Exploring seductive Sardinia and beautiful Barcelona

Trip of a lifetime in the sunny Med

Trip of a lifetime in the sunny Med

WHAT A VIEW: Vista of Cagliari from The Bastione of Saint Remy. Pictures by Phil and Sue Newdick
Mediterranean
Mediterranean
KING OF THE CASTLE: San Michele Castle Cagliari was a medieval citadel built by the Spanish circa 1300. It is now used as a museum.
ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL: Ancient city wall, Iglesias.
MOMENT IN TIME: Church of San Francesco old façade in Iglesias.
GOTHIC: The Cathedral of Barcelona is the Gothic cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. The cathedral was constructed in the 14th century. The roof is notable for its gargoyles, featuring a wide range of animals, both domestic and mythical.
Mediterranean
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD: The market of Barcelona is first mentioned in 1217. A visit is advisable to enjoy an incredible contrast between colours and activity and an ideal way to discover why Mediterranean cuisine is internationally known due to its ingredients.
PARK LIFE: Catalunya Park, a tree-lined, sculpture-filled square lined with shops and cafes, is used for special events.
TIME TO COOL OFF: Cascade Fountain, Citadel Park, in Barcelona.
UNIQUE: The Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera, is a unique modernist structure built between 1906 and 1912 by Antonio Gaudi, and declared a UNESCO World Heritage building in 1984.

WE WERE delivered to the ferry terminal in Palermo by Giovanni, who would not hear of us checking out at the regular time and insisted that we wait at the apartment until 6pm so he could deliver us to the ferry personally. So many times on this journey we have found it a bit hard leaving some of the good friends we have made behind.

The ferry trip to Cagliari was an over- nighter and we travelled deck cargo as there were no cabins available.

Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and an autonomous region of Italy. It is located in the Western Mediterranean, just south of the French island of Corsica. Unlike Italy and Sicily it is not earthquake prone. Our base was its capital and largest city Cagliari, population approximately 160,000. It is not the hyped up Mediterranean Island destination that so many of the islands are. Yes, the tourists are there but somehow it doesn’t seem to affect the place — it is unspoiled. What really is impressive is how clean and tidy Cagliari is. We would assume that the lack of earthquakes has helped, but although the American bombers gave it serious attention in WW2, the city has been restored and shows little signs of the destruction.

We travelled to Iglesias, a small town 50km from Cagliari, population 27,000, a train journey of just 1 hour each way, for a day trip. This town, once famous for its silver mines, is steeped in medieval history — there are still a lot of, not so ruined, old fortifications and buildings there.

Transport to and from the islands had been a bit of a challenge and the journey to Barcelona was no different, however we managed to find a direct flight (10.30pm). This flight was delayed for 1hr 30, however, we unpacked the back packer and with the help of another guitarist from Rome we managed to entertain the waiting passengers with a bit of good old New Zealand style country. The reaction of our fellow travellers was awesome to say the least — when the flight was finally announced, nobody seemed to be in any great rush to board.

We finally arrived at our motel in Barcelona at 4am. When we stayed overnight in Barcelona in 2009, the city was very run down and grubby. But now, this is one awesome place to visit. The city has had a wonderful work-over and there seems to be an army of people with brooms and dust pans whose one purpose in life is to make the city shine. The old buildings are immaculate, the newer buildings are designed and decorated with flair and imagination. It is hard to put into words the vibrancy and effect this city had on us — simpler to say if you get the chance, go there. It proved to be a great climax to what was a wonderful trip.

Our return to the airport on the tram, metro and train in daylight was quite an eye- opener. Arriving in darkness and travelling by taxi we hadn’t realised the scale of the modern airport, or the distance from the city.

The flight home took us from Barcelona to Doha, Hong Kong, Auckland and finally Gisborne. After 46 hours of airports and flights it was great to be home, but the memories will last forever.

WE WERE delivered to the ferry terminal in Palermo by Giovanni, who would not hear of us checking out at the regular time and insisted that we wait at the apartment until 6pm so he could deliver us to the ferry personally. So many times on this journey we have found it a bit hard leaving some of the good friends we have made behind.

The ferry trip to Cagliari was an over- nighter and we travelled deck cargo as there were no cabins available.

Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and an autonomous region of Italy. It is located in the Western Mediterranean, just south of the French island of Corsica. Unlike Italy and Sicily it is not earthquake prone. Our base was its capital and largest city Cagliari, population approximately 160,000. It is not the hyped up Mediterranean Island destination that so many of the islands are. Yes, the tourists are there but somehow it doesn’t seem to affect the place — it is unspoiled. What really is impressive is how clean and tidy Cagliari is. We would assume that the lack of earthquakes has helped, but although the American bombers gave it serious attention in WW2, the city has been restored and shows little signs of the destruction.

We travelled to Iglesias, a small town 50km from Cagliari, population 27,000, a train journey of just 1 hour each way, for a day trip. This town, once famous for its silver mines, is steeped in medieval history — there are still a lot of, not so ruined, old fortifications and buildings there.

Transport to and from the islands had been a bit of a challenge and the journey to Barcelona was no different, however we managed to find a direct flight (10.30pm). This flight was delayed for 1hr 30, however, we unpacked the back packer and with the help of another guitarist from Rome we managed to entertain the waiting passengers with a bit of good old New Zealand style country. The reaction of our fellow travellers was awesome to say the least — when the flight was finally announced, nobody seemed to be in any great rush to board.

We finally arrived at our motel in Barcelona at 4am. When we stayed overnight in Barcelona in 2009, the city was very run down and grubby. But now, this is one awesome place to visit. The city has had a wonderful work-over and there seems to be an army of people with brooms and dust pans whose one purpose in life is to make the city shine. The old buildings are immaculate, the newer buildings are designed and decorated with flair and imagination. It is hard to put into words the vibrancy and effect this city had on us — simpler to say if you get the chance, go there. It proved to be a great climax to what was a wonderful trip.

Our return to the airport on the tram, metro and train in daylight was quite an eye- opener. Arriving in darkness and travelling by taxi we hadn’t realised the scale of the modern airport, or the distance from the city.

The flight home took us from Barcelona to Doha, Hong Kong, Auckland and finally Gisborne. After 46 hours of airports and flights it was great to be home, but the memories will last forever.

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