180504-That Could Have Gone Better

Heavy rain fell most of the night, drifting into light rain this morning. Having failed to find somewhere to recharge my USB battery last night, I encountered the two Americans under the camp shelter while searching for power. While the shelter had outlets, they claimed they didn’t work. Some tinkering with the breakers and we were all able to recharge.

As the rain continued, I talked with them for almost an hour. This is their second year-long tour. The last was scattered around the globe, interconnected with airplanes. This year Steve and Mel are cycling from Athens to Norway. I rarely run across other American cycle tourists, and it was great to trade war stories; I think I could have done it all day. However, as the rain stopped, I knew I needed to head for Trieste.

The mountains off in the distance crept ever closer. The roadway was blasted out of the rock, directly against the coast. Still, for most of the day I had dedicated cycle path or at least a decent shoulder.

Off to the side of the road I could see a church with obvious tourist-like signs, so I spun around to take a look. Years ago I followed signs to a small church, only to find a quiet cathedral from the 900s in someone’s back yard. They’d made its restoration their passion, while carefully documenting every step. From the plaster they’d carefully removed to reveal the old frescoes to the carved wooden tile ceiling, I was left in awe.

Not so much today. As I arrived I noticed a few people behind me, which evolved into two tour buses of high-school students. I had only a few minutes to explore before the church filled to bursting, with students sitting in the pews listening to their tour guide.

I still had plenty of time to get to Trieste, so when a tourist sign for a castle appeared in front of me, I detoured a bit. Castillo di Duino merged a castle with an Italian estate. The receptionist kindly opened the gate to permit storing my bicycle safely within the castle walls. Underneath the castle a bunker remains, built there by the Germans using conscripts. After wandering all about, I ate lunch on a convenient bench before continuing on.

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Passing multiple signs for Miramare Castle, I decided I’d make yet another detour. Then the rain forecast for 2 pm began. I raced for Miramare (what better place to seek shelter from a storm?) but 3 km out the rain’s intensity exceeded my staying dry. I ducked under a convenient overhead to wait out the rain; before continuing on. Miramare was more palace than castle, but the grounds themselves were spectacular, with large fountains and covered trellises decorating the gardens. 

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Only short ride into Trieste remained. Riding into Trieste dried berries on the cycle path popped unnervingly under my wheels. I easily found the hostel and checked in. The hostel is more accurately a hotel where they replaced the furnishings with four narrow beds and a wardrobe. There’s not much of a common area, and little of that vibe that the best hostels exude. 

From there I headed to Castello di San Giusto. Except the directions from the hostel host led me to a hospital. I switched back to the POI information on the GPS. The castle sits on top of a mountain in central Trieste, tall enough that to solve the traffic problems around the castle they tunneled under it! Like most castles that have remained in use, the castle has served as a fortress, a barracks, and a prison before eventually being turned under a museum.

Routing myself via GPS to find my way back with my “Historic” filter on, I passed by an old Roman coliseum. I found dinner before returning to the hostel.

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Total distance for the day? About 55 km, making it 50 + 85 + 50 km to travel 144 km. Things actually are farther away when cycling; perception mimics reality. If the hostel was more spectacular, I’d be tempted to stay for another day, but I plan to move on. Not far tomorrow; I’m turning directly into those mountains, and I don’t expect that to go well. While I’m headed into Slovenia tomorrow, hopefully on EV9, I don’t know how I’m leaving. Mike told me there’s not a friendly path between the capital of Slovenia and Croatia – he took a train!

Today? Yes, there was a long talk with cyclists, a church, three castles, and a Roman coliseum. But I had to wait almost an hour on the rain!

When doing the business and tax preparation for my book (and website), one recommendation was to set up a way for people to support my travels, which I did, not expecting much to come from it. Today was a great day, and I want to dedicate it to the first person to take me up on that-James. Today was a great day, and you made it possible!

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