After leaving the boat in Cartagena for a fun trip home to reconnect with family and friends we were greeted with a malfunctioning battery charger and a freezer full of spoiled food, yuck, time to clean out those leftover meals from the passage. It had been a great place to visit, but being delayed another week for repairs made us anxious to be out sailing and heading further east.
We had heard horror stories of crowded anchorages and exorbitant prices in the Mediterranean during the months of July and August, and we did experience some of that, but we always found something to love even with the crowds. Island hopping our way through Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca we enjoyed beautiful anchorages, small towns and fresh fish, and we gained a new appreciation for the tiny boats so many Europeans travel in that fit in the small spaces available on the crowded water. We had a great dinner with friends in Andratx, Mallorca where the owner brought the fish to our table for inspection, holding it with his fist in it's mouth. I wanted to say "eeww", it was huge, slimy, and muddy brown, not a beauty, but we all said "muy bueno", and totally enjoyed every bit of it when it was delivered cooked. It was great to catch up with an old friend when we sailed back into Alcudia where we first set eyes on Spindrift over two years ago. In Menorca we loved waking to the sound of goat bells on the hills in the small cala where we anchored, swimming in turquoise waters and hiking up ancient roman paths to the caves on the cliff overlooking our boat. We totally enjoyed our time in Spain, and made last minute purchases of the local gin, great tuna packed in olive oil, Seville marmalade and Iberco ham to take with us, we weren't quite ready to be done with our Spanish experience. But it was time to head on to Italy, and after an overnight sail we arrived in Sardinia.
We continued to enjoy interactions with the people of Sardinia even when we struggled to communicate. On our first night in the small town of Portixeddu, three people were working hard to get their punctured inflatable motor boat out of the water. Tony jumped in to help, he had no idea what they were saying, but his new Italian friends understood his name and they all were working toward a common goal. Before you knew it, there were 8 people and a jeep helping to pull the boat to shore. It was one of those times when you wish you had a camera handy, especially when Tony fell in the water fully dressed. They were eventually successful and Tony was a bit soggy during dinner at the local pizzeria specializing in french fry pizzas, but he was feeling pretty good about the part he had played in improving European American relations. From there we traveled to Islola di San Pietro where we rented a motor bike to explore the island. After a pretty extensive road test which involved getting on it, turning on the engine, pushing it off the kick stand and driving five feet, we were trusted with the bike. It was such a great way to see the island, we could cover so much more distance than on our six knot an hour sail boat, circling the small island in less than a day. Time was running out and we happily moved on to Caglieri to meet up with our son Brian.
It's always nice to experience a new place with family and friends, you gain a different perspective, another set of eyes, and sometimes a navigator that's much better at finding their way around the confusing city streets. We climbed up the hill to the Roman amphitheater and the Cittadella dei Musei for some history, the Galleria Comunale d'Arte for culture, Orto Botanico for nature and Caffe Libarium Nostrum for views of the city and wine spritzes. Before we headed out of town we stocked up on all the fresh produce and meat we could carry from the bustling Mercato de San Benedetto, figs, tomatoes, prosciutto, olives, pecorino, fresh bread, porcini mushrooms, local olive oil, so many choices, such small back packs.
We ate and swam our way around the island, stopping at the long stretch of white, sandy beach in Villasimus, anchoring off the Phoenician ruins at Nora, and hiking into the quaint town of Pula. Along the way we practiced our Italian, with the elderly man that happily splashed around our boat, smiling and yelling "L'aqua bella!" (beautiful water) and Carlos, the biker that pitched in to help us fix our two flat tires, exclaiming "tutto a posto" (everything's in order). A week goes by way too fast and it seemed we were saying good bye to Brian on the heels of saying hello, but so thankful to have memories of the Sardinian adventures that we shared with him.
Spindrift was left behind at the marina in Cagliari for a few days while we traveled inland to meet up with old college friends in Austria. What a change to be hiking through cow pastures, swimming in fresh lake water, eating weinerschnitzel and drinking storm, a surprisingly good young wine that's just beginning to ferment and only available this time of year. We enjoyed taking in the historic sights of Salzburg and a Mozart concert at the hill top fortress. And we especially loved talking, we picked up a few German words, bitte and danke (please and thank you), but most people spoke English and I went overboard asking questions while I could, of the waiters, store clerks and of course our friends. It was just so great to connect in a language we understood so well.
And now we are back on the boat with our sights set on Sicily and exploring that island with family and friends that are coming to visit. There's a great poem that Brian shared with us, it reminds us to enjoy these days, they are such a gift.