Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day one in Sardinia

It was an early start for us this morning as we had to be in Girona for our flight to Alghero in Sardinia. Now Ryanair is the butt of many jokes but the people who make these jokes could not have flown on many US airlines. For 12€ each we were on our smooth forty-five-minute flight to Sardinia. Just as we were making our approach we passed broken up fluffy cumulus clouds that looked like they were made of cotton wool. Every so often there would be a huge, tall cloud climbing much higher than any of the others. flying through them was quite magical.

We checked in at our hotel, a one-time palace to some minor Italian nobility. Apparently the Russian nobility visited often for sunbathing in the summer or hunting in the winter. There are some wonderful pieces of old furniture in a tired old sense. A bit worrisome was the huge painting of the owner in some kind of military regalia in the lobby. There is a remarkable similarity to a younger Berlusconi, who held his bunga bunga parties a little further along the coast.

We had a very invigorating walk along the promenade, right by the crashing rollers, into the old town. Alghero remains the most Spanish city in Sardinia and in fact Catalan is spoken here. Even the street signs are in Catalan and Italian. we passed several old seventeenth-century towers. One of these housed stray dogs from the town, Torre die Cani. There are several old ramparts along the promenade as well as several old, giant catapults facing out to sea.

As we strolled into the narrow streets of the old town most things were closed including restaurants. Finally, we found a small pizzeria. The pizza was really good but the giant cockroach crossing the floor was definitely off-putting.

This evening we walked around the narrow streets of the old town, window shopping, admiring the lovely clothing, shoes and ceramics that are unique to Italy. Clothes in Italy always look beautiful and stylish. 

We had dinner at Il Pavalone, a small restaurant on the waterfront. As we were waiting for our dinner, the owner came by with his home made tapenade spread made of pecorino (sheep's cheese), black olives, chile pepper and anchovies, which he put on the bread. I really could feel an explosion of tastes in my mouth. Mmmm. I had the milk-fed veal that came with leeks and a crust of pecorino cheese on top. Attached to this were crusty potatoes and a little salad. Seamus had grilled orado (sea bream) with mushrooms and red cabbage. All this was accompanied by the red vino de casa. Delicious. I have never tasted veal like it. The chef was interesting and enthusiastic about his cooking as only Italians can be. He helpfully told us the names of food in Italian and Catalan. The food being served to the locals at other tables looked quite exceptional. Even better, the meal was quite inexpensive.

Tired, we are back in our room planning tomorrow's explorations, weather permitting.

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