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A Reluctant Goodbye to Sardegna

I think Sardegna has just about spoiled me for everywhere else. These last two weeks have gone by in a blink. This island has shown me some of the most difficult travel I have faced and also some of the greatest rewards.

Sardegna is not as populated as mainland Italy – an aspect I love as there are lots of open spaces and vacant beaches to explore. However, this has its downside. I made the decision early on to visit without the aid of a rental car. Among my reasons were a more intimate experience with the culture, more photo opportunities, no restrictions as far as trekking and camping, eco-friendliness, and cost. The public transport system here is not the best in the world, but also perhaps not quite as bad as the average Sardegnian would have you believe. I can’t speak for the train system as it ended up being more convenient to travel by bus, but once you learn the quirks (closures/partial closures on Sundays even though there is absolutely no indication on the web site, expect buses to be 10-15 minutes late occasionally, etc.), the system is cheap and the buses new and clean.

A couple important notes (related to my “difficulties”): when visiting in the off-season (as I am, which is great in every other respect by the way: temperature, room rates, crowds, etc.), be sure to find out on your own: 1) which towns don’t have bus service in the off season (or be prepared to walk and hitch-hike) and 2) double-check bus schedules and stops (have a local call the bus service (A.R.S.T) for you) and do not rely on the word/memory of the locals (even hotel staff). Enough said 🙂

Now for more of the good stuff. I really loved every part of Sardegna visited. The mountains, the sea – all gorgeous. My last two days were spent at Cala Gonone on the East coast. This is the most spectacular beach area I have ever seen. I spent one day hiking a canyon and adjacent slot canyons. I decided to do a little trailblazing to get to the top of a ridge and just couldn’t make it due to the dense foliage. (As a bonus there are razor-sharp volcanic rocks and these wonderfully beautiful thorny rose vines running from tree to bush to tree everywhere. I have scratches from head to toe. ;)) But really, this is fun for me 🙂

Yesterday I took my first sea-kayak adventure along the coast. I am totally hooked on this sport! I spent almost 7 hours of almost constant paddling from cave to cave and beach to beach. The coastline is mostly high, sheer rock cliffs, so this is definitely the way to see it. You can paddle into the huge caves and see all the geologic formations. The water was crystal-clear and warm (relatively) and I could see the sandy bottom for most of the trip. I don’t remember being this tired or sore (hopefully I can lift my arms above my head soon 😉 for a long time, but I couldn’t stop 🙂

The people of Sardegna I met were all fantastic – from the “gang” in Cagliari (awesome!), to the woman at the bus stop in Nuoro who ran across the street to buy me fruit juice (succo di frutta) because she wanted me to have a “good memory of Sardegna”, and all the people in between answering my stupid questions in “Englitalian”. And let’s not forget all of the horrible maps of the U.S. I’ve drawn to show people where Colorado is 🙂

Arrivaderci Sardegna, my memories are indeed great!

Tonight: an overnight ferry to Livorno and the next phase: the Apennines.

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