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|Trips - Cycling Across Africa - Sardinia Journal.|
|"Glimpses" extracts from Leah's journal.|
|A jubilant mood as we landed in a new country. We had left the French behind and were about to sample life on an Italian island. We first stopped at the tourist office to collect maps before beginning our 50km hike to a campsite.|
|The roads were flat and the land awash with red grapes and the pungent aroma of expensive wine. We were tired from our 5am start but blue sea and beach beckoned. The people of Sardinia were extroverts. Farmers ploughing their fields stopped and waved and cheeky boys on scooters turned and chattered to us on hairpin bends. In the tiny hamlets we cycled through, old men sat gossiping as their wives hastened to church. When we stopped for lunch, the gossiping stopped and we were the object of their attentions. Some old men swapped benches to spy on us and smile. One shuffled over and took photographs. Unfortunately, the beach camp was noisy and expensive and so we pushed on the next day despite being weary and in need of a break.|
|As we moved south, accommodation was more difficult to find and the terrain along the coast hilly and treacherous. Another tiring day, and we gave up the search for a campsite and stayed instead at an Agriturismo: a farm offering comfortable but expensive lodging.|
|We were still determined to find a beach retreat for Simon's birthday, eventually finding what we thought was the ideal spot: an unlisted campsite right by the sea, only to find the kindly patrons missing the next morning and all the facilities closed. Tired, dirty and very thirsty we had to cycle in the midday heat 10 km to find water.|
|Disillusioned and rather depressed, we sought refuge in another campsite, this time finding the owners helpful and obliging. We had a beach; we had wine; and we had numerous stray cats and dogs to feed and pamper.|
|The Mosquito Coast.|
|We were tempted to cycle up to the plateau, back towards the center of Sardinia and explore the unique terrain we had been told of. We would have enjoyed tracking its miniature horses and getting "a taste of Africa," as one keen resident had promised. Time was against us, however, and we had already gone over budget. Heading towards Oristano, we thought we would stay a night alongside the Stagno: an expanse of water described as "a paradise for water sports."|
|France had her giant grasshoppers, crickets and ants; and so did Sardinia, but she also spawned her own, more venomous giants. If you have ever camped, you will know the horrors of the mosquito. These descended in swarms. Huge biting merciless legions. It took us half an hour to get far enough away from their breeding grounds and a week to recover from their bites. The residents of Oristano, I am sure, are very aware of their countryside neighbours, and charge dearly for the luxury of sleeping indoors. Oristano, a pretty roman city steeped in history but vastly overpriced. That night, however, we would have readily paid a King's ransom to escape the ravages of the beasts, and that's exactly what we did.|
|Simon's Short Bits.|
|More Horses and Cash Needed.|
|Our reasoning for crossing from France to Tunisia via the Mediterranean islands was three pronged. On the one hand, autumn was nearly spent and cycling around sun kissed islands blessed with silver beaches has got to be preferable to cycling over the Alps in November. Another reason was that we figured that island life might be cheaper than life on the mainland. And lastly, I wanted to be an a beach for my birthday, sunning myself, not toiling across either the South of France, or down the spine of Italy; I wanted sun, laziness and cheap wine; in my mind it all lay a boat ride away.|
|We needn't have bothered.
After the hills of Corsica, we should have known to expect more of the same daily routine. Hills surrounded us on all sides; we toiled in the midday heat to push our charges to their zenith, and got brief respites freewheeling to their nadir, which give us chance to scratch our numerous mosquito bites. Windswept, deserted and with stretches of coastline where we saw barely a car, but plenty of hermits living amongst the odd shaped rock formations, Sardinia is another expensive volcanic Mediterranean island that would be far easier to navigate with a petrol engine.
But I did get to spend my birthday by the sea. The wind even calmed down for a few days. The only down side to the whole experience was knowing that we couldn't stay by the sea forever, and the port lay over the other side of the island, separated from us by lots of hills.
|My 34th birthday was spent sunning myself on the Med. After a breakfast of Earl Grey tea and a sizeable portion of our kilo bag of chocolate biscuits liberally spread with Nutella, it was off to replenish our beer and bread supplies; and after a second breakfast of cheese sarnies, it was time to pack a picnic and spend the rest of the day messing about on the beach.|
|While I was playing in the sea, getting battered by waves and drinking copious amounts of seawater, Leah wrote me a birthday message in the sand with seashells, and then we sat around drinking beer and eating, surprisingly sand free butties. A totally chilled out and lazy day. A perfect birthday day.
After walking the 200m to the shop for risotto ingredients and beer for tea, we returned to our tent to chat with our new Swiss neighbours, and I was given chocolate and seashells by their little girl as a present.
As dusk fell, the day was rounded off eating ice cream from the restaurant and drinking beer under the stars. A day to remember.
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|Before here we were in Corsica. After here we were in Sicily.|
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