Before my trip to Cagliari, I had mostly been traveling around Barcelona, taking short day trips which didn’t cost too much. I saw my friends on exchange traveling to a different city every other weekend, but knew I didn’t have the budget to do so. Couchsurfing wasn’t something new to me, as I had signed up on the website a few years ago but never really used it. To satisfy the traveling bug in me, I decided to try couchsurfing out when I saw tickets to Cagliari for just EUR 15. After a quick search on google of this city I had nevet heard of, I learnt all that I knew about Sardinia, a little island off Italy, which Cagliari was the capital of.
G, my couchsurfing host, was really helpful, agreeing to take a half day from work to pick me up from the airport. While waiting for him to arrive, I got a little worried as there were doubts in my mind as to whether he would actually come, and whether he was going to be a decent guy (All I expected was not to be raped or murdered). My fears all abated when I saw him, as he seemed like a really cute and earnest 32 year old guy. G had only started couchsurfing last month, and he told me that his first experience involved hosting 6 girls from Eastern Europe. Must have been a crazy wild time heh. Anyway, he drove me around the city so I could have a quick view of the main attractions, before we went to get ingredients to cook dinner.
He very kindly offered me his bedroom while he slept on the couch in the living room. It had an awesome view to boot. I caught this sunset while he was making dinner.
G was the first guy to ever cook for me, and damn, was it good. Over the course of 3 days, he made pasta with a tomato pesto sauce and seared tuna, and homemade hamburgers easily the best I had ever eaten. Other days, we went over to his friends’ houses, where they too whipped up simple but really yummy pasta dishes. That’s when I fell in love with couchsurfing, I think. Visiting my host’s friends’ houses provided me an insight to their local lives and even though I couldn’t understand most of their conversations in Italian, I didn’t really feel out of place. In fact, I was glad they didn’t make a special effort to centre the conversation around me, something most Singaporeans tend to do when they have guests over. I also reciprocated by not not taking photos like a tourists lol.
G also brought me to an underground club, and that night was probably my wildest and most exciting night out on exchange. The club was located near the old castle Bastione de San Remy. After drinks at his friends’ mojito bar, where we sat on the steps with the throngs of party-goers, we headed down an underground club. The cave-like atmosphere screamed alternative, and I stood out like a sore thumb, being the only Asian around. Heads literally turned when I entered, and lol, it was the first time I received such attention. G took great pains to ensure that no strangers’ hands landed on any parts of my body. The music was pretty good, hardcore deep house and we danced from 2am til 5am, and when we were ready to go home, it was raining and a girl (probably drunk) was crying and smashing beer bottles at another guy. We we ran down the sloping road back to his car, and ended the night with a few pastries at what he said was the best pastry shop in town After speeding back to his apartment, both of us were too high to sleep, so we showered (which feels like heaven when you’re wet and lightly tipsy), had a long heart to heart chat about love, life and everything in between, til almost 9 in the morning as we ate the sebadas, a traditional Sardinian cheese pastry.
The next 2 days were spent mostly with his friends. One owned a piadini shop in the city center, and we had a late lunch there. Something like a mini calzone, but the dough is much thinner and the filling much cheesier. His friend also made a mini piadini for me, filled with nutella, which was not only cute but really really good as a hangover cure. One of his best friends lived in a little town near Cagliari, and we sped down the highway at 160kmh to visit him, with windows open, seabreeze blowing in and techno music blasting. I didn’t ever want to take public transport again.
The countryside, sort of.
On my last day, G had to work, so I took a walk around the historical neighbourhood in the city. Lots of steep slopes and little streets, with cathedrals, cheese shops and galeterias scattered all over, and a huge ancient castle offering a panoramic view of the city.
I was highly amused that they had a huge cut out of the Pope in one of the cathedrals.
As I had quite a bit of time before my flight, I decided to walk a little further to Mount Urpinu, through a rather posh neighborhood filled with large bungalows, to finally reach a winding trail to the top of a hill overlooking large saline lakes, I could imagine myself coming here to jog if I lived in Cagliari.
Cagliari itself was a small city, easily covered by foot within a day. But G made it so much more than that. He was the first person to show me that traveling is more than just sightseeing, and that you’re never really alone though you might travel alone. Couldn’t have started my couchsurfing journey in a better way!