Published: August 27th 2007August 17th 2007
Matt & Mandi on the Scooter
Here we are on the fated scooter...BEFORE the crash!
Let me just say this...Alghero was gorgeous...but this was probably the worst vacation we've ever had. Not because of anything in the town itself (except maybe our icky apartment) but it was just a bad vacation. We went with another couple, Mike and Maria. Mike works with Matt and Maria and I have gotten to be pretty good friends since we moved here. We planned this trip pretty last minute and, after we booked our flight, we discovered that this weekend was the height of high season in Italy because it was a public holiday. It's like trying to find a last-minute hotel in Daytona on Memorial Day weekend. So, we pretty much took whatever we could find that we could afford and I found an apartment that slept 4 right in town in Alghero. They rent the apartments by the week so we were going to have to pay 700 Euros for the week when we really only needed it for 4 nights, but it was still affordable, if on the high end of affordable. Then, a few days before our trip I get an email from the owner of the apartment...something has gone wrong with the bathroom. But, never
fear, he has another property that's bigger, nicer, in a better location, and he'll give it to us for the same price. The only catch is there are two Spanish girls there in one of the bedrooms for our first two days (they were there for a summer Italian school). No problem...we were okay with that since we still had a place to stay!
So, we get into Alghero and get into the apartment. The only thing we could think was, if this one is nicer we would have hated to see the one we were supposed to stay in! It was dirty, the Spanish girls hadn't done their dishes in who knows how long, and there were no blankets on the beds...only sheets. The furniture is what they would put in a college apartment and we killed a roach our first night there. Needless to say, we were extremely disappointed.
But, he wasn't lying about the great location so we weren't going to dwell. It's just a place to sleep so we set off to make the most of our vacation. Matt and Mike were dead set on renting scooters so after dropping our bags we headed
The Four M's
Left to right is Michael, Maria, Mandi, and Matt
out to find scooters. Apparently, we weren't the only ones with that idea because it took quite a bit of walking before we found some! The guy we found said he would have two of them...a 125 and a 250...available that night at 8:00 and we could rent them for our whole trip. We walked around for a bit, visited the beach and enjoyed the sun, and then picked up the scooters. I felt very Roman Holiday buzzing down the streets in this Italian town on the back of a scooter :)
Our goal today was to find a dive shop. We wanted to scuba dive and Mike and Maria wanted to do one of those test/discovery dives. You know, the ones you can do without being certified just to see if you like it enough to sink the time and money into the certification process. We found a guy down by the water and booked a trip for the next day. It was an all day boat trip and Mike and Maria could snorkel once their dive was done. The bad news is that on our way down to find this guy, Mike and Maria had
The Streets of Alghero
Here's the street the runs along the water.
a little bit of a scooter accident. They had taken the bigger one, the 250, and it was apparently a bit top-heavy. Mike gashed his elbow pretty good and Maria skinned up her hand, but luckily nothing was really hurt on the bike that we could tell and their injuries were patched up pretty quick after a visit to the Pharmacia for some supplies. Since Matt is a more experienced rider than Mike they decided to trade. That was great for them but not so much for us, especially me. We headed out to this peninsula on the island to this other dive shop to book some snorkeling for the afternoon. We had about an hour to kill before the snorkel tour left so we rode back to town to get some gelato (Italian ice cream, but way better than regular ice cream). We had just started going back to the dive shop when Matt took a corner a little too fast and we layed the scooter over. Now, I had just been thinking earlier how stupid we were. Any other time I get on a bike I'm in long pants, long shirt, real shoes (if not boots), and a
helmet. I was in a beach skirt, tank top, flip-flops, and a helmet (okay, I'm dumb but not dumb enough to go without that!). Matt gashed up his elbow pretty good but it got my left elbow, thigh, and about half of the length of my left calf.
Road rash really sucks.
So, not wanting to immerse my raw skin in salt water, we didn't go on the snorkel trip. We cleaned me as best we could on the side of the road and headed back to the room where we could do a better job. Honestly, I really couldn't tell you what we did for the rest of the day. I know we didn't lay out because we didn't want sand in all of our open wounds so I think we just walked around the side streets and shopped. Dinner that night, however, was incredible. Being in a seaside town, the seafood was great! Italians eat very late...the restaurants don't really get busy until around 10pm or so and it was mostly still full when we finally left at 1am. The streets and piazzas are all packed and vendors with their carts and tables all come out
Don't Matt and Michael look like they should be on Chips?
in the evening selling everything from jewelry and hats to junky souvenirs.
We had to be at the dive boat at the dock around 9am to get geared up for the dive. We left Mike and Maria on the dive boat while the ferried all of the scuba divers out on rubber motor boats to the dive site. The cliffs around where we were diving were absolutely incredible and I'm really hoping Matt's pictures of them came out, since he was using the cheap waterproof camera and not his good digital. The film is being developed now so I'll post them when we get them back.
We haven't been diving in 2 years...not since Belize, so this was very much a refresher dive for us. It's amazing how much we had forgotten in that time and I know the dive leader must have been privately very frustrated with us but I apologized as best as I could in English and he seemed to understand. The dive was nice, if for nothing else than to get us reacquainted with scuba and for the salt water in the Mediterranean to clean out my road rash (I was too
much of a baby to scrub it out myself the day before). I didn't realize exactly HOW gorgeous the reefs in Belize were until seeing the reefs here. But they did have one thing that Belize didn't have, and that's the red coral. Alghero's pride is their red coral and you can see it in all the jewelry shops. I got to see it underwater still in its live state and it was pretty neat.
After the dive we headed back to the big boat for lunch, which had now moved from the dock to a shallow area for the snorkelers. We met back up with Mike and Maria and a ton of other people who hadn't been there when we'd left the boat for our dive. There were all types of English speakers on the boat...we met two Irish, two New Zealanders, and three British. It was actually really funny that we all spoke the same language but really didn't :) Matt and I decided not to go on the second dive of the day and stayed on the boat to chat and lay out. After the boat got back we made plans to meet the Kiwis (the
New Zealanders) for dinner at 8:30 and went to hang out with the Irish and the Brits for a while. We hadn't talked very much to the British girls on the boat but found out pretty fast that they were annoying and shallow but we all really liked the Irish couple, who actually turned out to be brother and sister on vacation together. Maria, the Irish girl, spoke about 5 languages (maybe 6?) and was fluent in Italian. Her brother wasn't fluent but knew quite a bit and was also able to communicate for all of us. We sat and chatted at an outdoor cafe until Matt, Mike, Maria and I all needed to head back to the apartment to wash off the Mediterranean before meeting Tim and Olivia, the Kiwis, for dinner. Irish Maria recommended a great little local place to eat (turned out she had lived in Alghero for about a year) and the food was wonderful. Then we met back up with all of them in this little piazza (square) near the restaurant and hung out for a while. We all exchanged information and plan on getting together with Tim and Olivia when we visit London, which is where they live now.
Today was our last full day in Alghero and we spent the majority of it at the beach. We played paddle ball, had a very close game of spades, which Matt and I won, and just generally relaxed. We had wanted to visit Neptune's Grotto but there were about 500 steps leading down to it and I had problems walking on flat ground so we opted for the lazy day. Thankfully, today was the day we had to turn in the scooters!!! We went back to the apartment around 6pm and Maria and I started getting ready while the boys took them back. We were hoping that the owner wouldn't notice the scratches but he did and charged us 200 Euro in damages. Hmmm...do YOU think the scooters were a bad idea?
We found a great little pizzeria to eat at that night for dinner and everyone turned in early since we had to get up around 6am to finish packing up and head to the airport.
I would highly recommend anyone to go to Alghero. The people were all so friendly, the town was great, and the water of the Mediterranean was the most beautiful I'd ever seen. Ours was just bad because of the scooters and the apartment. Oh, and did I mention that I got stung by a bee on the boat? Yeah, it was a painful vacation and we just might have to break our own rule about not repeating vacations and redo this one.