Holidays and Other Excursions

Tag: Arbatax

Sardinia 14.10.23

ARST Railcar @ Mandas

Saturday 14.10.23

Having used the golf buggy to reach the coach at the top of the hill we depart and head initially south and then turn inland through some more wild and rugged countryside winding around and over some magnificent hills on our way to Mandas – which is where the junction of the line to Arbatax branches off from the line which runs south to Cagliari and also runs northwards.

South of Mandas towards Cagliari there is a pretty regular service run by ARST usually using the same units we have already enjoyed on the west of the island and one or two services (I think for school traffic mainly) that run to a couple of stations north of Mandas on weekdays only.  We arrive in plenty of time and so go in search of a coffee at a nearby establishment which is also popular with the locals and is soon found by many of our fellow travellers.

There are still one or two services provided by older railcars (one was seen earlier in the holiday on the line from Sorso to Sassari) and today one has been found for our journey to Cagliari.  So no air conditioning today!  It is pictured above!

Metro at San Gottardo

Our journey terminates at San Gottardo in the north east area of Cagliari.  The line continues onwards as part of the metro system but our coach is here to convey us to our hotel in the town centre.  The trams use the same gauge and indeed run a little way further out of Cagliari on the line we have used on our inward journey.  The depot is here at San Gottardo.

Our hotel is based in the City Centre near to the main run of restaurants and not far from what is known as the Marina area although there is now a main road between the area and the waterfront.

Elephant Gate Cagliari

Our coach takes us first to the far side of the city and we have views both out to sea and then back across the city to the Castello area.  Having had a distant view the coach then returns to the city to drop us very close to the top of the city which is the Castello district.  This was  originally the location of a  Pisan castle and it represented a change as the main city had previously been elsewhere.

The Aragonese eventually defeated the Pisans and took control of Sardinia.  We walk slowly down the hill from the Castle area past the Royal Palace and the Cathedral – there is a service in progress so we cannot take a look.  We wind back and forth – others seem to know where we are, I will admit to being confused.  We pass through the Elephant Gate and we eventually emerge adjacent to the Bastion de St Remy having walked all the way down the hill and avoided the large number of steps.  I noted a number of restaurants on the way but it is clear that they are uphill!  From here it is a further short walk down more of the hill to the hotel.

The adjacent Marina district is just behind the main street of Cagliari and it contains numerous restaurants so we wander down there for our dinner.

Sardinia 13.10.23

Orgosolo art

Friday 13.10.23

We are joined by a local tour guide today and there are no railways – well not in the plan but we do visit a station towards the end of the day.

Our prime destination is Orgosolo and the journey there takes us back over the curving roads we used to reach Arbatax yesterday and then goes over the mountain tops so there are excellent views at various times on both sides.

Among other pieces of history our tour guide for the day advises us of the Sardinian aversion to the seas and fish.  Around 1200BC there was an undersea volcanic eruption which caused a huge tsunami which engulfed much of the lower lying lands of southern Sardinia – an area which we have not yet seen but will visit as we go to the capital Cagliari.  There was inevitably huge loss of life and it led to Sardinians becoming permanently scared of the sea – so they limited their sailing excursions and tended not to eat fish relying on what they could grow.  This feeling is deeply embedded into the local psyche.  Subsequently Arbatax became a fishing village only because people living on a neighbouring island saw that the fishing grounds were unfished and moved to Arbatax and took on the fishing.  But for an island surrounded by fish the locals eat far less fish and it is far less prominent on menus than would normally be the case.

The wander around Orgosolo is fascinating.  Wikipedia relates that it was once known as “Bandit Country” which led to a film “Banditi a Orgosolo” in 1961 which is about bandits and sheep stealing.  The murals commenced in  around 1969 and are now a feature which brings the tourists to the town.  An article from The Guardian explains more.  Many of the murals are the work of Francesco del Casino as it says although many others have contributed subsequently.

Lunch slowly roasting on an open fire

We move on from Orgosolo to a small farm outside the town for “lunch with the shepherds”.  It is not obvious how much shepherding they do these days – we understand that the sheep are kept on a farm elsewhere and this location is merely used to feed and entertain the groups who have visited the town earlier in the day.  Obviously fresh food is cooked in front of us and served simply – and one of the best meals of the holiday, out in the fresh air and in the middle of some attractive countryside.

Returning to Arbatax we head into the town itself for a walk around the town and to the edge of the harbour to view the Red Rocks.  Adjacent thereto is the station – no trains and a mystery.  One source today assures us that there have been no trains this summer but later in the holiday we find that the green train has been operating.  For 2024 it is being advertised (but at the time of writing cannot be booked) as a rail and coach excursion from Arbatax to Lanusei and then a couple of options to see the countryside or to eat before returning – all for €69!

Jackie and Red Rocks of Arbatax

The line itself runs to a junction with another line just north of Mandas and is presumably capable of being traversed as the stock for the service obviously is able to come and go for the summer services as they are not obviously anywhere in Arbatax.

We return to the hotel and having had a decent breakfast we are looking forward to dinner but for some reason the food fell short of expectations – sometimes in a buffet one simply chooses the wrong things to eat and perhaps that is what happened here.

Sardinia 12.10.23

New and old ARST units at Macomer

Thursday 12.10.23

Activities today re a little mixed as we head off for a drive along a coast hugging road as we head initially southwards with our first target the town of Bosa.  Whilst the town, like Alghero was ruled from Spain the fortress is of later origin being built by a Tuscany family in the thirteenth century.  We have a walk around the lower town but can see that the route to castle is many steep steps and decide that as it seems to be even warmer than yesterday that the effort is probably not justified.

Bosa – river Temo

When we arrive we spot a horse and trap providing rides around the town – but when we return to the starting point I suspect that the owner has decided it is either too hot or too many people and has replaced it with a Dotto train, so we decide not to take the trip.  We have lunch in the square and then return to the coach for our onward journey.

In theory we should be on a train as there is usually a service from here to Macomer – as we progress by road we do cross the railway and the lack of service at present is because significant sums are obviously being spent on track maintenance as we pass a track maintenance team at one point and at another a stack of replacement track panels.  We do find both the closed Bosa station and the still “open sometime” Bosa Marina station which is the limit of operation.  I rather think that the railway probably lies largely under a newish looking road!

Tinnura art

Having taken a more direct route we cross the railway just before Tinnura where there is an impromptu stop as the town has a large number of paintings all over the walls.  We have a planned visit to another location later on the trip but I believe I prefer the paintings here.  Our current destination is Macomer where the two stations, one for the main line and one for the little branch lines face each other.  We have a lot of time to kill as the service onwards is by train.  Macomer is about 1800ft above sea level and as we turn through 180 degrees so that we are heading east we are high above a river valley.  The line then follows the contours of the countryside as we head towards Nuoro which is at about the same elevation but we need to climb back into the town from the lower levels.  There is a modern station here – again evidence that whilst services might be relatively few there is money available for the infrastructure.

We rejoin our coach for the final stage to Arbatax a fishing village on the east coast – so we have effectively crossed over the centre of the island.  Some dozing during the first part of the journey whilst we are on the main roads heading generally in a south easterly direction.  The last five or six kilometres are however very much slower and twistier as we descend from the mountain ranges to sea level.  The hotel is very well appointed and might make an ideal location well away from it all – there is a buggy to get us to our rooms although it disappears and it turns out our room is walkable.  There are extensive grounds, pool and the sea – but we are out all day tomorrow so cannot participate.