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22nd Battalion 2NZEF
"Vrai et Fort"
DAY 4 Tuesday 24 May 2005
Confusion before Breakfast
"Bags out by
0700" they said for an early departure for Trieste. Again the screaming
trams woke me at 0615 so I headed for the shower. Father was sound as shower the
lights went out and all was pitch black. Strange I thought, as I groped for the
door to get some light and an explanation - what is that ringing sound? everywhere
I grabbed the phone, to be greeted by a nice Italian voice. As I puzzled about
what she was trying to tell me there was a loud knocking on the door. Now what
do I do? Hang up? Grab a towel? Answer door? Does the loss of power, the phone
call and the knocking mean there is an emergency and we should evacuate the
Slowly it all came right. The phone call was the standard "Wake Up" message.
And yes, our bags were collected at 0705!
The early bag warning meant everybody was up early, and EVERYBODY (all 150 people) wanted breakfast at 0700 as there was an early start. The hotel had two small dining rooms designed for about 50 people each. Most people got fed, the bags were loaded onto the buses (although there was some confusion about whether the zip-off day packs were needed as carry-on or to be stored under the bus) and we were loaded onto the buses at 0725. As with most of our departures we were all ready to go but always there was a delay. Some mornings it was to collect the last of the keys, another morning was to find a missing wheelchair. Other mornings.... we will never know.
On the road to Trieste
Departure at 0745, through the heart of Milan, past the "Needle and Thread" again past a range of old and new architecture then onto the autostrada, east on the A4. This was our first real view of rural north Italy, past fields of crops, wooded hills, villages and light industry. The road took us past Monza, Bergamo and its airport, Brescia and Lake Garda, Verona, Vincenza, Padova and then we turned north beside the Laguna Venita (Venice lagoon). Along the way we stopped at one of the large Autogrill cafes that straddles the autostrada for lunch. These are combination fast food, self-service cafe and variety store. You can grab a quick meal downstairs, standing at the tall tables to eat (or take away) or you can go upstairs to the cafe with its range of food - cold and hot meats, cheeses, salads, fruit, pastas and beer, wine and cold drinks. We chose the upstairs and tried the pasta with fresh bread roll, bowl of salad and of course vino rosso.
Buses are fickle machines.....
Just when we thought we were making good time in the mid-afternoon, Bus 2 pulled into a layby and the drivers began exploratory surgery on its innards. Apparently it had broken a jockey wheel that drove the air-conditioning unit, and in the 30C temperature of the afternoon this make for uncomfortable travel (=dangerous in the Doctor's opinion). Like they had done years before in the hot Italian sun, the veterans headed for the shade under a grove of trees and waited for the transport to be repaired..........
Arrived in Trieste at 1630 via the high road, giving us a chance to see the Adriatic Sea and Trieste nestled in the head of the broad bay. Went straight to the Hotel Jolly Trieste, which is on the waterfront, close to the railway station. Our bags were delivered by hotel porters so we were able to relax for a while. Without touching a thing, our television came to life, displaying a welcome message and inviting us to explore their pay channels. We stayed with the local stations, getting the news in Italian, and a range of cooking programmes.
At 1730 we were on the buses again for the short ride along the waterfront to the Hotel Excelsior, clearly one of the premier hotels in Trieste. Here we were the guests of the British Consulate with many local people, expatriate English and Americans invited. Many of the guests were wives (widows) and family of soldiers stationed in Trieste after the Kiwis left in 1945. Some had remained in Trieste, others had returned after their husbands had died.
The news media had been invited with newspaper articles the following morning and local television coverage that night. Many local people saw the television report and this prompted them to come to later events to acknowledge our trip and record their gratitude to the New Zealand soldiers who had liberated Trieste from both the Germans AND the Yugoslavs.
The buses took us back to the Hotel Jolly at 2020 for dinner - Vegetable Soup, roast beef
Last updated: 04/12/2016