I’m in Palermo now.
I spent a couple of days in Fertilia, first to make up my mind, then to figure out what to do with all the gear I had there. The first night I slept in the open near the harbour where I had the kayak in sight. At that point I hadn’t decided to stop yet.
Monday morning I made my decision to stop and started thinking about all the practical matters of it.
The largest problem was the kayak. I had to be doubly sure about it because it isn’t really mine. It is on loan from Skim Kayaks in Sweden. It was sitting on a ramp in the little harbour of Fertilia and nobody complained about it. I made sure to go there regularly and be seen, so the people of the harbour had a chance to complain and so they could see it wasn’t just abandoned there.
I first tried to contact Costantino Lifrieri which we had met at Capo Falcone a few days earlier, but he was abroad. I then found the numbers for Francesco Muntoni, owner of Cardedu Kayaks which organises excursions on the east coast of Sardinia. Francesco came to to Fertilia the same evening to pick up the kayak. We loaded it on his car and had a pleasant evening over a pizza and a glass of wine.
Should anybody want to paddle for some days in Sardinia, contact Francesco at firstname.lastname@example.org. He knows his coastline to the last underwater rock, and he has kayaks and equipment for groups up to ten persons, all you need to bring is your beach clothes.
Since the ferry from Cagliari to Palermo only departs weekly, on Fridays, I had plenty of time. I therefore stayed one more day in Fertilia, packed and organised my gear without hurry, walked the 6 km to Alghero where I had a nice time. Alghero is a very nice little place, a Catalan city transplanted in Sardinia. Until about 100 years ago people still spoke a Catalan dialect, and the street signs are still bilingual.
Wednesday I had everything ready for departure. It is amazing how much you can fit into a kayak. All packed up I had three big IKEA bags with camping gear, paddling gear, normal clothes, photo equipment and other electronics and all the loose stuff.
I took a taxi from Fertilia to Alghero station, which was a very small place. So was the train. Fortunately, so was the ticket price too 🙂 The baby train took me to Sassari, from where I had to take another train to Cagliari. That train look more like a real train.
I had expected to have the train almost for myself. Just how many people are supposed to travel from one end of Sardinia to the other on a Wednesday afternoon? Quite a few, I discovered. I had forgot about the dead.
Thursday November 1st is the day of the dead. It is a holiday in Italy and most people will visit their family tombs. With Thursday off, everybody would then “fare il ponte”, meaning they would take Friday off too and have a nice long holiday. So, I traveled just before a four day weekend and of course the train was absolutely stuffed. Good thing I got on board early with all my stuff so I didn’t have to do my four hours in train with three full IKEA bags on my lap.
I did have a nice ride, though. I chatted with an elderly lady who got off at San Gavino, and with a woman from San Domenico who got off a bit earlier. I also saw several Nuraghe along the way, especially around Marcomer where there are over 200 of them according to one person on the train.
My phone died on the train. Costantino called me on the train, and the battery just went dead in the middle of our conversation. It did present me with a small problem. I was supposed to call Francesco Ravasio of Cagliari on my arrival. He would pick me up at the station, so I could get my motorcycle which was parked at his home. Without my phone I couldn’t contact him and he couldn’t contact me. We’d never met before and didn’t know how to recognise each other.
On the station of Cagliari I stopped in the bar, had a beer with Tony and Tonino who had helped carry all my gear, and asked if I could recharge my phone there for a moment. “Eh beh, ma, sorry, but we cannot, no”. I went on the search for another place to nourish my phone. The station is rather small, but after a while I found the station chapel open, and there was an outlet just besides the altar, so I sat down in the chapel, charged my phone and wrote a bit in my diary. When the priest came to ready for mass at 8, I had a chat with him but left before mass to meet Francesco.
Francesco came in his small BMW Smart. It is a very small car, my three IKEA bags hardly entered, and we had to drive with the rear door open because my Avatak paddles were too long to fit in. When we arrived at his home he just parked it across on half a parking space.
I had a very pleasant two days in Cagliari. I stayed in a hotel, my phone ran out of money and wouldn’t accept new payments and the hotels wifi-service was abysmal. I did, however, have a splendid time with Francesco. I had all my gear at his place, we had dinner together both evenings, once in the very good Trattoria del Porto, and we went paddling together at Poetto and Capo Sant’Elio. Wendy and I had passed there on the very first day of our trip, but in rougher weather. This day was completely calm and we could paddle right under the sandstone cliffs.
Francesco has been paddling for over 20 years, as one of the very first sea kayakers in Sardinia. He also has a knack for working wood, and he has made an exact replica of his P&H Sirius, strip built. It is quite a marvel, and it paddles very well 🙂 I was a bit amazed that he would let me paddle it, but he was glad to see it used, he insisted.
My ferry departed on Friday evening. I packed up all my gear on the motorbike, except the paddles which Francesco drove to the harbour for me. We were just in time. I got my ticket less than an hour before departure (one of the advantages of driving a motorcycle – there’s always room for one more on the ferry), and embarked less than half an hour before.
The ferry crossing was utterly boring and eventless.