Friday, November 25, 2016

Admiring Food on the Trip Home from Sardinia

We just can't help ourselves in Italy -- whenever we pass food, we stop to admire it.  We drive from Chia to the Cagliari Airport, about an hour away, check into our BA flight to London, and what do we see?  Yes, great food.

Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia, but we only pass through this time, with our focus on beaches and unfriendly mountain towns.  With around 150,000 people and 430,000 in the metropolitan area, Cagliari is a major city and doesn't match our theme for the trip.

We whiz through the edge of Cagliari to the airport (remember, we're still driving in Sardinia), check in, and head into the departure area to see what we can find.  The bar by the gates has an incredible assortment of appetizers on display, but we aren't hungry and only stop to appreciate it and take a few pictures.

 Snacks for sale at the bar in the departure area

And, then we wait

We cause a little discussion at immigration on our way out as we had entered Italy in Pisa and, when we took the ferry to Sardinia, we just walked in.  The agent searches our passports for an entry stamp into Sardinia (we think, "keep us, yes, we can stay!"), but finally one of them finds the Pisa entry, shows it to the others, and we are good to go (darn).

It's a cold, rainy day in London and, rather than take the tube into the city and wander around in the rain for an hour or two, we elect to have dinner at our hotel, the Renaissance London Heathrow.  We have a great view of a main runway from our room and from the lounge, where we go for initial appetizers and a glass (or two) of wine.  We then dine in the bar and are truly pleased:  sliders for Laura and Jennifer and fish and chips (with tartar sauce and mushy peas) for me.  I get the largest fish piece that I've ever seen served as fish & chips and devour it all.

 Bar food:  sliders, fish & chips

Closeup on the fish & chips

In the morning, we hop on the local bus, which is free within the Heathrow terminal area, and head over to our flight back home.  Buses Number 105, 111, 140, 285, and 555 all stop outside the hotel and head straight into the Heathrow Central Bus Terminal, from where it is only a short walk to either the tube into London or HeathrowTerminals 2 and 3.

Well, Toto, we're not in Italy any more!

We'll have some new adventures before we return to Italy next year, but, in the meantime, we share and remember our great times, meals, and discoveries!

Food and Dining in Chia

As we drive back and forth to/from our hotel, we pass the local market in Chia and are drawn in. Initially, we are thinking about a bottle of local wine for the evening on our balcony overlooking the beautiful gardens at sunset.  But, we then pause to admire the food in the deli section and think of a picnic lunch on the balcony.

First stop, the wine corner

 Next, the deli:  Sardinian flat bread, meats, cheeses

Picnic on the balcony

We ask the hotel for a restaurant recommendation and they suggest Ristorante Mirage, about a 10 minute drive away.  We have one dinner, then another, then another.  Wow!  We like it!  We don't get to any other restaurants, but the quality, variety, and atmosphere at Mirage keep us coming back day after day.

 Dine inside or outside at Ristorante Mirage

Our first dinner starts with a assorted cheese antipasti, followed by octopus and potato salad (mostly octopus).  We then share the seafood risotto.  What a great assortment.

Dinner 1

The second day, we share three salads and two entrees among the three of us:

  Octopus and potato salad
  Melon and prosciutto
  Caprese salad (mozzarella and tomato)

Main course
  Spaghetti fruitti di mare (all from the sea)
  Sardinian pasta with sausage and tomato

Dinner 2:  Antipasti trio

 Sardinian pasta with sausage, spaghetti fruitti di mare

Our next (and last) dinner features two dishes we had truly enjoyed previously:  octopus and potato salad (I'm in a rut, but a great rut!) and Sardinian pasta with sausage.  We then share a pizza (we are in Italy after all) with sausage and olives.  All as separate courses.  Very symbolic, although we didn't even think of that at the time, we have pasta, octopus, and pizza for our last dinner in Italy.  All the dishes we truly enjoy.

 Dinner 3:  Sardinian pasta with sausage

Octopus and [some] potato

There is no pizza picture:  we enjoy it so much, we forget to take a picture.

But, alas, in the morning we're off to London to start our trek home.  We bid goodby to Sardinia, but pledge:  We'll be back!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Day Trip to Teulado

In addition to the fabulous beaches, which we enjoy every day with a long swim in the Mediterranean, we decide to drive up the coast and into the mountains to find the small town of Teulado.  Teulado has incredibly varied geography, stretching from splendid beaches up into wild and unspoiled mountains, and the city is an artist's town with narrow climbing streets in the historic center.  And, the drive there is spectacular!

 First, a spectacular drive west along the coast from Chia

After we turn inland, it's a short drive into the mountains to Teulado's city center.  We understand that the town has a large artist community and want to see what they are making, so we drive past the town square, park, and wander back.  It seems very quiet and we spot a tourist office just off the square where the woman in the office tells us that most of the artist studios are closed to the public, but that a few may be open in the next square and that we are free to walk around all we want.

Sign outside tourist office:  Teulado from coast into mountains

Artistic pathways through town

However, we are not very welcome here!  We had heard the mountain towns are not friendly and as we wander over to the next square, we find a few small shops and attract a lot of stares as we are clearly the only tourists in town and everyone seems to wonder why we're here.  While we don't find the shops and galleries that we expect, the drive along the coast and the outdoor sculptures that we do find scattered around town are worth every minute of this adventure.

On our way out, the local policeman stares at us also, then follows us out of town (I think he was going somewhere else, but he did follow us first).  Clearly not tourist territory.  And, as we drive out of town, we experience a classic Sardinian driving experience:  as I'm driving down the street near the city center (with the policeman behind me), a truck turns onto our street and starts accelerating toward us on our side of the street.  Laura is vehemently insisting that I must be going the wrong way on a one-way street, but I figure that the policeman behind me would have said something if that was the case.  The truck driver spots us, swerves over to his side of the road, and we make it out with nary a dent in our rental vehicle.

But, before we leave, we take a few pictures of the incredible statues on display all through Teulado, making for interesting discoveries around every corner.

 Statues scattered around town near the main square

The road out of Teulado, on the other side of town, winds through the mountains back to Chia and we appreciate the inland views, very different from the expansive seascape views on the way in.

 Mountain views on the way back

 Our car, on a switchback, still undamaged

Once we get back, it's time for a swim in the sea, un aperitivo, and to start thinking about dinner.