Not always smooth driving – Porto Ferro, Sardinia, Italy

We had a fairly leisurely start today at Tempio Pausania, as we did not have far to go. The altitude of our stop in the hills made it quite a cool evening. I am pleased we had our silver screen to cover the windscreen, it makes a big difference to the temperature in the van when it is very hot or cold, it also stops the condensation building up inside. We made sure all of our servicing on the motorhome was done as facilities could be few and far between for the next week.

As we filter our water into the tank it takes quite a while to fill, just as well, as despite the successful exit of two other vans this morning, the third had been parked in front of the only exit barrier for 10-15 minutes. He was puzzling the sign, playing with his phone, ringing someone on his phone. The next thing he opens his garage and takes out his toolbox, then proceeds to manually lift and fix the barrier out of his way! He then drives out and nonchalantly wanders back with his tools, I presumed to replace the barrier but he seemed to decide not to bother and just drove off. I knew all we needed to do was to scan the QR code to get out so was not too bothered either way.

Next, the local police arrive through the open barrier, smile and wave at us in a very friendly manner. They stop and read the sign, shrug their shoulders a bit and head off again. I can only assume the previous guy had called them. Anyway, tanks full, we approach the lifted barrier, go to checkout and the payment wheel just keeps spinning on the app. Ahh, this appears to be the issue. I could tell that we had not been charged as I get an alert on my phone / watch. I take a chance and backtrack then re-start payment, it goes through and we get access to the QR code to lift the barrier. It is obviously already up, the red light flashes and it makes noises like it is trying to lift. We make our way out ok and have stopped the clock on our stay and paid to exit…. sadly 4 mins after our allotted 24 hours due to all the kerfuffle so we got charged an extra night! I guess we could try to argue the case (in Italian) but for €10, I think we will just chalk that one up to experience.

Next we head to Aggius, recommended by Simonetta as a beautiful village, it is only 10 minutes away. I had carefully plotted a route on Google maps to avoid going through the centre of the little village and approach the parking on the north side via the by-pass. However, I realised only as we approached the village it had somehow re-routed and we were now about to enter the village 😨. The road itself was not over narrow so it was two-way. However, as is typical, there were cars randomly abandoned vaguely near the side of the road in the narrowest section meaning we had to back up quite a way, so a queue of cars could pass from the other direction. Village transited, we found the nice parking spot by a park easily, however, being on the main road we decided it was not a spot for the night.

We headed into the village which was pretty but probably not as much so as Tempio Pausania, which we could see across the valley sat on top of the opposite hillside. We had decided to try lunch here as the restaurants looked very traditional and we wanted to try some more Sardinian specialities. We were lucky to get in first at Il Mosto, the top rated one, as it was full by the time we left. The menu was probably slightly more authentic than my recently ex-vegan tastes aspired to with Bullock’s tongue and Stewed Lamb’s intestines on the chef’s suggestions of the day. However, there was a veggie option and I did get to try one of the local Gallurian pastas we learned how to make on our course – Cjusoni. Kev enjoyed his pork trilogy.

Cjusoni pasta – local Gallurian dish

So, a quick replan and we decided to try a camping spot on the north coast which we had not visited yet in our circumnavigation of Sardinia. So we set off through “Moon Valley” a bolder strewn area of irregular shaped mountains alongside Aggius, another of the many unusual geological features in Sardinia.

We arrived at the camping spot to find it was an uninspiring litter strewn stretch of cobbles behind houses and decided to press on. Cue: driving adventure number 2 for the day as we are led through the centre of more mountain villages and round the edge of Sassari, capital city of the north.

Careful not to take the wrong turn in Sennori

After an hour’s drive we gratefully turn off the highway into the hills, along a single track road which does not appear to be leading to the beach side spot we were expecting. When we get to the GPS spot we find the link from the app is broken and we are not where we are meant to be 😨 The problem with rapid replanning roadside. There is no alternate that looks suitable, so we back track again to the right spot. At least we are rewarded with a nice view of Alghero on the way down.

Views of Alghero (from the wrong hill)

The spot we are trying to get to, it turns out, is about a kilometre down a sand track. This in itself is no issue to us, but as we progress down it, the tree cover starts to increase and before long we realise we are going to cause quite a bit of damage if we proceed. Luckily there is room to turn, so we head back to the official beach car park.

Beach track started well, but narrowed very quickly

Here we find about 4 vans parked up, 2 vans with a washing line strewn between. However, it is fairly slopping and there are quite a few parked cars, so we go for Plan Z and try the second nearby car park. Here another 5 vans are parked up, this is now officially the most vans we have seen since coming to Sardinia. The van who pulled up just after us let out his two cats to roam free 😫 so poor Lola does not get to run around here.

So, we are finally parked up, just as it went dark. It has been a pretty long day, the navigator (☝️😳) does not get top marks today. Just to show it is not easy sailing, cocktails and beach parties! However, we have survived without any arguments, which is pretty impressive. There is a beautiful long beach nearby and tomorrow is another day.

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