9th May………Isola del Fammine
It is nice how we have got to know people from different countries and this has been one of the joys of this whole trip. We started to chat with a Dutch couple, Jan and Ria when we met them at this campsite. Jan is a typical Dutch man and is about 11’ 6” and both he and Ria speak very good English. They were also leaving Sicily today and we were going to be on the same crossing to Sardinia.
We left the campsite just before 12 midday as that was part of the many rules of this campsite. The multi-lingual lady may have been very helpful in her briefing about Palermo but all over there were signs saying what you cannot do “with no ifs and buts” and one of the no exception rules was that anyone staying past 12 noon must pay for another day. We had to be at the ferry port for our crossing to Sardinia by 17.30 hours so we had some time to kill so we drove to a very convenient layby overlooking the bay and had a very relaxing few hours.
We drove into Palermo and decided to ignore the satnav and opted to follow the road signs to the port. I missed the badly placed sign that would have taken us in on the road I had looked at on the map. We ended up driving through the heart of the city. We drove down the very roads we had walked down on Thursday so we went through the archway with the large carvings and then we passed the Cathedral. Despite the very heavy traffic Elaine and I were laughing every time we came across another repeat viewing from the other day. We even saw the same the driver that had taken us to the station, with his horse and carriage touting for business outside the cathedral. Thursday we both decided that because of the nightmare traffic we would avoid this route but it did get me some hearty admiration from Elaine for getting us there safely.
Coincidentally Jan and Ria pulled into the queue directly behind us. They started to load us onto the very large ferry around 6 pm and we were well impressed with our cabin for the night with its on-suite shower room. The ferry got on its way so we sat in the lounge and started a very competitive session of our game Rummikub and although we had an audience at times no-one asked any questions or spoke to us about the game. The Italian meal we got from the dining room was a total disappointment as it was luke-warm. For such a grand ferry the service on the whole ship was fairy lax and certainly didn’t match the perfect service we had received right throughout Sicily.
10th May………….Marina di Cabras, near Oristino, Sardinia
Despite the very nice cabin, neither of us had the best of nights sleep and although the sea was quite calm, the constant creaking and vibration meant we were both woken up lots of times during the night. The ferry crossing is around 255 miles and was due to dock at 07.30 in the morning so both of us were up and showered by the time the ship’s loud speaker system had announced that breakfast was being served in the bar.
Once we were allowed down to our van, we were soon on our way. Originally we had chosen a camperstop in Cagliari in case I didn’t feel up to a longish drive having just got off the overnight ferry. As it was, I felt fine so we travelled the 78 miles on a duel carriageway / motorway to a site that is only 300 meters from the beach. We chose a lovely part of the campsite which when we arrived which was only occupied by one Dutchman and his motorhome. We have now been invaded by the French and they all seem to know each other. It does seem that they do not want to walk far between each other’s vans because they have all parked close together and all around us. Why is it that it is only us Brits that can have conversations with each other without having to shout at the top of their voices?
The sun is shining but there is a bit of a breeze but it hasn’t stopped the local beach being packed with people sun bathing and generally enjoying the very clear sea and the beautiful sandy beach. It is a little early to get an impression of the differences between Sicily and Sardinia but our first drive today was fairly flat but we could see mountains in the distance and so far the roads have been in a fairly good condition without the amount of potholes we got used to in southern Italy. One thing we have noticed already is that direction boards at the road side show distances to the places they are pointing to and only wish that this was something that all European countries have in common. Everywhere by the sides of roads we see wild flowers in all colours the same as in Sicily but now we are seeing large bushes of bright yellow Broom to add to the colour. We were warned that we should fill our fuel tank before going up the east coast of this island because fuel stations are few and far between. During our drive today we have seen lots of places to fill our tanks but they have all been unmanned unlike in Sicily where we got used to the friendly service. We do seem to struggle to get fuel from unmanned fuel stations as they do not like our English cards. It took us 10 minutes to get a top up this morning so that we could start with a full tank. It didn’t make us popular at the busy fuel station.
Later on in the evening Jan and Ria turned up in their motorhome because, by chance, they had picked the same campsite as us. They gave us an impressive list of the areas in Great Britain that they have visited and they could list a lot more than a lot of English people I know. It was nice to be able to tell them about our month in the Netherlands a few years ago and he said that one town we visited was very close to their home. We have swapped e-mail addresses and Jan has invited us to visit their home when we next go to their country. I wonder if we will bump into them again during our tour of Sardinia.
We have eight days to enjoy Sardinia and Fodor’s, Exploring Italy book does give a rather damming description of the Island as a sightseeing place to go to but we will make our own minds up before we move on to Corsica.
The breeze has died down so Elaine and I decided that we would put sight-seeing on hold. We got ourselves ready and booked out of the campsite and drove the 1 mile down the road and have set up camp on the carpark right by the beautiful beach. There were other motorhomes staying there over night because I walked down there yesterday evening to see if there could be safety in numbers.
We took our chairs and swimming stuff, our factor 20 sun screen, drinks and towels and had a glorious day on the beach. The water was so clear that we didn’t need persuading into returning periodically into the refreshing, gentle waves.
We spent most of the day on the beach and the only thing that spoilt the day was that Elaine stepped on her Kobo e-reader and cracked the screen. She was so taken that I was immobile for such a long time that she wanted to mark the occasion with a photo. I was fast asleep and was unaware that Elaine had climbed up on the rocks beside me to get this photo looking down on me as I slept below.
She stepped onto my t-shirt not knowing that I was using the shirt to keep the sun off her precious machine. Early on in our travels Elaine’s original Kobo had stopped working and she was without her reader until Tom’s parents brought one out in their luggage when they came to visit Tom and Jo whilst we were all on our 3 months stop in Spain.
So, if anyone fancies coming out to meet us somewhere during the rest of our tour then please pop into WH Smiths before you leave England so that you can bring out yet another replacement. Elaine would then be forever in your debt.
12 May………Cala Gonone
We left quite early and headed towards Nuoro. This would take us from the west coast towards the east coast of the island and the journey there was not too spectacular although we had climbed to about 400 metres above sea level by the time we had reached this town and most of the way was duel carriage way. On the way, suddenly the road was closed and the diversion took us into a little village called Zeddiani and this picture was on the side of a house.
At Nuoro we did a Lidl shop there and have stocked up once again and from there we headed towards the coast and this is where the scenery started to become a real pleasure. We went past the mountains Monte Corasi (1465 metres) and had Monte Novo Giovanni (1316 metres ) and all the lesser mountains all around us. We drove along the road way above the beautiful lake, Lago del Cedrino and finally I found the perfect stopping point to get that all important photo. I think you will agree that it also made the perfect place to have our lunch overlooking this beautiful view.
We then went through a very long tunnel and then had an ear popping, 5 kilometre descent round countless hair pin bends to get down to Cala Gonone. Elaine has really got used to roads that wind alarmingly up and down mountains as this sharp descent past without a single request for me to slow down. The only word of caution was how Bertha (our motorhome) was going to cope with the return journey back up the windy road.
We pulled into a campsite there and a little later we went the short distance down to the small harbour there. The town is on the Orosei Gulf and all around the gulf, right around to the national park Capo Monte Santu, there are the most fabulous beaches and caves and the harbour is swamped with kiosks selling day trips around the bay with stops for swimming at some of the beaches.
Having had a full beach day yesterday we are unsure whether to take a boat trip here or whether we will wait until we get to the Emerald Coast, further up and on this side of Sardinia.