*This blog post was written when I studied abroad in Granada in 2009. Though it is certainly not up to the quality of the articles I currently write, I didn’t want to lose the humble beginnings of this blog (at the time called European Escapades). Bear this in mind, and check back, as I plan to write more informative posts with photographs about many of the places I visited while studying abroad.*
So last thursday (Oct. 7th), Sarah, Alissa, Frank and I got a ride from our friend Alba (thanks!) to the bus station around 12:30am…so I guess technically it was Oct. 8th. We took the 16€ 5-hour long bus ride to Madrid, because our flight to Alghero was out of Madrid. Our flight wasn’t until 1:30 pm, so since we got to Madrid around 6:30am, our lovely friend Caitlin from UR let us crash in her apt. for a few hours. After an extremely comfortable and refreshing nap, we woke up and navigated the Madrid metro and finally arrived at the airport, which was huge. We sped walked to our terminal, and decided to eat our picnics before security so that we wouldn’t have trouble getting our food and drinks in. After eating we went through security (Suh curityyyy) without any trouble (I even got to bring my razor! wooo), and went to our gate. We had about 30 mins until our plane boarded so we went browsing in a little book store. My new goal is to buy a spanish copy of one of the Harry Potter books to read. Finally we boarded our plane, and approximately 2 hours later we were in Italy!!
For those of you who don’t know, Sardinia is the island above Cicily, right off the western coast of the Italian main land. We flew into Alghero, a city on the north west coast, which is a cute little boat town. Although we technically never really explored the main city area, we just went to see the Old Town which was really cute. Anywho, we got to Alghero, and found a bus at the airport that was supposed to drop us off right near our hostel/Bed & Breakfast. After almost getting off in a completely different town, we arrived at our B&B. We couldnt check in until 5, so we wandered around, spoke Spitalian (spanish and italian mixture. This is the language we spoke for the duration of our trip, whenever we talked to Italians), to this strange old man, had another guy try to get us to go in his car with him, and eventually the landlord got home and we got to go to our room. We got up there and it was a legit apartment. We had a full kitchen (minus microwave and oven), our own bathroom, Frank and I each took one of the beds that was in the little alcove off the kitchen, and Sarah and Alissa shared a big bed in the bedroom. After we got settled in, we went for a walk into town which was about a 25 min walk away. We walked a little bit around the Old Town (with lots of cobblestone roads, old buildings, cathedrals…like the albaycin but not on a hill), got some gelato, went to the grocery store, and went back to make dinner. We made a pesto linguini with salad which was really good, and in addition to buying all of the supplies for dinner we bought cereal for the mornings, sandwich supplies and apples, and at only cost €10 each. Yay for cheap delicious meals. In the morning, we woke up to a cloudy foreboding sky. We rented bikes from our landlord, and rode down to the pier where all the boats were docked. Our main goal while in Alghero was to go see this grotto called Grotti di Nettuno, which was supposed to be super beautiful and awesome. Frank and Alissa did some investigation at the bus station and found that we had missed the €3 bus by 15 mins, which was kind of annoying because it was wayyyy cheaper than the boat ride. Apparently if you take the bus, it drops you off at the top of 670 stairs that you walk down to get to the grotto. I won’t lie, Inside there was a small part of me that was happy that I wasn’t going to have to walk back up those 670 outdoor stairs in the rain. In the end we decided the grotto would be worth it to take the €14 boat ride out there so we hopped on. The boat ride was interesting to say the least. It’s at least a 45 min ride, it was windy, drizzling, pouring, misting, and wavy and sarah, Alissa and I all suffer from motion sickness. Awesome. Needless to say, we were happy to finally get off of the boat when we got to the grotto. The grotto was awesome and beautiful and Pirates of the Caribbean definitely could have been filmed there (see pics on FB). The boat ride home was interesting, as we sat on the front of the boat, got completely drenched, and ate soggy sandwiches. After the grotto, we rode bikes around the old town again for a bit, got gelato, and then went to the grocery store to get a few more supplies and a new bottle of wine for that nights dinner. Alissa went across the street to get cash out of the ATM, but it retained her card for some unknown reason, which sucked because she had no means of getting money. We dealt the best we could by using frank’s blackberry to email her dad to figure out the situation and by the time we got back home it was about 3pm and raining, so we basically all passed out, keeping the tradition of siesta alive in Italy. After our nap, we pre-cooked some of dinner (well, Sarah and Alissa did while Frank and I watched), and biked over to a beach that was near our apartment to see it. It was windy and getting dark but it was still a cute beach and the water was sparkly and clean. We went back, had a veggie marinara sauce pasta for dinner, watched 100 best songs of the 90s on MTV in (mostly) english (YES!), and went to sleep to wake up bright and early to journey to Cagliari.
To get to Cagliari (the southern most point of the island), we had to take a public bus to the airport, and catch the 10:30am bus from the airport to Cagliari which got us there around 2:30pm. Most of this went off without a hitch, except for that apparently you have to pre-buy public bus tickets which we didn’t know. The bus driver yelled at us for trying to get on the bus and pay in cash, and he closed the doors and almost drove away. We pretty much would have been screwed because the bus only comes ever hour and we were on a tight schedule to catch the 10:30 bus at the airport. Luckily we must have looked pathetic enough for a couple of kindhearted Italian women to take mercy on us. One of them yelled at the bus driver to let us on, and the other one sold us some extra bus tickets that she had in her purse. After arriving at the airport we had a little time to kill, so Alissa tried to deal with her card situation, we tried and failed to get cash out of the ATM (we were all running low) and we all got coffee and croissants with nutella in them, kill me now they were so good. We scrounged up enough money to buy the bus tickets thank goodness, and hopped on the bus. It wasn’t full at all so we all got to stretch out a bit, and we eventually got to the Cagliari bus station.
Once in Cagliari, we had some problems. Number one, the address of the hostel/ B&B lied and said “Cagliari” when it was really in Quartu, a little town 20 mins away. We figured this out when we went to a tourist information booth and the nice english speaking woman called the B&B and spoke to them in italian. Eventually she hung up and gave us directions to get there. We had to take a bus to Quartu, get off at a gas station, and wait across the street at a news stand where a guy was going to pick us up in his car…sketchy, I know. Surprisingly this worked out, and 30 mins later we were in the car of a stranger named Louie/Andrea (not sure) pulling up to the driveway of his mother’s house. We went in, said hello to the 99 year old gramma who was smoothing the table cloth, and tried to express our frustration to the woman who owned the B&B that the address lied by saying it was in Cagliari when it isn’t. Eventually she understood us, about 15 mins and 3 languages later, and she showed us to our rooms. After changing, we went down to the beach to sit. It was too cold to go in the water, but Frank, Alissa and I did anyways, and then we walked around to pass time until it was an acceptable hour for dinner. At 7 we went to the restaurant recommended by Louie, but it didn’t open until 8, so we sat outside and chattered for literally an hour. Eventually the workers told us we could come in. The restaurant was warm and comfortable and the food was really good, as was the vino blancha. We made friends with our waiter (literally, on facebook), and semi-drunkenly tried to find our way back home in the dark without a map. It took us about an hour but eventually we got home and passed out. We woke up for our 9am breakfast on the back porch which was adorable, and took all our stuff to the beach for an hour of sun. It was gorgeous that day, for the first time the entire trip, so we all enjoyed wading around in the crystalline water until louie picked us up at 12:30 to go to the airport. We said goodbye, got through security and flew back to Spain. The 5 hour bus home was fine, and we took a cab back home, and passed out thoroughly exhausted.
Overall, Sardinia was a really interesting and beautiful trip. I never would have gone there from the US, so I’m glad we went. With a little more research the trip could have run a little smoother but over all we had a really good time, many laughs were had, and even a few cries (when Alissa neared the end of the book The Times Traveler’s Wife.) Gratzie Sardinia!