Il paradiso terrestre isola del vento I/III

“Il buon Dio è nei dettagli” / “The good God is in the details”

For me, my soul, entering Sardinia turned to be a bloody uphill battle eventually. I had been on the road, land and sea, practically since March and August was closing in a few days. I also was surprised while being pretty low on travelling budget. On top of this I did finally confess to myself; homesickness was engraving my innermost with wicked sharp claws. At the end of a day there was exactly two options left. Either I would boldly step on Sardinian soil, travel and finally sit to the southmost tip of it. On anticipated heaven on earth. The other option was to take the next flight from Campo Dell Oro, Ajaccio, directly to Ellinikon International Airport, Athens. With these options and need to decide I simply flipped a coin with only one consolation along the legendary words of Mr Eugene Francis Krantz “Risk is the price of progress.”

Heads or tails! One thing I know, no God or destiny decided on me. It was all happening by chance. I would not end sitting penniless on a foreign beach but fly east and catch a ferry to home. Yet sounding crazy I felt endlessly disappointed while simultaneously being joyous happy.

At that point I started executing basic “quick’s the word, and sharp’s the action” order in wish not to regret the guidance of my only material Corsican souvenir, 1762 4 soldo silver coin with mermaids, purchased from coin shop in downtown alley Bastia. The next thing after receiving boarding pass and walking trough to literally non-existent security check was exquisite Bloody Mary cocktail at the bar. The celery tasted sweet like in Corsican country soup and rich tomato juice gave the looks of blood. I let that be blood of my vicious battle solved by mere coincidence.

The flight from Ajaccio to Athens took about two hours. After few Bloody Marys I did sleep like a mummy right till the landing. I almost felt sorry for those who were hit by my massive snoring. Flight landed Athens during very early hours at 2:45 AM. The ferry, I expected to catch from Piraeus, would not leave until 19:00 PM with more than 16 hours of expected sailing ahead until finally landing at Rhodes.

I had plenty extra time and pretty little to do. After dozing some four hours at the airport terminal I took Athens-Piraeus Electric Railways, actually of the oldest metro lines in the world, to Piraeus port. At 7:00 AM I took two phone calls. I needed to collect some courage for the first one for home. It ended with no answer. The second call was addressed to Helene and Ned Andersen’s house to check if I still had the boat. Boat was there but on a cruise at the moment! Some strange square head from Germany had been urging to cruise Daphnes Lullaby for the whole month of August and was expected to be back soon. Actually, the whole season had been one incredible success so far. It seemed that the crew had booked full season after not being aware of my location or well-being. The sailing crew had been anxiously at work, less waiting for any sign of me. Running business the whole summer they had started shortly after my departure. They had collected money as it was coming in the form of good customers and asking fewer reasons for this unexpectedly good wind. This, at least, was the message how I received it from good old Ned.

It turned out to be more of money on my bank account that I even realized. I had not checked the amount of deposits after leaving Greece. All the money I had over my trip I had in cash. I needed to do some financial accounting exercise and decided to get back to Athens for overnight at least. It was necessary to visit the bank and check if this big surprise was even real. If it was, then the crew would have wealthy bonus and maybe I could actually do some shopping?

So I went back to Athens for banking but prior to that ended up in one small breakfast cafe at Syngrou Avenue. I had a cup of coffee and croissant with Greek morning sun over the parasol. I also enjoyed some yoghurt with wonderful home-made Glyko Karpouzi. The preserved watermelon rind just takes your sweet tooth away. I could not help but it also reminded me of Bob. My dear soul mate and long time friend who suffered fatal accident here in Athens not so many years ago. His remains may rest in distant bay, St Xnamya bay in between Kalymnos and Pserimos, yet his soul will always stay with me. Rest in peace, Bob.

National bank of Greece did have a surprise for me. I guess the successful overhaul of Daphnes Lullaby had made my captain and boatswain somewhat proud of the old lady and instead of fair pricing they had tripled the cost of cruising. They had also made a bold move for having the berth practically opposite to Central Port Authority of Rhodos close to church of Ekklisia Evaggelismos. This was an advantage when fighting over the day trip cruise customers. Luckily there had been many of those who wanted to spend more time cruising the Mediterranean archipelago.

After calculating all wages and good-sized bonus for seasonal work to the crew I still had the account balance in amazingly good condition. I felt my awakening business pride though sitting there in a big banking hall with my shorts and shabby T-shirt on. I might have looked more like a hobo than affluent businessman. Nevertheless, account balance looked fine and I was clearly ready to redeem yet one of my dreams before going back home.

All I needed to do was to visit nearest travel agency and I was sold. Alitalia flies from Athens to Fiumicino and further to Cagliari, Sardinia few times every day. The time to reach Sardinia is less that four hours with one stopover in Rome. I selected one week stay without accommodation and headed back to the Ellinikon International Airport. My head was hurting, I was tired and in need of good night sleep. No hope of such until on the island of my desire. I did have a few hours nap before Alitalia was departing back to west at 14:45. I had spent 12 hours in Athens, visited port of Piraeus and almost bought ticket to the ferry back to Rhodes. One phone call had reversed my target of travel back to the island I thought I would never manage to step on. I had done some shopping for new backpack and clothes, performed little inventory for my supplies and finally left my luggage to the long-term storage. I decided to travel light as it was only one more week expected. Passport, toothbrush and wallet were the necessities needed. Well, I also had a book of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, a lengthy narrative poem written by Lord Byron and my trusty Aiwa AIWA HS-PX101, some batteries and new headset. Suddenly I was quivering of eagerness and determined to meet my earthly paradise at Sardinia.

The Moon is up, and yet it is not night,—	
  Sunset divides the sky with her,—a sea	
  Of glory streams along the Alpine height	
  Of blue Friuli’s mountains; Heaven is free	
  From clouds, but of all colors seems to be -
  Melted to one vast Iris of the West,	
  Where the Day joins the past Eternity;	
  While, on the other hand, meek Dian’s crest	
Floats through the azure air,—an island of the blest!

The flight to Rome FCO went by in a jiffy. In a quite modern airport bar I browsed thru the menu. My body was in so confused state it was craving for English muffins topped with good slice of ham, a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. Eggs Benedict and large coffee would have made it but I was to settle with savory cheddar pancakes topped with fried egg. That was actually just fine, light enough not to upset my stomach yet nutritious. Coffee and especially the flavored tomato juice got me finally awake even it was late afternoon.

There were not many passengers continuing to Sardinia so transition to next flight was smooth and uncomplicated. I experienced strange and mournful dream of Ho 229, the first flying wing to be powered by jet engines by Gothaer Waggonfabrik late in World War II. It’s really strange how many great inventions have emerged from brutality of killing other human beings.

We landed on almost three kilometers long runaway of Cagliari Elmas Airport early in the evening. I did expect to spend a full day entering the medieval past and Roman roots of Cacliari before going any further. Especially the exquisite Santuario e Basilica di Bonaria and Cathedral of Santa Maria. A Roman amphitheatre of Caralis, partially carved in the rock as well as the Bastione San Remy and finally the town’s medieval castle, The Castle of San Michele.

As I was travelling remarkably light I took an airport taxi but instead of following my travel agency recommendations not to Hotel Regina Margherita, a four start accommodation in the heart of Cacliari. Instead I asked the taxi for affordable one night stay near town centre. He immediately suggested, B&B on Viale Trieste. He explained like an experienced travel guide, in pleasant fluent English, all the advantages of this residence of his cousin. The place was to reside nearby Cacliari train station and not far from the harbor. Just what I thought would be good starting point. Though at first, I was to have a good night sleep to recover from all travelling back and forth to east and west.

The Sardinian weather in September was nice. Still warm days only slightly cloudier sky than during previous months. Also while in July and August the temperatures would reach all the way up to 38°C, the temperatures during September should be around 24-26°C. I did expect Sardinia to be at its best when the hordes of tourists had mostly left back to their boring offices. Furthermore, Sardinia is also known to be the windy island. This is due to the summer mistral blowing warm winds that come from the north-west making the land and vegetation eventually dry out. Other wind like the Levant generally enter during the summer from south-west. It brings winds all away from Northern Africa with good moisture from Mediterranean. Later, the Scirocco, a Mediterranean wind that comes from the Sahara, start blowing. This wind might last anything between a half a day or even several days at a time.

Cagliari turned out to be one fascinating city with all great sightings, marina quarter and amazing beach. One of my favorite scenes opened up at Capo Bellavista lighthouse (1866), next to Torre di Calamosca, looking south all the way to Tunis beyond the horizon. It beams two white flashes every 10 seconds at height of 165 meters from sea level. The base is a 2-story house that has square cylindrical tower with lantern on top of it.

I also visited Santuario e Basilica di Bonaria, on Piazza Bonaria, It is simple looking small fourteenth-century church, originally the chapel of the fortified citadel built by the Aragonese, which today is on the left side of the actual basilica. The sanctuary has some chapels and altar with fourteenth-century wooden statue of the Madonna and Child. There are multiple objects donated in the sanctuary, often hung on the side walls. Especially one quite old item, a small ship of ivory. The legend tells that it became pilgrimage destination of the fishermen in the area. The ship was expected to show direction of currents and upcoming wind.

While standing outside the basilica facing the facade and looking the latin text engraved high above the three entrance doors it read

“DEO OM IN HONOREM B MARIA VIRE DE BONARIA DICATVM ANNO DOMIN MCMLIV”

Unfortunately Latin was never my strongest asset so practically the only thing I was able to translate was the roman numbers MCMLIV. I thought it would be year 1954.

Sardinia offers countless alternatives for exquisite beach holiday. Villasimius, for instance, offers splendid getaway practically just a round the corner to east from Cacliari. Villasimius region is a good one hour ride from the town on a peaceful day. Facilities are good, plenty of restaurants and spotless sand beaches. If you decide to follow the shoreline towards south from Cacliari, there are areas around Chia blessed with fine beaches just 55 km from Cacliari. The most famous must be Su Giudeu Beach. Crystal clear waters and wonderful soft sand is waiting for tired traveller. My target, however, was Tuaredda beach at the southernmost tip of Sardinia. Well, actually Faro Capo Spartivento is on the southernmost tip of the island. It is a lighthouse built-in 1866 located practically at the midpoint from Chia to Spiaggia di Tuerredda. It is also one of the oldest lighthouses still in operation in Sardinia. The house itself is about 19 meters in height and the signal light is over 80 meters from sea level. It is expected to be unmanned as automated during 1972.

My plan was ho rent a car, preferably a four-wheel drive. To be honest I was not looking for any Toyota but more like legendary Land Rover Series III that was built from 1971 to 1985. I could imagine me driving one across Sardinian country with dark green colour and white rooftop and wheels. I think these cars ended up being the most common Series vehicle with over 440 000 units manufactured. To be realistic, who would have such for rent these days? They were just too old already. So I quietly kind of upgraded my desired vehicle thinking it would not hurt to have one baby underwear blue Range Rover Classic either. This was a lot more comfortable 4×4 luxury car with modern technology. I recon they were manufactured somewhere between the years 1970 and 1995. It might be possible to find one though I did not imagine it would be as easy it turned out to be.

B&B of Viale Trieste turned out to be a gem among accommodation in Cacliari. Actually it was all thanks to the taxi driver’s cousin Bertu Mentura. Mr Mentura was a born businessman and tradesman. This room I had for two nights only was not the only source of income he was involved. He had several apartments, butchers shop and on top of that, you know what, car rental and service garage.

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011-2017).

Cheerio

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