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Postcards from Travel Near and Far by Jia-Rui


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Costa del Sud, Sardinia, 09019

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A Spanish watchtower in one of the bays of Sardinia’s Costa del Sud

Dear ——–,

I spent five days at Cagliari’s T Hotel for a science meeting and appreciated the modern amenities (wi-fi! a good restaurant! a bath tub! coffee breaks!). But at the end of the meeting, I was ready to get outside. Cagliari itself was unimpressive and we were on the fence about renting a car (60 Euros for a day). But thank God we did. We drove down to an archaeological site called Nora, which was first settled in the 8th century B.C., dominated variously by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Spanish. It was less than 200 kilometers from North Africa and remnants of North African marble and mosaic designs could be seen in the ruins of a wealthy citizen’s house. We also took a winding drive along the Costa del Sud, a rugged part of the Sardinian coastline that reminded us of California’s Pacific Coast Highway. It was a land of aquamarine bays, jagged, toothy rocks, and lonely, abandoned Spanish watchtowers. I don’t know if many of the other meeting goers were able to get out to the Costa del Sud, but it made me understand why tourists would come here and why Sardinians would be proud of their survivor of an island.

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The archaeological site of Nora, near Pula

 

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Corniglia, 19018

Flower festival in Corniglia

Dear ——–,

Corniglia was probably the hardest of the Cinque Terre towns to get to. Some of the trains didn’t stop there and you either have to walk up 400 steps or take a stuffy shuttle bus to get from the train station to the center of town. But once you get there, it’s a charming little town. Someone there even had a sense of humor — he or she wrote the word “aeroporto” in chalk with an arrow pointing toward a small look-out point. The narrow stone streets were festooned with flags and, on the day we visited, older women were scattering flowers on the ground. We had apparently stumbled across the flower festival of Corpus Christi. When we returned to Monterosso later, there were elaborate pictures made out of flowers and seeds on the walkways near the main church. It made me wonder whether this is where the idea for Pasadena’s Rose Parade came from.

Flower art on a stone street in Monterosso al Mare