Milano to Trieste
We lingered in bed the next morning, our last morning together. I saw Janet off on her bus to Malpensa from the train station, where I was left with a desire to use the WC, which the station had, for a humble €,60. I scanned the entire facility, and concluded that I was definitely about to take my first dump in a pit toilet. I was intimidated, but found a nice big stall where I could crouch opposite my bag, slide my pants to my ankles, and hover over the hole, making sure everything was clear for the trip down. Aside from a slight leg cramp, the experience went well, and I left the toilet facility beaming the smile of a man who has just mastered some arcane secret. But, it wasn’t like I could brag to anyone in my foreign language as to how proud I was, as a grown man, to have mastered something as mundane as a toilet.
I decided to head for Trieste to get to Slovenia. Why not? I was accosted by two panhandlers the moment the machine issued my ticket and change. One spoke English, the other did not, both had googly eyes. 24€ via Venice.
On the train from Venezia Mestre to Trieste I considered my options. The Lonely Planet book Janet had left me omitted Trieste. A black hole. My Hostelling International guide listed a hostel 8km NNW of city center. That did not sound promising.
Upon arrival, it was pretty clear that I was at the End of Italy, a narrow strip of territory between Slovenia and the sea. The departure schedule at the station had about half or a third as many entries as any other Italian station I’d been at. Most trains were bound for Udine or Venezia, one or two Eurostars for Milan, Rome, trains for Bucharest, one or two overnight to Romania, Germany . . .
To Ljubljana, it was a bus. The bus left at 1730, and arrived after 2000. I considered my options, and decided that I’d rather not struggle around Ljubljana in the dark after the Tourist Information Center had closed. How to get to the Trieste hostel?
A tobaccanist told me which bus to take, and sold me a ticket. On the bus, I gave my seat up to an old lady, and considered whom would be best to ask for the right stop. A middle-aged man looking over my shoulder saw the address for the hostel, and explained that it was a nice place, right on the beach, near the castle. All of this was communicated with hand grestures. I answered his questions as to my origin, and the old lady and her old lady friend mavelled to each other all the more with each progressive answer, “America.” “California!” “Chicago!!”
They didn’t elaborate, though.
The guy then indicated that I should get off. The bus actually stopped right behind the hostel, but it was necessary to walk back down the road a piece to switchback to its front door, on a beautiful, rocky coast, with Trieste visible back where I’d come from, and a castle just a stone’s throw away in the other direction, which the guy on the bus had praised and explained that it was important to visit.
Upon checkin, the lady looked up at me and asked if I was related to the famous American movie director Ron Howard. No, but people have told me I remind them of Richard Cunningham plenty of times before.