Eurotrip 2016 Part 4
Fourth and final leg of the trip, are you ready?
I had seen amazing pictures of Asilah in an article from Conde Nast Traveler when we were planning the trip, which is a big reason why we decided to visit Tangier in the first place. Asilah is about a 40 minute drive from Tangier and you can take a train or taxi to get there. The airbnb helped us line up a taxi, we just didn't want to brave a train by ourselves (see previous post about traveling as two women in Morocco). It was quite an adventure, the car was definitely a junker with no seat belts and gorgeously sweaty sticky leather interior bench seats. I could tell these were legit vintage because I had springs poking me in the but the whole way. Anyways, we stopped at the Caves of Hercules on the way (first picture), but I wouldn't say it is necessary to stop. We did see a tiny little spider monkey on a leash getting a bath which was a little amusing though. He was NOT feelin it.
Asilah itself 100% held up to expectations, although being there felt kinda twilight zone-y or maybe Wes Anderson-y. The streets of the town center were almost completely empty and it seemed that there were no businesses other than the occasional corner store or tourist shop. We ran into very few people and they seemed to skirt away from us, except for the few people trying to sell us tourist trinkets. The streets were incredibly windy and narrow and it was fun getting lost, since we knew we would eventually either run into the beach or the old town walls protecting the town center.
Almost every building was painted chalk white with bright pops of blue, turquoise, orange or pink. We wandered around for about two hours taking pictures of the twisting streets and art on the walls. We hopped back into the taxi and headed back to our airbnb palace in Tangier. We left Tangier the next day and headed to Sardinia, our final destination of the trip.
I have a long history with Sardinia that I should go into in another post some other day. For now, it is enough to say that I had the amazing fortune to study abroad in a little town called Terralba on the West Coast of the island my junior year of high school. I lived with a host family, gained lotsa weight, made life long Italian and international friends and spoke so little English (this was in 2006 so Facebook and skype and all that had just started and it was hard to keep in contact regularly) that when I came back I had a hard time speaking or listening to more than one person talk (in English) at a time. Suffice to say, my time in Sardinia has given me some of the most challenging, exciting and formative experiences. I visited regularly when I was a college student working full time and living at home, but after my second year studying abroad in Italy I moved out and couldn't afford to visit anymore. This return happened to be on the 10th year anniversary of when I arrived the first time, and 7 years since I had been back to Italy. This is gonna sound so cheesy, but being back felt like a missing part fell right back into place.
We started the trip touching down in Cagliari, the capital city of Sardinia very early in the morning. We rented an adorable little Fiat 500 and took off immediately for the province of Nuoro and a town called Cala Gonone. By the time we got there it was around noon so we stopped at the local supermarket and stocked up on all our favorite Italian goodies (olives, prosciutto, tuna in oil, grisini, pecorino, sardinian provolone, wine, beer and fruit). We had a cute little hotel room right on the harbor, so we checked in and got to snacking. We went to the small beach right next to the harbor and later that evening we went to grab several rounds of spritz. That night we ate at the hotel restaurant, which was extremely delicious, and watched the Italy vs France European Championship soccer match. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Sardinia DO NOT miss trying bottarga. Bottarga is dried fish roe eggs, a specialty of Sardinian cuisine (sounds weird, I know). People love it or hate it, and I am obsessed with it. I can't get enough!
The next day we had one of the best days of the entire trip. We packed up our snacks, rented a small boat and took it out all day on the water. We were able to see the gorgeous Grotta del Bue Marino as well as Cala Luna at our own pace from our own personal boat. We beach hopped and sped around and took an embarrassing amount of boomerangs. The sights were unreal, and it was nice to have a day almost completely to ourselves and the gorgeous Sardinian beaches.
Unfortunately, we only had 3.5 days in Sardinia, so later that evening we jumped in the car and drove across the island to Terralba to visit my host friends and family. To be honest I was a little bit nervous to see everyone again, it had been so long since I last saw them and I was really unsure of how much Italian I remembered. Of course I shouldn't have worried at all because I was welcomed with open arms, kisses and some tears. My only regret is that I wasn't able to stay longer. It was so nice reconnecting with old friends and family. We stayed at a hotel in Torre dei Corsari, which is a tiny beach town near Terralba. We got to spend some time on Pistis, the beach I haunted when I lived there and on all my visits back. There were more tourists than I remembered at Torre dei Corsari, which means they catered more to english speakers, but you definitely get special treatment if you speak Italian and EXTRA special treatment if you know some key phrases in Sardo (which I very luckily still remembered!).
Just writing about Sardinia makes me ache to go back. I know I will be returning soon, I felt too whole there not to skimp and save to get my ass back there.
The next day we grabbed a plane from Cagliari to Rome to Istanbul to Oakland. To end this epic, somewhat bougie, four-part travel log will quote my last instagram of the trip, because why do more work?
Not sure how to sum it all up except that now I'm poor in money, but filthy rich in friends old and new. Non so come riassumere tutto tranne dire che adesso sono povera di soldi ma sono ricca di amici che ho conosciuto da poco e da una vita.
Rock on kids.