italy travelogue
Day 10. October 28, 2000. Trieste, Postojna.
Trieste & Postojna Caverns.

san justoWe had an early wake up and breakfast, then Allan set out for a tobacci to buy some Riccola cough drops since we were catching the bus cold. At 08:30 our local guide, Sergio, took us on the bus around Trieste. The city's old buildings are national monuments so there are about 50,000 unused rooms which everyone hopes will crumble since you can't tear them down. We went to San Justo church which is two churches and the tower of a Roman temple tied together by later architecture. It had really nice early mosaics and good late mosaics.

death campAfter seeing the church and several other pleasant sights, we went to the city's concentration camp. Trieste is the only Italian city to have had a World War II concentration camp, and the site is partially destroyed because many Italians would rather not have the buildings as a reminder. Between 8 September 1943 and 29 April 1945, 30,000 people went into that concentration camp.

After 29 April 1945, there was 40 days of Partisan occupation in by Yugoslav troops. The Pro-Nazi Fascists became Communists under the partisans, then civil police under the Allied occupation afterwards. In 1974 a crimes against humanity trial was held in Trieste. A Spaniard who had visited and took notes was to be a prime witness but he was killed before the trial. Most evidence and parts of the building including the furnace was destroyed before the trial as well.

postonia riverAfter we returned from the morning tour of Trieste and had a quick stop at the hotel, we headed out for the optional trip to Postojna (Postonia) in the neighboring country of Slovenia. At the border crossing Italian police did a cursory passport check, mostly to be sure we'd have passports to show when we returned. We had lunch in Postojna and Allan was delighted to find that Slovenian-bottled Coca Cola tastes almost like home, as opposed to the more citrusy Italian formula which Jane enjoys.

After lunch we strolled by the stream which created the caverns and Jane took photographs. At 14:00 we entered the cavern and took a small electric train through caverns to the large mountain cavern where our guide started telling us about the caves and formations. We saw the "beautiful gallery" with the "spaghetti" formations, the white cave and red cave. The colors are all made by slightly different soil chemistry in the ground above the various caverns.

Then we went down to the second level of three, and saw the native lizard life and the "concert hall" gallery before reboarding the train out. The caves are absolutely huge and fantastically beautiful. The curtain formations were frequent as were the distinct colors of formations, white from pure limestone, red from iron oxide impurities, and grey from manganese.

On the way back we were held up at the border crossing from Slovenia while the Italian police used a drug sniffing German Shepherd on the car ahead of us. The dog found something of interest. After the driver and car were removed we continued back to Trieste.

We returned to the hotel where Jane washed hankies and napped while Allan went hat shopping. The shopping was succesful in a limited way, as Allan found several nice hats including some by Borsalino, but the store didn't actually have stock of the pretty one in the window case. There was a lot of nice shopping to do in Trieste's downtown area, and the streets with shops are controlled access so that pedestrians can move freely.

When Allan returned Jane was resting fitfully (and fighting the bus cold). At 19:00 we found out that the restaurant doesn't open until 20:00 so Allan wrote in the logs and prepared for dinner while Jane prepared to spend the night unconscious. Since Allan was alone, he joined seven fellow travelers at their table for dinner. Dinner was an adventure. After dinner Allan returned to find an amazingly life-like Jane. We set back our clocks (no more daylight savings) and went to bed before midnight.


Allan West and
Jane Dominguez