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.

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