11 June 2011

Sardinia: Day 1

Greta suffered my misdirections to Stanstead and drove on single track roads for too much of the journey!

Hostel Marina is a short walk from where I got off the bus and it would have been a delightful stroll if it hadn't been an almost vertical climb up a series of crumbling steps and winding streets whose names bore only a passing resemblance to what was indicated on the map. The hostel is down a secluded passageway with a pretty little square directly outside with just enough room for three tables. I mistook this as belonging to the hostel when I arrived but it actually services a cafe specialising in almost circular chips served in cones, stapled by the patron.

The hostel, on arrival, was clamourous. It was heaving with people in the reception area and the receptionist and I had to raise our vvoices at each other for me to pay my E138 balance and be issue my cared key for room 215. I was expecting a 6 bed dorm but it is only a 4 bedder with just one other girl currently occupying. She's no volunteered any conversation yet. She is on the upper floor of the room so I have stayed downstairs for now. (As I'm writing, two other girls have arrived so maybe I'll get some conversation. I don't recognise their language yet.)

Once I had dropped my kit at the hostel, I went out in search of water and was so thirsty I drank 3/4 bottle of fizzy water, not caring that I hate the taste. I bought a 'pizzette' which was a folded over rectangular deep-pan style bread and cheese affair for E1.50 and admired the insane range of gelato that I would come back to later.

I began to walk at random through lanes that took my fancy and came across a lift that took you up to another level, so feeling like I'd joined some double-yer-points video game, I got in and found myself effortlessly at the highest point of the city, at the Bastione St Remy in the Castello area of the city. The views of the city are panoramic and you can see a mass of sandy-red buildings piled up the side of the hill, punctuated with various sized domes and out, beyond, to the salt marshes and the sea. At one point I came across a public address at an outdoor cafe with a film crew and a panel of four, discussing the foreigner in Italy. It was a literary festival - of which I could not understand a word! I kept walking and saw a newly married couple posing for photos beneath an ancient arch on cobbled streets. I walked down dark, narrow alleyways with tall apartments either side that cut off all but a streak of blue sky, parallel with my route. Artisans had easels and tables out displaying their creations, people were hanging out of high windows and balconies were festooned with lines of washing, typical of many Mediterranean countries. I suddenly discover I have walked a full circle and have happily arrived back where I started! I walk on a little further to get some gelato that I have offset already with two pieces of fruit from a grocery store! I order yoghurt and nutella. I discover that only the yoghurt is ice-cream. The nutella is in fact, pure nutella and I have a very generous scoop of it in my tub. I put in a valiant effort and stop just short of feeling sick! I return to the square outside to get a coffee and am refused milk, receiving instead a E1 shot of espresso.

I am now in my room after a very necessary shower, with the tall french windows open, a thin flame of waxing crescent moon barely visible. There is live music down in the bar which sounds very good but is made up entirely of drums and I have no chance of dropping off while it continues so I shall pick up D.H.Lawrence's 'Sea and Sardinia' again that I read a third of on the plane here.

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