The streets of Olbia, Sardinia.
The streets of Olbia, Sardinia.

Sunday, and we cruised into Olbia, Sardinia.  Sardinia, also spelled Sardegna, is part of Italy, with a special statute of regional autonomy under the Italian Constitution.  Sardinia has other resort towns like Cagliari, which may be more developed than Olbia.  Some redevelopment work had been done in the port areas and areas fronting the sea.  The streets of the main tourist areas had also been tidied up.  Despite that, you can see that Olbia is a relatively poor town, certainly when compared with other Mediterranean port towns.

If you’re interested in the history of Sardinia, it’s probably worthwhile wiki’ing the information for a quick snapshot.  Attached is a link to make it easy for you.  There is such a deep history to this region, which I am only finding out about.  And to be honest, I never really “noticed” Sardinia before the cruise.  When I used to think of Italy, I only thought about the “boot” and the “stone”. But that’s what travel does – makes you aware of things you never thought of before.

Love these colours.
Love these colours.
Some of the back streets are front doors to apartments.
Some of the back streets are front doors to apartments.
One of many classic photos of windows that tourists take in Europe.
One of many classic photos of windows that tourists take in Europe.

It being Sunday at 9 am, the streets were completely deserted.  Some passengers were off to board the local buses to find the local beach.  We however, decided not to do this.  Whilst we’ve enjoyed swimming in the Mediterranean and would like to continue to do so, the thought of rushing back to the cruise ship close to sailing time is quite stressful.  What happens if something unforseen happens and you miss the sailing?  Troublesome.  Anyway, looking at the queue that was building up for the local bus, it was just as well.  The buses were quite small and it only came once an hour.

Other excursions from Olbia (or other parts of Sardinia) is to visit the Nuraghes.  I have attached a link to the Wikipedia site for more information.  These are ancient fortifications built in a conical, beehive shape.  Archeologists are not sure of its true use, that is, whether it was used for housing, temple, or military purposes, but no doubt its size, given the period of its construction, would impress.

People watching people watching people.
People watching people watching people.

Most of the shops in the main street of Olbia was closed.  Some retail shops and cafes opened for the tourists.  Interestingly, for a poor-ish town, there were expensive branded stores too.  The back streets of Olbia was also relatively upmarket and well-kept.  We just wandered about, taking in the atmosphere and enjoying the day, which was quickly building up to be a hot day.

Peering through rusty fences across the tracks to buildings.
Peering through rusty fences across the tracks to buildings.

There is something about railway tracks dividing a town.  There is the “good” side of the railway track, or the “bad” side of the railway track.  Or, the water-side is usually more affluent.  Oblia is not different.  Have crossed the railway tracks that cut through the town, and you see a very much run-down version of Olbia.  There were buildings that were boarded up through lack of use, or simply because it was unsafe.  Brickwork and motar looked like it was crumbling away.  Shops were basic and roads were dirtier.

Front door to apartment building, with beautiful wedding dress shop to the left of it.
Front door to apartment building, with beautiful wedding dress shop to the left of it.

Yet, in amidst all this, you occasionally see a shop with beautiful well-designed outfits.  The Italians, no matter where, like beautifully designed things.  Oh, the other thing that Olbia had a lot of (and I don’t know whether this is a Sardinian thing) is ceramics.  If you love ceramics, you’ll go crazy wanting to buy the stuff.  It is really beautiful, and the range quite extensive.  Reminded of the rustic Italian homeware stores you find in Fremantle.

Granite church
Granite church
Interior of granite church
Interior of granite church

We visited the Church of the Simplifico, which is a church made entire of granite.  I’m not certain what the proper name of the church is.  To be honest, it was very hard to keep track of the church names, when you visit like ten of them in one week.  Anyway, the interior of the church was also very gray, due to the granite.  Roof was wooden.  There were few carvings, artifacts and relics (as compared to other churches).  It was a simple, relatively bare church.

Absolutely delicious affogato.
Absolutely delicious affogato.

On the way back to the ship, we stopped off for some coffee and gelato, at none other than a coffee shop that sold Illy coffee.  Love Illy coffee.  This coffee shop sold the best Affrogato.  Rather than just serving it with vanilla ice cream and espresso, this was with coffee ice cream and espresso.  A double hit!

The Bennetton shop was also open for a sale, so we checked it out.  Actually the sale was not bad.  I ended up buying a shirt, though not much else.  Didn’t need any more summer stuff, need to save my money for winter stuff.  And, anyway, a lot of the fashion in this region would be too light even for English summers – sundresses, muslin tops etc.  I also stopped off at the fake jewellery store, though I did not buy any, since it looked mass manufactured from China.

The day was becoming hotter and brighter, and we were definitely beginning to wilt.  So we returned to the ship for a spot of lunch, before relaxing by the pool.