Tuesday, 9 June 2009
Congratulations, You've Won a Free Trip to Sardinia.
I am back from my ladies' trip to Sardinia. Just in case you can't have a holiday for a while, here's what it entailed. I think you could just about pretend you were there with this information:
New Colours: Peach, purple and blue (flowers, houses, clothing, earth), a welcome variation to the green, brown and grey palette of England.
Local Food and Drink: Thin-based pizzas and fresh pastas soaked in oil and covered in salt, red wine, bright orange spritzers (mystery drink), olives, anchovies, bread, tomatoes, prosciutto and cheese, grapes, peaches, pears and apples. We were there for a short enough time to avoid bready-overload and any related symptoms.
Coastal and Inland Adventures: Long days spent clambering on sharp, granite rocks, running towards the clear water only to be stopped by the 'fresh' temperatures and then diving/falling in rather robotically to start slow laps (while the locals and Italian mainlanders stared and blinked from the sand - men in their white or dark blue speedos, legs apart, chocolate tans and haughty women in dark-coloured bikinis with gold trimmings), marching through cricket, caterpillar and bug-infested wheat fields in the singing heat to find huge, ancient olive trees that looked as if their knots could turn into faces and their branches into benevolent arms.
A Night with the Trendoids: On our last evening the three of us rocked up at Costa Smeralda hotspot, Phi Beach. We were given a textbook snub by the waiter who was utterly contemptuous of our shock at having to pay 15 euros/drink (even non-alcoholic!). We figured it was just about worth being able to lie on the white leather sun beds overlooking the moonscape, sea and sunset, but we also figured it might mean nursing each drink for a couple of hours. My friend said, 'Alone again' and we laughed, recalling that most of our nights out had meant the three of us in restaurants or back at the hotel alone and various very small, but nonetheless failed attempts at cracking the local scene. Then an hour or so later, this short, cocky Italian guy invited us to join him and his friends. We looked over to see a bunch of coolies attached to flourescent straws drawing from a communal drink. We strutted over, probably a little too keenly, but it was our last night and we didn't have the time or Euros to be aloof. It turned out that they were the owners and managers of the bar (and other bars throughout the world) and general hangers-on (rich kids who fly from hotspot to hotspot and the well-connected locals). One of the locals said that the life of a (young?) Sardinian is: Work in the morning, beach from 1-4pm, work til 7pm, then bars and night clubs from 9pm. I must admit, for various reasons, I had been a bit snobby about joining them, but they were very warm, chatty, and generous. It was a good reminder that having completely superficial fun is not the worst thing. It can actually be extremely positive and pleasant.
Some Adorable Characters: The composed, handsome concierge who became increasingly paternalistic towards us over the week and rushed out to wave at us as we left in the taxi for the airport, the 70 year old taxi driver we used a couple of times who showered us with 'bella's, the lady who made our coffees and hot chocolates in the morning who had such a wonderfully warm smile, the initially surly blacksmith who brightened up just as we were leaving and essentially trapped us in his studio to show us his craft from beginning to end (he produced the most beautiful wall pieces, hand made from a single piece of steel and then hand painted, many of which are made to sit in front of lights, creating a magical effect), the bronzed owner of the Indonesian and Thai accessories shop who proudly showed off his village to us, the lady in faded floral leggings at the church service (first mass for me in several years, the church - Stella Maris - was simply beautiful) whose full arm, right-angles cast made me laugh, taking me back to the many times in my childhood when I struggled with laughter fits in church.
A Very Long Trip Back: We scrambled out of bed for the 7:15am taxi, arrived at the airport, squinty and a little snippy with each other, to find our plane had been delayed until 3:15pm. On three hours' sleep, this was crushing. What was even more disconcerting was that once we were finally on board the Easyjet crew member on the mic informed us that the crew and pilot had to be hauled out of bed that morning so we had to be extra nice to them. I said to the passengers around me, "Right, so we're handing over our lives to tired, resentful people. Great. The pilot will probably take a short landing in spite of his boss." The presence of Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell on our plane (who would have thougt she used Easyjet?) made it mildly more tolerable as there were some Spice Girls jokes amongst the passengers. The American guy in the seat behind me googled her nude pics and showed them to people in the plane. This seemed funny at high altitude. Not so funny was having to join the non-Euro queue at immigration control and therefore being one of the last to make it to baggage claim to then spot a few sad suit cases remaining, none of which was mine. One of them looked like mine EXCEPT FAR SMALLER AND WITH A BRIGHT BLUE RIBBON ON IT that the owner had obviously attached as an identifier. I knew straight away that the owner had taken my bag home. I then had to deal with a super angry, lined-lipped woman at the 'baggage dramas' counter. I was anxious for her to ring the person whose bag I had before he or she got too far away, but she treated me like I was going out of my way to pester her. She finally rang the person with my bag, en route to London (she had the nerve to ask whether I could meet her in London!). My friend and I then had to wait for an hour and a half until she (bag-taker) came back to the airport for the bag exchange. The baggage counter lady told me to go and meet the "dumb woman" with my case (she had loyalty to neither one of us in the saga). Dumb woman was irritable too and she actually told me how returning to the airport had been really hard for her. There is lots of anger at airports (Love Actually lied). It was a harsh welcome home, I've got to say.