Sardinia Day One: Alghero to La Pelosa, finishing in Oristano
There are a few words that come to mind when we try to describe Sardinia… it’s a stunning Italian island, your choice of rocky or sandy beaches with or without waves, guaranteed crystal clear water, delicious Italian food and… the list goes on and on…
The Sardinia: 7 Day love affair post summarises our incredible week circling this stunning island, flying into Alghero and out of Olbia with one or two night stops along en-route to the next beach!
We started this particular Italian holiday in Milan and Lake Como, making our flight from Milan to Sardinia incredibly affordable!
Our flight from Milan was with EasyJet to Alghero Airport in Sardinia. Having arrived around lunch time we picked up our Renault TwinGo hire a car from Maggiore, which we booked through rentalcars.com, quickly checked it over for any damage but were lucky enough to have given a near new and completely undamaged shiny beast. Having spent the morning in airports and the flight, we excitedly drove towards our first stop in the northwest of the Sardinia, in the area of Stintino, La Pelosa!
On our way to our La Pelosa, our little beast car decided it was time display a bright red exclamation mark (!) on the dash… now this was not ideal, we were around 20 minutes into our drive and Maggiore was busy when we picked up the car so if we turned around we would have had a minimum of 40 minutes of driving, plus the time it would take the attendant to look at (or replace) the car to get back to where we were. Not impressed and not wanting to lose any of our valuable beach time (especially as it was day one!) … Jenna scrambled through the paperwork and found the car manual to determine just how serious the (!) really was. Now… we probably could have expected this, but honestly, it’s a rental car company for tourists, you would think the manual may have been in English, but no, it was very much Italian and only Italian!!
Thank goodness for Google Translate (and data roaming on a work phone!), so after a couple of minutes and a rough translation, we realised the (!) on the dash was related to the tyre pressure so thinking this would be relatively safe we continued to drive on before pulling into the next service station and asked a local (who spoke no English whatsoever!) for some help through various gestures pointing to the dash and the car manual before he understood the issue and checked each of the tyres!! It all seemed fine, so away we went with no idea what else the problem could be… within 30 seconds, the car beeped (loudly!) and on the dash appeared another warning message.. this time it was STOP and certainly appeared much more serious. Having then tried to call the Maggiore office, with no response, quite frustrated I sent them an email to explain the situation, attached a couple of photos and noted the fact that I did try and call. Either way, nothing was going to stop us from getting to that beach!
After a relatively uncertain 45 minute drive to the north-eastern point of the island we were lucky enough to a) get there, and b) find parking in a car park right next to the beach. Constantly thinking about the car troubles, we decided on paying 1.50 EUR for an hour long parking ticket to quickly duck down to the beach, walk around for a bit and get back to the Maggiore office before heading further to Oristano where we were due to rest that evening.
Honestly, as soon as we reached the beach, we knew an hour would be a joke, the white sandy beach with its crystal clear water took our breath away, and before stepping another foot we quickly went back and topped up our parking ticket.
Have a look at it, the ocean literally looks like an oversized swimming pool!
When you arrive at La Pelosa, the parking is plentiful and offers both curbside as well as separate parking lots along the side of the road, the cost is the same. On the weekends the beach is very busy so I would recommend either arriving early or after lunch to avoid the crowds!
We walked from the beach where we parked down to the end where you see this incredible castle on a separate island which makes for an amazing landscape. The water goes from clear, to light blue, to a darker blue and is so calm, not a wave in sight!
There is ample opportunity to do some last minutes shopping from the beach vendors, bikinis, dresses, towels, rackets and balls, floating devices such as lilos and sunglasses of course! Feel free to negotiate the price on the items being sold – they cater to the tourist industry so their prices are always inflated!! We asked a vendor how much a large beach sheet cost, and the best price I got him down to was around €12 which isn’t too bad because you can then take that with you on the rest of the holiday and it doesn’t take up too much room!
Once we enjoyed a refreshing swim, we headed back to the car, the bright red STOP prominently displaying on the dash, we decided it really was time to head back to the Maggiori office to have the car checked (which turned out fine and they simply needed to reset the computer after a tyre change!!) and then off to our first hotel stop for the holiday, Hotel Mistral 2 in Oristano which was a 2 hour drive south.
Arriving at the Mistral 2, we were absolutely starving so we asked the reception team for some restaurant recommendations and a town map, delighted, we were asked if we would prefer ‘carne’ or ‘frutti di mare’. Now given Jenna does not like seafood, we asked for a meat (carne) recommendation. The reception staff member quickly suggested Cocco e Dessì (see the below review) which was a 15 to 20-minute walk from the hotel, in the old town. It is worth noting at this point that the restaurant is, in fact, a seafood restaurant, NOT a meat restaurant!!!
After dinner, we walked back through the old town to call it a night after what I would call quite an eventful day!
Where to eat
Oristano: Cocco e Dessì. This restaurant is predominantly seafood, but they do offer some meat dishes as well. We arrived at 7.30pm on a Friday night without a reservation. The restaurant had absolutely no atmosphere and was empty, but all the surrounding tables were reserved! The majority of the staff only spoke Italian, so ordering was interesting – after a few minutes, they found another team member who spoke broken English to take our order! We asked what was the best dish on the menu and without hesitation the pizza! I ordered the Gran Torre pizza (tomato, mozzarella, fish pâté and salmon) which was delicious. I’m usually quite sceptical about seafood on a pizza but given the recommendation and the fact that Sardinia is known for their seafood, I couldn’t resist! Jenna ordered the Marinara (tomato, garlic, olive oil and added mozzarella). The service was good, although like most European restaurants they do not come around often to check on drinks and I did feel like everyone specifically avoided eye contact with us at the risk of needing to speak English!
Where to stay
Hotel Mistral 2 was a conveniently located hotel within easy walking distance to the old town. The reception staff were welcoming (even with the misunderstanding between the meat and seafood restaurant!) and the rooms were spacious compared to many other Italian hotels. The breakfast was a fairly standard Italian breakfast – breads, pastries, cakes and so forth, but nothing to write home about, unfortunately. The bonus for us is that the hotel offered free underground parking which was great!
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Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving. – Terry Pratchett