When the summer sun refuses to shine in Germany
Published: July 21, 2011
While tuned to AFN en route to work in Kaiserslautern on Monday morning, I heard the DJ say the day’s anticipated high temperature for the area was 63 degrees. And here we are, smack-dab in the middle of July. In an instant any pangs of guilt for having booked a last-minute getaway to Sardinia vanished into the gloom of the overcast day.
If you find yourself in dire need of a quick and easy dose of those elusive summer rays, hopping a budget flight to Alghero, Sardinia, will put you in the middle of some prime beach territory where your chances of sunny skies are much higher than in Germany. And you won’t need to rent a car to access some absolutely breathtaking stretches of coastline. Here’s how I got my sunshine fix over the past weekend, and how you can get yours:
A Ryanair flight out of Frankfurt-Hahn departs daily at 3:15 p.m., and lands at the Alghero-Fertilia airport at 5:05 p.m. From the airport, a half-hour bus ride costing just one euro takes you to the walls of the old town. Alghero’s touristy center and promenade have the air of a typical Mediterranean seaside resort town --- families out strolling, street artists performing and passing the hat, old men on benches pretending not to be eyeing girls young enough to be their granddaughters. The old part of the city has a rich assortment of shops, bars and restaurants, with countless jewelry stores hawking the area’s local treasure, creations fashioned of red coral. It’s also the source of the area’s nickname, “The Coral Riviera.” This being Italy, you’re spoiled for choice if looking for a quick slice of pizza or a scoop or two of rich, creamy gelato. I’m sure the fine dining was grand as well, but when I travel on my own, sitting in a restaurant rarely features on my to-do list.
The following morning, head to Cicloexpress or a similar establishment to rent a bicycle for the day. An entire day’s stint on two wheels ran me 13 euros, tire pump and bike lock inclusive. My destination: Le Bombarde beach, but par for the course, I ended up elsewhere and quite possibly the better for it. The more distant Mugoni Beach offered a handful of beachside bars, soft, white sand in all directions, and, across a turquoise bay, a stunning view of the towering cliffs of Capo Caccia. The area had a much less manicured feel to it than other Italian beachside locales.
En route back to town, I stopped often to sample other coastal beauty spots. Between Mugoni and the town of Porto Conte, you can cut through the forest to swathes of beach where crowds are nonexistent. Lazzaretto Beach was picture-perfect but brimming with bodies. I pedaled past to reach a tiny cove accessed by means of a sharp slope, easily enough negotiated. Heading back toward Alghero but sticking to the coast, the pavement gives way to an ever rougher dirt track and cliffs where lovers of solitude can linger as they gaze out to sea.
For those not so inclined toward a day in the saddle, the lovely beach of Maria Pia, between Alghero and Fertilia, is a valid option. Its waters are more greenish than crystal or turquoise, but the pine-topped dunes make a beautiful backdrop to your beach day.
I crowned the Sunday of my long weekend getaway with an excursion a bit farther afield. When checking out the selection of postcards in Alghero on Friday night, I became entranced by images of a place called Stintino, an ancient tower perched on a miniature island surrounded by waters of Caribbean blue. When the possibility to reach this perfect scene unfolded, how could I have resisted? A bus left Alghero’s airport at 9:14 a.m. and in just one hour’s time, I had reached Stintino’s La Pelosa. The first beaches en route to the tower were mob scenes, and I wondered for the umpteenth time how vacationers could find sitting in loungers in rows 10 deep, 50 wide and within arm’s reach of one another a treat worth paying for. But they do. I kept moving until I reached a bluff where the crush of humanity had all but vanished. With legs in the surf and my back to the sun, I tried to take a mental snapshot of the day to carry me through those chilly, gray days of winter that inevitably lie ahead.
Four hours wasn’t a lot of time to spend in Stintino, but at the mercy of a bus schedule and a plane to catch at 5:30 p.m., I took what I could get and was happy for it. I don’t think any lovers of a good beach could or would have hoped for more from a short weekend getaway. Accommodation suiting all types of budgets seemed plentiful, and, in my experience, the airfare wasn’t exorbitant either. If you’re pining for sun and surf, Alghero and its surroundings won’t do you wrong.