When I was planning our trip, I couldn’t help but notice that Lake Bled, Slovenia (kind of the star attraction on this tour), is very close to Trieste, Italy. Bill had talked about Trieste several times, mentioning how the Irish author James Joyce had once lived there. Having been an English major in college, I did my fair share of struggling with James Joyce and his stream of consciousness style. I can’t say I was a fan back in those days, though maybe it’s time to revisit his genius.
Trieste is supposedly considered an underrated city in Italy. I can sort of see why. Trieste is located in extreme northeastern Italy, far from the so-called “holy trinity” of cities: Venice, Florence, and Rome. A lot of people who visit Italy from the United States prefer to hit one or more of the most famous cities. So, while Trieste is definitely interesting and worth a visit, it probably gets the short shrift from tourists. That’s why it may be a great choice for temporary expats to visit!
I booked us in Hotel La Fontana, an inexpensive little hotel on the outskirts of Trieste. It may seem like we stay in “posh” places when we travel and, it’s true, I have kind of expensive tastes. But if I can spot a well regarded property that doesn’t cost a lot, I have no qualms about booking. I booked Hotel La Fontana because it got great reviews, offered free parking, and breakfast was included. Hotel La Fontana is located in a little Italian neighborhood on a mountainside overlooking the city. If that doesn’t scare you, it probably should. Italy’s “neighborhoods” can be pretty scary for the uninitiated, especially if they’re on a mountainside!,
Bill and I were blissfully unaware of what awaited us as we drove through Austria and Slovenia. The countryside through Austria was particularly gorgeous. We saw so many waterfalls and mountain streams. I just wanted to stop and go skinny dipping. One thing to know as you head toward Italy from Austria is that there are tolls, even though you bought a vignette. Keep some cash on hand. Also, you’ll need to buy a vignette for Slovenia. Bill bought one for a week. It cost fifteen euros– Slovenia is on the euro.
First view of Slovenia.
We stopped at Gostilna Bajc in Vrhnika, Slovenia for lunch and enjoyed more fish…
Bill waits for fish.
Slovenian style dorade and fried potatoes.
Bill enjoys trout.
The drive through Slovenia was quite pleasant. Then we got to Italy and things got scary. Hotel La Fontana was located in a very old neighborhood on a mountainside; this we knew. But one of the roads leading up to it is currently closed for construction. Though the GPS tried valiantly to steer us in the right direction, we ended up passing the hotel and driving through the tiny, narrow, scary streets. It’s a miracle that my car was unscathed. The whole time, Bill’s knuckles were white and my brakes got quite the workout as we made our way through San Giuseppe della Chiusa, which was where the hotel was located. We finally spotted the hotel at the top of a hill.
Bill parked in a tiny lot across from it to see how he could access the parking lot from a very awkward angle. The hotel was literally yards away from us, but crossing the street to get there was terrifying. Right next to the lot was a blind corner and the street was surprisingly busy. There’s even a bus that goes through there to get to and from Trieste. We almost got t-boned as Bill negotiated the tight turn. Then he got stuck on a weird hump in the middle of the driveway, which further confounded us. After burning some rubber, he finally got the car over the hump. We were thanking God we drove the Mini instead of the RAV 4.
A pleasant young lady greeted us and showed us to our no frills room. It had most everything we needed, though it wasn’t as fancy as our room in Gosau had been. It also was a whole lot cheaper. The hotel offers dinner, but you have to let them know to expect you before lunch time. Not knowing about that requirement, we were caught unprepared. Unfortunately, the hotel is not convenient to restaurants or grocery stores. Bill had no desire to tackle the roads again, so we ended up eating chips and cookies for dinner and washing them down with wine. You can buy wine and other drinks at the hotel and they are very reasonably priced.
Wine for dinner.
We enjoyed a restful evening and the free WiFi, though my efforts to blog were stymied by the slow Internet. I got a kick out of how feminine the hotel was. You can really tell it’s run by women.
The outside of Hotel La Fontana.
A simple room.
A simple breakfast.
View from the parking lot. In the distance, you can see the Trieste Bay and city lights.