Tuesday 28/4/15 – It was another overnight ferry to Sardegna, about 14 hours, so we opted for a cabin again in order that we would be rested for the next day’s riding. It’s also a bonus to be able to have a shower before we head off… gee we are doing it tough!!! The overnight ferry is very enjoyable and quite conducive to sleep, with the low hum and vibration of the engines…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
First view of Sardenia is a very orderly ferry port. The land initially seems quite flat, with some mountains (not too high) in the back ground. How wrong this first impression was to be. Dave lead off, and we stopped for breaky about twenty minutes out of the port, at a lovely little cafe with a delightful young lady. As the locals came and went, one thing became quite apparent, the Sardinian people are quite short. With me standing tall at 5’2″ (158cm), I am taller than most the locals in the shop… It is a new experience to be the tall one…. gotta say it felt rather good!!!!
Decided to stay in a town called Oristano, mid west coast. Found some great accommodation in self contained apartments called Iride; very well appointed and clean. Would thoroughly recommend them as they were serviced daily, and and there was plenty of safe parking in the street for the bikes below the apartments. Our host Andreas was a great guy, he told us the streets were safe for the bikes, and nothing was too much trouble.
Found the equivalent of ‘The Good Guys’ and bought a universal charger for the camera battery. Also bought some glu for John’s Helmet where the rubber had come adrift. Went to the local supermarket for some nibbles and fruit and WOW… They sell everything from the usual stuff we know, to white goods, car accessories, hardware, alcohol…. etc.. etc….You name it … They have it. Puts a whole new perspective on a “one stop shop”. Out for dinner at a restaurant recommended by Our host Andreas, and had the bestest tiramisu ever for desert. We arrived at the restaurant at about 7.30pm, way to early for dinner, according to the locals, so somewhat upset the staff. Settled for a drink in the bar, and to wait…. to keep every one happy.. We are still getting used to late night dining.
Wednesday 29/4/15 – Went for a ride up the north Coast to Tranariglip, such beautiful marble cliffs and bluest of blue sea were today’s
eye candy. Stopped for an icecream at a little bay near the grotto of Neptune, and again the water is so crystal clear. We are coming to realise that Sardegna is renowned for its beaches.
Lots more great riding to be had, and our first impressions of Sardenia being relatively flat were well and truly laid to rest, as we left the coast to go up into the mountains, with more lovely curly and windy roads…. You must be getting sick of hearing this, but rest assured ….. we do not get sick of riding them. They are pure joy, and every one is just that little bit different. We are very lucky to be able to experience all this!
Davey boy decided he would cook up a storm again (thanks Dave) and tonight we had a simple pasta and salad, that was yummo. We do the washing up as our part of the deal. Prior to tea, we had a superb meat and cheese platter, just to wet our appetites.
Thursday 30/4/15 – Today was a quietish day for catch up on writing, washing, and a walk through the town. Span wanted a hair and beard trim, so off we set looking. First shop was a big ‘NO’… followed by a look of horror annnnd…. ‘only ladies hair’. We were then hastily directed to a men’s hairdresser near by. Span decided he would go this one alone, and with a confident swagger walked in and asked for a “number two trim to hair and beard…. S’il vous plait?’. The young guy nodded, and with a big smile, set too with his scissors. He was doing a fine job, so I headed off to the ATM for some much needed cash. Arrived back to all smiles just as he was putting the finishing touches to Span’s hair… All good thus far. He then tilts Span’s head back on the head rest for the beard trim.. Span settled back… Very relaxed…. Eyes closed……. thoroughly enjoying the experience. Out come the electric clippers and first upward trim to the right side of Span’s face, made me gasp out loud…. From whereI sat, it looked like he had shaved the beard OFF! Now I have never seen Span without a beard, so was more than a little aghast. The barber stopped in his tracks…Span’s head bolted upright.. Me saying “No.. No.. To short.. Leave the beard at the front at least.” The poor barber just said .. “Is number 2, is number 2”. Well to,cut a long story short, our number 2 is their number 4 or 5 even. Well he did leave the rest longer, however the right side was a little shorter, but Span looked his handsome, cute old self…. well to me anyway!
Friday 1/5/15 – Span and I decided to do our own thing today. We rode to the east coast, over and through the mountains.. Everything was closed, all shops, servos etc; turns out it is a labour day holiday. As on a Sunday, there are few women to be seen, but plenty of men sitting around in the cafes that are open, or just sitting in groups in the street chatting.
Found a petrol station that was open to purchase fuel. well this ‘little lady’ was a real comic, she thought us very funny indeed. We gave her a koala, and she was so very excited and insisted on a pic.
Next we happened upon a subterranean burial ground. There was a guy there doing some maintenance, he was very passionate about the area, so we went for a wee walk. Again.. what a find.
He told us this area was excavated in 1987, and confirms human habitation dating back to the late Neolithic period (3500 – 2700 BC) . There were nine tomb complexes, constructed on two areas of exposed rock. The tomb entrances face east/south-east in the direction of the rising sun, which we were told is the symbol of the continuation of life….fascinating stuff. One tomb had nine compartments, all carved inside the rock. Many man made artefacts were found inside the burial grounds, the most important being ‘the mother goddess’. It is an 18cm statue very finely sculptured in a block of course grained calcite. It represents female fertility and dates back to the late Neolithic Age of the culture of Ozieri (3500 – 2800 BC). They have also found fragments of vases, arrow heads etc. All in all another fascinating experience and find.
While we were walking through the burial grounds, which are located in a field, we heard the tinkle of bells, and came across some sheep that were being guarded a white sheep dog (as mentioned in previous blog). This little fellow was just a pup, and he too wore a bell. His creamy white blended in well with the sheep, and whilst he seemed to be having fun (as puppies do) playing with the sheep, he was still herding them along….. what a lovely site it was. On the bike again, and…..WOW…. The roads today are probably the best roads yet. What a mixture.. Very, very windy, and with only a few switchbacks in between.
We stopped for a late morning coffee at a hill top Commune called Ussassai. Met a Swiss couple who are here for nine days on their Kawasaki ZX 1000. This town was just beautiful, and not on our map, so it was a fabulous find.
The mountainous escarpments so very high, the ravines and gorges soooo deep and steep. The Acueri pass that takes us through the range is a mere 1000m above sea level. It was so beautiful, with natures rigours and splendors ever changing, and beautiful eagles soaring above us. It is a primarily agro-pastural area, with many local crafts and murals on buildings depicting their culture and the area.
We continued on, kept climbing and saw lots of sheep, goats and cows grazing on the side of the road.. The sound of their bells just lovely. Stopped at a mountain spring to fill up our water bottle with lovely fresh pure mountain water that the mountains give so plentifully of…… Mmmm lookin younger already!
Our next unexpected stop was an abandoned town called Gairo Vecchio. We are told it is the most famous ghost town on Sardenia, and it is certainly in a most picturesque spot. The word Gairo comes from Greek and means land flowing, and it would seem that this is exactly what the land did. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, violent storms caused several landslides and in 1951 there was terrible flooding. All this caused houses to crumble and fall, and in the early 1960s the town was finally abandoned. We found ourselves in an enchanted place, with buildings in various stages of decay, yet so beautiful.
We climbed.. And we climbed… And we climbed some more. Stopped on the top of this magnificent range to take a pic and munch on our cheese and Vegemite sambo…. yep we brought Vegemite with us of course. You really can’t beat a cheese and vegemite sambo for lunch when on the road. It was so peaceful and tranquil up there…. The only sound was the wind, cow bells, and the occasional big buzzy bee… The vista to die for… Just awesome.
Back on the bike and continued on our way.. It was a surreal feeling to be so high up.. To feel like we were the only people on the planet! Up until this point, the roads had been pretty good! Mmmmmm.. Spoke too soon….. we came upon the most wicked.. insane road ever .. and so VERY high up.
Mother Nature has a cute way about her. Perhaps she resents the intrusion of the roads in her domain, perhaps she just loves playing with we mere mortals to see how many of her obstacles we can overcome and negotiate.
Any way the road became ….mmmm ‘interesting’ to say the least! The Armco was bent, broken and missing, along with the road in places!! The land slips and rock slides certainly reek havoc on the road, and must be an absolute nightmare for the locals who have to maintain it.
OK, so it is a bloody big drop down the side, and we are on the outside…. My job, on the back, is usually to remind Span to keep right. For the first time on our trip, I kept telling Span to ‘keep left’.. Keep left’…. because the drop was so sheer and so BIG! At times, there was very little road way to enable us to pass, bits of bitumen, just rock or dirt, or a narrow concrete strip was our passage on what Mother Nature has left of this stretch of mountain road. Anyway…… pictures are better than words, so feast your eyes on these little beauties….. in sequence as we rode.
As we are coming to expect, the wildflowers along the side of the road are just spectacular. We really have picked the best time of year to be here. The poppies range from a tiny orange to fire truck red, and the bigger poppies are a deeper cherry red. We even saw some that were a pinky mauve. They are intermingled with yellow daisies, a white flower, an occasional purple flower and masses of green. All in all very picturesque as we ride by, and the perfume just a delight. Coming back into Orestano from the east side, there were just masses of wild fennel, all in flower, perfume fantastic…. Simply stunning .
It is our last night on Sardegna, a most beautiful island that we initially thought was to be mostly beautiful beaches, yet showed us differently with it magnificent mountains, and the happiest, if not shortest of short, people.
Our last night, so decided it had to be a good one.. and it most certainly was! Went to a restaurant that we saw the night before, and what a fantastic dinner we had …. the best yet, by unanimous verdict! We went to a place called Gustami in ViaFigoli, 34 in Oristano, just near our digs. It is a brazier restaurant, that looks like a butcher shop from the front. We passed it the night before and the aromas that came from it were simply mouthwatering.
Simple version is this.. You walk in – choose your meat (and what a selection they had) from the butcher shop counter… get seated and wait while it is cooked over hot charcoals. You can imagine the wonderful, mouth watering smells as the sausage, pork, lamb, beef etc are cooking! We were lucky our waitress spoke English, and decided on a mixed grill to share between the five of us.
The meal went like this… First they brought out the red wine (gotta love their ability to prioritise), and a very flavoursome drop it was too from the local area. Then came a BIG round board with procuitto, cheese and bread. Once we had polished that off, the meats started.. First came the spicy sausage on skewers, then salad and chips .. Then the different meats .. Pork, lamb and beef. All so beautifully seasoned and grilled to perfection.What a brilliant meal.. And the restaurante is very aptly named…. Gustami. Well we ooh’d and aah’d our way through this delicious meal, all the while, the owner smiling broadly at our enjoyment.
The meal done and 3 carafes of red later…… we THOUGHT we were done… Not so. The owner’s daughter who spoke English came to our table, with shot glasses and FIVE bottles.There were 3 varieties of Grappa, a milky lemon liqueur (very chilled), and the local liqueur called Mirto (made of myrtle leaf, sugar and honey…. a mighty fine drop indeedy) that was also well chilled.
We thought she was just going to give us one to try…..WRONG.. She left the bottles with us, after explaining what was in each.
Suffice to say that we more than amply tried each.. It was a unanimous decision, that favourite was the lemon one and the Mirto together in combination. Mind you.. We did have to try them all several times to be sure .. To be sure…Well what can I say other than we certainly hot our money’s worth at €25 per person that night, and we were all ‘very happy’ indeed.p
Left our now favourite restaurante, and BAD Maggie headed straight for the icecream shop next door, looking for desert! None of us needed much convincing to join her! Walked home slurping on our ice creams….. a very merry crew indeed. Needless to say, we all slept very well. The weather today was a cracker, it got to 27 degrees, and our last full day on Sardenia was indeed one to remember, with so much packed into it.
Saturday 2/5/15 – Off by 9am to ride the 240km (three and a half hours) to Santa Teresa Gallura at the northern tip of Sardenia, where we will catch the 3pm ferry for the short one hour trip to Bonifacio in Corsica, with more beautiful blue skies and sunshine to farewell us.
Our bike rego causes major concern every time we book a ferry passage. They do not understand that there are no numbers, because of the personalised plates – ONORF! We have to explain every time (so far in Greek, Italian & French), and get some very mixed reactions from a shrug to a ‘you are kidding me’ look . Then when they try to repeat it, we usually get a grin!