Piran

Trip Start Aug 15, 2006
1
15
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Trip End Sep 19, 2006


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Where I stayed

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It is two weeks today that I left Canada but it feels like much longer. In fact, if I had to go home now, I would feel I have had a good holiday.

Today is a walking day. The hostel breakfast of cereal, bread, cold cuts and some strange haute cuisine aubergine sets me off on my mission to reach Portoroz, the resort town 3km along the coast. It is very different from Piran. Where Piran is an old-wordly fishing village with cobblestone streets, an attractive central square and charming locals - and tourism has appeared as a result of these things - Portoroz looks as though it was purpose-built as a resort town. It is overshadowed by half a dozen large and essentially identical hotels, all built right next to each other and overlooking a beach. Actually, to call it a beach doesn't seem right because there is no sand. That doesn't stop the largely middle-aged clientele from baring far too much flesh on any piece of flat land they can find - grass, concrete, wood, etc. And bare it they do - the 'beach' is awash with flabby bronzed bellies squeezing out of tiny swimsuits, accompanied by the equally appealing hack of the German accent.

I join in the crowd for a while, soaking up some rays while lying on a jetty (quite normal, I promise) then treat myself to a Red Bull-flavoured ice cream and then walk back to Piran. The trip to and around Portoroz only takes three hours so I have the whole afternoon to kill in Piran. I'm a bit tired of not speaking a single word of Slovene so I enlist the hostel receptionist to teach me some essential phrases in the local tongue.

Armed with the gift of language, I stride out purposefully again into the streets of Piran. More by luck than design, I manage to climb up the hill behind the town and end up at the Church of St. George, whose bell-tower dominates all of Piran due to its size and location. The view is impressive from up here, but I set my sights higher, on the town walls that rim the very top of the hill. It is another decent climb to reach them and then a few flights of steep stone steps to the turrets. The view certainly makes the effort worthwhile - a nearly bird's eye perspective of Piran, plus Italy to the north and Croatia faintly visible to the south. I am the only person who has made the struggle up to this particular spot, so I pretend I am a medieval archer defending my kingdom from my turret against oncoming hoardes of Ottoman invaders. Then I take a couple of photos and leave.

Last night I had the town square as my dinner view, tonight I choose the Adriatic Sea at sunset for my postcard setting. The promenade is full of these half-inside-half-outside restaurants, with a canopy over the outside bit to ease the transition. I review the menu and attempt to impress the waiter with my pronunciation and command of the Slovene language. He stands there patiently while I struggle with 'Paradiznikova Juha' and 'osliŠ ozvrti' but when I stumble over 'Gosser' of all words, he jumps in with "Deutsch or English?" and proceeds to speak to me the rest of the meal in perfect English. He also speaks perfect German, Italian and, I presume, Slovene.
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