Music, travel, and plans for the year

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Seisún musicians, Taverna ai Mastri d’Arme, Trieste

In November I went to the Irish music seisún in Trieste. I sang Chì mi na mòrbheanna, and my friend Gowen (playing his drum, above) joined in for the chorus, as he was familiar with the song. I’d been encouraged by my friend Anna to sing there, though it has been years since I sang with a group or in front of other people. I was nervous, and a bit out of breath by the end of it, not having had a lot of practice in all those years. It takes a certain amount of muscle control and stamina to do it proper justice, after all, and not practicing means losing some of that muscle tone. I did mostly okay, though, and was relieved when it was over!

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uilleann piper

December found me in Gorizia, a town that is now divided by the Italian/Slovenian border, with Novo Gorica on the other side. I was visiting with some folks from the Internations website – a woman from England, and two Italians who were born in Gorizia when it was still part of Slovenia. We walked the streets of the town, visited the castle, and had a huge lunch at a local restaurant. The platters were inexpensive but immense. I ended up taking a bucket of sausages home for later; my brother and I ate them for two days. Next time, fewer dishes and more people!

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Christina, Gillian, Alessandro, and Erynn at the border in Gorizia

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Gorizia from the castle

The Internations group met again yesterday in Udine for lunch. This time there were six of us. Gillian from England organized, while a local Udine Italian and his Russian wife recommended the restaurant. They were in attendance with their two kids. There was a Slovenian woman and a man from Scotland as well. The food was fantastic and plentiful, as was the talk. It’s a pretty nice bunch of people I’ve met from the website so far. We talked about getting together again next month in Udine for Chinese food at a new restaurant there and, when I told people about the seisún, they said they wanted to know when the next one was, so we will probably meet at the Taverna for that as well. After lunch, some of us wandered back in the direction of the train station. We stopped at a covered tent arcade that was sheltering a small chocolate festival, where I got to practice a little of my Italian.

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A pirate pub in Udine

Yesterday also saw demonstrations all across Italy in support of legalizing same sex civil unions. There was a small crowd in one of the piazzas; I heard there was a larger demonstration in Trieste, as well. The US State Department had sent out an email advisory to Americans living here about anticipated peaceful protests in many cities around the country. Italy is the last western European country that does not have legal provisions for the protection of same sex partnerships, but things are slowly changing for the better.

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Demonstrators in Udine

My travel plans for the year are coming together. I’m hoping to go down to Naples and Pompeii in February, but got word the other day that a good friend of mine will be presenting a paper at a Celtic Studies conference in Maynooth in late March. I thought I might have to choose one or the other for the beginning of the year, but one of the folks at the American Corner told me about Flixbus, a German bus company that has inexpensive fares, and some really amazing promotional sales, for cities all over Europe. Joe and his girlfriend had just got back from Naples last week, where they’d traveled for one Euro each (yes, you read that correctly) on the bus. Their normal fares are better than Trenitalia or the plane, so it is looking like I will be able to afford Napoli in February and Ireland in March after all. Right now, I’m pulling together my plans and looking at booking my travel next week for both destinations.

September promises a reprise of the Sherlocked convention in London. My friend Jenn from Spokane is planning on attending again, this time accompanied by her husband Nick, and I’m looking forward to seeing them. Sarah, one of my English friends, will also be there, so we are talking about splitting room costs for the con.

In October I will be back in Ireland for a pilgrimage hosted by Vyviane Armstrong and led by Morgan Daimler, to sites associated with the Morrigan. Morgan has been doing some really excellent translation work with early Irish tales, and publishing collections of her work, which I very much recommend. We have been in correspondence off and on for many years, and I’m looking forward to meeting her in person. With any luck, I can also spend a couple of extra days in Dublin book shopping! Be still, my Celtophilic geeky heart.

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It’s time.

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Can you even get there from here?

The poet, photo by Cristiana Sibenik

It’s been a busy week or so! I finally have my Carta d’Identita. It took a bit of running in circles and €5.20, but I now have all the identification documents I need to get by here. Now that I’ve got the ID card, I can go and register the dog with the city as well, though that may need to wait until I return from Greece.

Ithaka may be a severe case of “can’t get there from here.” Reports are conflicting and I may well need to take a bus (or cab) to Kyllini. I went to the Greek Consulate, where the ticket office is for Minoan Lines, and talked to the woman at the desk. She said there’s nothing on any of the websites they use though, sometimes, small local ferries are not listed. One website says that trips to Ithaka from Patras are all suspended. I won’t be able to find out until I actually get to Patras. The potential for missed connections and screw-ups is fairly large, but I’ll do my best. I may end up only spending one night on Ithaka if I have to go to Kyllini and deal with ferries that don’t run daily.

The dock for the Trieste to Patras ferry is down in the commercial port, south of the city’s main waterfront. My brother will take me there on the day I leave, to avoid having to worry about nonexistent buses and finding a taxi at that hour.

I spent some time walking around new parts of the city with Cristina, an artist and photographer I met at Luisella’s last week. Our first stop was a bar and gelateria on the waterfront near the aquarium. They have a nice little deck out in the back overlooking the harbor and the marina. I tried the watermelon but it was just too thin and too sweet to be really enjoyable. She did warn me that it was going to be very sweet, but I wanted to try it. I saw a new species of jellyfish at Molo Audace on our way over, too. This makes three so far.

Chrysaora hysoscella

Chrysaora hysoscella

From there, we took a long walk south along the waterfront, past the railroad museum, and then over the park along Viale Romolo Gessi until we got to the Unione Sportiva Triestina Nuoto, an Olympic sized swimming pool near the place where I’ll have to go in to the ferry docks. There’s a hideously ugly sculpture of a hippo standing on a ball out front of the building. The building itself is right up there with the Experience Music Project in Seattle for architectural WTFery. From there, we walked along the main road and until we passed the gate for the commercial shipyard, then up the hill via Scala Campi Elisi and past the Madonna del Mare church in the neighborhood where Cristina grew up.

We stopped for a rest and something to drink, then continued back toward downtown, passing the Osservatorio Astronomico, mentioned in my last post. I got some photos this time, and it’s quite the interesting building.

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University of Trieste’s Astronomical Observatory

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The observatory tower

On our way back down into the waterfront area, we stopped by the Casa della Musica, a funky blue building in a pedestrian alley not far from the Arco Riccardo. One of Cristina’s friends was there and invited us to go upstairs and watch a rehearsal if we wanted. We did, but only for a few moments, as it was packed, and really hot. There’s a bar on the ground floor with a bulletin board, posted with instruments for sale, musicians and bands looking for one another, and upcoming gigs. On the first floor there’s a rehearsal and performance hall, and there are practice studios for rent as well. The second floor houses a recording studio.

Casa della Musica

Casa della Musica

The evening brought us back to the canal for a spritz and a snack, and a little talk about cameras and photography. We sat on the dock, but my chair was a bit too close to the edge and one leg of it slipped off. Fortunately, there’s good rope netting around the dock, and Cristiana grabbed my arm, so I didn’t take an unintentional swim.

boats and the dome of San Spiridone, the Serbian Orthodox church

boats and the dome of San Spiridione, the Serbian Orthodox church

Eventually, we made our way back to my place then took the Dog of Devastating Cuteness +3 out for a ride and a little walk in Piazza Hortis. He likes going out, of course, and loves riding in cars, but he does get overly excitable around other animals, so it can be difficult to take him very far from home.

My brother was in town for the last couple of days. We watched the US-Portugal football match at midnight, projected onto an outside wall at a bar in one of the pedestrian zones just off Piazza Unità. A fair sized crowd had gathered, including quite a few Americans. Four were seated at a table just behind us, who had come into town for the Pearl Jam concert that had happened a night or so before. They were in from DC and New York City, and would be on their way to Venice on the train the next day. I’m not much of a sports fan, but it was fun to go watch something big like that al fresco on a gorgeous evening, with a spritz in hand. There’s an Italy match today, which likely means everyone will be glued to their TV for a couple of hours between 5 and 7pm. I’m sure I’ll know it if Italy wins.

Here's the park. Down on the lower right is the bus stop we needed. The lower left was the one we ended up at. Yay, confusion.

Here’s the park. Down on the lower right is the bus stop we needed (11/25). The center left was the one we ended up at (25/26). Yay, confusion.

Last night, we went up to the Parco Farnetto for the Triskell Celtic festival. The posters don’t make it very clear where the place is, and actually finding out how to get there was problematic. The poster talks about a place called Boschetto del Ferdinandeo, and there’s some information about buses, but unless you know that this is a stop in the Farnetto, you’re going to be utterly lost. You can’t find it on Googlemaps by that name. The website says that buses 11, 25, and 26 go there, but really only the 11 and 25 stop at the site. If you take the 26, you end up having to walk most of the length of the park – about one and half kilometers – to get to it; it’s a lovely walk, but not what we were looking for. On the other hand, the festival schedule 26/ (yes, the / makes a difference) does run from that stop down into downtown, but it only runs on Sundays and holidays. Most of the buses stop about 8pm, but that one runs until midnight.

The Bog Bards, a band from Slovenia

The Bog Bards, a band from Slovenia

We headed up during the middle of the day, as the schedules talk about things happening starting about 3pm, but the place really didn’t open until 7pm, and music doesn’t start until 8 or so. We headed back up about 8:30, checked out the booths, had some food, and listened to some music. I met some of the local Pagans there, who were doing a labyrinth walk and holding sacred space for a fire and some ritual work. One of the women speaks English, and we had a talk, though I did speak a little in Italian to a couple of the others. My brother helped translate for some of the conversations. I’ll be going up again this evening around 8:30 to talk with her again, and to show her a few of my books.

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ritual fire at the Triskell festival

Jim will be back later this week to watch the dog while I head off to Torino to see Dan give his talk about his new book, and then head off to Greece. I may not have much in the way of internet access while I’m gone, but when I return, there will be photos!

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fiddler for the Bog Bards

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Irish dance group on stage with the Bog Bards