Today was yet another fairly uninteresting day occupied mostly by either travel or waiting to travel. I left the hostel at noon and started walking to my first pick-up point. Suffice it to say that Blablacar is quite helpful, but sometimes frustrating with a language barrier. So I was to meet a couple at one of the tolls on A14 highway in Italy. There are two in Rimini, nord and sud. Nord was at least a 2.5 hour walk, so I decided on sud (still a 1+ hour walk). Well, I threw my 50 pound backpack on and walked in the blaring Italian sun for an hour, realized I made a wrong turn, walked for another 45 minutes, and realized I couldn’t actually access the toll road as a pedestrian. So I found an overpass and camped there to get out of the sun. Luckily my ride knew where to pick me up, and we were on our way to Bologna!
The first leg of the trip took from 1430 to 1600. My next ride first said he would be there at 1900, then told me possibly earlier, then told me it would again be 1900. With those three extra hours I found Angie’s favorite gelateria in Bologna and ordered her suggestion: the salted caramel. Quite delicious indeed. But still I had two hours to kill. So I found a large round stone block by the NH Hotel and used that as a perch to read. And read. And read. Finally Lorenzo showed up in his red Hyundai. He had another traveler as well, Ricardo. The drive from Bologna to Trieste is three hours, so we had plenty of time for small talk. It turns out Lorenzo was accepted into Berkely a few years back, and subsequently studied in California for awhile. Now he works/studies at a conservatory in Bologna but lives in Trieste. I didn’t get a chance to hear him, but apparently he is quite the talented pianist. In fact, Berkely only selects the top 10 pianists from the world that they can get their hands yearly on for their program. So kudos to him. He was also able to drive me directly to the residence of my couchsurfing host.
Dana lives with her boyfriend Stephano on the third story of old apartment complexes in downtown Trieste. As soon as I came in they had a much-needed salad prepared for me. She is originally from Romania, and he has always lived in Italy. She teaches English to local and foreign students. He is a mathematician. They insisted that I couldn’t even begin to appreciate Trieste in a single day, so upon offering to host me the night of the 10th I felt I had to oblige. Meh, it just kicks back Ljubljana by one day, but the whole point of this endeavor was to have no real plans. If I see something and want to spend more time with it, everything else (i.e. anything not happening right NOW) gets thrown away. These are the reasons why I don’t plan out much for the followin week, and almost nogthing at all for the following months. So most likely two nights and two afternoons will be the extent of my time in Trieste before heading to beautiful Ljubljana.
The next day, on June 10th, I left the apartment about 1000. My hostess said she required the house to be empty between 1300 and 2000 for teaching purposes, so I thought I would just wander, mostly aimlessly. I started by heading toward the Gulf of Trieste. Half an hour later I realized that not too many large bodies of water are found at the ends of roads with angles of 45 degrees above the horizontal. So I turned around and started heading toward the Gulf of Trieste. I found the docks and sat on them for about half an hour. Across the street was a tourist office, so I ventured in and received some maps and advice. A block away was the Medieval part of town, including the Cattedral di San Giusto, from which I obtained samples of Holy Water for my colletion. More wandering brought me to the Castello di San Giusto and several other religious buildings. The architecture is all very beautiful here.
After leaving the area I got lost – like, REALLY lost. Not so bad that I couldn’t find my way back, but bad enough that it took probably two hours to find it. I found my way to a tobacconist shop for a tram ticket (tobacconists sell EVERYTHING for some reason. That’s where I get stamps to mail post cards). The Tram di Opicina is only one Euro thirty-five, and is a lovely half-hour ride to Opicina, close to the border of Slovenia. I of course had more gelato while I was there. Returning to Trieste I found the bus station and bought my ticket to Ljubljana tomorrow for 16 Euro. Then I spent about another hour on the docks and another two hours walking around a pedestrian-only zone with many shops and bars.
When 2000 finally arrived I went back to the apartment and we had pasta with broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes, then the three of us stepped out to a local bar to have a beer. Nothing too exciting, but that’s for the best. I’ve been on my feet for the better part of 10 hours, and I’m exhasted. I think that is about it for the last two days. Here is an overview of the major stops I’ve had along the way:
Dublin, Rome, Genova, Milan, Cesena, Rimini, Bologna, Trieste, Opicina
My birthday is in five days, so I just wanted to shamelessly promote my online collection I’m taking for birthday cash:
Also, I will be posting pics of Italy very soon. Dublin pics are already posted. If anyone knows of a good online site to share pictures, let me know. Instagram is worthless; I’m not editing every single pic before I post it. So right now they are only on Facebook. If you want to see them, feel free to add me!
Tomorrow at 1400 I leave on a bus for Ljubljana. I already have two couchsurfing hosts lined up in the city, and I want to see Bled as well.