Monday, 8 October 2012

Ciao, Sardinia, Ciao!

Travelling again! Well, briefly.

My sister and I took a "before it all gets hectic" break to the beautiful island of Sardegna, Italy. It's a nice little big island. Honestly, it is much bigger than I thought it would be. We were based in Olbia and it took an 1 hour and a half to get to Porto Cervo by bus. By the way Porto Cervo by bus will set you back only 5 Euro. It was 4.50 Euro to get back, but I don't know if that was due to the time of day or direction of purchase. I didn't want to ask the driver just in case I alerted him to the fact that he could have pocketed an extra Euro off of us.

Ok so let's start with the beginning and Olbia. We touched down in Olbia Airport, Costa Smerelda in the afternoon and bought a bus ticket for a Euro each to get to our hotel. The Hilton is a bit out of the way and not on any busy streets. It's kinda like in a clearing with the only landmark next to it being a roundabout. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how unhelpful that is. In Italy of course, as you would expect through most of Europe, they speak their own language and have no desire of learning a more "internationally acceptable" one like English, so my sister and I had to work out from pointing hands and basic understanding of similar latin based words where we should go. It did not help that the pavements are practically non-existent and so the correct directions lost credibility very quickly.

Arriving in the Hilton Olbia we were greeted with big smiles and a welcome cookie. That most definitely made our day! Following a little rest trying to understand Italian TV and searching but failing slightly to find BBC World News we headed into town with our trusty Lonely Planet book in search of quirky shops and unique restaurants. If you order the "Sensation" at La Lanterna, you will definitely get what it says on the tin. It was sensationally too much for the both of us. Great with some dishes, awkward with others, but the culinary rollercoaster was worth it to really experience Sardinia in a fun way.

The food helped us put behind us the awkward hostility we experienced from one particular antique  shop-owner lady. She didn't seem to want to let us in and whilst I won't come out and play the race card, the incident did lead to my sister and I having a conversation about how black people are treated when they go places so I guess it had touched a nerve with us along racial lines. The woman  did eventually let us in after our pretty shameful "Inglesi, can we come in?" attempt at communicating with her. She looked at her husband (or some fella who clearly has influence in her life) and he said it was ok. I really do hate the "I'm British so I just say things louder and slower in English and you in your own country can attempt to understand what I'm getting at" behaviour, but sadly we had not yet sat down to practice any phrases and had to make do with what we knew.

The next day we realised that the only black people you see on this island, or at least in Olbia, are Senegalese hustlers - that needs its own blog post though. Perhaps the lady believed us to be one of them and not tourists - that too requiring its own blog post but until that arrives see my First Impressions post. Our second day took us by free shuttle bus supplied by the hotel to Bados Beach which also has a little bar/restaurant called BarBados. You can get your deckchairs and umbrellas there and at a discounted price if you quote Hilton Olbia. ;) (our little secret).  The water is nice, the sun was shining, you really can lie back and convince yourself that you're in Barbados if the budget won't allow you to get to the real thing. There are beach hustlers offering everything you need from sunglasses to sarongs and jewellery. It's up to you to buy. We didn't and I don't feel bad.

The third day we went to Porto Cervo with a little stop off before hand at a beach place I can't remember right now. Four fairly small but extremely popular beaches and we were there in low season! Essentially guys you're looking for sand, sun, sea. So call me ignorant but you can find that anywhere and if you're taking the recommendation from a travel book or hotel staff, be sure that many other people have done the same. We got a recommendation from a friend, but I'm guessing they may have done the above. Not saying it was too crowded, but I much preferred the space and roam that Bados afforded me.

The final day we just got to know Olbia better. There isn't much focus on the cultural and historical gems Olbia has to offer, but it is definitely worth taking a break from the beach to see. So that was Sardinia. Finished with a hotel provided taxi to the airport and then really chaotic airport check-in that you may only really expect in a film about a war-time African country, but altogether a beautiful island, a lovely vibe.

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