Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hello Sardegna Sardinia

Whole new world. We got off the boat in the early morning and immediately found the tourist info office. It was closed. We had some cappuccinos at the cafe nearby. Joshua went over to look at the open hours and came back to say it was closed all day today. Alright then. He asked if I wanted to double check. So I did. The door was open and a woman gave me an armful of potentially helpful bicycle maps and pamphlets, including a cycle touring booklet and a mountain biking booklet with maps of planned routes. Whoa. I did not take everything. I did take the campsite map that had the closing dates of most campsites. Many close on the last day of September... our ferry to Barcelona from the other side of the island is on October 2nd. Hmm.

Joshua noticed that on one map the ferry to Barcelona was marked as a 36 hour ferry. Now, that is not what the website said. I had a document stating we'd be on the ferry for just under 12 hours, starting at 6am. I had not booked a cabin or chairs or anything - just deck space. But for a 36 hour ferry we might have chosen differently. Nothing to do about it now, though, and we felt like focusing on the vacation we were having.

To get out of Olbia we did some loop-de-loops on the freeway and off-ramps. Eventually we figured out the right direction and the road got smaller as we got farther from town.

The scenery was surprisingly familiar. Like central California, or that one stretch of the train trip between LA and Santa Barbara just before you go through the tunnel. Green brush in a different set of shades and tints and big rock outcroppings. Quite stunning. It was very hot and humid. The new haircut does not trap dripping sweat in the same way.

Mostly we followed the coast that first day, but we did some pretty good climbing, too. Surprise climbing. We got a couple of good suggestions from the bicycle touring Sardegna booklet guide, but for the most part we were just on the only roads from here to there.

This is the last leg of our tour. We have five days to go around the northern coast of Sardegna. The "fast" route is across the center of the island, a mere 110kms. So five days should be plenty. But it turns out that this is a big island with big mountains. Do I minimize planning just so it'll be surprisingly challenging? In any case, we only have to average about 40kms per day to go around the whole north coast, which is much less than normal. But it's so hot.

 fortunately, beaches are a thing here.
 at our first campsite at Capo D'Orso the first thing we did was go swimming.

Okay, maybe not the very first thing. When we showed up the woman at the front desk saw my passport and immediately said, "Sprechen Sie Deutsch!? Nein, ich spreche kein Deutsch." She was mimicking what she thought would be my first question: do you speak German. And her answer was no. I responded in Italian, saying I speak Italian and only a little bit of German. She might have thought I was joking. When Joshua and I spoke to each other in English, she was like, "Wait! What language do you speak?" Then she explained her initial reaction and laughed at herself heartily. She was very funny and kind and gave us some free Internet time. We told her about house sitting and that we'd come from Olbia that morning and she just looked at us with a pleased and dumbfounded look on her face. I gave her the links for the house sitting sites.

Our story is getting more compact. We live in other peoples' houses when they are not at home and want someone there, either to care for pets or just to watch the property. We work online most of the year. In summer we ride our bicycles long distances, going from one house sit to the next in some roundabout way.

But we've never seen a tandem like this before.

holy compact tandem!

The next morning we did some more unexpected (and probably unnecessary) climbing and got a fantastic view. Corsica is barely visible in the distance. The town below is Palau. The islands are part of the National Park - Isole Maddalena.

Instead of going all the way around the top of Sardegna, we cut across on a smaller road, skipping Santa Teresa Gallura. While it had been steamy in the morning, near lunchtime we had a bit of cooler wind and the threat of rain. It wasn't cold, really, but cooler. We stopped and had lunch on an ancient stone wall with very little idea of what to expect from this little road.

Not too shabby. The weather stayed overcast and the wind built up momentum. In our favor.

We reached the coast on the other side, at Rena Majore, a super weird and deserted "community". Nobody was home. An old man fed some stray cats and then drove out of town again. We stopped and took in the view. It was pretty stunning. Then we looked down.

This is such a beautiful island. The big money maker is tourism. And yet people are dumping full trash bags, tires, and mattresses at a pull out along the coastal road. How very depressing. Don't people recognize that as ugly? I mean... facilities exist and you can put your trash in dumpsters in plenty of places. What is the deal?

We arrived at a campsite that was planning to close the following day. Things were shutting down. Most of the trailers were closed up tight. It was very windy and a bit cool. No swimming at this spot. But they did have hot showers, a bar with Internet, and a very interesting shop in which we spent more time than necessary. Postcards, mostly, for us. We looked at the camping pillow sized packages containing parachute silk hammocks. They'd make great pillows, right? And they're so light. Wouldn't it be amazing to hang up a hammock on our next ferry? Or even our next campsite? Are we nuts? We decided to think about it and go back in the morning if we were not, in fact, nuts.

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