Previous entry Next entry

Michael’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 07 Jul 2009

Location: Sardinia, Italy

MapOn Sunday we arrived into Sardinia to the sounds of sirens ringing in the boat and Italian voice-overs. Looking out the window, I could see quite easily that we were pulling into port (yeah, Sun was up at 5 am) and took to presuming that the sirens and announcements were requesting us to wake up and not because the boat was sinking. Reaching desperately for non-existent the snooze button, I rolled over, noticing that Charlie hadn’t really stirred yet and tried to keep sleeping. That was interrupted less than a minute later by a loud and heavy handed banging on the door, and some more Italian shouting. I didn’t need a translator for that message, the tone of voice was eerily similar to the sound of Mum yelling up the stairs for me to “get up or you’ll be late for school” – message received.

We dressed and headed for the main deck and checked out the restaurant for some sign of breakfast. A couple of tiny croissants, and a (by all reports) bad coffee were the only breakfast on offer. Without juice I settled for a can of coke, something to get the horrid taste of sleep out of my mouth. I can only presume they played some sort of tricks with the air in the sleeping cabins, because I hadn’t woken up with such a horrid taste in my mouth for a long time. After paying the extortionate amount for a poor breakfast, I was then harassed by the cashier who accused me of failing to pay. Handing over 6 euros (a five euro note and a 1 euro coin) the cashier then got in a conversation and as I went to leave, accused me of stealing back my 5 euro. Of course, his English was only marginally better than my Italian (pizza, spaghetti and ciao Bella are all I know) and we proceeded to get into a heated argument. I already have a dislike of Italian men due to the “London Incident” as I refer to it now, so had no trouble telling this guy what I thought of the fact that he accused me of stealing. I know I had not more money to my name as we’d spent it all (bar the last few euro) the night before on the expensive boat dinner. So I turned the pockets of my jeans out, opened my wallet showing nothing but shrapnel, and summoning my best inner Australian Socceroos fan called the guy a dirty lucking prick of an Italian. He didn’t understand so I walked off.

Back on dry land we had a long wait for the bus to the airport to pick up or car – yep, now rental cars at the ferry terminal, so we had to go to the airport. Once there it was even more waiting, and finally at around 830am, 3 hours after getting off the boat, we were off and driving out shitty little FIAT Panda – but it did the job. Well, I was navigating and Charlie was driving, and on Italian roads, it was the ‘wrong’ side of the road. Most of the time it wasn’t a problem, with both of us checking that we were on the ‘correct’ side of the road, and the only worry in the early stages was looking the wrong way for traffic at a round about. Thankfully a quick yelp from your truly in the passenger seat and the brakes went on quickly!

Immediately we headed north from Olbia, planning to stay close to the coast line all the way up, but a couple of missed turn off’s meant that we drove past the first peninsula at Porto Rotondo and went straight on to Porto Cervo. The entire coast line in the north east region of Sardinia is beautiful with glorious blue waters, lapping gently at golden sand beaches, and the Sun scorching hot. So NOT England! It was barely 10 am by this stage, but we both decided it was time to get wet and go for a dip. And despite being pretty early (in our mind) the Italian’s were out in holidaying force, families with enough buckets and spades to construct the northern stand of the MCG, lilo’s, balls, and more than anything, umbrella’s. Italian’s seemed to set up n the beach at an early hour before it gets too hot, and set up with their own man made shade. They then spend the entire day at the one spot. We had different plans, and after cooling off and getting covered in salt water, we ha our fill of the busy beach full of Italian (and of course, German) tourists, and headed back to our car to push on to the next beach of choice.

Continuing our coast line assault, we followed the coast of the peninsula back SW before turning back north again. We had another stop along the way for another dip in remarkably warm yet refreshing blue waters, and then headed on to the town of Palau where we would be spending the evening. Having arrived at around 3 pm at the hottest point of the day, the car aircon was working overtime keeping us cool and we were assaulted by the heat when we exited the car to check in at the camping grounds.

Our accommodation for the night, after the swish apartment I’d located in Rome, was, well, a bit smaller. Of course, being in a caravan park, we had no bathroom in our Tukul. In fact, we had nothing at all really in our Tukul, aside from the double bed, a small folding table and chair set that we put up outside, and one small window! It was so small, and with the white paint of the exterior walls and the red roof, the round hut looked something like a toad stool out of a fairy tale. After emptying the car (one bag, and some groceries) we headed for the beach at the camp site and some more swimming... the weather warranted cooling off. We headed out to a large group of rocks off the coast by about 100 meters and then clambered over the rocks before heading back in and deciding to have an afternoon beer in front of our cabin before heading into the town centre for some exploring. The town centre, being early Sunday evening, was pretty quiet and after a couple inquiries at the local dive shops we headed back to the camp site for another beer and then a pizza dinner at the camp restaurant, along with some of the worst red wine either of us had ever tasted. With not much going on at the camp site, we had a pretty early night, but with no fan or A/C in the Tukul, it was far from a restful sleep. In fact, we fell asleep around 10 pm with the door wide open until I bothered to get up and close it most of the way at about 4 am.

Monday morning after a refreshing dip, and shower, we packed up the car and started making our way to the most north eastern town of Sardinia, Santa Teresa di Gailura. We found ourselves taking the FIAT Panda off road (despite the rental restrictions) to try and get to some of the more spectacular beaches and have ourselves some quick swims. We drove around the north east peninsula of the island for quite some time, just exploring random paths and eventually found a small cove with about 15 meters long and about 2 meters of sand before the water, that was covered with people set up for the day. We dumped our gear and headed out into the calm warm water, and made our way from one cove to the next and the next. The water was incredibly calm, and never got particularly deep from the coast to the island off the coast. At one point I said hello to an old Italian man who was walking his boat about 50 meters off the coast, the water was that shallow.

We moved on, following the northern coast line back south west, stopping in at the towns of Vignola & Portobello before stopping in Isola Rossa for lunch. The cruise ships in the distance between Sardinia and Corsica making a lovely back drop. Our mission then turned to trying to find our second Sardinian nights accommodation, which we believed to be in the town of Valledoria. The main problem was that the camp, and Valledoria itself, was on the mainland side of a spit of land that made navigating difficult. And without any significantly detailed map, and Italian signage thrown in the mix, the pace was slow going as we continued to climb and descend along the northern coast line. Still, we made it to Valledoria and the Baia Blu camp ground.

It wasn’t the worlds most welcoming place, and as we parked the car, a young man stuck his out of a trailer in the car park and asked where our car permit was – in a none to friendly way. We told him we were checking in and he just went back to whatever he was doing inside the caravan before we pulled up. Next we had to deal with the German man with awful breath at the front desk when deciding if we would stay there. He was none to helpful and was probably a big hit with all of the German tourists that seem to be catered for in Sardinia. Finally, we were picked up in a golf cart and taken to our bungalow by a most helpful guy from York. He’s a cocktail barman in Milan in the winter, and spends the summer bumming about working in Sardinian camp sites. He showed us our cabin, and arranged for some free linen for us, and then took us back to reception after we’d agreed to stay there.

After checking in, and then waiting for the English lad to come back with our linen which must have been about an hour, we headed out to the river that runs alongside the camp site to catch the ferry across to the sandy spit. Form there we swam and enjoyed the evening Sun lowering in the sky. The northern coast had much better swell, but the waves were all disappointingly breaking on the shore. As the Sun continued to lower in the sky and turn the water to a silvery shimmer, we headed back to catch the last boat back from the spit for the day and ready ourselves for a dinner out in the town.

We headed in for dinner at the Blue Moon (?) which we were told about by the lad from York. When we quizzed him about the camp site restaurant he suggested we’d be much better heading in to this place for some of the biggest pizza’s he seen... and I know why. The pizza was massive, so big Charlie and I struggled to finish it. He also suggested we try the horse meat pizza, and we followed his advice. At the end of the day it was a great pizza, filling, and along with the side salad, a bowl of chips and a couple beers, came to about 15 euro. Great feed.

We headed back to the camp site well after dark and polished off a couple more beers before heading up to the restaurant to see the evening children’s performance that was being put on. What neither Charlie nor I could figure out is why you’d have a children’s performance that didn’t seem to start till 10 pm, and was still going on after 11 pm when we left to head back to the bungalow. After the hot and restless sleep the night before in the Tukul we were both tired and hope for a better nights rest... unfortunately it would prove another hot night with not a whole lot of sleep.