Saturday 14 August 2010

Chronology is over-rated – Trieste 9/10 August

We left Camp Fusina in Venice at just after 1800 – and stopped 100 yards down the road to finish the delicious pizza from its cafe. We were aiming for Slovenia but wanted to stop as close to the Italian side of the border as we could – Trieste seemed like a good destination as it had a choice of at least three aires/stellplatzes that we could park up in.

The first one we found on the map next to a campsite but although we could see it we couldn't find the entrance. We found ourselves, not for the first time, driving through a campsite we had no intention of being in but they are usually a bit of a one way route and once you've stuck your nose in you are committed to completing a circuit or finding a place to turn around as sneakily as possible. Hard to be subtle in a 3.4m high, 6.5m long bus. Chris has mastered the three point turn – it's impressive.

The second one looked perfect – lots of vans, including a junior version of Velma, which we now count as a good sign – like-minded people and all that. One circuit of the aire looking for a space and something didn't seem quite right. Going around again we realised that not one of the vans had any interior lights on and dusk had definitely fallen. And none of the vans had any vents open – a sure sign that they are unoccupied as the heat means any airflow is vital. After that we couldn't leave quickly enough – it was creepy as anything.

Down the hill towards Trieste, another sign showing the comforting picture of a campervan …. not illustrating the half a mile single track 1/10 hill that appeared round the corner. Up we went ….. three point turn and down we came again, hoping we wouldn't meet someone similar on the way as we would probably still be in a standoff now.

Along the road another aire, with one van occupied yet several others clearly abandoned for some time, judging by the foliage that had grown around the wheels. We kept moving lest the triffids have a hunger for British wheels.

Nothing for it but to dive down in to Trieste. It looks beautiful in the dark from the top of the long and very winding road that leads to it – a glowing city, curved around a wide bay, dotted with anchored ships, their lights twinkling. As the road wound its way down it got more and more built up. First, houses behind walls and then bigger and bigger apartment blocks lining the streets. Each side of the road was full of cars but in the dwellings again there was very little sign of life, and it was still only about 2130 on a summer, albeit Monday, evening. No-one on the streets, no lights on in the buildings and very little traffic. Every now and then there would be someone in the shadows or under a streetlamp, just standing there or talking in to a mobile phone. The architecture was very 'eastern bloc' – hard, forbidding, plain buildings, many of them with the grubbiness that London buildings used to have. And then a change in the buildings and feel of the city – the centre of the city has wide six-lane thoroughfares with neo-classical architecture, gracefully laid out. One large square looked like any in the West End of London. The road swung round to the seafront – a wide promenade on one side and impressive buildings and parks on the left, with a concert going on in one of the open areas. Tempted to park but no space apparently available. The satnav was set for the last aire in the area …. and we found it eventually. All tired, hot and snappy and the last space available – the only way we would ever have countenanced stopping and sleeping where we did – the aire was under a flyover!

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