was excited about his upcoming night in the casinos, and (when not licking the meat-grease from his fingers) he was shouting to the waiters across the room about how much money he was going to drop. As some sort of proof of his wealth, he lifted up a Louis Vuitton suitcase (fake for all I know, or filled with toilet paper) and the waiters grinned and pretended to be amazed, and then this monstrous, horrible person waved his toilet-paper-filled fake Louis Vuitton suitcase at us, and I just wanted to die.
So, no, there was no way we were going to any casino where there was any chance in hell we’d be encountering this guy. And there ends my explanation of our decision to skip gambling in Gevgelija.
Gambling aside, Gevgelija was actually a wonderful place to spend a day and a half, with beautiful old houses, wide pedestrian streets, numerous outdoor cafes, and a low-key pace. Hit the casinos if you want, they’re probably fun. But even if you’re not into gambling, Gevgelija is still worth your time.