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Discovering Trieste

I spent the first few days wandering around the center of Trieste, and easily stumbled upon all of the Piazzi (I'm going to assume this is the plural of Piazza without looking it up), piers, statues and Roman ruins that todo-in-trieste guides tell you to see. The core of Trieste is small and compact, as well as alive and beautiful, day and night. The town is set into the base - and creeping up the side - of hills which turn to mountains. From any perspective the backdrop is stunning. Green mountains dotted with orange rooftops in one direction, and the bright blue Adriatic Sea in the other.

A boat moored with a pier in the background at dusk A canal in the forefront leading to a building with pillars A wide open concrete square with grand buildings around the edges A grand domed building with dramatic mid blue sky in the background Stone Roman ruins and grass

More photos from wanderings here and here.

You probably know you can't confine me to a new town's core for very long though. Yesterday we took the 42 bus to Grotto Gigante, a giant cave about a 30 minute ride up and over some hills out of Trieste. Well worth the 9 EUR entrance fee (for student; 12 for 'adult'), this enormous chasm is one of the largest publicly accessible caves in Europe. Guided tours are hourly, and we learnt about the history of the cave's discovery and usage, the growth of the stalagmites and stalagtites, and the scientific research that goes on down there. Our tourgroup was occupied by an enormous pack of schoolkids, but the guide did a great job at distracting them so we (the handful of non-Italian speakers) could take undisturbed photos, and keeping them quiet whilst she recapped the information in English.

Trees and a brown sign saying 'Grotto Gigante' A giant bear skeleton Some people on some steps leading into a giant cave

Stalagmites growing up in layers with dramatic shadows A footpath stretching through a giant cave A narrow cave tunnel with a person in

The cave really is enormous, and the rock formations are really cool. It took about an hour to tour through it. The temperature inside is a cool 11 degrees C, and damp.

The tickets included a 10% discount at the nearest restaurant, but the staff there were surly and none of the food looked good. There was nowhere to buy a bus ticket around the Grotto Gigante, so I figured we could walk along the bus route a bit and somewhere would surely pop up in one of the villages. Bus tickets here are bought before boarding, from corner shops or (less available) ticket machines. Nowhere popped up. Kit was a good sport and agreed to walk all the way to Miramare though (GPS trace). Some of this route was along roads, but OpenStreetMaps showed plenty of off-road trails which we took when we could. It was a very pleasant walk through grassy woods in between small villages, and all downhill.

The sea and sky in the background, blue, trees in the foreground Stone steps with grass A train station with the sign Miramare

We reached Miramare after one and a half hours. Castello Miramare is a stately home standing over the sea, and set in an enormous and impressive park grounds. We stopped for lunch at the cafe in the park, which was nice. I had a perfectly adequate roasted vegetable panino, and Kit ate lasagne and claims he has definitely made better ones himself. The surroundings were lovely though.

I went to check out the castle, but it's a new one not old, and inside was art galleries and furniture. I felt I could spend the 8 EUR entrance fee on something I'd enjoy more. I did find out from the friendly staff in the ticket office that there is nowhere within 5km to buy a bus ticket though, and the best option was just to hop on the bus and plead ignorance if we were asked for a ticket.

A green lake surrounded by trees A mesh tunnel covered in plants A white stately home, blue sky, green grass in the foreground

A castle on the right and the sea in the background Trees in the foreground, greeny blue ocean and hills in the distance White stately home on the right, green grass surrounds, and blue water in the foreground

We followed the coast around to the park exit, and then along a bit more to the bus stop. The coast between Miramare Trieste for a few km is concrete 'beach' Barcolo with steps leading directly the the ocean. It was well populated with sunbathers and swimmers. Trieste doesn't have any sand beaches, but actually that's far more practical. It doesn't seem to make any difference to the locals.

Concrete path with trees Concrete paths and rocks alongside the ocean A concrete path on the seafront, with green hills in the background, and some people

We took the number 6 bus back to town. It was packed, and our lack of ticket went unnoticed. More photos from the cave, castle and walk between them here.

Kit was done with walking, but after a couple of hours back at the hotel I had itchy feet again. I took the opportunity to quest for vegan mozzerella, at a pizzaria I found on HappyCow, one hour's walk from Trieste center. Walking through Trieste though is never a waste of time, even without vegan cheese at the end of it. OpenStreetMap routed me through some wonderful winding streets, and then along a cyclepath. This cyclepath was sheltered from the city center, and turns out to be 12km long and leads to Slovenia. Awesome. (GPS trace).

Some signs on a wall about the cycle path to Slovenia A cyclepath with trees each side and buildings in the distance Blue sky, sun lighting up buildings on a distant hillside

Le Agavi did not disappoint. It's far enough away I'm not sure if it's even technically in Trieste, but it was on a quiet street with indoor and outdoor seating. A vegan menu with several options; rice-based mozzerella, tofu, various sauces and veggies, I was spoilt for choice. I devoured one pizza, then ordered two more to takeaway because I'm an adult and I can do whatever I want. I took the bus back to Trieste center. Photos from the walk and eating.

A menu with vegan pizzas listed A close up of pizza with curry sauce and tofu A close up of pizza with tomato sauce, green vegetables, beans, corn and tofu A closeup of a pizza with mushroom cream sauce, mushrooms, and leeks

This morning I had pizza for breakfast, then set out to check out Castello San Giusto. A student entrance is only 2 EUR; it has an armoury, some historical rooms, and walls with, you guessed it, specatcular views in all directions.

Chocolate ice cream in a cone in the foreground, with cars and a historical building in the background Some sword spear things mounted on a white wall A stone cathedral in the background

White and red houses across rolling hills, with dramatic clouds The ocean in the background with red-roofed houses in the foreground The ocean from afar, with hills in the distance and red-roofed houses in the foreground

On the way I stopped for chocolate cherry gelato from Gelato Marco. Now I'm in Zoe Market, an all vegetarian cafe and store, which has lots of vegan options and milks. There's no wifi, but there's one power outlet, and it's a nice place to sit and catch up on blog posts..

The rest of my photos from the castle are here.

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