Or Sardinia as I believe it is spelt in English? Either way, it's an autonomous region of Italy.
I'm both excited and a little relieved to say that a few days ago I successfully touched down on this, the second island of my five island Mediterranean challenge. Apologies it's taken me slightly longer than normal to post, it's just that where I've been staying is in the countryside meaning there's a lot more chance of seeing goats and deer than Internet connectivity!
So a few days back I took a flight from Pisa at stupid o'clock in the morning. Just about the only thing I can recall storing in memory from my semi-functioning self, was that the temperature registered 15 degrees. Super impressive when you consider the time was 5am and the Sun had set 8 or so hours ago. The single positive thing I could take from this flight was that I was randomly assigned one of the best passenger seats on the aircraft. Right at the very back corner with nobody to my middle, behind me or in front of me for a few rows! Result.
I managed to grab a few 'on-board' shots around the time the Sun had crept above the horizon which was pretty spectacular to have observed from 30,000+ feet and then a final shot showing us coming to land on the island.
First though look who happens to also be on the island...
Only uncle Roberto, his daughter Melissa and friend Corina!
So right about now you might be thinking that island life was gonna be bliss for me the moment I set foot on the island? Ha, if only - I didn't call it the five island challenge for nothing. (Although granted I didn't expect challenges so early on but that's what I got...).
I landed at the most southerly airport of Sardenga - Cagliari - aware that Uncle Rob would not be there to pick me up.
'Get the bus to Villasimius, I can pick you up from there' - I was told the week or so before.
Fair enough, I thought - should be easy enough... except I learnt on arrival that buses don't leave the airport to Villasimius. They depart from the center of Cagliari 10 kilometers away. 'Bugger'.
Thankfully Sardinia airport provides free, fast Internet but I didn't need this (other than to quickly update the blog). Instead I found the information point at the airport and got everything I needed from there. There happened to be an airport train station very close by so all I had to do was pay a couple of euros and take a 7 minute train ride. Phew.
Challenge 1 resolved - cheaply too!
Next up, was to find the bus station. On route I managed to avoid a couple of drunks, eat a quick McDonalds breakfast from the worst franchise I'd ever been in, buy a ticket and board a bus. Having achieved all of this, I was thrilled.
I discovered the journey would be 1.5 hours from the Cagliari bus station to Villasimius meaning Rob would have had a three hour round trip to come get me so understandably that was why he asked to make me own way down.
I exited the bus at what appeared to be the main drop off point located nearby to a restaurant. I stepped off the bus, got my luggage from the hold, only for there to be no sign of Uncle Rob! Bugger.
I txt him my location (I now have a SIM card for emergencies although God knows how I lasted 5 months without one but I somehow I did).
'Is it near the center?' he replies.
'Bugger. Again.'. Not only is he not here right now but he doesn't know where I am or where the bus drop off point was.
After a couple of minutes of acceptance, I decide I should just sit and chill at the restaurant and have some food. The alternative was to panic and get a little worked up. These last five months have definitely helped me better adapt to challenging and potentially very stressful situations.
After a couple more txts were exchanged, it transpired that the restaurant/drop off point wasn't actually too far away from town and that once Rob thought hard about it, he realised he did remember where this was after all and so he located me with relative ease not so long after and during me chopping through a pizza.
Challenge 2 resolved and on a full stomach.
With those things behind me, I'm happy to report back and say that the rest of my stay with Uncle Rob over the last 3 days was much more how island life should be and subsequently, I've had a really great time here. Well, you couldn't really not have a good time when the following scenes were repeated every single day.
First though, observe the temperature. Then consider this is officially off-season.
The flag of Sardenga shown below and known as the four moors (I quattro mori in Italian). Notice the inclusion of the UK's St George's red cross.
If there was ever a remake for The Godfather, I think casting need not look any further than Roberto Piscina. Just look at this image and at his hand gesture, both completely unrehearsed. Hilarious.
Hope you liked the photos folks.
There's just one more which is my personal favourite and has no filtering applied to it whatsoever. Instagrammers will have already seen it and I received my highest number of likes to-date so I was super-chuffed with this. Annoyingly I can't get hold of the full resolution image just yet so you'll have to make do with the following. Either way, I hope you like it!
As we know, all good things must come to an end and so I think though folks the time has come for me to move on. Time for another challenge. How about me trying to journey up this rather large island towards the north!? Let me point out that as of this very writing I genuinely have no idea how hard that will be or even what the other towns are named, let alone getting there.
To get back on close to real-time with you, I'm writing this as of Thursday evening. Earlier today I left Rob and the girls and caught the bus back to Cagliari. The plan for the next 24 hours was simple: check in to a hostel and spend many hours on the computer. Ideally though I'll get a few hours to explore Cagliari tomorrow morning before moving on and so if I do, I'll be able to write about that in my next post in the days to come.
Actually, I'd have liked to explore the city today but alas, my third unexpected challenge occurred only a few hours ago...
Having booked a B&B this morning from the one bar in Villasimius we had been using for Internet the last four days, all I had to do was board the bus to make it back to Cagliari and all would be plain-sailing as the B&B was directly in town. Perfect. This part went fine, as did locating the B&B. I rang the bell, no answer. Did this several times, still no answer. Looked at the cached booking confirmation on my phone only to realise check-in was at 4pm! Only in siesta Italy hey...
Thankfully it was 15.30 so I waited patiently. In fact, I waited till 16:15 and still no sign. I called then but no answer the first time but they did call me back minutes later to inform me they wouldn't be around until 18:00!!!
'We've sent you e-mails' they protested.
Fat lot of good that does for a foreigner with no mobile data Internet package!
I wasn't going to wait around for another 1.75 hours so I cancelled the booking. This was a first for me and meant I would now have to wander the streets in search of accommodation without my trusted review and research system that has done me so well on my travels thus far. Believe me I was not under the impression this would be easy at all for me and my heavy pieces of luggage and so after ten minutes of wandering the streets with my luggage, I begrudgingly rang this door bell which was the first place that advertised B&B.
Would they pick up? Would they have a single room? Would I like it? Could I afford it?
All things that would be make this a very unlikely booking on first attempt.
Except it proved not to be unlikely at all as it was crackin' on first glance. Granted it did cost me 38 euros!
So what looked like a hole from the outside turned out to be an absolute gem on the inside. Talk about poorly judging a book by its cover...