March 19, 2008

Of All the Towns in the World...

There are some pretty unlikely restaurants out there. Take, for instance, the Chinese restaurant in Barrow, Alaska (pop. 4,000), the northernmost town in North America. It's good to know that one can enjoy the General's Chicken or some sweet and sour pork while enjoying the midnight sun. Or, there's Penny's Diner in Bill, Wyoming (pop. 11), which feeds the Union Pacific railroad workers as they pass through.

I bring these places up because I've got one to add to the list: the Irish pub in Kumanovo, Macedonia. And I mean an honest-to-God Irish pub, not just some bar where they pour Guinness and serve shepherd's pie once a year. The owner is a young and congenial Irishman. I have no idea what brought him to Macedonia, but he's got himself a beautiful place near the city center. Brick walls, dark wood railings and tables, and old Guinness advertisements all lend the restaurant a very authentic feel. The beer selection and menu don't hurt, either.

So we had ourselves a genuine St. Patty's Day with some other volunteers who had gathered for the night. The bar was also crammed with Macedonians, though it was unclear if they understood why this particular Monday night was so exciting to a gathering of Americans. There was a live band alternating between traditional Irish tunes and more contemporary covers, and we were soon singing along, much to the detriment of our voices the next day.

As Jillian sipped on her green beer (yeah, the guy had really thought of everything) she commented on how bizarre and, yet, completely great it felt to be in that environment. "We could be sitting in a bar back home right now," she said, marveling at the atmosphere. It was just so...St. Patty's Day.

The staple of any healthy St. Patty's Day

Jillian gets into the spirit of things

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