I hadn't even caught up with the sleep I'd lost thanks to my unplanned stay at Amsterdam airport when it was time to start packing again!
I was off to Trieste for Easter. After spending the long Easter weekend in Genova last year, I already had a plan back in January to go away again this year. I wanted somewhere I'd never been to before, and wasn't too far or difficult to get to from Milan. I chose Trieste, in the very north-eastern corner of Italy, near the border with Slovenia.
My train was at 7.35am (argh!) from Milano Centrale. It was a rare direct Milan-Trieste train that would take me across the north of Italy, down a very familiar route past Lake Garda, Verona, and onto Mestre. After that it would be all new.
I'd booked my tickets at the beginning of the year, and for the journey over to Trieste I had a seat in first class as it had been the same price as second class! Obviously the seats are more spacious, and there's also the free drink and snack - second breakfaaast! - and in the morning you're also offered a newspaper.
The train arrived three minutes early (!!) after the four and a half hour trip in Trieste Centrale - which was a much smaller station than I'd imagined - and armed with Google Maps I made my way to my bed & breakfast.
I was staying at Zudecche 1 bed & breakfast, in a little side-street on the edge of the city centre, and about 15 minutes' walk from the train station. Check-in wasn't until the evening, but luckily I could leave my luggage so I could go off exploring!
My first stop was Trieste's most famous landmark, the big massive piazza, or to call it by its' proper name - Piazza Unità d'Italia. And it's pretty impressive. And really very big. It looks out onto the sea as well, making the view even more impressive. Tripadvisor (seriously, what would I do without it?) helped me find lunch - Genuino, an 'Italian fast food' restaurant. I'm not really one for spending lots of time eating when I'm travelling, I'd rather be out and about exploring. I was very impressed when I was handed my lunch of grilled salmon, rice, roast potatoes, and vegetables! Oh, and I had some locally made beer too, very nice!
I needed to walk all that off, so my plan to walk along the seashore worked out. And I found Trieste's canal! In that area I had a cheeky frappé at Grom (good old trusty Grom!) before I carried on with my mission to get to know the city.
By mid-afternoon my feet were starting to ache. So what else could I do after having watched people everywhere drinking spritz all day but have one myself? A lightweight version as I didn't want to get lost on my way back to my B&B! A spritz bianco - white wine and soda. And of course, snacks. After living in Milan I couldn't believe my spritz at Pep's cost just 3 euro! The only downfall was the pigeons who decided that they liked the look of my snacks too...
Rain was forecast for Saturday, but it managed to stay off until just after breakfast. I quickly bundled myself out of the B&B by 9 and headed towards the Scala dei giganti - the 'giants' staircase'. It goes up and up and up to a park and castle - an area that commemorates those lost to war. It has some great views over the city and out to sea.
It started to rain, so it seemed like a good point to check out a cafè Walter, one of the owners of the B&B had recommended - Cafè San Marco. It's like something straight off the streets of Vienna! Sunday morning when I was speaking with Walter at breakfast, he explained that the café as it was now hadn't been opened for very long. The owner of the bookshop next door bought the café and combined the two - a great idea! The cappuccino - which is known in Trieste as a 'caffelatte' - cost 2.50 euro, and that also included a little biscuit and a glass of water. The hipster waiters were friendly and extremely efficient!
I wasn't feeling my best on Saturday, so I decided to take it very easy. I woke up from my nap too late for a lunch, so I went back to Genuino as I was too hungry (and hangry) to research another option. And seeing as I was on holiday I had a beer with my delicious hamburger to make me feel a bit better!
For merenda I had actual tea and a cupcake! There's a little tea room in the old town called Ginger, and they have a great selection of teas. I chose a gorgeous vanilla black tea, and had a cookies and cream cupcake. The tea cost 3.50 euro, but the teapot contained enough for two and a half cups.
The wind arrived Saturday night. The one thing Trieste is most famous for in Italy is the bora - its' own special brand of strong wind. Walter explained on Monday that what I'd experienced over the weekend was just 'a taste', and I was glad it hadn't been any stronger - I nearly lost my glasses on Monday!
On Sunday I got a bus to go to Miramare castle, just to the north of the city, It's the No.6 bus that takes you there, and there are a few stops for it in the city, including one next to the train station. (As I discovered, it's not one of the buses that stop in the piazza in front of the station, but facing the station it's to your right.) I managed to get off a stop after the one I was meant to - following the instructions from the castello's site didn't work... - but I still managed to get to the castle easily down a flight of stone steps and through the car park. My favourite thing about the visit was the big garden, just wandering around. The views are fantastic though, can you imagine how it would have been to live in a magnificant castle on the sea? I'd also timed my visit perfectly, the museum was one of the civic ones that are free all over Italy on the first Sunday of the month! The gardens are free to get in, entrance to the castle normally costs 6 euro.
By the time I got back to Trieste it was lunchtime. And it was Easter Sunday. Big problem. There was no room at the restaurant for little old me, and after wandering around for what seemed like hours, I gave up. There wasn't much else I could do except to head for the Burger King that was a short walk from my bed & breakfast...
Fed and watered I was off on another adventure. There's a tram that goes from the city centre up into the hills over Trieste to the town of Opicina. And it's SO cool. When it starts climbing out of the city it becomes a funicular - the track reminded me of a rollercoaster, but luckily it doesn't go anywhere near that speed! As it climbs up there are amazing views of Trieste and the sea. It was absolutely my favourite thing about my time there, and unlike anything I'd ever done before.
Still full after my late fast-food lunch I went to a do-it-yourself gelateria I'd spotted next to Burger King. At Mu there are different flavours of Mr Whippy style ice cream (but much tastier, obviously!) that you serve yourself, and loads of toppings and sauces to choose from. Delicious! I discovered that the chain has not one, but two stores in Milan!
The wind seemed to calm down during Sunday night, even though my trusty weather app said that I was in for another blustery day on Monday. At breakfast everything seemed very calm, until I started packing that is...
It was a bit windy, but at that point not as bad as Sunday, and there was a beautiful blue sky. When the wind died down it was warm. I had most of the day before my train in the evening, but no concrete plans. One thing was for sure though, my first stop would be for another coffee - in Piazza Unità d'Italia this time. I chose Sting, which is on the left corner as you're looking out to sea. And in the sun there was a beautiful view to enjoy.
Another thing Trieste is famous for is its' coffee, it's Italy's biggest coffee port and historically was the point where coffee was imported into the country. I don't use a moka anymore as I have a Nespresso machine, so there wasn't much point me taking any of Trieste's coffee home with me; but there's a torrefazione in Via Cavana in the old town that has a large selection of teas in its' window. They were far too tempting, and after my delicious tea at Ginger I bought a packet of vanilla black tea to drink at home.
After yesterday's farce I easily found a trattoria for lunch that served traditional triestino food, and was one of the first to arrive. Al Petes' doesn't have great reviews on Tripadvisor, but I ate well, having gnocchi with goulash and a glass of red wine. Oh, and more coffee afterwards of course!
The sea was looking spectacular in the sun - not so spectacular was the jellyfish I saw argh! After walking off that lunch I only had a couple of hours left in the city, so I went back to Pep's for another three euro spritz! (Alcoholic, me?)
By then it was time to get my case from the B&B and make my way back to the station. Trieste being the very eastern end of Italy, the trains stop here. My train to Milan was already at the station when I got there about an hour early, and after getting some food for the trip I climbed aboard and settled down for the long journey home.