Trieste Area

Over 100,000 buried in this WW I memorial

The last 4 ½ months since we left Italy have been a really bad time in our lives with multiple family members on both sides of our families dying. My mother, Mike and I were the only three in our family that had never had Covid. Mike and I picked it up on the airplane ride home. We got ill and then gave it to my 91 year old mother who got quite ill. Mum died six weeks later, weakened by but not directly tied to Covid. Mike and I owned Mum’s apartment. We managed, with the help of my sister and niece, to get the condo emptied, staged and sold before we left. We expect it to actually close in less than a month and we can do all the final details electronically from Europe. Mike and I have been looking forward to returning to our camper; to a simpler but more active and hopefully less stressful life. Things didn’t start out that way but I think we are over the initial hurdles now.

Panic started at the airport when I went through security and realized that I didn’t have my carry-on bag with me. Everything that I didn’t trust to checked luggage was in that bag. After going through security twice to look for my bag I figured out that the only other place that I might have put it down was when we used a machine to get our luggage tags and check our passports. I left security again and raced back to the hall while Mike stayed with our computers etc. in the security screening area. The one advantage that I had was that our luggage is very distinctive and fairly ugly. It is special luggage designed to completely fold flat for storage in small areas such as campers and boats. Mine was red. I was running around the various machines, not knowing which one I had used, when I saw a man with my bag. Most of my zippers had been opened. I keep a copy of my boarding pass in every bag that I have with me from my purse or backpack to my carryon to checked luggage. The gentleman with my luggage didn’t speak English very well but I sincerely believe that he was trying to find out what to do with my luggage and who to give it to. I gave three cheers of joy and raced back to go through security for a third time. The good news is that the security line was basically empty.

The Air Canada flight was very full and the meals were absolutely awful. Everything else went OK until we got back to our camper were we would stay for a few days. Mike quickly hooked up the batteries on the motorhome and moved it close to water and electricity. He then proceeded to do the same thing with our car and, although it started, the messages were screaming at him to get off the road and stop the car right away.

Invasion by wire-loving mice!

Mike found a nest of grass and twigs at the side of the engine. He removed that and washed it away but couldn’t find any damage which meant that there was nothing for Mike to fix. It was Thursday evening. The owner of the camping site said that he had a mechanic friend who could come over but since Friday was Good Friday everything was closed down until the following Tuesday. Our car is a North American 2011 Lincoln MKZ hybrid. They don’t sell Lincoln’s in Europe. Trying to convince mechanics and Ford dealerships that it is really a Ford doesn’t work. We have had a very hard time getting anything done on the car including oil changes, even when we bring our own oil filters. We were quite worried. Our car was back-ended three times in France and may not be coming back to Canada with us so we didn’t want to pay a fortune. On the other hand, we can’t replace the car because it has had fairly major modifications to allow it to be towed behind our camper.

We spent four days quite concerned and waiting for the mechanic. It poured rain for most of the Easter weekend which means we weren’t leaving the RV. It felt like we were back in quarantine or worse. Mike did race off on his bike to the grocery store, in between rain showers, to get us essentials like milk for our cereal and for our coffee. The rain was actually quite dirty. We were told that this wasn’t normal and was due to sand storms in the Sahara Desert. On Tuesday morning the rain let up. The campsite owner told us that the mechanic would be there sometime on Tuesday, it could be day or evening which meant, again, that we couldn’t leave. Without the rain, Mike started investigating the car a little more thoroughly. He removed the engine cover and found a second mouse nest this time made from the sound insulation under the cover. The big surprise here was that most of the wires across the top of the engine were now missing. The mice, in most places, had gnawed the wires to the point where only a little stub remained. They even ate the copper so that it was difficult to splice onto the end and to determine which wire stub should be connected to which one on the other side. The third picture in the “story” above shows the engine after Mike had cleaned it and I have tried to circle most of the wire stubs that needed fixing.

We showed the campsite owner the problem so that he could tell his mechanic what the problem was. The end result of finding the problem was that, late Tuesday afternoon, the owner told us that his mechanic said that he couldn’t fix it. We would need to have the car towed to his shop for diagnostic tests. Given that this was a Lincoln we weren’t to sure about how well the diagnostics would work and we didn’t want to pay for towing so Mike got to work. Between some guessing and calculations by mid-day Wednesday Mike had connected all the wires. The car ran but extremely roughly. Mike knew that two of the wires he had connected were a complete guess, so he switched them around and the car now seems to work great. What a super husband!

To give the car a quick check, we took it to the grocery store Mike had biked to five days earlier. It was about 5 km away. It was past time for us to do a major grocery shopping. A few years ago I started drinking B52s which are a layered drink usually made with Kahlua then Baileys and finally topped with my Grand Marnier. In Canada I often use substitutes for Baileys. Imagine my surprise when I found a bottle in the grocery story that looked like Baileys, was sitting next to the Baileys and was a fraction of the price. It was advertised as the Original Italian whisky based cream liqueur. A large bottle of this liqueur was 4.98€ or less than $7.50 Cdn. I couldn’t resist. I should have resisted! This liqueur turned out to be totally the wrong density for my B52 drink and tastes like straight whisky. A few days later I was back to the store to buy my small bottle of Baileys. We now have this large whisky bottle taking up room in our fridge.

By this time the rain had stopped and the weather was lovely. The first few days it was around 16° C (61°F) which is fine for bike riding. It is now up to 21° and seems to be increasing each day. Mike and I really hope that this doesn’t mean another summer of 40°C+ (>100°F) heat waves like last summer.

Very large barbeque

On our first main day out on the ebikes Mike and I set off heading towards an outdoor international food festival in a town called Aquileia. The “festival” was very small but Mike thought that the barbeque shown here, was the biggest he had ever seen. It turned out that Aquileia was a town that we had visited six years ago. In 2018, while Mike and I were staying in Slovenia, we visited Trieste where we purchased a card that gave us entrance to all sorts of places in the surrounding area. One of the places on the card was Aquileia and we received a great audio guide to the local Roman ruins and the cathedral.

Mosaic floor uncovered: 1,700 years old

Aquileia was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998. Most of ancient Aquileia is unexcavated and supposedly survives intact. It is the most complete example of an Early Roman city in the Mediterranean world and as such constitutes the greatest archaeological reserve of its kind. Aquileia was founded in 180/181 BC. By the 2nd century AD it was one of the world’s largest and wealthiest cities with a population of 100,000. You do wonder sometimes where all these numbers come from two thousand years later.

2018 photo showing mosaic floor

Mike and I toured the Aquileia Cathedral again. This church was rebuilt in the 11th century although the original church dated back to the fourth century. It contains all sorts of frescoes from various ages starting with the fourth century. Most phenomenal to Mike and I was the mosaic floor in the cathedral. It dates back to the fourth century. Reconstruction and additional work on the cathedral layed down a new floor well above the mosaic floor, helping keep the mosaics colourful and intact. The small picture here was actually taken on our 2018 visit and shows more than 1,000 years of history from the mosaic floor to the ceiling.

The impressive photo at the top of this post is the Redipublia War Memorial honouring WW I soldiers. The shrine, built on the side of the hill, contains the remains of 39,857 identified soldiers with each “grave” labelled and arranged in alphabetical order going up the hillside. At the top are two large mass graves holding the remains of 60,330 unknown soldiers. At the base of the memorial are the remains of Prince Emanuele Filiberto who was also the Duke of Aosta and commander of the Third Army. He had asked to be buried among his men. Five generals killed in action are buried with him. One single woman is buried here. She was a volunteer nurse who died in 1918 while assisting soldiers sick with Spanish flu. Thd memorial going up the hill is much higher than it looks in the pictures. I didn’t even attempt it with my knees.

Four names for one town

We have been out on our bikes every day recently. Entering the small town of Sagrado, population less than 2,500, we saw this sign. You often see names in various places in two languages, usually when you are quite close to a border. Seeing a sign in four languages was surprising. Slovenia was the only country close to Sagrado.

Going in to a restaurant for lunch, we would often notice that all the retail stores were closed. We put this down to a siesta or long lunch. We were quite surprised each time that we finished our late lunches to discover that all the stores were still closed. When I read the signs on the stores, it turns out that they are closed all afternoon and don’t open until somewhere between 4 and 6pm (16:00 – 18:00h). Luckily Mike and I aren’t shoppers as we don’t get out in the mornings and we are back in our RV most evenings.

Again, I am writing this as Mike drives us to our next location. This is the first time we have been driving the RV this year. We expect to be at the next campground for about a week and then we will head north into the mountains for possibly a few weeks.

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