Monday 18 October 2010

Best camping sites of Sardinia

I have been camping for quite some time now (only around Europe so far). If I would have to name countries where I have had my best and the worst camping experience so far, I would have to say "Italy". Twice.

Luckily the best one happened this year on Sardinia. Twice.

A few years ago we were camping on Corsica (the French island just next to Sardinia) and we liked the experience. Prices were very affordable, camping sites well maintained with clean facilities.
On the other hand our experience from a trip to the southern Italy was not so great. When we took all this in account we just didn't know what to expect on Sardinia...

I guess first I should list the things that are important to us and those that could not matter less, when searching for a place to pitch our tent.

Important stuff:

  • shower and toilet facilities (cleanliness),

  • shady camping grounds,

  • possibility to park our car close to the tent,

  • proximity of a beach,

  • price,

  • hot water (preferably without additional payment).

Things we don't care about:
  • lousy musicians playing on the restaurant terrace every evening,

  • fancy pools,

  • overrated and overpriced restaurants,

  • guided exercise three times a day,

  • tennis club membership,

  • etc.

First few camping sites we checked on the north-eastern coast of the island were not all that special, pretty expensive and (despite it was almost September) they were still overrun with a throng of Italian tourists. I guess you could say we were not impressed.

I am not going to write about every camping ground we visited this time, but let me just say that many stars next to the name and also the price do not tell much. At least to us. We took a look around every time before we agreed to stay.

When we decided to stay in Arbatax for a couple of days and followed road signs to the nearest campeggio we were up for a surprise.
We found Camping Telis (Garmin GPS coordinates: 39° 55.483'N, 009° 42.413'E) which was by far the best one we saw until that moment. Oh, and did I mention - it was also the cheapest to that point of the trip (this was due to a switch of rates from Middle season to Low season, but was a nice surprise nonetheless).
I guess the facilities must have been renovated just recently and everything was really clean. In addition to all this, there was also hot water flowing out of every pipe and we were allowed to park our car just next to our tent.
Exactly what we wanted. This really could not get any better.

Well, actually it could. After another camp switch or two we decided to check out what I guess is the most advertised campeggio on Sardinia. Road signs advertising it can be seen all over the island.
It is called Camping Village Baia Blu La Tortuga and it is located near the town of Vignola Mare (Garmin GPS coordinates: 41° 07.469'N, 009° 04.058'E).
This is a much larger site compared to Telis, but for us it was at least as good. For a similar price we got all the things as in the other one described, plus free electricity. Really neat.

I guess there might be also some other camping sites on Sardinia like the two described above but we haven't seen them. Not on Sardinia, nor anywhere else we have been so far. Has someone had a similar experience while on Sardinia? Any recommendations maybe?


Monday 11 October 2010

Top 5 things to see and do on Sardinia

During our three-week drive around the island of Sardinia we saw so many beautiful sights and did so many wonderful things, that it is quite a challenge to single out just five of them. Anyway, here is the list:

5. Charming towns and cities
There are countless charming little towns in Sardinia worth visiting. Some of them are full of museums and tourist attractions, some host interesting music and folk festivals, others are just picture-postcard beautiful.
We liked many of them, but Alghero (you can find the best selection of coral jewellery in narrow city streets enclosed within its imposing city walls), Bosa (heavily influenced by the Spanish, today a colourful ancient city, overlooked by an imposing castle) and Cagliari (busy and always alive like every capital city) were the ones we liked best.

4. Local food and wine
Everywhere in Italy food and wine is a special treat not to be missed. Sardinia is no different. There are many local pasta dishes (e.g. ravioli-like culingiones), meats (e.g. salsiccia - local pork sausage), excellent cheeses (e.g. pecorino - sheep cheese and caprino - goat cheese), various kinds of flat bread (Pane Guttiau and Pane Carasau), fresh seafood of all kinds, local wines like Cannonau and Vermentino, delicious ice cream (almost everywhere we went it was very good, but at Gelateria Peter Pan on Piazza Vitorio Emanuelle in Nuoro it was the best) and even Ichnusa - the local brand of beer (which, compared to everything above, is really not all that special).

3. Neptune's Grotto
The mythological cave dwelling of the sea God Neptune (Grotta di Nettuno) is an impressive cave full of stalactites and stalagmites partly filled with sea water. It is accessible only by boat (excursions run from nearby towns) or by 654-step Escala del cabirol (Goat's steps) from a car park at the top of the cliff.
This can be an expensive thing (especially if one chooses to get there by boat). We took the steps and did not regret it - we enjoyed spectacular views and spent "just" the 12 Euros per person at the entrance. An excellent guided tour (in flawless English) added greatly to the experience and we are happy to recommend it.

2. Nuraghi
The nuraghe is an example of ancient megalithic architecture. Most of the stony structures were built during the Bronze Age (that is more then 3.500 years ago!) and they still stand tall and proud. Some of them are as high as 20 meters. Today nuraghe is the symbol of Sardinia and a visitor can hardly avoid visiting at least one of the 8.000 still standing today.
We visited Nuraghe Losa and were moved by the size of the structure. It really makes you wonder how they moved all those stones into place back then - some of them must weigh several tons.

1. Beautiful beaches
If you like picture postcard beaches, Sardinia is definitely a place to visit. There are literally countless beaches of all kinds around the edges of the island. Most of them are sandy, but also weirdos like us who don't like all that fine sand getting everywhere, have plenty of choice.
Some of the more memorable ones we have visited are: the Is Aruttas beach with its special sand (it is even forbidden to take it away), the picture-postcard beach of La Pelosa with its white sand and turquoise waters (but way too crowded for our taste) and the rocky peninsula of Capo Testa with its surreal stone formations.

I guess some of you might disagree with my Top 5 list, but this is just my opinion based on things we managed to see and do in those way too short three weeks of our trip.
I also plan to write about some other places we visited and things we did in the next few posts. If they didn't make it to this list, it doesn't mean you won't like them. Especially if you are putting together an itinerary for your adventure in Sardinia, I suggest you also check out my other posts under the tag "Sardinia".


Monday 13 September 2010

Time for a roadtrip again!

I intended to post this a few weeks ago, but somehow managed not to do it. Well... here it is with a tiny little bit of delay.

Our jobs, limited yearly leave, lack of financial resources and other types of restraints are successfully keeping us from travelling as much as we would like to. At least that is true for those who had been bitten by the travel bug and I certainly fall into that category. Those of you following my blog have already noticed a lack of travel related posts lately.
Fortunately after a long wait, the time for my main yearly vacation has arrived. At the moment preparations are in full swing. The destination has been decided, some reservations made, ferry tickets purchased, car serviced and health insurance arranged. Only my bags are still waiting for someone to pack them.

There are at least three destinations M and I had hard time choosing from: Portugal, Greece and Sardinia. The idea was to drive there and do some camping in almost three full weeks.

After careful consideration, Portugal seemed a bit far away. It would take us quite a few days to get there and also petrol isn't all that cheap these days. We decided it will just have to be stuck on our waiting list for a few more years.

Greece on the other hand seemed a better option but since they recently had some problems (for instance a shortage of petrol due to some strikes) we weren't sure if it was such a good idea to go there this year. After we gave it some thought we figured that if it was there for a few thousand years, Greece probably isn't going anywhere for another couple of years.

Our last but definitely not the least attractive option was Sardinia. Since we have been to most of other islands around Italy it was an obvious choice - in the past years we have already visited Sicily, Elba, Malta and Corsica. However different they might be, we liked them all. In addition to that Sardinia is also the closest destination of the three on our short-list.

I'll try to publish some useful information for those of you intending to do a similar trip and of course spice it all up with some beautiful photos. I hope you are looking forward to this at least a bit... I know I am!

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