Euro Trip Part 4 – Trieste

Picture of Adam Berkelmans
Adam Berkelmans

The Intrepid Eater

Trieste, Italy

The first late afternoon view from Trieste out of the windows of the train were beautiful, then we were dumped out into a loud, hot, traffic-y mess, which we walked through, sweating, to get to our Airbnb (having taken a dumb and long route to get there). 


That kind of sums up our visit to Trieste, fun and beautiful overtones with annoying and miserable undertones.

Once we made it up the hill to our lovely Airbnb apartment (self check-in this time; much better), I took a cold shower, changed, and then we set out to see the town. We were in an old part of the city, next to an ancient Roman arch, in a place where James Joyce apparently liked hanging out. 


Everything was closed. That was okay; we strolled a bit, then found a patio around the corner from our place opening up. We had some much needed Campari spritzes, which were served with a free bowl of chips (a nice touch at most of the bars off of the main tourist strip). 

We researched what we wanted to do and were quickly stymied. We wanted to try some traditional Trieste food, but those places closed early. The fun seafood restaurants I’d looked up opened late. Hrumph. Nothing to eat at 6pm. 


We ended up finding a more touristy traditional spot that stayed open later (Da Pepi) and went in to enjoy a traditional Trieste meal of boiled meats and offal. Although this sounds awful, it’s quite tasty and obviously had some Austrian roots. 

You get a big platter of meats like smoked sausages, tongue, pork shoulder, belly, bacon, cotechino sausage, and smoked loin, along with bread, potatoes, sauerkraut, mustards, and horseradish. We also ordered a big beer to go with it as well as a half bowl of jota, a regional bean, pork, and sauerkraut soup. Yum.  


It was all quite tasty, if a bit heavy and porky for the 35°C heat that day. Still, I was happy to try a fun regional dish with lots of history. 

From there we walked to caffe San Marco (after getting lost several times – google maps does NOT work well here), a very historic cafe and bookstore and picked ourselves up with an espresso and a spritz. We passed by a butcher shop on the way with a very cool stained glass window showing an ancient butcher at work.

Trieste is a place historically known for their coffee culture and hosts several old and huge coffee shops that were frequented by the literati.


This elegant bookstore/cafe has been open since 1914, and still has poetry, readings, and lively political discussions taking place there daily.

From there we strolled to the pier and watched the sunset, then sat down at another old cafe (the caffe degli Specchi) to watch the lights come on in the Piazza Unite d’Italia. This place was touristy but afforded a beautiful view and had a very interesting history laid out in the menu. 

They, like many others in Trieste, served snacks with their drinks, which I really liked. Watch out for bold seagulls though! 

After watching the lights come on in the square, we headed towards the young, party area of town and went into a place I’d written down that was supposed to be good. We were blatantly and rudely ignored for 15 minutes (the staff all knew we were there), so we left and went to MOR cocktails instead, which we were welcomed into warmly. 

The cocktails here were incredible (pricy for Italy, but not Canada) and the bartender was very nice. We had a few very well-crafted and fun cocktails and a delicious mortadella sandwich with stracciatella cheese. Wow. 

We went home after a few cocktails, where I had an awful sleep with insane nightmares (I usually never have nightmares!) which stuck with me upon awakening, leaving me feeling stressed and strung out. Goddamn late night cheese! 


I got out of bed feeling grumpy and went to the grocery store to pick up some laundry detergent so we could do laundry. Not wanting another pastry, I also bought some chips to eat for breakfast (Porchetta and rosemary flavoured!). 


Halfway through my load of laundry, the water just stopped working in the entire apartment. When we got a hold of the owner, he eventually found out that it was the whole building whose water was turned off and it was due to maintenance work. Fun. 


We left the house grumpy and sat down for a coffee where we were quickly joined by two hideously loud gossiping women and a crying baby at the cramped tables. Then about 200 grade school kids walked by in some sort of slow torturous procession, hooting and hollering and adding to the cacophony. 


All that to say our moods didn’t improve much over coffee. 


We decided to walk to the coastal castle just outside of town, about a 2 hour walk. Neither of us actually wanted to go, but through a miscommunication, we did it anyways, not wanting to displease the other. 


It was killer hot again, and the first part of the walk was all beside the highway, so we opted to take the city bus half way. 


This turned out to be a nightmare, with bus staff (drivers and ticket sellers) being SO rude and unhelpful. Eventually, after trying to ask several staff where we were supposed to wait for the bus, a kind young woman with a bit of English directed us across the main road to another bus stop – something none of the staff would tell us for some reason. 


We got on the bus there, which was solidly packed full of standing sweaty humans and pitched and swayed as the bus swerved all over the road. 


The marquis called out all of the wrong stops, so we passed where we wanted to get off, but we were still happy just to get off the bus at the next stop. 


Man do I ever hate city buses. When I was younger, I’d often walk an hour and a half home from work so I wouldn’t have to take them. They’re just not for me. 


Our moods improved a bit as we found our way to the coastal trail that hugged the shoreline on the way to the castle.

We stopped at a beach bar (no actual beach here, more of a cement quay, but still beautiful) and had a spritz while enjoying breathtaking views of bare-chested Italian wome- the sea! Breathtaking views of the Adriatic sea! 


We then walked an hour to the castle, stopping again for another spritz (it was hot!) and a tasty octopus sandwich just before we got there. 

The castle itself was a big let down; just one of those castles built quite recently by someone with too much money. No history or anything cool, plus there was a 12 euro entrance fee; probably not worth it, so we didn’t go in.


The signs bragged about the surrounding gardens, but they weren’t all that impressive either. 

The walk to the castle was nice and it looked beautiful from the sea, but I wouldn’t recommend going unless you had a lot of time to spare. 


It looked like a thunder storm was rolling in, so we decided to leave, hoping to take a train since there was a station within a 15 minute walk. 

There was yet another loud class of annoying kids on the platform and as far as we could tell, the train wasn’t coming for another hour if it was coming at all. 


Okay. Bus then. 


We walked 10 minutes to a bus stop, but you couldn’t buy tickets, so we marched another 10 minutes to another bus stop. The bus arrived just as we did, so we hopped in, hoping to buy a ticket on it since we’d have to wait another 30 minutes if we missed it. 


A young transit officer immediately accosted us and as we tried to explain that we wanted to buy a ticket, he said it was too late and we owed a 70 euro fee each. 


We argued and eventually he pulled us out at a stop and demanded our documents and money. We refused to comply, him saying that we were going to start, “a big problem between Canada and Italy.” He said he was going to call the cops, so Kathy, calling his bluff, said she wanted to talk to them and ended up talking to what she thought was his boss at the transit station. 


We agreed to pay a fine later and gave fake names to the overzealous child bus cop before he finally let us go. Kathy kept her cool much better than I did, I must say. 


We then walked an hour and a half back in the baking 37°C heat next to the highway, before arriving back in the city centre where we stopped at the first place we came across and chugged some water and beers. 


What a day. 


We tried to salvage it by having food and drinks, but once again, we weren’t there at the right exact time, so couldn’t get food. 


By the time we finally could, all of the restaurants filled immediately and we were rudely pushed out of several places, with helpful comments like an angry, “FULL!”, accompanied by dismissive shooing motions. 


We finally pushed into a place called Osteria Salvagente, where the overworked waitstaff were immediately exasperated that they had to serve us (and anyone else who came in). The first page of the menu just said antipasti, and when we asked what it was, we got an eye roll and something to the effect of, “different fish!”

We ordered it as well as a shrimp and a squid ink pasta. 


One of the fish on the antipasti platter was definitely rotten and had to be spit back out into a napkin. Of the three bites, one was rotten, one was okay, and the other pretty tasty. 


The pastas when they eventually came were mediocre at best. 


The Italians in the restaurant all seemed to be happy, but a table of Germans was very upset with the service too. 


Kathy went to pay and stood at the counter for 10 minutes as the waitstaff yelled at each other. She watched them putting the antipasti platters in the microwave. Yum. 


Definitely the worst meal and worst day in Europe so far. 


We just went home, where the water was back on thankfully, had a beer and did our laundry (I had to re-do mine since it sat wet all day). 


We were pretty okay to be leaving Trieste the next day. 

Waking up after a wonderful sleep (gravol, tums, and Advil for the win!) and without food poisoning from the shitty restaurant, thank god, we grabbed our bags and went to another big beautiful caffe, Tommaseo, for coffee. This was the oldest cafe in Trieste and was quite lovely. They even had prosciutto and cheese on the breakfast menu which was a nice change from sweet pastries. 


We then headed for the bus station to catch our bus to Rijeka in Croatia and were subjected to another rigamarole, with nothing telling us clearly where to find the bus, dismissive staff, and annoying crowds. When we finally did find the right platform, we were then shouted at to go somewhere else and we almost missed the bus. It was packed full, with someone even sitting in the aisle (who never stopped talking loudly, on her phone or to the driver), and our reserved seats taken by someone else. 


We still managed to get seats, and the ride to Rijeka was only an hour and a half or so, so it wasn’t that bad. I know buses can be much worse in other countries, but I had expected better in Italy, especially for the price of the ride. 


We arrived to a new city in a new country and shook off our last crappy 24 hours. Time for something new! 


We had a great time in Italy, despite our shitty last day there, though we did have a tough time with all of the hard and fast rules when it came to eating and drinking. I understand that we were foreigners visiting a new culture, so I tried to be understanding, but I did find it frustrating at times. 


Still, I’m excited to see some other parts of Italy in the future!


Next stop, Rijeka, Croatia!

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