Alghero was to be the end of Rally di Sardegna, it had been challenging almost missing a number of stage gates due to being on the wrong side of the road and almost getting penalised by the marshal’s for not having the appropriate license documentation. In the end, we came in with a time of 7 days on the road, no bumps or scratches and a relationship still firmly intact – albeit tested at times! The only final challenge was getting the car back to Sixty (the rental company) clean on the inside and out – straightforward right? Well the Italians had one more attempt at challenging us, and it went something like:
- Find a gas station – success (after a few laps), even had help from a local who told me all about the quality of fuels (in fluent Italian) and recommended me the cheaper one, why not! SUCCESS
- Get a Car Wash – the dirt roads of the trip had coated us in sand, so the Alfa was looking a little worse for wear in the cleanliness department. The car wash at the station was, as luck would have it, getting service on that day – and it didn’t look like it had been used in some time. FAIL
- Get a Car Vacum – while I was ranting about the state of the carwash, Cel had managed to spot a vacuum station nearby, coin operated and working! So we went to work on the insides of the car – 3 EUR later and it was perfect! SUCCESS
- Get a Car Wash (Take 2) – We shot down the road to the ‘GPi’ who looked to have a car washing set-up, hope were raised by this. This was a carwash that needed a guy to operate it and it was not a suprise that we had missed the guys 1 hour working day in which he operates the carwash. FAIL
- Get a Car Wash (Take 3) – Cel thought it would be worthwhile going to a nearby town to check out the carwashing scene there. Again, we found a car washing place, but of course the guy only does washing in the mornings as it’s just too tough working arvo’s. FAIL
- Get a Car Wash (Take 4) – Back to the first place to check on the status of the ‘servicing’ – turns out servicing means ‘diagnose the problem’, and the problem was ‘it’s broken’ – starting to become pretty funny by now. FAIL
- Create Your Own Car Wash Service – It was time to improvise, off came the shirt, out came a beach towel and I went to work dusting every speck of dirt of the body of the car. A good 20 minutes of solid buffing resulted in one relatively fresh looking Alfa and and relatively un-fresh, sweating, knackered Fry. SUCCESS
Needless to say that we took a wrong turn on our way out to the airport and had to back track, top up the petrol in the car and make our way to the airport again. Once again the Italian working day ensues and there is no-one around at Sixty, so we park the car in an area where there are Sixty signs and drop the keys over the front desk (as per written instructions) and head back into Alghero for a shower, beer and a bit of relaxing – an epic start to Alghero!
Alghero is the port for Ryan Air in Sardinia, it’s in the north west of the island and seems to be the common spot for tourists looking to head into the island. Like much of Sardinia it can be traced back to pre-historic times and has seen it’s fair share of revolts and captures – being a port town it was of interest to many of the colonies. The most obvious sign of it’s strategic importance is the fortified port and old town. The old town, which sits right on the coast, is encircled by a 10 metre (I’m guessing) stone wall – unfortunately (well kind of…) most of the buildings inside are now tourist shops, restaurants and bars – but you still get the feeling of what it would have been like a thousand years ago.
After the weeks full-on adventuring, both Cel and I were keen to relax a bit, enjoy the last of the Italian meals and wander around the town without any purpose at all. We managed to achieve this pretty easily! The town within the fortified walls is really a tourist magnet with plenty of shops (many of which sell some pretty ugly coral coloured jewellery – maybe people think it’s nice but we didn’t), a number of top restaurants and for the culture vultures: cathedrals. While the shopping didn’t make Cel to excited, the food made both of us happy campers. We had an awesome lunch at Tuguri, an old Sardinian restaurant serving up really authentic meals at a pretty high standard. I started with a Wild Boar and Veal Cappacio followed up with Skate in amazingly cooked pasta – could have even been the best yet! We were convinced the the owner that we should try a Catalan Creme, a signature dessert for Sardinia, it turned out to be on the money especially as it was laced with some type of liquer. The rest of the afternoon was filled with a siesta, drinks on the waterfront at sunset and another outstanding meal, this time at a restaurant tucked down a lane. Funnily enough, we were recommended the trip favourite for wine: Terra Bianche, without a doubt the best we sampled in Sardinia for whites.
Cel and I had decided that we needed to buy something that we could put into our house (in the future) that reminded us of our trips to Italy (given it was probably our favourite spot)! While the food, wine, landscape and people of Italy had made our trips what they were, we couldn’t go past the fact that we loved our daily ritual of hitting the espresso bars and getting our fix. Even in the heat of the day, an espresso always went down a treat – particularly if the night before had seen enough red put away. So we took to the non-tourist part of town and found a few modern home ware stores, looking at anything that resembled an espresso cup – turns out there are quite a few to chose from. Eventually we settled on a 6 piece, hand painted, set of bright coloured cups – colours that reminded me of the building on the hills of Bosa. We took a hit on the travel budget, but we’re sure that in a few years we’ll be pulling them out to serve up to mates back in NZ – you’d better appreciate the effort!
Fittingly, we had a long meal on our final night, taking on-board pretty much anything that was Italian and Cel had her last gluten binge! We had blasted our way through the western coast of Sardinia in 9 days, taking in a huge number of sites, meals, glasses of wine, km’s of road and talks about life! Hard to make a call on the highlights as the whole trip was outstanding, but if I had to, the top three would be:
- The town of Bosa – so, so Sardinian, an amazing beach, beautiful buildings and some great views from the Castello and surround hills
- Sinis Peninsula – exploring the huge number of beaches and soaking up the sun, topped off with the history of Tharros
- Arbus and Spiaggia de Piascinas – technically two places, Arbus was so authentic and relaxing, while Piscinas was a great beach to chill on
Parting shots on Sardinia – get a car (with GPS), take to the inner roads as well as the outer roads, explore the coasts and never, ever say no to food!