Monday, July 3, 2017

Koper - Trieste - Piran, Driving the Slovenian Coast.

Tucked away between Italy and Croatia is the little country Slovenia, once
part of Yugoslavia. Today took us back into Italy to the city of Trieste.
According to our guide, although situated in Italy, it has never really been
Italian. You could not be blamed for thinking that you are somewhere in
Austria as you walk the streets. The architecture is something that you
would expect to find in Vienna, thanks to its connection to the Hapsburg
Monarchy. It is amazing how many countries throughout Europe has a Hapsburg
This is the first port of call for many newly built cruise ships, as it is
home to the head office of the Fincantieri Ship building company. One of
their ship building yards was next to us in Venice, where they are currently
building the newest Carnival Ship.
There is no excuse for bad coffee here; Trieste is known as the "Coffee
capital of Italy" and home to the internationally known coffee company
We walked part of the city visiting some of the main sites including a
Serbian Orthodox church, St Spyridon, and the Greek orthodox Church St
Nicolao, where in both I lit a candle in memory of our parents. Apart from
the language of the service, orthodox churches are not much different in
Stopping for coffee, and as if he knew we were coming, a young busker sat
himself just near us and started playing his digeridoo.
To cover all religions, our next stop was the Cathedral of St Giusto,
arriving just as a wedding was finishing up. Simple from the outside, the
interior was beautifully decorated with Byzantium mosaics.
Being Saturday, many had made their way to the beaches. Not quite the big
sandy beaches that we are used to, but with their narrow shoreline, it was
interesting to see people sunbaking on the footpaths or sitting in the shade
of the nature strips lined with trees.
Speaking of the Hapsburgs, Miramar castle, spectacularly build on a Karstic
rocky promontory, was a gift by Maximilian as gift to his wife, Charlotte of
Belgium. We weaved our way in and out of each room with their beautiful
frescoed walls and decorated with treasures collected from all round the
world. An interesting piece of design was a small round glass bottom
fountain found at the top of the grand staircase. What made this so
fascinating was the fact that on the ground level the glass bottom of the
fountain formed a rippling ceiling rose around the light fitting that hung
there. You might say a very early form of skylight.
From there we headed back to Slovenia, travelling to the opposite end of the
peninsula of Trieste to the small fishing village of Piran. A market was in
full swing in the main square which was also lined with café's and
restaurants. Like the legs of a spider, the narrow laneways radiated out
from the centre. Onwards and upwards we were led by our guide, first
visiting a small Franciscan Monastery. Displayed around the courtyard were
photos depicting how life used to be in the village many years ago. It
showed the fishermen working on their nets, farmers selling their fresh
produce, generally everyone just carrying on with their own business. A
real piece of interest was a large olive tree root system that had been
turned into a chair.
Further up the hill we ventured to the Church of St John, sitting high on
the peak with 360 degree panoramic views looking back down to the village
and across the sea to Trieste where we had been that morning.
Heading back to the ship we hit what looked like a major traffic snarl, and
after a couple of phone calls, found out there was an incident between a
semi-trailer and goodness knows what else… But not to worry "I know a short
cut!" and with a flick of an indicator we were now heading off at speed
along the very narrow back roads of Piran and Portorose. Beautiful scenery
as weaved around the farmlands of olive trees and grapevines, praying that
there were no other oncoming vehicles, which would be no match for our van!
Made it back safe and sound with a little time to spare, and we made the
most of the free wifi before heading onto the ship.
Gaznjo's Port tips.
Our tour was with Istranka Koper, they have a stall selling tours to all the
highlights of Slovenia. A hop on hop off service covering the five towns
that dot the peninsula. A trip to either the Postojna and the Skocjan Caves.
Trips to Ljubljana and Lake Bled just to name a few.

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