Sunday, 10 February 2013

our ship comes in

12.20pm We knock at the door of the ferry ticket office but to no avail.  The office closed at 12.15pm  It reopens at 4.15pm and the boat to Palermo goes at 5pm. Mmmmm.  We head over to the Port Authority building on the wonderful open waterfront of Cagliari.  Behind the grand facades of the shops along the front we can see the old town climbing the hill to the great walls and bastions of the citadel overlooking the whole scene.  We're wondering what to do when a friendly young guy in shorts and flip flops comments on our bikes.  We start talking and Gayle gets a sense of deja vu.  Bart is living on an old boat in the harbour with his girlfriend Lea.  They work for the owner who lives in Australia.  It turns out that Gayle has already read about them from another blog by cyclists who also met them here.  Strange thing the internet.  They're a very friendly couple and before we know it we've had a shower and lunch with them.  No, that sounds wrong.  We take a shower and then join them for lunch.   We explain we're taking the ferry to Palermo with the hope of connecting with an onward ferry to Tunis.  After some discussion and a little indecision on our part, followed by a visit back to the ferry office, we decide to stay in Cagliari and get the weekly ferry next week instead.  In another of what we call 'spontaneous acts of hospitality' we are offered a berth on board for a few nights. 

The Daphne is an old Danish coastguard vessel built to look like a fishing boat.  Bart shows us around and explains that there are only three boats left in the world with the same engine.  With one load of fuel they could sail to Cuba and back.  Mind you, the fuel would cost about 70,000 Euros.  Bart joined the boat in Norway and the owner intended to circumnavigate the globe, but when they got to the Med he liked it so much that they haven't left yet.  Bart has been moored in Tunis and Palermo, where he met Lea, and they are both full of insights and recommendations for us ahead.  The harbour is a tranquil place - despite being in the centre of the city and we have a happy few days here before setting off along the south coast to see a little more of the island.

Our trip takes us to the south east 'corner' and we camp wild for three nights visiting lovely empty beaches and taking it easy.  In summer these places are swamped with visitors but at this time of year it's very peaceful and beautiful.

We return to Cagliari to do a few chores and have more of a look around and are hosted by Ileana and Enrico, two cheerful Italians.  Enrico is a native Sardinian.  What do Italians think of Sardinians, we ask.  They say we're lovers of sheep, he laughs.  Ileana is an engineer who teaches belly dancing as well.  They are both busy but we have a couple of meals with them when we get a chance to chatter.  

On Friday afternoon we return to the harbour to board our ferry to Palermo.  It's low season - just a few passengers and some freight on board - plenty of room to spread out on the floor for a good night's sleep in the passenger lounge.  We are rocked gently to sleep as the boat crosses the Mediterranean.

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