Sunday, August 31, 2008

Celebrity Guest


Take note that this whole piece that follows starting with the date, is a quotation. It is taken from the NY Times and placed here as copied and pasted. If you have never read Maureen Dowd, you are in for a treat. All I can add is YOU GO GIRL. You are hitting on the head. I just wish you could knock some heads. August 31, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist

Vice in Go-Go Boots?


The guilty pleasure I miss most when I’m out slogging on the campaign trail is the chance to sprawl on the chaise and watch a vacuously spunky and generically sassy chick flick.

So imagine my delight, my absolute astonishment, when the hokey chick flick came out on the trail, a Cinderella story so preposterous it’s hard to believe it’s not premiering on Lifetime. Instead of going home and watching “Miss Congeniality” with Sandra Bullock, I get to stay here and watch “Miss Congeniality” with Sarah Palin.

Sheer heaven.

It’s easy to see where this movie is going. It begins, of course, with a cute, cool unknown from Alaska who has never even been on “Meet the Press” triumphing over a cute, cool unknowable from Hawaii who has been on “Meet the Press” a lot.

Americans, suspicious that the Obamas have benefited from affirmative action without being properly grateful, and skeptical that Michelle really likes “The Brady Bunch” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” reject the 47-year-old black contender as too uppity and untested.

Instead, they embrace 72-year-old John McCain and 44-year-old Sarah Palin, whose average age is 58, a mere two years older than the average age of the Obama-Biden ticket. Enthusiastic Republicans don’t see the choice of Palin as affirmative action, despite her thin résumé and gaping absence of foreign policy knowledge, because they expect Republicans to put an underqualified “babe,” as Rush Limbaugh calls her, on the ticket. They have a tradition of nominating fun, bantamweight cheerleaders from the West, like the previous Miss Congeniality types Dan Quayle and W., and then letting them learn on the job. So they crash into the globe a few times while they’re learning to drive, what’s the big deal?

Obama may have been president of The Harvard Law Review, but Palin graduated from the University of Idaho with a minor in poli-sci and worked briefly as a TV sports reporter. And she was tougher on the basketball court than the ethereal Obama, earning the nickname “Sarah Barracuda.”

The legacy of Geraldine Ferraro was supposed to be that no one would ever go on a blind date with history again. But that crazy maverick and gambler McCain does it, and conservatives and evangelicals rally around him in admiration of his refreshingly cynical choice of Sarah, an evangelical Protestant and anti-abortion crusader who became a hero when she decided to have her baby, who has Down syndrome, and when she urged schools to debate creationism as well as that stuffy old evolution thing.

Palinistas, as they are called, love Sarah’s spunky, relentlessly quirky “Northern Exposure” story from being a Miss Alaska runner-up, and winning Miss Congeniality, to being mayor and hockey mom in Wasilla, a rural Alaskan town of 6,715, to being governor for two years to being the first woman ever to run on a national Republican ticket. (Why do men only pick women as running mates when they need a Hail Mary pass? It’s a little insulting.)

Sarah is a zealot, but she’s a fun zealot. She has a beehive and sexy shoes, and the day she’s named she goes shopping with McCain in Ohio for a cheerleader outfit for her daughter.

As she once told Vogue, she’s learned the hard way to deal with press comments about her looks. “I wish they’d stick with the issues instead of discussing my black go-go boots,” she said. “A reporter once asked me about it during the campaign, and I assured him I was trying to be as frumpy as I could by wearing my hair on top of my head and these schoolmarm glasses.”

This chick flick, naturally, features a wild stroke of fate, when the two-year governor of an oversized igloo becomes commander in chief after the president-elect chokes on a pretzel on day one.

The movie ends with the former beauty queen shaking out her pinned-up hair, taking off her glasses, slipping on ruby red peep-toe platform heels that reveal a pink French-style pedicure, and facing down Vladimir Putin in an island in the Bering Strait. Putting away her breast pump, she points her rifle and informs him frostily that she has some expertise in Russia because it’s close to Alaska. “Back off, Commie dude,” she says. “I’m a much better shot than Cheney.”

Then she takes off in her seaplane and lands on the White House lawn, near the new ice fishing hole and hockey rink. The “First Dude,” as she calls the hunky Eskimo in the East Wing, waits on his snowmobile with the kids — Track (named after high school track meets), Bristol (after Bristol Bay where they did commercial fishing), Willow (after a community in Alaska), Piper (just a cool name) and Trig (Norse for “strength.”)

“The P.T.A. is great preparation for dealing with the K.G.B.,” President Palin murmurs to Todd, as they kiss in the final scene while she changes Trig’s diaper. “Now that Georgia’s safe, how ’bout I cook you up some caribou hot dogs and moose stew for dinner, babe?”

Pin It Now!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Laugh or Cry, Laugh or Cry?


Laugh or cry, that is the question now that McCain has chosen his VP. There are a three American B and B guests here when the announcement came in. Five of us in total were flabbergasted, but definitely not speechless. The way we questioned what was he thinking, you would have thought that we were Republicans who felt slighted by not being in the loop on what seems to be a moronic decision. Personally, I believe that Obama and Biden can make this work for them, if they are smart. If they don't I will have lost all hope for American politics. Let's use some critical thinking just off of the surface. Palin is a first time governor and only for two years, in a state that ranks 47 in population. The only states with smaller numbers are North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. Alaska does not even have one million residents, if you only count humans. Before this, she was a mayor of a small town. With this information, the Republicans had the audacity to state that she has had fiscal experience since she had to draft the State budget for two years along with military experience since she heads the Alaska National Guard. EXCUSE ME? How is any of this comparable to the US as a whole? Well she is a mother of five and was a hockey mom. She is a good Christian. Well, how does the good mother of five plan to divide her time as a good Christian mother between her children and helping to run a country. Her last child was born with Downs. She knew this ahead of time, but made the decision not to do anything to end the birth. I can respect that; however, she went back to work three days later. Is this a responsible mother with a special needs child? Any time women want to make any gains in maternity rights in the workplace, they will point to Sarah as a shining example of women who are warriors equal to men. On the other hand, where are those Christian family values people who believe the family unit in the most important thing. She left a special needs child to return to work, a child who would especially need his mother. She does not believe in birth control or abortion. Hmmm...she just had a baby, so we can guess she has not gone through menopause yet and surely that is a sign she and her oil rigger husband are still doing the wild thing on ocassion. Now let's think. Yesterday, McC turned 72. If he should have a stroke while in office, we will have a mother of five, potentially a mother of six or seven, with no experience for more that 700,000 people running a country with a populaton of 281,421,906, but that was in 2000 at the last census. Let me do the math here. Gosh, that is a whole lot of people the president is responsible for. I bet the federal budget is a wee bit more expansive than the budget of Alaska. Maybe, the US military services have a few more people than the Alaska National Guard, you think? Her son joined the military on September 11th. If my son, if I had one, did that during these times, I would kidnap him while dragging him to a deprogrammer or the Canadian border. She believes that the Adam and Eve story should be taught in schools. We have had almost eight years of being the laughing stock of the world, can we survive four more without imploding. The US was the greatest nation in the world; China is creeping up on our tail with their economic supremecy and they hold a giant bag of American dollars in reserve, as does Japan. If either decide to cash out, 1929s bank crash will seem like a walk in the park.

Pin It Now!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Go SkyEurope


I was so paranoid about not making the flight in time, we opted for the earlier airport bus. We were up at 4:15 am and at the station at 5:00, only to find the next bus was not until 5:35. We were at the airport by 6:30 am, but SkyEurope did not open for check in until 7:00 am. We were checked in and through security within minutes. I sat at the gate and wrote yesterday's blog entry. Boarding time was 8:10, but by 8:20, there still was no plane. It was late arriving from Prague and eventually did by 8:40. Amazingly, we still landed in Budapest on time at 10:00 am. Go SkyEurope!

Pin It Now!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Full Last Day


We were really productive today, having had breakfast by 8:00 and off to catch the bus number 44, which we were told initiated at the train station. We waited for 45 minutes for a bus that the schedule showed was due every 25 minutes. I am beginning to believe that the schedules are for decoration only, not for informational purposes. When it finally arrived, it was near full, so getting a seat was impossible, and evidently it did not start at the point we were told to get it. Our first destination was the Castello di Duino in Duino-Aurisina, an hour ride from Trieste proper. The initial attraction to this castle was not the description of it in the tourism brochures, since that was scant, but what they did highlight was the exhibition of the over 100 handbags from the ages. Now that sounded too campy to go unnoticed; it roused our curiosity into making the trip. As all things Italian, or touristy in many countries, there are no signs alerting you when you are close or at the attraction to which you are traveling. This of course was no exception. As we closed into an hour’s ride, Ron kept asking people about the Castello, though the bus driver was not a fount of information. It was beyond surprising, but pleasantly so, to find out how many people, especially older people spoke English. The last advice we received was from a gentleman who told us we had eight kilometers to go. These buses not only travel main roads and highways, but through villages, they drive with great dexterity the narrow one way alleys through residential areas, negotiating tight spaces that I would be reluctant to try with a compact car. They do it seemingly without any effort, but remembering this convoluted route is what impressed me the most. In some areas, they would literally stop every block to pick up or drop off passengers. It was beyond my comprehension why people could not walk an extra block to save the bus one stop. We reached the Castello with the bus dropping us off at the entrance, but what called to us was the café where we caffeined ourselves first. On then we went to the castle, where the admission was a rather high seven Euros for me and a discounted five Euros for Ron or any senior with an ID. Looking like the romantic notions of a castle, with turrets and gardens, it was impressive from first sighting. I am still not totally clear who owns this castle, but it is still in the hands of Italian royalty, though the royalty was booted out by Mussolini. I remember the last king was in exile in Greece and his last wish was to return to Italy to die; he had cancer, but the government at the time refused. It seems there are close connections between the royals here and those of Greece, which includes Prince Philip of Great Britain, since he was a Greek Prince before marrying Elizabeth. Some of the signs around the castle refer to the Princess, who is currently doing this work and or that and has made this decision or that, using present tense verbs and current dates to fortify them. She not too long ago, decided to open the bunker on the grounds to the public. Here is where British soldiers hunkered down during the war. It was deep, deep, deep, underground and after descending the first seventy-five steps to the first level with only one little room, we were too faint or heart to venture down the next one hundred steps to discover what was to be revealed to us. Instead we walked the gardens which were as lovely as one would expect, but with huge what were probably stately trees, now toppled obstructing paths, so they were closed off. The views of the bay were breathtaking and with the family still living in part of the castle, it is with great envy of their vistas that we toured the building. As you enter the castle, one room is dedicated to the royal lineage. Of course this take charts that fill walls showing family trees, letters back and forth from this famous person to another and so on ad nauseum. However, also in this room were selections of the handbags on display. These were quite interesting in design, color, and shape. Walking up a spiral staircase, we were allowed entrance into various rooms replete with the original décor of their time of splendor. Looking at the frayed draperies, it is apparent that the royal family did not open part of their home to the public for altruistic reasons, but out of financial need. Apparently, one of the princesses was an author and had written a children’s book that had been translated into other languages, pre-dating the former princess Fergie by a few years. This same princess was also a psychoanalyst, quite a profession for a princess. She was a friend of Freud and paid the ransom for having him released from the Nazi camps. All in all, the trip was well worth the efforts, aside from the broad and enlightening display of handbags, some of which brought back nostalgic memories of family members. We went back into the ticket office to buy a little gift and noticed a sign that they had suffered a tornado on August 8, 2008, less than three weeks prior to our visit. When we asked about it, we were told that is why the trees are down in the garden. The tornado also too off part of the roof in one area and did some other damage. No one else in the area had any damage at all. Ron had hopes of finding an assortment of cheeses and olives for a picnic. Right outside of the castle gate is a grocery store, where he was able to fulfill his needs somewhat, though the variety was not overwhelming. Once we scouted the area, the only place for a picnic was the bus top. With buses coming so irregularly, I did not want to miss the next one and have to wait for close to an hour for another. Just as he prepared his spread, the bus arrived. I stood in the door to hold it open while he gathered his goodies, and we were back on the long haul into Trieste. This time, we were closer to the start of the line, so scoring a seat was not an issue. Once back, we thought we would be smart and get off one stop later than our early morning start, hoping it would bring us back to the bus station. However, it drove on by with the next stop blocks beyond. As it turned out, it was fortunate. We passed a shop run by Chinese where they had alarm clocks for sale for two Euros. This was a concern since neither of us remembered an alarm and the one on my phone is not loud enough to wake me when in a deep sleep. At the bus station, we bought our tickets for the airport for tomorrow so we would not have to be concerned, checking the schedule while we were there. With great resolve, we plunged forward to cross town and find the number 8 bus to take us to the Holocaust Memorial, the former rice granary. We knew the bus stopped along the waterfront, but we were not sure where. We walked a few blocks before spotting the sign. Again, the decoratively placed schedule showed the bus was planned for every twenty minutes. In the time we waited, the sun hot and beating on us, three of the number nine buses passed us. After forty minutes, the number eight arrived. Ron asked the driver if this was the right bus and received a grunt in return. We were hoping for some advice like I will let you know where to get off. There are no lists of stops and stops are not marked in any way. We knew it was about a twenty minute ride according to the tourism office, so after twenty minutes into it, we would start to worry or play twenty questions with other passengers. Our game was nipped in the bud. At exactly twenty minutes, the bus stopped, the engine turned off, and everyone got off. End of the line. Ron braved asking the driver once again for directions. The driver said five hundred meters straight and then left. At first we thought we could have gotten off the bus five hundred meters ago and saved a hot walk back; however, the bus had come around a corner before this street, so it really was not possible. We passed some old factory, a stadium, and a supermarket and the outlook of finding this place was not good. Another fifty meters, we would be approaching a highway. A woman was sitting on the ledge of the building at the only left hand turn we had encountered, so we asked her for directions. She sparkled when she responded and told us in Italian that it was straight ahead and on the right side at the end of the block. NOTE: This information is not complete and will be revised later. There is no admission charge for this memorial. It opens at 1:00 pm and closes at 5:00 pm, though there are no gates to shut it out from the wandering public. The room with cells held tiny rooms with two bunks in each. The next room was the “Hall of Crosses”. Except for a room full of tall beams with Y supports at the top, there was not explanation as to what its original purpose was. A dramatic modern sculpture represents the chimney and smoke from the crematorium that once existed behind you as you stare at the art. When you turn, you notice a roped off area with a recessed floor covered in a different material that at first looks like a pool. This area is laid with metal sheets to represent the area where the original crematorium stood, while the gutter leading from it to the sculpture is the pipeline connecting the two. There is one open section beyond this where organizations have plagues for different causes commemorating those who lost their lives. The one that impressed me most and caught my attention was the pink triangle for the homosexuals.

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tram Ride to Opicina


The breakfast room was hopping this morning, by eight o’clock, it was full to capacity. Nine tables filled with guests, trying to get back and forth to the nourishment table, while scooting around those still seated.

We decided to take the only tram in the city, for a ride, needing only one ticket each way, for a euro each, it was a bargain. Walking the streets to get to the starting point, we noticed more stores were open today, but still plenty of them are closed yet. The tram runs every twenty minutes. Climb aboard and validate your ticket, take a seat on one of the wooden seats and don’t try to open the window. It is supposedly air conditioned, but it isn’t really, so some did try pulling down the stubborn top portion of the window to let some air in. Our goal was to take the tram to then end of the line, which is another town, Opicina.

Ascending in altitude, the panorama view became increasingly interesting with glimpses of the water. There was supposed to be the best view from the obelisk stop, one stop before the end. We thought we would stop off there on the way back. Opicina is a small village with basically one street of businesses, not much on the side streets. It is close to the Slovenia border, so many signs are in both languages. Wandering down the main street, we eventually found a restaurant and stopped for a plate of pasta. The elder owner must have a case of OCD. He put all unused chairs at 45 degree angles to the tables they were at. We were waiting for him to come rearrange our seats too. I had made a decision, not to pass up any opportunity for Italian treats. The pasta with Bolognese sauce was different from what I am used to with a minced meat clump plopped on top of the spaghetti, but tasty nevertheless.

After lunch, we started back to the tram and arrived just as it did. Riding down one stop, we disembarked at the obelisk to check out the view for ourselves. The land was artificially reforested by the Austrians in the late 1800s; there are walking trails, but not much else. Our tram tickets are only good for 60 minutes, so if we waited longer, we would have to buy new ones, but there was no machine to get them at. When the next tram arrived, we jumped on to get back to Trieste city center.

As we returned, we noticed that all of the stores that were open when we left earlier, were now closed. It seems that those that are open in August, close from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm and then reopen until 8:00 pm. The town was empty. There were not even many cars driving through, so we took this opportunity to return for a nap, but stopped for an ice cream on the way. I am working on my ice cream and pasta quotas.

After our rest stop, we went window stopping, but there really is nothing new and different. Thanks to globalization, you can find the same or very similar things all over the world. We went to a bar called The Tea Room for a popular local drink of white wine, sparkling water, and a shot of Campari. It is wonderfully refreshing on a hot day, but this evening the Boer winds were coming in fast and furious, necessitating a jacket for we tourists, while the locals were still in their shorts and short sleeved shirts.

We did our evening stroll on the waterfront to watch the sun, and then went to a pizzeria called the Copacabana. The place is huge and can easily seat 200 outside and just as many inside. We sat on the terrace, where every table was soon filled. The menu was only in Italian, but I discovered a pizza with roast beef called Stregata. I known strega is witch, so I went for it. It had a white crème sauce, mozzarella cheese, cooked kale, and was smothered in slices of roast beef. I am not certain how to say heavenly in Italian, but it was a gastronomic orgasm. Ron had cheese and pepperoni.

Plans for tomorrow are to visit another castle and then in the opposite direction, go to the only place in Italy where they had a Holocaust prison camp, complete with a crematorium. We will see if we are emotionally up for it when the time comes. Funny, when we arrived, we were not sure we would be able to fill our time here. Having so many things closed has made it interesting, but we are finding things to do without needing to rush here and there, making it utterly relaxing.

One thing I have noticed is that there are no WiFi cafés or marked hotspots and there are no Internet cafés. We have covered a great deal of the city by foot, since there has not been much else to do, so if they existed, we should have spotted them.

Another observation is that the Italians, I am guessing these are locals or Italian tourists, always dress nicely. You do not see many, not even the teens dressed in raggy clothes or even mismatched outfits. They all look like they are going to be someone’s guest and have dressed accordingly. It has fascinated me how many men wear sandals of all types, while women wear sandals, and a good number of them wear heels.

Also, the city is CLEAN. There is no litter and relatively little graffiti anywhere.

Pin It Now!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Where is Everyone?


Breakfast is included in the hotel rate. It is minimal, but enough. The coffee machine, a product of Nescafe is self-service. I placed my cup on the tray and hit the latte button, but the result was a pure white without a trace of coffee. Although the hot milk was delicious, I really wanted caffeine. After I had some of it downed, I put the cup back and hit the espresso button, making a perfect latte.

We bought bus tickets at the reception desk walked to the 36 bus stop to go to Miramare Castle. We were not quite sure which stop to get off, but went by instinct, Ron’s instincts, not mine. After getting off of the bus, we had to walk back in the direction we came, but the castle was on the other side of the highway. There was no way to cross. After walking through the two tunnels we had traveled through on the bus, we found an institute with steps leading to a park. We asked someone who said we could go that way, but there were many paths, so to be careful.

It was a hefty climb of numerous short flights of stairs with small resting platforms at the top of each flight. After innumerable flights, we reached the apex to find a lovely wooded park with generously wide walking paths and well placed benches. About every 500 feet, there was a map showing the current location and all of the important landmarks of the area. We found out way to the castle after descending some insubstantial flights of stairs. The castle was built by Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, brother to Franz Josef the Emperor of Austria and the Hapsburg Empire. The castle is surrounded by 22 hectares of trees imported from around the world.

We toured the castle for 4 Euros entrance for me, but Ron was able to get in for free with his senior ID from Hungary. Either way, it was worth the charge. The castle was not overly extravagant, tasteful enough to be charming, but it was hot and I could barely stand it. After we finished the tour, we walked through the park to the end and descended at the restaurant where the bus sits to return the route back again.

Back to the starting point at the end of the bus line, we looked for the Jewish synagogue that was on the sights to see list and found it handily. However, it is only open on Sundays and Thursdays for touring and closed completely other days of the week. We missed it yesterday and will be leaving early on Thursday, so that is off our list. We also checked out the Renaissance Museum, but it was closed for the month of August. Not doing well, we wandered instead. Again today, although being Monday, most stores are closed. It was well into the afternoon, yet there is no sign of life, nor are there signs stating they are closed. Door signs claim they should be open welcoming shoppers, but the lock on the entrance displays something different altogether. Again, many of the cafés and restaurants are still shuttered also giving the city a ghost like feeling. The streets are not busy with pedestrians, there are not many tourists, and the cars that are zipping through the streets are racing with a passion to get through here to someplace with more action, as fast as possible.

Remember the children’s game of clasping your hands together and chanting “Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and where are all of the people?” I kept asking that question all day today. The only people that were out in any number were the seniors who were hoarding the seats on the bus like they were being evacuated and needed comfort for the long haul.

We stopped at a café for a snack since there was not much else worth attempting by 3:00 pm. I ordered a latte and received a cup of hot milk. There seems to be a trend here, so being quick to learn, I realized a latte here is not a coffee latte, but just the milk. Lesson to be learned, a latte here is milk only. Even when I have asked for a coffee latte, they had no idea what I wanted. When this time filler had run its course, we went back to the hotel to catch some of the Democratic National Convention news coverage.

After some writing and a nap, we went seeking one of the old cafés with a reputation. Like Vienna and Budapest and most likely dozens of other cities around the world, there are some famous hangouts which developed a reputation for hosting the famous and infamous of the world of literature, the arts, followed by politicians, and insidious others who chose that place as their nesting area. Three of these are still in tact with business as usual. We went to discover the first one. The inside was embellished with dark wood ceilings, but ivory walls with white trim like oversized cameos. Broken into cozy rooms, it maintained the intimacy that small groups of like minded people would gravitate toward and reward them with privacy for their discussions. We chose to sit outside since all of Trieste and probably all of Italy now is non-smoking indoors.

We walked the waterfront again this evening, but we had much more of it to ourselves than

yesterday. There were so few people out, it was almost eerie. Watching the last vestiges of the sun disappear over the water as it was rising on some other’s morning, the clouds transformed from oranges to pinks and later to grays as their appearance morphed from one shape to another, shifting so slowly, it was barely a cognitive experience.

For dinner, we decided to try a place on the canal recommended by the hotel, called ‘A Kiss by the Canal’. We were told they gave a 10% discount to hotel guests, so we decided to try it. By the canal, they have sofas with tables between them. I thought it would be too difficult to eat dinner from a sofa on such a low table. The other outside tables were along side the restaurant, so we chose a table there. When our waiter came over, we asked for a menu. He looked a bit stunned and then went for another server, but returned to say our waiter would be with us shortly. The menu is written on a blackboard, so our new host brought it over and translated the entire list of options. Ron ordered the pasta with crab and I ordered the pasta with ham and pepperoni.

When the food was served, Ron’s pasta was missing the crab and the broccoli that was supposed to be part of it. What he received was the pasta with the shrimp instead. Mine was the correct dish, but the ham and pepperoni were so finely diced, they both could have been shaken from a salt shaker. The sauce was the redeeming factor, since the pasta was penne, not the spaghetti I had thought.

With two disappointing meals, we decided we needed gelato. That place was hopping and anyone who was left in the city was there. This is where all of the action was happening. People do not seem to appear on the streets until after 9 pm, but they disappear again shortly after 10:00.

Pin It Now!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Off to Trieste


The super efficient airport shuttle not only deposited us at the airport on time, but with plenty of time to spare. Our flight was due to leave at 10:30 and we were there by 8:00. Going through security was speedy and efficient, but we found ourselves immediately in the shopping area for duty free. There was no Passport Control to go through now that Hungary is part of the Schengren Agreement.

SkyEurope had us boarded and ready to go within minutes, though they had a flight come in from Trieste at 10:00. We arrived at our destination after 1 hour and 10 minutes. The airport is tiny, so there is no fear of getting lost. We bought bus tickets into town at the tourism office for 3.10 each and walked over to bus 51 to stow our suitcase.

More than once, I had a thought of “that is interesting, we should come back there to see that mosaic” or “an open café , we should check it out”, but the bus kept going and going. The other thought I had was, "Are we on the correct bus?" We have been known to get on the wrong trains and buses at times. While taking one hour to get into town, all of those places are closer to the airport than they are to Trieste. Let’s review - It took one hour-10 minutes to fly here; it took one hour to get from the airport.

Our hotel, is one whole floor of a building, there are three such hotels within one building. It was an easy 10 minute walk from the bus station. The room is extra large, but with a shared bathroom. This is not a problem as there are three of them, two equipped with showers. They were reviewed by Frommer’s in 2003, but has not been seen since with gives me pause.

After dumping our things, we walked around the city, noticing not much was open, but being Sunday, we did not think about it. The reception at the hotel suggested going closer to the waterfront to find a restaurant, or perhaps around the major square. There were a few open there, but not too crowded. Is this what Sundays are like? As often as we have been in Italy, I am not sure we have been here too many Sundays before.

Just a short walk from the hotel, we ran into the stature of James Joyce. Joyce had lived here twice during his life. First he lived here from 1904 to 1915, and then again from 1919 to 1920 when he finished The Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

The major square the Piazza Unita d’Italia is an umph experience with stunning architecture on three sides. Built in 1870, to the left is the Palazzo de Governo, Palazzo Stratti, Palazzo Modelo, the Town Hall, Palazzo Pitteri, and the Lloyd Triestion Palazzo. All of this overlooks the sea.

At the waterfront, people were milling up and down the cement walkway again certifying Europeans as strollers. As families, as couples, as groups of friends, people were walking up and down the walkway, taking in the soothing view of the Gulf of Trieste. Still, it was not crowded as one would expect for the end of summer. When we rode in on the bus, we noticed a number of people sunbathing on a concrete platform along the sea. Only one or two people were actually in the water at any given beach. There is not a beach to speak of, mostly rocks you climb down into the water. It certainly is not inducing to sunbathe if you cannot easily go for a dip to cool off, but the Italians are sunworshippers. I know from family history.

We by chance decided on a restaurant where the waitress working was from California up until nine years ago, she lives here now. She suggested we go to a bar “where there are other people like you”. We were not quite sure what that meant. What kind of people? We had just told her we lived in Hungary, where there other ex-pats living in Hungary there? Where there other Americans as bar guest? She once again reiterated that there would be people we would like at this particular bar and than added there are lots of "those" types of bars around the city. Interesting. She discovered all this from two orders of eggplant Parmesan and a few questions about where the best pastry shop in town happened to be. By the way, the eggplant was good, but the sauce needed to cook more. Even Ron, a non-Italian could tell it was not ready yet. As it turned out the pastry shop was the most highly rated by the tourism board as being historic, but it is closed for the month of August.

We gave in to our early hour start of the day, and went back for a nap. We had to get rid of that jet lag from that hour long flight. Within minutes, I was out and stayed out for three hours. After I revived from that drugged feeling I get when I oversleep, we took off to explore the city on a Sunday night.

After wandering for an hour, looking at menus, we decided on one for pizzas. I had the thrill of years when I found a pizza with sausage, sweet peppers, cheese, and tomatoes. The highlight was the sausage, though not enough, it was real Italian sausage, something I had been hunting for the last four trips to different Italian cities and have not found. The peppers were sweet peppers like I have grown accustomed to in the US, but never find in Hungary.

Ice cream, an Italian tradition, is not to be by-passed. As we were wandering back to the hotel, we by chance passed a large parlor of frozen delights. The pistachio screamed out to me and then there was this other flavor bufala, which was intriguing. I had both in a cup. Pistachios were more abundant than the ice cream itself, but I did not complain.

My mission this trip is not to leave with any regrets. It will be tough, but I will have to have ice cream, pasta, and pizza as often as possible.

We could not find any WiFi cafes or Internet cafes in the city. At the hotel, the young crew did not know of any either. What gives Italy?

Some pictures will be added by the weekend.

Pin It Now!