Metal Days trip: Day 4 (Trieste to Tolmin)

I decided to walk from Alessio’s flat into Trieste again, purely as I had about 2 1/2 hours before my transfer coach was due. I didn’t get to say goodbye to him as he was at work, but I passed the key over to his next guest, a guy from Peru who had arrived overnight.

The view from the garden

So another hot, sweaty couple of miles (via McDonalds) got me to the train station and then onto my little minibus with Walter, a financier from Austria who was also heading to Metal Days. As it happens, he’s friends with Fearancy, who are on stage tonight just before Ten Ton Slug – who I’m here to see! We picked up three ladies from the airport (one from Barcelona, two from Helsinki) and detoured through local roads as the “faster” toll road had a 30 minute queue… due to the toll collection!

The journey was through some astoundingly beautiful scenery and towns, ending at the bus station in Tolmin, only 250m from the Hostel Hildegarden where I’ll be for the next week. The hostel is fantastic. Quiet, clean and in a beautiful location. Check-in was quick and smooth and my hostess has given me a shortcut to the festival entrance.

The only downside is that a thunderstorm is rolling in (it hasn’t hit yet), due to peak around 6 or 7pm. Things should ease overnight with another one due to drop its watery load on us around 11am tomorrow. Thankfully after that, things should settle and be a little less extreme!

From this point, I’ll put the touristy stuff on this blog – any trips I do, things I see and so – until I get to Ljubljana next Saturday. All the music / festival reviews will be over on Moshville Times.

Metal Days trip: Day 3 (Trieste)

I got up nice and early to see my host this morning… then went back to bed as I was so tired and woke up again at 11am. Oops. Still, enough time to explore a little so I forewent the bus and decided to walk from his flat into the town – about 5km, I was told.

Risiera di San Sabba

Lidl was my first stop, to pick up the stuff I couldn’t put in my hand luggage. I have yet to see a documented case of a RyanAir flight being hijacked by someone wielding toothpaste but I guess they have to be cautious.

Next door to the supermarket is the Risiera di San Sabba. Originally a rice-husking factory, it became a military barracks in the early 20th century… and then was taken over by the Nazis as a waystation for “insurgents” before sending them off to other camps for “processing”. Numbers are hard to come by, but the reckoning is a few thousand were killed here (and cremated, their ashes scattered in the nearby port) and many thousands more sent by train to Germany and Poland.

As ever, I found this place deeply moving and upsetting. Despite its comparatively small size compared to, say, Auschwitz it does nothing to lessen the extent of the atrocities committed there. Quick to walk around, but the memories will last a lifetime.

When in Rome(ish)

From there I walked into Trieste itself, trying to stay as close to the coast as I could (not easy until you get very close to the town). I passed the local football teams’s ground – an impressive stadium – and picked up pizza for brunch from a small corner shop. Lunch later was grapes and a banana from another shop. I was behind another tourist in the queue who was paying for an ice lolly with a €500 note. FIVE. HUNDRED. EURO. The girl on the till had never even seen one before. My entire trip is costing less than this guy was handing her.

So the walking began / continued. Similarly to my 2-day stay in Rome, I just… walked. I had a few things I wanted to see and I just used my legs to get between them all. The weather was hot and humid (as I type this at 8pm, it’s not got any less oppressive), but in typically Italian fashion there are plenty of water fountains for when you run out of sports drinks.

I found the yacht club, the Piazza Unitá d’Italia and its gorgeous view out over the sea and the Teatro Romano. Unfortunately the Piazza was a little non-photogenic as it features a concert by Talking Heads’ David Byrne tomorrow, and the stage / seats currently fill the area.

Teatro Romano

I walked uphill to see various churches, cathedrals and the liberation monument, as well as enjoying the wonderful view this high point offered me.

And then I caved and got a Burger King for dinner. At least I had a beer (a Slovenian one) with my meal, something you can’t do in the UK because… erm… I don’t know. Just because.

Right now, I’m back in the Hop & Rock, supping a staggeringly delicious and tart sour mango beer that I need to get the name of. I’ll give it a little while then head back to Alessio’s where I think another guest may be staying.

Tomorrow I have a fair bit of free time before my bus to Tolmin. I may spend it asleep!

Prepping for Metal Days, Slovenia

[This post was originally published on The Moshville Times, which I also own and run]

This one caught my eye when I saw the poster and checked out the price. An incredible lineup over five full days, three stages and only about £135 including camping, showers and phone charging? What, really? Wow…

But first, travel. There are festival shuttles for €25 to €40 each way from various places such as Venice, Trieste and Ljubljana. I’ve not been to Trieste before so I’ve booked a flight there from Stansted (about £85), will sort out some couchsurfing over two days and get the coach to the festival on the Sunday.It turns out a couple of our Crew have been in the past and recommended it as well, though the couple of warnings I was given included “it’s not all sunshine, expect rain” and “you have to get there early to get the warm water for the showers”. Because I’m expecting to do a fair bit of work when I’m there I opted to try and get some accommodation rather than crashing in a tent.

On the way back, I’m going to Ljubljana where I’ll spend a night and see the Slovenian capital before flying back to Luton (around £25). I’m in Glasgow and have already sorted trains to/from London at £30 a pop, so just the airport transfers to worry about which are cheap enough.

Accommodation was a little tricker as I left it a little late and it seemed everywhere in town had already gone. It’s not just the festival, Tolmin is a tourist hotspot for hikers, bikers, parascenders and so forth. It is, frankly, beautiful.

After looking a little further afield (20 min drive, half hour bike ride), I put in a couple of emails through the local tourist office which seems to conveniently bring together every hotel, hostel and guesthouse in the area under one website roof. I got offers back for six nights in both places, one a hostel in town (20 mins walk) and one a bed and breakfast but some distance out. Pricewise there was little in it, but I’ve gone for the hostel. They’ve been in touch to sort out deposit and so on and have been fantastic so far. I’m really looking forward to getting there!

Cost – around £150 for 6 nights which, for a premium site and booking late in the day, is cheap enough. If you’re sharing and book a little earlier, you can find very nice places for around £100 per room for the same period. I may be going back another time just to explore the place!

So five days of metal, one day to chill and then back home to see some friends in London before getting the train back to Glasgow. Can’t wait!

Metal Days: official