Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friday 21 October Cagliari to Porto Torres in spite of the strike

Pictures posted October 25

It was going to be a good weekend for weather and the Italian Railways (FS) decided go go on strike today. However, the strike was due to end at 1700 today and it was not certain that it would be a complete strike. We all went down to the station to find out that some trains were running but nobody could tell us whether the 1500 to Porto Torres would be running. The only way to find out would be to look at the departure board around 1400. It would not necessarily be a disaster as the coach could take us all as a last resort,
The entry ticket gave a different impression of the area.  Green countryside as opposed to bare and brown.
Mary and I decided to visit the 3000 year old stone fortress and village at Barumini. The nuraghe proved to be pretty interesting although access to the interior part was difficult and many decided not to go. The walls were ten meters thick and there is still speculation as to how the large stones, some weighing three or four tons were put in place.

Back at Cagliari station the 1500 was showing on the board. The inbound working arrived at 1428 and so, armed with a sandwich, we all got in and hoped. Angelina went into sheepdog mode and tried to get us all to move up to where she and John were sitting so last minute changes could be instantly relayed. We refused on the grounds that the train was rapidly filling up and we would not be able to get a seat – our reserved coach was a casualty of the strike (more likely standard Italian railway operating procedure). We agreed to stick our heads out of the window at each station and get out quickly if John appeared on the platform.

The 1500 left on time and after the marshland that surrounds Cagliari we were travelling quickly through a flat plain with stark hills on either side. The plain was very dry and what grass there was was brown. The sheep must have had a hard time finding something to eat. A few trees dotted the landscape. It was the same monotonous scenery practically all of the way.
At Oristano we were all stuffed into a three car, modern articulated unit. The lady conductor, with her stylish black boots, minced around looking as if she felt she should have been on a runway but she didn't have the face for it. All she did was to walk, stylishly, from the driving cab to the first vestibule to open the doors at each stop.
The train with a revolving toilet
The train was air conditioned and made reasonable time. It had an enormous WC which was equipped with a revolving toilet seat that sprayed water as it revolved. There was no indication as to how the seat was to be dried and anyone who used it would get a wet bum.

At Macomer the lady conductor pranced off to be replaced by a large rotund man who could only just get in through the doors. Having watched the connection for Olbia leave at Ozieri – Chilivani we waited for the connection from Olbia and then proceeded to Sassari and Porto Torres. A few of the group bailed at Sassari but the bus could not park close to the hotel so arrangements had to be made to get their cases to the hotel.

We arrived at Porto Torres about 40 minutes late – not bad during a strike. The bus was there to meet us and whipped us back to Sassari. The hotel is quite good and dinner was excellent. The staff were very good and the wine flowed freely. Pasta/beef with excellent crispy baked potatoes/frozen flavored cream.

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