Day 39 – Snapshots of Sardinia

The views of Valle della Luna

15km inland in western Sardinia is the famous Vallée della Luna, or Lunar Valley. In the hopes of seeing the road less traveled, we rode through this mysterious stretch of land that stood out from other landscapes in Sardinia. Climbing away from the sea, when we first entered the valley we were greeted with a vast view of the landscape, almost like a crater, except its sheer size rendered it larger than any normal asteroid could have made. Dotting this crater were enormous piles of crumbling boulders, abandoned sculptures of a giant artist.

 

Off-season ambiance in Alghero

 

A tourist hot-spot in summer, Alghero attracts a special kind of personality in winter. We shared a few days of R&R with ex-cyclotravelers Tiphane and Marco of Cyclolenti, who let us peek through the window into this world. Living on the same sailboat that brought them back from Indonesia at the end of their travels, they’ve carved out a clique of kind-hearted Italians and expats dedicated to building the island up in a meaningful way. Their hospitality was boundless and we stayed a day longer than expected; though the sun shined all day, the wind howled and swept through the harbour in such a menacing way we didn’t dare mount our bikes and risk toppling over in a crosswind. Plus, it was nice to stay an extra day with friends.

Dirt tracks in Pineta di Is Arenas

We couldn’t help but take a detour through the pine forest of Arenas. In summer, it’s full of vacationing tourists and locals alike, but now it’s a ghost town. The trails are still paved with last autumn’s pine needles and the recent rains left the tracks soft. We got to use our bikes off-road for the first time, climbing and descending like a roller coaster. Finally we began to approach the sea, the track becoming sandier and sandier until we could hear the waves crashing on the other side of the dunes. To arrive at the beach, we had to hike our bikes over the deep dunes, but the other side was worth it. Deserted for miles around, a private view of the Mediterranean Sea. We propped our bikes up with bamboo and lounged across on the sand.

Final refuge, the shepherd’s house

Our last night camping in Sardinia we searched for a peaceful spot on a secluded beach. During off season this is not hard to find. We staked our tent between a crumbling shepherd’s house and the sand dunes, protected from the ocean spray and the wind. Sunset comes later now, and I walked barefoot along the beach as I watched the waves on the horizon slowly engulf the light as the sun sunk below their surface. Dreams of automobiles and headlights haunted me in the early morning hours and when I peeked my head from my tent I learned why: about a dozen fisherman had arrived before sunrise and taken their boats out – my dreams were the reality of their trucks passing not five meters from our tent.