Tony had a repeat work trip in Trieste, a city we both appreciate for its coastal location (translation: seafood!). The plan had been to drive down for the weekend, and then I would drive back to Vienna on Monday while Tony carried on with his work matters.

We know how that plan went to pot.

Not wanting to ruin a perfect autumnal seaside weekend, Tony changed up his work itinerary to allow for a rental car (Austrian auto insurance only allows for a loaner to be driven within the country) to go to and from Trieste; the caveat was that he would have to keep the car for the entirety of his work trip. Fair enough, so I purchased a bus/train ticket for my return. Seven hours slogging home would give me time to finalize the itinerary for our upcoming Russia trip, I told myself.

The little port of Muggia was our destination for lunch. A small town of colorful Venetian architecture, and a pescheria communale on the pier where we sat for octopus salad and a shared platter of fresh fried sea creatures.

The mark of a delicious plate of fried anchovies well enjoyed.

We finished lunch and walked about this former ship-building port during the afternoon siesta before heading to our apartment in Trieste. Dinner was a carryout pizza because we wanted to watch Michigan beat Michigan State in college football. (Have AppleTV, will travel!) And our arch-rival Ohio State also lost rather spectacularly to the unranked Purdue Boilermakers, so it was a great Saturday all around for us!

A trio playing cards during the siesta, just like they have probably been doing for decades.

On Sunday we hiked the Rilke Trail, a cliffside path between the towns of Duino and Sistiana near Trieste. Intermittent clouds, a breeze, and sun-shiny views over the Gulf of Trieste so poetic that even Tony took a snap or two with his iPhone.

Lunch was, no surprise, a shared, fresh-catch Fritto Misto. Tony knows the secret to a happy marriage: give your wife both of the Langoustines. 🙂

Along the return drive from Duino to Trieste.

Our weekend in Trieste was swoon-worthy. Dark blue seas; wispy clouded skies; sea air in our lungs; and of course seafood, seafood, seafood. I will not write much about Trieste sightseeing here because we have been twice before; though on this trip we did wander around the park near the Trieste Cathedral to admire the mosaics in the church and take a few snaps at sunset, but not much else.

Could be a Place in Paris.

Niemals Vergessen. A recent addition along a common path since our last visit.

It probably runs on used olive oil.

On Sunday evening Tony had a work reception and afterwards we went to dinner, but not just any dinner. We indulged in a tasting menu at a restaurant that only later did we discover was Michelin-starred. I know. For as much as I am into food, you would think I would be tuned into these matters.

The starter was line-caught Amberjack Tartare with Grilled Artichoke, followed by a hand rolled egg Pasta with Creamy Scampi Sauce. The tartare was luscious and almost sweet; the pasta, something I need to learn to prepare at home.

The main course was “Chef’s Choice,” which turned out to be seared Turbot. Turbot is a “noble fish and one of the most expensive on the market,” so says the Internet, and unlike our first two dishes, this one was not on the a la carte menu. I tasted the dish first and widened my eyes.

Tony asked, “Is something wrong?”

I replied, “Can I have your portion, too?”

On Monday morning Tony dropped me at the bus terminal to catch the ÖBB RegioBus connection into Austria and to where I would connect to the train. There were but two people in the 1st class section: myself, quietly reading my book, or at least trying to; and another woman who yammered at the bus driver for the entire three hour ride except for the blissful minutes she was in the WC.

Once in Villach I connected to the train and scored a table seat in 2nd class. I popped open my laptop and my guidebook and worked on our upcoming trip. About 20 minutes into this 4-hour misery the first wafts of pungent, plastic-wrapped foodstuffs filled the car, the aroma replenishing itself each time new passengers climbed on board. I countered by peeling two fresh clementines and leaving the peels on my napkin for many minutes. Then came all of the loud phone-ringing and equally public conversations. The rare quiet moments were punctuated with background sounds blasting from everyone’s earbuds. No one was engaging with anyone local or otherwise, unlike the myths of “romantic train travel” about which I so often read.

I retract that statement. A lone American female backpacker asked me first if I spoke English, and then asked if I would confirm her ticket was for this train. Then she proceeded to earbud and stare out the window.

The scenery was lovely, with colored mountains and pastures filled with cows and the occasional castle ruin on a hilltop. But my photos are entirely junk. Though I was using a speed setting because of the train motion, the snaps are still botched or fuzzy with reflection from the window glass. So many cow snaps I missed, too.

Seven hours and my local public transport later I was home, wrapped in the comfortable silence of Anna Grace studying and the aroma of a freshly cleaned home. No more 2nd class train travel for me.