John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Thursday 21 July 2016

[Wednesday 20 July 2016]

Le Palme Hotel & Resort, Porto Cervo, Sardinia
Porto Cervo and Poltu Quatu

Some time in the night Janet said she could hear a mosquito. We went for breakfast ca.9.45am. We’d been given a “Welcome to your holiday” card from the TUI rep when we checked in last night. It had been disappointing to read what had been added in the rep’s hand at the bottom: “I will be at Le Palme on Friday at 6.30pm (Reception). Regards, Santiago.” We’d assumed that there’d be some sort of meeting with the rep this morning. Even more disappointing were the tour-operator binders on the table in the reception lounge: there were two from Thomson. One had a cover in German and that its contents were also in German was no surprise. The other had a cover in English but all the inserted pages were in German, just like the other one, so we couldn’t understand it. We were aware that the hotel ran a free shuttle bus, and discovered that the next one would be at 10.30am. The receptionist gave us a timetable.

We booked the next one out — 10:30 — to Porto Cervo, and the one back from there at 13:00.

So that left us in a bit of a rush to return to the room and collect what we needed.… We were dropped off at a bus shelter across the road from a shopping centre. There we found a supermarket, then wandered through the adjacent shopping complex, full of shops selling expensive brands: Prada, Miu Miu, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Swarovski, etc. We went in a bar; I had a tiny Americano (the Espresso must be microscopic, then!) and Janet a Diet Coke; and were charged €7.50, which we thought excessive. We left there and briefly went down to the sea.

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 10:56:56
Porto Cervo: Looking back at the shopping complex from the bay

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 10:56:56 (detail 1)
Porto Cervo: Looking back at the shopping complex from the bay

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 10:56:56 (detail 2)
Porto Cervo: Looking back at the shopping complex from the bay

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 10:57:16
Porto Cervo: The sea teeming with fish

Then we wandered around, thinking there might be an old town, but everywhere seemed to be just more of the same posh houses. We hoped there might be a church to visit, but there was none. We concluded that Porto Cervo was just a resort for godless rich people with yachts, and of no interest to us whatever.

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 11:06:50
Porto Cervo: Residential area

We went back to the shopping complex and specifically to the Dettori supermarket.

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 11:41:24
Porto Cervo: Part of the shopping complex

I thought an image of the map on the supermarket wall might help us get our bearings; but since we had no idea where the hotel was located relative to the places marked on the map, it was no help at all. And because the places on the timetable were arranged thus — “Le Palme… Baja Sardinia… Porto Cervo…” — we assumed that we must have passed through Baja Sardinia on our way to Porto Cervo.

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 11:43:56
Porto Cervo: Map on the supermarket wall

There was only one can of Coca Cola Light, so Janet chose that and a Coca Cola Zero. I chose a can of Ichnusa, a Sardinian-produced beer. These came to €2.62 (11:47). We sat on a bench and drank them, and Janet went back for another Coca Cola Zero: €0.62 (12:20). I looked at the timetable. Italian and English both use the Latin alphabet, but assign different pronunciations to some of the letters; and without knowing the “pronunciation code”, you cannot guess how they’re pronounced: e.g. in English “c” is pronounced either /s/ or /k/; but in Italian, it’s /ʧ/ before “e” and “i” and /k/ before “a”, “o” and “u”. For most Italian words and names I do know the “code” and can determine the pronunciation. But “Guscio” in the timetable wasn’t obvious to me (“Is it /gusʧo/, /guʃjo/, /guʃio/…?”); and it seemed very strange to me that the clue was given by the Russian spelling «Гушо» (/guʃo/). I already knew that “Cervo” would be pronounced with a /ʧ/, but the Russian made it obvious («Черво»). And “Baja” — that the “j” was pronounced /j/ as in German, was made obvious by the Russian «Бaйя».

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 12:16:44
Porto Cervo: Sitting on a bench outside one of the shops drinking Sardinian beer purchased in the supermarket

We went back to the supermarket and bought (12:50) large bottles of Pepsi Max, Diet Pepsi, Fanta, and two bottles of water. (So I thought. The first one I opened, back at the hotel, was lemonade. I drank some of it, then decided it was unpleasant to the taste and poured the rest down the sink. The other was fizzy mineral water, so was OK.) We went back across the road and the shuttle minibus picked us up at 1.00pm. We took the would-be-iniquitously-expensive-to-buy “minibar” items out of the fridge and replaced them with as many of the supermarket-bought items as would fit in it. We went down to the restaurant for lunch. Breakfast and lunch are serve-yourself buffets; dinner is generally waiter service of a choice from a menu. I had lunch; Janet came with me, though she didn’t avail herself of the buffet, today being a diet-day. I ordered a bottle of water. Again it was almost impossible to determine how much that was going to cost us. Everywhere else we’ve ever stayed, on the chit we’ve signed, there has been the price we’d be charged, and we’ve been given a copy: not at this rip-off shit-hole, though. Damn them! (It was in fact €5.50. Robbery!) I took the half-used bottle away, determined to bring it back at dinner, and refill it with supermarket water when it was empty. We went back to the room. We asked at reception, and they told us that the nearest village to the hotel was Poltu Quatu, in the opposite direction to Porto Cervo. (We ideally wanted somewhere not far away with a supermarket.) They gave us a map, highlighted “Poltu Quatu” and “Liscia di Vacca” (the approximate location of the hotel),—

—and told us: “Turn right from the hotel and go up the hill.” It was a very hot, sunny day, too hot for walking very far.

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 14:18:32
Heading for Poltu Quatu: Interesting rock formation on the hillside to the right

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 14:19:18
Heading for Poltu Quatu: Another interesting rock formation on the hillside to the right

A few hundred yards along the road there was a road off to the left going up a hill, so we went along that. It felt wrong because it kept curving to the left, and I felt that our destination ought to be over to the right. And then it ended at a car park belonging to the residential or holiday apartment complex that was built there. So we retraced our steps back to the hotel, and re-sought guidance. “Go through the Hotel Pitrizza [estate] then turn right at the junction with the main road.” We didn’t make the mistake of turning left from the road up the hill; we continued to the end, where there was a T-junction and the choice of going to the left or to the right. To the right was a sign “Hotel Pitrizza”, but to the left, which seemed to me the more likely direction to take, the road — by the style of its lamp posts — still had the appearance of being part of a hotel estate. So we went that way. It was up a hill, so it was in line with the first instruction “…Go up the hill”, and it ended at a main road, so we were able to “turn right” as instructed. A few hundred yards along that road, there was an “inlet” on the right side, with a rock at the back of it inscribed “Poltu Quatu” topped by a design of irregular polygons.

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 15:00:02
Poltu Quatu: Sign at the entrance to the village

If you faced that, then to the left was a road going down, and to the right was a similar road going down.

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 15:00:14
Poltu Quatu: Way down to the left of the sign

We took the left one, but further down there was a sign saying “Resort of Poltu Quatu”, which gave me the (mistaken) impression that it was the private road of some hotel-like complex; so I led us back up and we took the other road.

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 15:08:16
Poltu Quatu: Way down to the right of the sign

It led us to a place very similar in style or general “feel” to Porto Cervo — that it was for godless rich people with yachts — only it lacked the expensive designer-brand shops. We walked along, with the harbour to our right, and by means of a little bridge crossed a canal leading to the left to a small-boat dock.

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 15:18:00
Poltu Quatu: Dock for small boats

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 15:18:10
Poltu Quatu: Bridge over the canal serving the small-boat dock

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 15:20:04
Poltu Quatu

We found a bar; Janet had a Diet Coke and I had a 0.4ℓ glass of Carlsberg. Last time I had a Carlsberg was at the Kings Head in Waltham, and I said to Andrew, whom I was with, “Probably the worst lager in the world!” For it was pretty tasteless. But this one was strong-flavoured. It wasn’t labelled as premium-strength, though. When I went to the counter to pay (15:54), I also had a quick Espresso. €11.70 was, as in the bar earlier in Porto Cervo, a bit dearer than we’d expect to pay in a bar — but cheaper than the hotel would have been. We had a walk through an arcade, looking for a convenience store.

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 15:56:22
Poltu Quatu: Arcade

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 15:56:22 (detail)
Poltu Quatu: Arcade

Thursday 21 July 2016 — 15:57:10
Poltu Quatu

We found one, just opening up at 4pm following siesta-time, and Janet bought a can of Coke Zero from the fridge for €2.00. She drank that,… then we made our way back to the hotel. The road leading us out was neither of the two that we’d encountered earlier; it brought us to the main road farther along it than where we’d left it. The walk back to the hotel only took some 15 minutes, but that was enough in the sun and the heat. On numerous occasions we heard the rasp of a cricket, often more than one, from the bushes and trees. We booked at reception for the shuttle bus to Baja Sardinia tomorrow at 10:30, to come back at 12:45.

Baja Sardinia and Porto Cervo are in diametrically opposite directions from each other with the hotel between them, not reached successively in one direction, as we thought earlier. The receptionist highlighted the location of the hotel and circled the locations of Baja Sardinia and Porto Cervo on a map.

Back in the room I lay on the bed and fell asleep for about an hour. Set up the computer ca.6.45pm. Changed the time zone. Transferred 16 photos from my camera to the WD Elements HDD (18:48–18:49). Re-enabled Wi-Fi on the computer. At home I’d disabled it, thinking that the network adapter might be using up resources unnecessarily — “unnecessarily”, because I have a wired internet connection there.… There were Wi-Fi connections available, e.g. “Andrew’s iPhone”, which kept appearing and disappearing, and one of them labelled “WIFI”. I selected this one, but it asked for a “network security key”. We went down for dinner at 7.30pm. I took the bottle of water I purchased earlier with me. This evening dinner was wholly a buffet, though it isn’t normally. I forgot to ask at reception about the “network security key”.… I changed the time on my camera to one an hour ahead. I’d forgotten to do that earlier, before taking photos, so I changed all the file-names on the photos from today, e.g. “2016-07-21_09-56-56” to “2016-07-21_10-56-56”. Did some diary write-up — hindered by the netbook’s little keyboard, and the inexplicable tendency for the text I’m writing to suddenly start to insert itself at random between other text on a different line — and finished yesterday’s, ca.11.35pm. I had wanted to write up today’s events, but it was too late. Janet had gone to bed a couple of hours before. I’ve got a raised red lump on the back of my neck, another just above it within the hair, another two just below the left shoulder, two on the left forearm, and one or two on fingers on both hands. So I closed the balcony door tonight, and put the air-conditioning on, hoping to prevent any mosquito invasions.

[Friday 22 July 2016]

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