Travel

I like to travel, but I’m not really the back-packing sort. This maybe why I still haven’t been to South America, which is something I really want to do. My last major trips have been cruises, which I enjoy since I have a rather short attention span, so being somewhere different everyday, whilst being wonderfully looked after, is very appealing to me.

Me at Ny Alesund (79 degrees North)

Me at Ny Alesund (79 degrees North)

Since then, I’ve made numerous trips. My recent Scottishtrip is on the front page of this Blog. Another recent trip (June 2009) was with my mum to Sardinia. A brief log of this is below:

Day 1 – To Cagliari, and Torre delle Stelle

Torre Delle Stelle, Cagliari

Torre Delle Stelle, Cagliari

We arrived in Cagliari to 35°C heat, and organised the car-hire (a pre-booked Grande Punto). We drove round the coast and as an off-chance drove into a little village (down a dirt-road). Found a lovely little airconditioned B&B and had a little cat-nap. Took a stroll to local supermarket, via a little bar (glass of local plonk). Enjoyed watching the sunset on the beach.

Day Two – Drive to Cala Gonone

Stopping in the mountains

Stopping in the mountains

Day two was a driving day. We set out after a lovely breakfast in the B&B, and drove north, up the coast to start and then through the mountains! Our lunch stop was at the lovely beach-front setting of Torre di Bari (B).

We then crossed the central belt of mountains on some amazing and empty mountain roads before decending the hairpin bends to Cala Gonone (near Dorgali), where we found a fantastic B&B with many cats. Our Italian is pretty non-existent, as was the owner’s English, so lots of pointing and gestures were required in order to get the aircon working (Sardinians don’t seem to use it unless it’s baking).

For dinner, we walked to a lovely sea-food restaurant and had their menu of the day. Amazing mussels spaghetti, followed by fried fish, octopodes and squid (and assorted other things), followed by panna cotta with summer fruits, and washed down with complementary fizz and a bottle of (non-complimentary) rosé. Fantastic!

Day Three – Drive to Olbia

Capo Coda Cavallo

Capo Coda Cavallo

Today, we drove onwards north towards Olbia, where later in the day we would have to return the hire-car. First stop, after negotiating the hill up to the main road, was the Ispinigoli Grotto (B), a now dry limestone cave containing the second biggest column in the world at 38m in height. This was a truly astonishing site, and a well-recommended tour (in English and German as well as in Italian).

We then followed the coast, including an interesting detour on a gravel road around some roadworks (car ended up filthy with dust), up to Capo Coda Cavallo (C). This is stunning, but we failed to find a publich beach, so we back-tracked a few miles to the lovely sandbar and lagoon at Lu Impostu.

Then it was onwards to Olbia. This place lacks somewhat in directions, but after asking a helpful police officer (who spoke just enough English and instructed us to drive onwards through the pedestrian area (you have to love Italians!!)), we found the hotel, which was pretty convenient for a) a lovely streetside bar which did a good line in prosecco, and b) the carhire shop. Duly returned the car (after waiting 20 minutes for the carhire person to return from an “errand”), and rounded off the day with a local beer. Lovely.

Day Four – Ferry to Genoa

On board the MS Suprema

On board the MS Suprema

Today we sat on a ferry for 10 hours as we travelled the 450km from Sardinia to Genoa on the mainland – fare €18 each including taxes!! There are reclining seats in an airconditioned interior area, and cruise-ship style outdoor facilities for relaxing by the pool, in jacuzzis etc. Fantastic.

Genoa is an amazing rabbit-warren of a city- once Europe’s foremost port, and full of palaces to match its history, and the largest surviving medieval centre in Europe (I think). Finding dinner in the rapidly darkening night was quite a challenge however, as there are a lot of restaurants, many of the better of which are down rather dark, intimidating narrow alleys. In the end we settled for a fantastic €5 take away pizza eaten in a bus-shelter (classy), and caught the last bus back to the hotel.

Day Five – the Journey Home

Promenade des Anglais, Nice

Promenade des Anglais, Nice

Today we took the Eurocity “express” from Genoa to Nice (1st class, €25 each!!). This is a rather typical Italian train in that you know it’ll get to its destination, just not really when it might get there. Having said that, except for 20 minutes when the power failed, we had a comfortable air-conditioned compartment.

In Nice, we moseyed down to the Promenade des Anglais, where we had a lovely meal (all ordered in French) accompanied by champagne. All very lovely. Rounded off by an excellent cup of tea, brought in a massive box and selected carefully, and presented in a muslin tea-bag.

Bus to airport was cheap and convenient, and flight back to Luton was basically on time. Only drawback was that on time meant at 2230 hrs landing in Luton, followed by the 180 mile drive back to York!! (Funnily enough, mum volunteered me for that duty!).