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Today we have the pleasure of interviewing an avid traveler Elena Mitkvoska who is a young Macedonian tour operator. Her job involves organizing tours between Italy and Macedonia. She has travelled all through Europe. However she particularly loves Italy and she speaks fluent Italian, her personal blog:

Elena lived in Catania for the summer of 2012. She had the opportunity to stay at the new hostel 'Ostello degli Elefanti' on Via Etnea. We interviewed her to hear her thoughts on Catania, traveling, and the new hostel. 

Why did you choose to travel to Catania?

E: The first time when I was in Sicily I made a tour around the island and I left Catania for last. That was love at first sight. After that, always when i go back to Sicily i'm looking to stay in Catania, because this city is one of the few strategic points from where you can travel around Sicily more easy. But not only for that, I choose Catania also because of the volcano, because of the wonderful people who are living there, because of the food, because of the sea...

What did you do whilst you were in Catania?

E: During my stay in Catania I was always looking to learn something more about Sicily, about the culture and the tradion. I really love the sicilian dialect, and I was also looking to learn some new words in "catanese", because in Sicily in every town they have different dialect. The period while i was living in Catania I was also always looking to meet local people, because that's the best way to fell the spirit of the city and of the people who are living there.

Are there any Sicilian foods you would recommend?

E: That's really really difficult question :) In Sicily everything is delicious and tasty !! When someone is asking me about the sicilian food, i have in mind this two words: COLORS and SMELLS! Catania is famous about the horse meat, you can find it almost everywhere, also you should try the tipical pasta from Catania "pasta alla norma". For those who like sweet things, Sicily is "heaven on earth", you must try cannoli, granita and gelato di pistacchio. Something tipical for Catania are "i chioschi", small bars on the streets where you can buy some fruite juice with fresh fruit and some fruit syrups. The most famous are seltz al limone (lemon juice, soda and salt), mandarino al limone, you should also try the almond milk.

What did you enjoy most about Catania?

E:The magic of Catania. In Catania you can always feel the magic, doesn’t matter if you will go there in summer or winter. Thanks to Etna and to the beautiful sea this city has its own charm. If you want to remember Catania forever, just go up to Etna, to the must high point and take a picture in your head, you above the clouds, above the city and over the sea, and another picture, go to see the dawn at Playa beach, and remember the long beach, the city that is still sleeping and Etna that dominates from high.

In your opinion, what makes a good holiday?

E: For me a good holiday is an active holiday. That means to not stay just in the hotel/hostel and on the beach. Good holiday is when you are surround with new people, with new places and new things to discover.

Do you prefer to travel solo or with friends?

E: Depends. Sometimes I feel that I need to travel alone, sometimes I need someone with me. I was traveling alone on my first trip to Sicily, but on the way I met another girl who was traveling alone and we continued together, that was one of my best trips ever. So you can never know about that. But if I travel with friends I prefer to travel with 1 or 2 people not more.

What are your 'travel essentials', the things that you always pack?

E: With the experience I get more better and better when I should pack my bag. I always bring with me travel diary, book, money, passport and some postcards from my country.

How many stamps do you have in your passport?

E: I have this passport from 2009 and I have 57 stamps

Any embarrassing moments during your travels?

E: One funny embarrassing moment was during my train trip from Parma (North Italy) to Palermo. I was in the train with another four people and there was one woman who was speaking on the mobile phone with someone in a really really strange language and I was sure that it's not italian neither a dialect. After some time she start to speak with me in italian but not so good italian, she asked me "where are you from?", I answered, and after I asked her, but I was so sure that she is not italian, and I said "and what about you, where are you from, are you in vacation in Italy?" she began to laugh and told to me that she was from Calabria :)

What have you learnt from travelling?

E: First of all I learned how to be independent and I also grew up a lot. But one of the most important thing for me is that "travelling" helped me to understand what I really want to do in my life.

Why do you like to stay in hostels?

E: Hostels are the best place where you can feel the spirit of travelling. I prefer to stay in hostels because of the relaxed atmosphere, low prices, you can never feel alone in the hostel, there is a kind of freedom that you can never have in the hotels and you know that almost all of the people there are passionate about travel

What do you look for in a hostel?

E: Clean rooms and bathrooms, bathrooms that can be locked, a moderate atmosphere between party and relax, I don't like disco-hostels, and for sure helpful and open-minded staff

What did you think about Ostello degli Elefanti?

E: "Ostello degli Elefanti" is an excellent example for a great hostel and how it should be. Strategic position in the heart of Catania, large and clean rooms, falling asleep with art and frescoes around you, the best view from the balcony and the main street Etnea under your feet. "Ostello degli Elefanti" is very lucky hostel because he has the best owners in the world, Marcello and Angela, from the first day I saw that they are doing this job because they really like it, and not because they want to become rich. They are so positive, friendly, full with new ideas and always willing to help you. In "Ostello degli Elefanti" you will feel like home, and believe me it's not a cliche, it's truth!

Would you recommend Ostello degli Elefanti to your fellow travellers?

E: Yes, for sure! I already start to show them photos from the hostel and talking to them about my great experience there.

Any other tips for your fellow travellers to Catania?

E: Just go and discover this wonderful city and don't forget to watch, smell, listen and touch while you are walking around ;)

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