The sun rose at 6:00 a.m., and we had a gentle breeze from the NNW at about 10-15 knots and a balmy 75 with an overcast sky–a perfect day for touring. After a delicious breakfast, we took the tender and two Zodiacs to the port of this beautiful medieval city of Alghero. Once there, we boarded our transport ship, “Neptunos,” to Neptune’s Cave, four kilometers across the bay. The ride across the bay was lovely with a fresh breeze. Our arrival and departure were memorable. As the swells rushed into our narrow landing area, the ship rose and the metal plank on which we walked from the ship to the shore accordingly rose, at times to four feet off the surface of the shore. The crew, however, made sure we only crossed when the swell was out. The grotto was deep and stunning. As we went deeper into the interior, the views became ever more beautiful. Large caverns of crystalline stalagmites and stalactites formed delicate columns 100’ tall, and beneath them were limpid pools of transparent seawater. It was truly a natural cathedral.
After lunch, we returned to Alghero and rode to a most wonderful sea lookout. We were in a protected ecological zone. The air was fresh and the most wonderful blooming plants surrounded us, including a number or euphorbia, which I was surprised to find in such a humid climate. After we took our photos, we went to the small boutique wine estate of “L’d’Ittiri Wines.” There we sampled three very good wines, including a rose, a white, and a richly complex and strong red (15.9%). Local olives, cheeses, and bread dipped in olive oil made on the estate accompanied the wine. Many of us purchased the wines and the olive oil, which were very reasonably priced given that they are artisanal products. We then boarded our coaches to return to Alghero for a walking tour of the old city. I was struck by the frequency of street names in Catalan, the national language of Catalonia and Barcelona. In fact, the people of Alghero speak a dialect of Italian heavily influenced by Catalan. The Spanish were their overlords for some centuries so this makes sense. Alghero is clearly a city of some wealth as we passed all the world-famous shops, such as Gucci and dozens of shops selling fine jewelry and local products. We returned to Sea Cloud and settled in for our conversation and cocktails and one of the inimitable dinners.