Great bread, Phoenician ruins and lost stuff: the first few days of my European adventure

The good news: I’m eating bread without getting sick.

I don’t have a bread picture. This sea bream was my first entree in Sardinia, presented by Julio, who has worked in Australia & Ireland and would like to come and work in the US.

The bad news: My alpaca shawl* and ipod* got lost in transit (reports filed with Toronto Pearson on the shawl and Air Canada on the ipod). Also, my pictures don’t seem to be wanting to move from my camera to my computer, so photo credit for all the shots in this post go to Debby.

The best news: My sister and brother-in-law are great travel companions and guides.

The trip and the first couple of days are a blur. The afternoon with Amy was fabulous  and consisted of walking around Kensington, a really cool neighborhood full of fun shops and great food followed by 150 minutes at the Toronto Reference Library. She wanted to show me a castle, but instead, we made a 90-second stop at a Tim Horton’s not far from the library where I got to hug my high school friend John, who was in town for the Toronto Film Festival.  (Pictures of all of this to come.)

Downtown Toronto is not exactly Parking Heaven, so Amy parked across the street from the Timmy’s. I jumped out and tore up the block to the corner, where the light was changing in my favor. John waved from the window and I waved back as I ran toward the building. We met up in the lobby. After our hug, I gestured toward the restaurant. 

“Is this where all the fancy film people are hanging out now?” 

Not exactly. John was between a meeting he’d had while we were at the library, and there was a reception on one of the higher floors, so he was just hanging at the Timmy’s and going upstairs after we saw each other.  

But, of course, that was days ago. Since then, we have been eating amazing food and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.

Evidently, this is the worst beach in all of Chia. But it was our first day, and we didn’t know any better. Also, we liked it. Today’s beach though, was really beautiful.

Today, we went to Nora, the ruins of a Punic town first founded in 8,500 BCE and populated by Phoenicians, Carthaginians and, eventually Romans before being sacked by Saracens and abandoned.

This is an actual ancient Roman column that our guide, Andrea, let us behind a barrier to touch and sit on. There are veins running through it, and it was probably shipped from Africa and brought up from the water. The Romans had all the building equipment……

Our guide was Andrea, a lifelong Sardinian. Through his eyes, we saw the town as it might have been before Saracens burned it in the eighth century and the residents abandoned the town, never to return. We saw the shrine of Tanith, a 2,700-square foot house possibly owned by a rich trader who liked to watch his wealth arrive in the harbor, and the shops along the road near the public baths, which were kind of a combination of the mall, the pub, the church and the workplace water cooler. In 50, Romans built a theater, which now hosts concerts, plays and poetry readings.

Debby called this “what remains of the old Roman ‘hood.”

Tomorrow, Debby and I are off to our cooking class in Cagliari, the largest city on the island. It’s about 40 minutes from Pula, where we’re staying.

*The shaw & ipod: As I was going through security in Toronto, I got pulled aside and wanded on account of the RFID sleeves over my credit cards and passport. I put the shawl down there, but got distracted when the security guards dealing with bags called me over and proceeded to unpack my suitcase on account of the books in it (they were “confusing”). By then, my sister was calling me from beyond the checkpoint, concerned that boarding was going to start without me being there.

When I remembered the shawl, I was on the plane and couldn’t get off to go back for it. Also, I was dealing with the reality that the part of the suitcase that was supposed to hook over the front seat wouldn’t because of the design of the seats, which I am also going to consider a flaw in the design of the Onli bag, because so far it’s only worked on two of the seven planes I’ve been on.

The upshot of that was that I had to cram everything I thought I’d want in flight into the pocket of the seat in front of me, which, after roughly an hour of sleep on an eight hour flight and not sleeping much the night before, resulted in the iPod being left behind. I do hope I get both back, but if not, well, the Universe is at least giving me a great vacation. I can always knit another shawl, and I can get another iPod. But I’d really like to get them back, and not just because I feel pretty stupid for having not been more careful and less distracted. Sigh.

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