Sunday in Trieste (May 2017)

Trieste, Italy

What better way to spend Sunday than by eating cakes in some of Trieste’s oldest cafes? My best friend M. and I went on a day trip to Trieste, Italy with the sole purpose of enjoying ourselves. There was no fixed agenda apart from our wish to visit several traditional cafes/ patisseries. It’s been a long time since I had fun in Trieste because I usually just use it for flights/ train connections. When I was a child we used to regularly go to Trieste.

Anyway, it was nice to just wander around the city center leisurely and to take in the beautiful architecture of Trieste. Very much like my hometown Trieste has more of a feel of a Central European city than a Mediterranean city. Trieste is an important Italian port and a significant university center (especially for languages) but it’s also the oldest town in Italy by the age of its inhabitants. It’s seen better days and a vivid memorial of that is its grand main square Piazza Unità d’Italia. But there are other beautiful buildings and squares too.

Trieste, Italy
at the main square

Trieste, Italy

Trieste, Italy

another famous cafe/reastaurant
the terrace of Caffè degli Specchi

After some walking around the town our first stop was the traditional and yet still very trendy café of Caffè degli Specchi. It was opened in 1839. Since it’s right at the main square (Piazza Unità d’Italia) it’s a wonderful place for some people-watching. I was surprised when the waitress handed us two roses: it was Mother’s Day and they gave red roses to every woman in the café. What a nice gesture! My best friend had excellent cappuccino and I had equally good herbal tea. I also got a biscuit while my best friend got a small portion of some sweet cream. Again, don’t you just love it when you get something extra free of charge? It was an  unusually warm day and we enjoyed our drinks at the cafe’s shaded terrace. Since it was Sunday we came across two different food markets in the center: one was French, the other was German. We also saw a very unusual sports match, a kind of canoeing basketball (!?) at the Canal Grande.

at Caffè degli Specchi
Caffè degli Specchi
Canal Grande, Trieste
Canal Grande
what an unusual sport!

Then it was time to stroll to the next café. We did some window-shopping and some actual shopping too 🙂 Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get in one interesting bookshop because we first passed by it before its opening time and then again when it was closed for lunch. Yes, some shops in Italy still close for the lunch hour. The second café we visited was Caffè San Marco which opened in 1914. There’s a bookshop in it. It’s got a different atmosphere than the first café but it’s got equally interesting decor with ornamented high ceilings. This one is more bohemian while the first one is more classical. I had excellent tiramisu while my best friend had Sacher cake. We saw a synagogue nearby so decided to check it out and see whether it’s open for tourist visits. You can actually go inside for a tour but it was closed at the time of our visit.

Caffè San Marco

So we just walked back to the main square and the seaside promenade. There was a huge cruiser. I wonder where it went next. Trieste is also famous for its annual international sailing festival Barcolana regatta. We came across vintage cars show in front of a luxurious hotel. Our final stop/café was the Ginger-Tea &Cakes café. This is a rather new café/patisserie where you can also buy different spices. It’s famous for its cupcakes. Both my best friend and I had a very refreshing lemon tart and I also had freshly made ginger&orange&apple juice. Since my friend actually likes coffee unlike me she enjoyed excellent cappuccinos in all of the three cafes that we visited.

Ginger-Tea & Cakes cafe

Afterwards we walked to the train station and toyed with the idea of buying a train ticket and going somewhere further like Venice. But we didn’t do it. It was time to go home.  This was my first day trip abroad pregnant. I felt all right except from being bloated as usually. But when I got home I noticed how swollen my feet and ankles were. Oh, well. It was a fun day trip and I’m so glad I took it 🙂

Bye bye from Trieste 🙂

 

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Klagenfurt & Minimundus

Klagenfurt, Austria
Lindwurm fountain at the New Square, Klagenfurt

It was probably the hottest day of the year. 29°C on a sunny day in May. Who would have known that it could get so hot in the spring in Austria?

My mum and I took a day trip to Klagenfurt to take a break from my wedding preparations (three years ago). On the way to Klagenfurt we admired the view of the mountains and the green lush scenery. But then we reached the Karawanks Tunnel at the Austrian-Slovenian border and lost a lot of our precious time because of the road works. When we finally reached Klagenfurt I already felt exhausted but my spirits lifted when we started to walk around this pretty little town. Actually Klagenfurt is the sixth biggest town in Austria with the population of around 99 000 people and it’s the capital of the Austrian federal state of Carinthia. It’s on the lake Wörthersee and on the Glan river. According to a legend the city was founded after a couple of brave men slained the dragon like creature Lindwurm who fed on virgins. Today you can see the giant Lindwurm fountain at one of the city’s beautiful squares.

So what did we do in Klagenfurt? My mum and I just walked around and admired its many sights. The first thing we came across was the Theater built at the beginning of the 20th century by the famous theater architects Helmer & Fellner. Next to it is the Stadthaus with the flower clock which actually works. How neat! We noticed a lot of hanging flower baskets around the city. Then we saw the parish church and came to the Old Square (Alter Platz) surrounded by the houses from the 16th and 17th century. You can see the Plague Column at the square and the oldest house in Klagenfurt. It dates from 1489 and it’s got a golden goose on its façade above the entrance. Just around the corner is the Landhaus with the Renaissance façade where the Corinthian parliament holds meetings.

Theater
the flower clock actually works 🙂
Old Square
Landhaus

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Sirmione (Italy): a photo-diary

Sirmione, Italy
the Scaliger Castle in Sirmione

Sirmione is a charming little Italian town on the Lake Garda. When it’s not overrun with day-trippers it offers tranquility and spa treatments at its many hotels. The symbol of Sirmione is the Scaliger castle (13th ct). You can climb its tower to get a nice view of the Lake Garda and the entire town. Once you cross the castle’s drawbridge you enter historical Sirmione. Another noteworthy attraction is the Grottoes of Catullus, the remains of a Roman private house, the largest such uncovered in the northern Italy. This villa is mentioned in the poems of the first famous resident of Sirmione who lived there in 1st century BC (the Roman poet  Gaius Valerius Catullus). There are several interesting small churches too. But the town’s claim to fame are its thermal springs. Many famous writers visited Sirmione such as Alfred Tennyson, Ezra Pound and James Joyce. I shouldn’t forget to mention the famous Italian writers Giosuè Carducci and Antonio Fogazzaro who wrote about Sirmione as well as the notorious Gabriele D’Annunzio who found the short-lived Italian Regency of Carnaro in Fiume (Rijeka, Croatia) with himself as the Fascist leader. English writer Naomi Jacob made Sirmione her home. One of the best opera singers of all times had a villa here too: Maria Callas.

Scaliger Castle, Sirmione
Scaliger Castle

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Christmas markets in Villach & Velden, Austria

Villach
Christmas market in Villach

Three years ago I took my mum to Austria for a day trip. Our destinations were Villach and Velden and their charming Christmas markets. We both love Christmas markets very much so I decided to ask her and not my boyfriend (now my husband) to join me. Besides my boyfriend and I went to a chocolate factory near Graz (Austria) just a few weeks before this Christmas markets day trip.

About Villach & Velden

Villach is located on the Drau river and it’s the seventh largest town in Austria with a population of around 62 000. It’s got a big Croatian community too so it’s not a surprise that Villach is very popular for shopping and Christmas trips from Croatia. Velden am Wörthersee is a market-town and a popular holiday resort situated at the Wörthersee lake and close to Villach.

Villach
Villach

Villach

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Colourful palace&ocean&fado

Sintra
Sintra

During our week in Lisbon we took two day trips. I already wrote about our day trip to Evora where we saw the ancient Roman temple among other landmarks and where we had a wine tour as well.So this post is about our second day trip.

It was a warm & sunny day when we visited Sintra & its surroundings. Firstly, we saw the Roman aqueduct and then we continued on the motorway to Sintra which is roughly an hour away from Lisbon. At the entrance of Pena Palace grounds we left our mini bus and boarded another crowded mini bus which takes tourists to the gates of the colorful Pena National Palace. I have never seen such a palace. It’s a mix of all styles and yet it’s fairly modern; it dates from the 19 th century but it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It looks more like something from a fairy-tale and yet it was a home of the Portuguese royal family. Our guide told us some basic facts about the palace at the entrance and then we explored it at our pace. It looks more like a proper palace once you get in with the huge chandelier-decorated rooms, lots of beautiful furniture and modern-day amenities such as a fully functional bathroom. The kitchen was amazing too with all the giant copper pots. I like visiting castles and palaces and this is definitely one of the most interesting I have ever visited.

The view from the palace is lovely too and you can see as far as the ocean (which isn’t that far away actually). If we did this tour by ourselves then we would have had time to visit the Moorish castle and the Sintra National Palace as well but then we probably wouldn’t have seen the other places on this tour because we would have just visited Sintra. Hopefully, my husband and I will return to Lisbon one day ( maybe for some anniversary?) and then I’d like to visit Sintra again but on our own.

Sintra, Pena Palace
Pena Palace

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Wines & Roman temple

Evora, Portugal

Do you enjoy wine? Do you like Roman ruins? If so, do continue reading about my day trip to Portuguese town of Évora.

During our week in Lisbon we took two organized day trips. Since it was our honeymoon I didn’t really want to spend hours and hours like I usually do trying to find the best way to get to a certain  place, making our sightseeing plan and doing all the other travel-related planning. One day trip was to Sintra region and for another I chose Évora. Why that town you might ask? Well, I’ve got this book called 501 must-visit cities which I got for my graduation from my BFF and I often flick through it and so in Portugal section I saw a photo of a big Roman temple and read about university town of Évora. So the decision was made to visit it while in Lisbon.

The tour company picked us up in front of our hotel. I was very pleased with the tour guide on our day trip to Sintra but this wasn’t the case on this trip even though both of the trips were organized by the same agency. The old gentleman who had to explain everything in multiple languages to our versatile group was however very strict and ununderstanding of the needs of his group. Nevertheless I didn’t let that ruin our day trip.

university, Evora
university, Evora

We arrived to Évora in about an hour and a quarter and were greeted by clouds and an intermittent rain. The first thing we saw were the remains of the medieval city wall and then we left the bus at the University building. Evora University is actually the second oldest university in Portugal since it was founded in 1559. I have a thing for university cities such as Cambridge and Bologna so I was pleased to start the sightseeing of Evora by a quick walk around its main university building.

We proceeded on foot and soon I felt like I was in a scene from a Mexican soap opera even though I’ve never been to Mexico. The white-washed houses on the streets really looked like something I had seen on TV. The only thing missing were men wearing sombrero and possibly carrying a machine gun too. Sorry for the prejudice but that’s how it looked like to me 🙂 The streets were half-empty and wherever you looked you saw beautiful historical buildings and monuments. Well, Evora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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