Friday I made a big day of it, finding a bus to go to Arzachena, about 45 minutes away. I wanted to see some old stones there, but when I inquired, they were all too far to walk to. I tried calling a taxi number but no answer. So I went to the tourist information center and she put me on to a guide who would show me five sites with his car. Good Deal!
While I waited for him, I had a coffee, just like the Italians do.Then we set out for the Tomba dei Giganti-Coddu Ecchjiu—-remember that name, there’s going to be a quiz! Hah! These tombs are from the same era as the nuraghes—-1600 BCE. They were a village tomb where they democratically put all the departed.Next we visited the Nuraghe La Prisgiona, kind of another one just like the other one. This was quite a big one, but they all seem to be on the same order, three towers, with a high one in the middle, and then rings all around, which are the base of huts.
Number three was the Necropoli Li Muri, which was much earlier—-4000 to 2500 BCE. There were five rings, each one with a single tomb inside, probably for the chiefs. Admittedly there wasn’t so much left to see, but yes, one could make them out.
The last was La Lolghi Tomb, similar to the first one and from the same era.
I did see one more old stone, called Il Fungo, because it looks like a
mushroom. Back in the day people actually lived under this overhang as there were many artifacts found to show that. It was right in town, so after seeing it, my guide dropped me off at the bus and I was back in Olbia by 1:30 PM. A nice day.
We had a nice visit about Sardinia’s languages. As I had partially learned before, they have their own Latin-based language that my guide said he could speak. However, there are many dialects of that and he speaks the one in this area. Then near Alghero, where I was earlier this week, they speak Catalan, or a mixture of Sardinian and Catalan because of the Spanish conquest in the 13th C. He said they also have many arabic words in their languages—-I guess everybody has been here. In school now,
it’s strictly Italian, and then English.
When I got back to Olbia there was a rally going on, which I had seen them preparing for the day before. Now the cars—-there must have been 50 or a hundred—-were lined up on the main drag near my hotel. For whatever reason, these motors make LOTS of noise, but everybody was enjoying it. There was also something going on with people and a microphone by the Town Hall. There were signs on the cars saying “34th Rally Costa Smeralda Sardegna.”
I saw them because I was on my way to the Archeological Museum, mainly to see the remains of ships that they found in 1999 in the harbor here at Olbia. There were remnants of eight Roman ships and five medieval ones. From all of this they realized that Olbia was a very important trading city in Roman times. From the remains of the ships, they could deduce how they looked and functioned. Why did all eight ships sink right in the harbor? They think it was because of the Vandals invasion in the 5th C AD. That put an end to Olbia’s big trading business until the 13th C. when they again were thriving in the trading business, this time in connection with Pisa. It is unknown yet, why the medieval ships went down in the harbor. Probably another invasion.
The next day I got the bus to Nuoro, a 2 1/2 hour ride. Interestingly all of the people
getting on the bus (there weren’t very many as this was Saturday) all greeted the driver with a ‘Buon Giorno.’ When they got off they either said, “Gracie’ or ‘Ciao.’ The driver responded in kind. A week ago when I got on a city bus I just said the name of my destination to the driver with a question mark. He responded, ‘Si.’ As I sat down, a woman passenger sitting in the front seat said to the driver in Italian, “Not even a ‘Buon Giorno.” Bad manners. I should know better as years ago I learned in Partina that you never start asking the grocery store clerk for what you want. It went like this: “I’d like some prosciutto (in Italian)” and she responded, “Buon Giorno.” Oofdah—-bad manners.
On the bus we went through beautiful country side and many pretty little towns. Things were kind of quiet, though, this being Saturday.
When I arrived in Nuoro, I was quite sure I could walk to my B & B (no hostels in this town) as I had the idea it was located in ‘centro.’ Well, it wasn’t. It was quite a ways up on a mountain on the edge of town. When I finally arrived about 1:30, the lady said I couldn’t check in until 4:30 but I could leave my pack. It said in the booking information that check in time was 2:00.
So I left my pack and went looking for a restaurant. I finally found one that was wonderful! I had excellent linguine with mussels and a tomato/rucola salad. I hope I don’t OD on mussels, but they are so good! These last two days I had beer to drink as I’m not sleeping well, and I’m wondering if it’s all that good red wine I’ve been drinking. Anyway, after climbing up the mountain and then five stairways near and in the B & B to leave my pack, the beer did taste good!
To kill some time after I ate, I hung out in sort of a piazza on the mountain. I bought some mints in a tabachi (little store where they sell tobacco products) and listened to a book on a park bench with my iPhone.
At 4:30 I returned to the B & B and got checked in.
Hey, you know how I said it was hard to find poor food in Sardinia? Well, I found it. The B&B that I
stayed at in Nuoro had everything bad for breakfast. Cool, poor coffee (unforgivable for Italians), store-wrapped poor croissant, and more! So it goes.
When I woke up that morning I discovered that my iPhone and my watch were not in agreement. Apparently here we went back on standard time last night.
I went exploring Nuoro, and found two museums. One was to open at 10:00—-it didn’t I waited until 10:10 and went to look for another. That one wasn’t open on Sundays. I had a coffee and then decided to bag it and go back to Cagliari that afternoon. I was planning to take the morning bus the next day, but it was to leave at 7:10 and it was an hour’s walk to the bus station. Besides, there was no reason to hang around for the breakfast!
The view from Monte Ortobene, where my B&B was located was beautiful, though.
And Sunday seemed to be a time for socializing with friends over coffee, but maybe every day is!
I got the late afternoon bus back to Cagliari and got settled back into the same dorm, same bed.
The next day I, and the hostel lady, worked our heads off to get me checked in to my flights on Ryan Air to go to Rome and then Malta. Ryan Air is a cheap airline, but apparently causes problems for people. For example, if you don’t check in ‘on line,’ you have to pay 40 euro to check in at that airport. And we couldn’t get me checked in. It took a couple of hours of working on it, and finally we succeeded. How nice of the hostel lady to help me and to print my boarding passes, eventually!
I celebrated my last day in Sardinia and also getting checked into my flights by having su proceddu for linner. This is roast suckling pig! It had been recommended to me by my Italian son-in-law, Roberto. What a smashing success! It was way more than I could eat (and wine than I could drink) but what tender morsels! After the main course, there were fruit and sweets, with a small digestif, too. What a lovely meal!
I got a roommate later that day—-an American! Alexa was from Texas and had just finished her undergrad degree and was taking four months off to travel before getting a job. The next morning we were both going on early flights so we walked together to the train station at 5:00 and got to the airport on the train. She was going to Napoli, I was going to Malta. It was nip and tuck if I were going to make it in time, as the security lines were a mile long! I made it with six minutes to spare and off I flew to Rome. There I had time for a cappuccino and croissant before taking my next flight to Malta. Arriving at 11:45 AM, I got the bus as the directions on how to get to the hostel told me, and rode for 45 minutes here and there to get to Sliema, where the hostel is located.
Malta is kind of exotic! It’s very ‘built up,’ pretty much all with light brown local stone. I’m eager to explore it. In the meantime, I found my hostel and checked in. Then I walked on the promenade along the water to a restaurant to have linner. How pretty! The sun shone
intermittently, and the view from the restaurant was lovely. I had bruschetta and then more mussels with proseco wine. Wonderful! That’s a little balsamic on the plate under the bruschetta. Not as good as yours, Roberto, but good.
The next day I used the hostel washer to wash clothes, but unfortunately it dripped on and off all day, so finally I hung them around my room to finish drying, since I’m alone in a four-bed dorm.
I walked a long way on the promenade to find some cosmetics that I needed to buy. On the
way, I passed St. Julian’s Tower (1658) and Il Fortessa. I could also see the rocky
coast, which had pools cut in the rock in the 19th century, for the use of Maltese ladies.
There are lovely vistas as one walks. Later I went to have linner at a restaurant that said it had “Home Made Maltese Food” and their menu looked scrumptious. Unfortunately it didn’t open until 5:30, so I couldn’t partake of their food that day. So I went to an LP-recommended restaurant called “Mint,” but the ambience was so frantic that it practically gave me a stomach ache. So it goes.
I made good Italian coffee in the hostel this morning, and there was enough food for me to make a good breakfast, too. I had scrambled eggs, cold cereal and juice.
Then I went exploring. I walked a long ways through Sliema and then to St. Julian’s, photographing as I went. Spinola Bay was pretty; I looked for the Spinola Palaccio, but didn’t find it. Eventually I wound up at the ferry that goes to Valletta, which is the ‘downtown’ capital city—-I’m in sort of a suburb. Leaving Sliema on the ferry gave a nice view of the marina.
The ferry gave all kinds of beautiful vistas of Valletta as we approached it.Once there I walked up to the city center, where there were boodles of tourists. I didn’t realize that there were so many at this time of year. I saw the Co-Cathedral of St. John from the outside—-it’s under reconstruction. It’s huge, and was built in 1573 by the Knights of St. John.
Then I went to find the National Archeological Museum, which was great. One of the old-old pieces was “The Sleeping Woman” from 3000 BCE.
There were lots of Neolithic statuettes of rotund females——apparently the worship of females because of reproduction in those times. Why no heads? Some have holes cut to support a head. Maybe the face of the woman wasn’t important—-just the reproductive angle!
A reproduction of a rock-cut tomb was pretty realistic. There are many on Malta.
Apparently the first peoples here were from Sicily in about 5200 BCE. There was a Temple Period from 3600 until 2500 BCE, but those people disappeared. Gozo (the small island north of Malta) has one of the oldest temples in the world. I shall look forward to seeing that. Then the Bronze Age people left ruins of settlements with dolmens. (Big rock slabs)
The Phoenicians came about the 7th C. BCE, followed by Carthage in 400 BCE; followed by the Romans, who took over in 218 BCE, until 870 AD when the Arabs (Fatimids from North Africa) came. In 1091 the Norman, Count Roger I of Sicily invaded, followed by Spain in 1479. Then we have the Order of St. John—-the Knights of Malta during the Crusades—-1530-1798; a brief French occupation led by Napoleon in 1798 until 1800—-he was on his way to Egypt. Then the British made them a protectorate from 1800-1964 when they became independent. They have been in the European Union since 2004. Whew! Here’s a Phoenician coffin that was in the museum.
I didn’t have a lot of time today to look at all the landmarks, and there are many, but I have about two weeks here, so I will have plenty of opportunity to see them.
Now it’s almost 5:00 so I can get ready to go to the Maltese Home Cooking restaurant that opens at 5:30. I have HIGH expectations, so I hope it doesn’t disappoint!