Our plan for our final day was to visit the Grotta di Nettuno at Capo Caccia. There are two ways to get to the cave, which is the most popular excursion from Alghero; either via a boat trip along the coast, which costs around €15 each (not including entry to the cave) or via a local bus which runs a couple of times a day from the centre of Alghero to the top of the cliff above the cave. From the cliff top a series of 654 steps knwn as the Escala del Cabirol (the goat’s steps) lead down to the entrance of the cave itself. 654 steps sounded like a lot, but the local bus only cost €4.50 each for a return trip so we decided to give it a try!
Oristano and Alghero don’t look as if they are too far away from each other on the map, so when we planned the holiday we didn’t think that travelling between the two places would be particularly problematic. When we arrived in Oristano, however, and began planning our onward journey to Alghero, it turned out to be more complicated than we had anticipated. There are no direct trains between the two towns and when we tried to put “Alghero” as a destination in the search fields on train websites and even ticket machines in the station, it didn’t come up as an option. We eventually established that we could take a train from Oristano to the town of Sassari, and from there take a bus to Alghero. There were two problems with this plan, namely that the journey between Oristano and Sassari involved changing trains at a place called Ozieri with a gap of just five minutes between trains, and that the first train we could catch out of Oristano to Ozieri didn’t depart until 13.34 in the afternoon.
We don’t have any breakfast included at the accommodation in Oristano, so we headed out into the town again this morning in search of coffee and sustenance. Luckily there are more cafes in the town centre than anything else, so we didn’t have to walk far before we found somewhere which looked promising. We ordered a croissant and two little savoury pastries which the girl in the cafe sold to us on the basis that they contained ham, although when we bit into them we found that they were actually cheese and tomato. We ate them anyway, grateful that at least they didn’t contain fish, which had been one of the other options she had mentioned!
Today it was time to move to our second destination of the holiday: Oristano. We had picked Oristano because of its convenient location about halfway between Cagliari, where we started our holiday, and Alghero, where we are flying back from. It is easily accessible from Cagliari, via a train journey that takes just over an hour, so it seemed like an obvious choice. The guidebook wasn’t very enthusiastic about it, however, describing Oristano as “a flat, unprepossessing place, its old walls mostly replaced by busy traffic arteries”, so we weren’t quite sure what we would find when we got there. Finding accommodation in the town had been quite problematic too, and we had ended up reserving a room in a B&B whose picture on booking.com gave it a worrying resemblance to a barn.
It’s telling that we’ve had such a relaxed start to the holiday that today seems like a lot of work even though it wasn’t at all. You see, today we visited two new towns before returning to our base in Cagliari. How reminiscent of our hectic past holidays, but in fact this couldn’t have gone any easier.
We had a relaxed start to our holiday in Sardinia, with our flight to Cagliari not departing until 16.20. We were flying from Stansted, which is normally quite a chaotic airport, but on this occasion everything went like clockwork. We didn’t have to queue to drop off our baggage, security was comparatively painless, and because Easyjet have started allocating seats to all passengers we didn’t even have the fraught experience of standing for an hour in a queue while trying to stop anyone pushing in front of us.
The flight was pleasant and we arrived in Cagliari just after 8pm. Although it was dark when we got off the plane, we could immediately feel that the weather was significantly warmer than back home in the UK. Our original plan had been to take the airport bus into the town centre, but earlier in the week I had received an email from the B&B where we were going to be staying recommending that we take a taxi instead, because the walk from the bus station to the B&B was steeply uphill and would be difficult with luggage. Personally I think that my new superduper suitcase would probably make it up Everest, but we decided to bow to local knowledge and made our way towards the taxi rank. After having recently been travelling in the Balkans, where you can’t walk within a hundred metres of any sort of public transport terminal without being accosted by a whole horde of hopeful taxi drivers, we were somewhat surprised to find the taxi rank in Cagliari was empty. Oh dear.
The holidays that I plan always seem to go the same way. Clare gives me the dates, and then I look at the different permutations that will allow us to use the same airport in England but different ones from abroad, without sacrificing any days (so leaving on a Saturday, returning on a Sunday). And I’m a cheapskate too, so the flights can’t be expensive. This approach usually works well, although it potentially poses some curious logistical requirements, as it did on our holiday to the Baltics in 2013, where we landed in Vilnius, visited Riga, spent time in Talinn, hopped on a ferry to Helsinki, and then had to head back to Riga to fly home. There’s nothing so messy this time, because it was clear that we could fly from Stansted to the south of Sardinia on a Saturday and return from the north a week tomorrow. Excellent.