Friday, January 26, 2018

Atlantic Adventurer Cruise: Day 34, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy

Thursday, November 23, 2017
Day 34, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy

Happy Thanksgiving from Cagliari, Italy on the island of Sardinia.  It seems a little strange to be away from our families on the holiday and equally strange to be in a different country that doesn’t even celebrate Thanksgiving. 

Today we didn’t arrived port at 9:00, but we couldn’t sleep in too much as we have a ship excursion scheduled called “A Taste of Sardinia”.  It was another sunny day so our stretch of good weather is holding.  After a bite to eat in the Neptune Lounge we were off to the showroom to wait for our tour to be called.  Our tour was quickly called and we were off the ship and on our way by 9:45.

The first part of our tour was a tour of the old walled city part of Cagliari.  The walled city was built on a slope so we were driven to the top and walked down through the city which is much better than being dropped off at the bottom and having to walk up as it was pretty steep in places.  Our guide led us down through the winding streets pointing out landmarks and filling us in on the history.  This walled city was not as impressive as some we have seen on the cruise which I think was partially due to the fact that we have seen many on this trip, but also because unlike many of the walled cities we have seen, this is still an urban area and there was much activity and traffic as we walked through it.  Despite that, we did enjoy our walk through it.

We enter the old city through the upper gate.
The view of Cagliari from above.


As we saw throughout Europe, there was a lot of graffiti, but some of it was quite good.

The bus picked us up at the end of our walk and we headed out of town to a village where we would go to a villa where we would have a traditional Sardinian lunch while we were entertained by Sardinian musicians and dancers.  We followed the coast until we turned inland towards the village we were visiting. On one side of the road was the Mediterranean while on the other were large salt evaporation ponds.  The interesting thing about the ponds were the large number of pink flamingos that made them their home.  Our guide said maybe we could stop on the way back to the ship and view and take pictures of the flamingos.

We arrived in the village and the bus dropped us off in the center of town where we were met by one of our hosts in full Sardinian traditional dress.  He led us down a side street where we entered a very nondescript plain building into a courtyard that was nothing like we expected.  There was a large tree with branches that spread over and shaded the whole courtyard.  There were tables set with white table clothes on one side and the entire area was surrounded by the villa itself.  We were greeted by more of the family dressed in traditional dress handing out a pre-meal glass of wine to everyone that wanted it and an accordion player and guitarist playing music for us.  It was like stepping into another world.

We were greeted by family members playing traditional Sardinian instruments as we walked in.
Val with the family patriarch.

Our guide translated while for us.
We were seated and while we were served our first course of a cheese and meat plate, we were serenaded as the musicians walked from table to table.  They were very good and we really enjoyed the music.  Besides the first course there was bread and fresh vegetables on the table with water and plentiful amounts of wine to drink.

The whole courtyard was shaded by the branches from just one tree.

We were served another cheese plate, but this time with four different types of cheese.  I thought they were all very good except for a creamy type cheese which neither Val nor I particularly cared for.  In the meantime, dancers had joined the musicians and the show was on.  Everyone who served and entertained was from the family that lived at the villa and the patriarch introduced the entertainment, but our guide had to translate as he didn’t speak English.  Besides the music and dancing there was a lot of singing as all of the entertainers had very good singing voices.  Even the family patriarch sang and he really had a good voice.  The food kept coming, the musicians kept playing, the singers kept singing and the dancers kept coming and everyone was having a great time; this was certainly much more than anyone had expected for the day.

Finally the dessert course arrived which looked and tasted delicious.  The first thing we were served was a donut like pastry but had kind of a creamy center and it was very good.  Then we were served a plate of a type of cookie that I’m not really familiar with, but they were also delicious.  We were all very full, but very, very happy.   

Donut like pastries were served and the sure were good.

I don't know what these were, but they were also very good.

All too soon it was time to go back to the real world and get onto the bus, but no one wanted to leave.  After saying our thanks and goodbyes to the family members we reluctantly walked back to the town square and the bus.  For a few hours we all felt that we had been transformed back to a traditional Sardinian family gathering that we remember.  It certainly wasn’t a Thanksgiving that we are used to, but it is one we will always remember; it almost made us forget we were missing our families.

All too soon, it was time to leave.
We made our way back to the town center to catch the bus back.
We were supposed to stop at a scenic viewpoint overlooking the city and harbor on the way back, but we had stayed too long at the villa and were way behind schedule so we skipped that, but we did stop along the salt ponds to and though we didn’t have time to get out, we did get some flamingo pictures from the bus.

Val got these flamingo pictures through the bus window.

The tour was supposed to end at 2:00, but we didn’t get back until three, but we still had plenty of time before the all aboard.  Before we got off the bus we were treated to what appeared to be some sort of an argument between our bus driver and guide and a port security person over where we could park the bus.  There was much hand waving and fast loud talking in Italian, but things eventually settled and we parked and got off the bus.  I don’t know whether it was a real argument or something for the tourists, but whatever it was, it was entertaining to us.

When we got back to the room, I downloaded our pictures, made some notes on our days tour and then backed everything up.  We relaxed a while and then got ready for dinner and did our usual routine of trivia, dinner and the casino.  One of the menu items tonight in the dining room was a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner so we opted for that and although it wasn’t as good as we usually have, it was pretty good.

So, we had a very different Thanksgiving today and one we won’t soon forget.  Tomorrow is a sea day which makes everyone happy after four straight port days and we will welcome the rest.

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