Legend has it the foundations of Ljubljana were laid when Jason and the Argonauts, fleeing with the stolen Golden Fleece, passed through what is now the capital of Slovenia on their way from the Black Sea to the Adriatic. They sailed up the Danube, then on the Sava, finally arriving at the Ljubljanica where they encountered and slew a terrifying dragon. The beast has been immortalized on the Dragon Bridge and is also commemorated on the city’s coat of arms.
Not to be outdone, we were growling too (at least our stomachs were), and from a plethora of tantalyzing options, chose a restaurant with outside seating overlooking the river. I had trouble deciding between the scores of pizza combinations on the menu, but no problem ordering, as it was written in both Slovenian and English.
After lunch Keith needed to work online and found the Internet connection better across the street at Dvorni Bar, famous for their slogan, “Largest Selection of Wines by the Glass in Slovenia.” While he had a double espresso, I sampled a glass of local wine and caught up on e-mail. By late afternoon it was time to get on the road again and cover some miles before resting for the night. Ten kilometres from Trieste, we stopped in Sistiana.
This time booking.com yielded Ai Sette Nani (literally, “for the seven grandchildren”) just before nine p.m. We pulled into the driveway and Keith went inside to find the front desk clerk. With no exchange of information or credit cards, we were handed a key to a room and told their restaurant, “Cavaliere,” was about to close, so we left our luggage in the car and took a table on the patio.
I made a quick selection of chicken paillard and green salad, while Keith ordered calimari with a side of marinara sauce. You’d have thought he asked for a side of dragon gizzards from the look on our waiter’s face. In broken Italian, we tried to explain what marinara sauce was (how could he not know?). We described the red sauce on top of pasta, and when he said, “Ah! pasta!” we quickly said we didn’t want any spaghetti. In fact I would have preferred that to what did arrive. A plate of anchovies swimming in brine.
Small wonder the waiter had looked at Keith strangely: a plate of calimari with a side of anchovies? Pickles and ice cream anyone? We asked for the manager.
I’m not sure how they came up with those little ocean critters, since the Italian word for “anchovy” is acciuga, but as mare means “sea” I (kind of) see the connection. Once again we asked for marinara sauce, using the word for tomato, pomodoro. Soon after a small dish of crushed tomatoes arrived.
And that’s why I’m glad I ordered chicken and lettuce.
(Gostilna, Pizzeria Ljubljanski Dvor, Dvorni trg 1, 1000 Ljubljana; Dvorni Bar, Dvorni trg 2, Ljubljana, Tel. +386 1251 1257, www.dvornibar.net; Ai Sette Nani, 34019 Sistiana, 54/E (Trieste), Tel. 040 299170, www.hotelsettenani.it).