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Trieste and the Art of Waiting, and Looking to the Sea


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By the balcony of the Miramare Castle, the mirage-like Hapsburg structure crowning the Grignano foreland by the coast of Trieste in Italy, one is indeed summoned to look at, to look to the sea. Engulfed by the bleached-bone whiteness of the castle and the Adriatic's greenish blue, there's this gentle-but-firm invitation to linger, chin resting on one hand supported by a balustrade of millennial musings and expectations older than age. When you reach a certain stage of your life, when you have been to particular parts of the world, and have met quite a smorgasbord of strangers, you also realize that it's not always that there is that day to seize, or that nanosecond to head dive into a decision, and that sometimes, you just have to sit it right out, wait for the next train, for the next day's bus schedule, another flight perhaps a week after.


Photos of Miramare Castle, Viale Miramare, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 1/3 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Miramare Castle, Viale Miramare, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 2/3 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Miramare Castle, Viale Miramare, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 3/3 by Unshod Rover

This is something that no Travel Guide would teach you: the Art of Waiting. Sometimes, you just have to wait. And waiting could be torture, especially when you do not have any idea of not only when it would arrive, but also what is it exactly that you have been waiting for: a sign, another awakening, the end of the world? But then, of course, waiting could sometimes also be just pure bliss. And as we stood here before the Adriatic, on our very first day in Trieste under an August overcast, we just couldn't help but wait: for another mermaid's tale narrated by the wind, a bird carrying a message from the other side, a ration of our daily fish, a wonderful summer.

We walked through the expanse of the castle looking forward to getting lost in its surrounding gardens. Our first stop was by the pond with a statue of a boy and a swan in the middle, the boy looking like he was trying to shield his face from the sun, although there was not much sunlight leaking through the canopy, giving the pond and the statue's reflection on it a murky, darkish interpretation. The reflection reminded me somehow of the sixth brother in the Grimm's tale of the six swans. A version would have him left with a swan's wing for an arm, even after six years of waiting. What would he give for another half-hour or a day to let her sister finish the last shirt? Why am I here in Europe? Why do I continue on studying? Why do I keep on traveling, wandering? What sort of curse am I breaking myself from? Is my six-year leeway due? What sort of spell did I get myself into?

Photos of  1/2 by Unshod Rover
Photos of  2/2 by Unshod Rover
Photos of James Joyce statue, Via Roma, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 1/1 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Piazza Unità d'Italia, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 1/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Piazza Unità d'Italia, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 2/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Piazza Unità d'Italia, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 3/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Piazza Unità d'Italia, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 4/4 by Unshod Rover

Our Miramare stop was actually due to the fact that some of our friends had to make a sidetrip to Udine, and so we had to wait for them before we proceeded to discover Trieste and the rest of Istria. First stop was the Risiera di San Sabba, a rice mill turned Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War. It served as a transit camp for Jews before they were deported to Auschwitz. In almost complete silence, we walked through a tunnel-like entrance leading to a camp surrounded by giant walls. It gave one a very suffocating feeling, particularly augmented by entering various rooms and halls. I realized that the horrors and errors of our past may not necessarily be what and how we see them now, but how we remember them and what we foresee.

Photos of Risiera di San Sabba, Via Giovanni Palatucci, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 1/5 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Risiera di San Sabba, Via Giovanni Palatucci, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 2/5 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Risiera di San Sabba, Via Giovanni Palatucci, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 3/5 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Risiera di San Sabba, Via Giovanni Palatucci, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 4/5 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Risiera di San Sabba, Via Giovanni Palatucci, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 5/5 by Unshod Rover

From one claustrophic-inducing experience to another, we also visited Grotta Gigante, which literally means a giant cave, located on the Italian side of the Triest Karst, and was once considered as the world’s largest tourist cave. There, I reflected on the depths of human curiosity as well as the greatness of the one who created all this. Deep into the stone cathedrals of million years past, where nature still remains glorious proof of the Creator’s handwriting, we were confronted with our inner worries and fears.

Photos of Grotta Gigante, Sgonico, Province of Trieste, Italy 1/7 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Grotta Gigante, Sgonico, Province of Trieste, Italy 2/7 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Grotta Gigante, Sgonico, Province of Trieste, Italy 3/7 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Grotta Gigante, Sgonico, Province of Trieste, Italy 4/7 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Grotta Gigante, Sgonico, Province of Trieste, Italy 5/7 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Grotta Gigante, Sgonico, Province of Trieste, Italy 6/7 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Grotta Gigante, Sgonico, Province of Trieste, Italy 7/7 by Unshod Rover

Before we headed home, we took a pause by the Church of St. Paschal where a pond of small turtles welcomed us. Then, I walked toward the gardens behind the Church, where I found a statue of Pinocchio staring at an empty pond, his figure and that nose casting a big shadow on the ground.

Photos of Parrocchia San Pasquale Baylon, Via Carlo De Marchesetti, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 1/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Parrocchia San Pasquale Baylon, Via Carlo De Marchesetti, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 2/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Parrocchia San Pasquale Baylon, Via Carlo De Marchesetti, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 3/4 by Unshod Rover
Photos of Parrocchia San Pasquale Baylon, Via Carlo De Marchesetti, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy 4/4 by Unshod Rover

A wooden puppet created by woodcarver named Geppetto, Pinocchio dreamed of becoming a real boy, but he was prone to telling lies and fabricating stories. Anyway, his story was that of a metamorphosis, his transformation into a real boy despite his misgivings and misadventures. I believe that it is actually our misgivings and misadventures that make men out of us boys. Our last night in Trieste fell on the feast of St. Lawrence, when a meteor shower was very much awaited. It is best witnessed in the dark and once seen, a wish or two could be made. I stared at the sky while waiting for the tears of St. Lawrence, but already wishing that we may come home not only attentive to road signals but also to the signs of the times. Again, between that night and the future, it is a question of how we spend our time waiting.

Photos of  1/2 by Unshod Rover
Photos of  2/2 by Unshod Rover
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