Traveller Tania Pearse falls under the spell of Sardinia.
Before arriving in Sardinia I thought it wouldn’t be much different to Italy. How wrong I was! As soon as I arrive through the airport gates for my three day holiday in Sardinia I’m hit with a salty sea smell and relaxing balmy breeze.
The locals seem to be friendly and smiley, although charging ridiculous amounts to get a five minute taxi to the hotel – I can’t help feel that the next three days are going to full of sun, fun and relaxing.
Settling into Sardinia
My friend Shirley is at the hotel already – arriving on a different flight from Dublin the day before. I can see from 10 feet away she has already started working on her summer tan. Unfortunately her Irish/NZ skin has not seen a ray of sun for years and has turned fire engine red. I find her plastered with cooling cream and gingerly sitting on the bed sipping an icewater. I’m glad I brought my sunblock with me!
After I settle into the hotel, we cross the road to a beach bar that is run by a couple of hilarious guys who are very proud to be Sardinian. We make the mistake of calling them Italian and we get loudly rebuffed.
We order a fresh nicoise salad (fantastic olives, tomatoes and tuna). Sitting on the beach front balcony we lazily people watch and work out our plan of action (or non action in my mind) for the next few days. Tomorrow is going to consist of a long bike ride I’m told.
Seafood & Nougat
I’m a little apprehensive as Shirls is training for the Dublin marathon and plans to get in as much training in three days as possible (something she failed to mention earlier). Where as I’m more into cocktails and sunbathing with a good book, but decide that a bike ride can’t do too much to me.
Following our lunch we take a walk into town to the ‘old city’ which is full of amazing cobbled streets and alleyways – there is a lot of seafood here and everyone is either selling it, cooking it or eating it! There are also the most amazing nougat stands – where they cut massive blocks with large cleavers, attacking it as if in a butchery.
Our first purchase in Sardinia has to be a block of this homemade honey flavoured delight. Unfortunately after trying to converse with the assistant in our limited Italian we come away with a piece about the size of my leg – too embarrassed to correct her we decide to just take it and eat it throughout the holiday!
Sunbathing & Cocktails
After a long walk back to the hotel, we take advantage of the hotel pool and cocktail services. Even though Shirls is the colour of lobster already, she’s a trooper and doesn’t want to miss out on anything so takes up position under an umbrella poolside, and so we swim and laze the rest of the day away.
That evening we venture back to what will become our favourite beachside eatery and order some local Sardinian delicacies of fresh fish, prawns and squid. We are joined by a massive table of locals out to celebrate their mum’s 80th birthday and before we know it they are filling our glasses with champagne and joining in a round of ‘happy birthday’ and offering slices of birthday cake.
They’re interested in chatting to us kiwi girls and telling us all about Sardinian ways of life and living. After a late night of sampling the local liquours – we make it back to the hotel with full bellys and great memories.
Biking in Sardinia
Shirls hasn’t forgotten what is planned for the day ahead – I was hoping that the copious amounts of alcohol would have waned her appetite for exercise. But an hour after breakfast I find myself attached to a bike with basket, cycling into the Sardinian countryside. It’s hot, barren and deserted. We make it to a little beach for a fresh bread roll and salami and to rest our legs for an hour or so.
Then we’re back on the road again. It’s pretty narrow for cars and bikes on every bend and I’m a bit nervous. Shirley in her marathon mode starts to breakaway from my slow descent and now I’m alone, cycling through amazing olive groves, large gumtrees with the sound of cicada’s.
There is an amazing view of the sea – but unfortunately for me I can also see ahead the steep incline I’m about to make in a few minutes. Shirls is but a small dot on the horizon… she’s left me for dead! One hour later I arrive at the destination – Neptunes Cave – I’m hot, fed up and with legs like jelly. We take our the bikes down the dirt drive and jump into the crystal clear waters. It’s devine and recharges me enough to get out and purchase a gelato.
I was told by Miss Marathon that we would be able to get the boat around to the caves and back to shore – but the driver tells us we can’t take the bikes. I’m too cross to speak, knowing that I have to do the two hours back again in even hotter weather. I’m not sure how I actually made it back – it’s a bit of blur now – I think my mind has blocked it out, but I do remember jumping into the pool back at the hotel and refusing to talk to Shirls for about as long as it took me to peddle back.
The next day we venture out again – me with legs of jelly, and Shirls looking like red jelly – to the local Saturday market with people selling bags, clothes, shoes, seafood and of course more nougat which we kindly decline. We take a leisurely stroll around the stalls and then it’s back to our seaside restaurant for another nicoise salad and a swim. There are plenty of buses going around the island to different tourist spots, and with our good luck we happen upon the only bus driver who doesn’t know where he’s going.
He drops us about one mile away from town stating that this is as far as he will go – whether from laziness or just shear pigheadedness – so we all unload and walk the mile into town, none of us looking very happy about it. The town itself makes up for it though and we are surrounded by houses and shops in terracotta and various colours of pastel, all following the flow of the river which goes eventually heads out to sea.
It’s a lovely relaxing day compared to yesterday and I’m happy again to be eating gelato and lying on the beach. Our time here is coming to an end and we’re well aware of heading back to the colder climes of Dublin and London the next day. Shirls’ red body has started to take on a shade of golden brown – me, I’m more the shade of beige but feel tanned and happy on the inside and am slightly fitter for my three day holiday in Sardinia! Sardinia really is a beautiful, serene and, in parts, untouched paradise.
(Photo by miss yasmina)