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.

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