I have long been interested in the pre-Lenten carnivals that take place throughout Europe. The combination of old traditions, local culture, unusual masks and costumes, carnival rituals and the general merry making that accompanies it suits my interests perfectly. My first carnival trip was in 2003, to Ptuj in Slovenia, and on average I have been to carnival every two years since. Of course carnival mostly takes place at the same time everywhere, in the days preceding the start of Lent, so you can generally only visit one area each year and maybe attend a few different carnival events (this year we managed to squeeze in four).
Sardinia has been on my destination list since the very first trip to Slovenia as a carnival group from Sardinia was visiting Ptuj that year. Their masks and costumes were quite distinct from the Slovenian masks and they moved in time creating a rhythm with their bells, unlike the local Kurent characters who are more chaotic with their bells.
Since then I’ve read a lot about carnival across Europe. Sardinian masks and traditions are often included in articles and features so their carnivals were always kept in my mind. When looking at possibilities for this year’s carnival trip Sardinia quickly became the desired destination and I decided I would attempt this journey without flying… all the way from Argyll by train and boat!
Below is an interactive map of the entire route taken with some points of interest added, click ‘About’ to see the legend. It was made using OpenStreetMap and some excellent mapping tools: uMap, Railway Routing and OpenStreetMap Routing.
I took advantage of an Interrail pass sale which gave me 10 days of rail travelling within two months. I allowed six days to get there and five to return and planned the journey to use eight of the Interrail pass days. I made contact with friends and acquaintances on the route south and arranged some get-togethers and, other than the pre booked ferries, left the journey home unplanned.
I met my two of band members and friends on the way, Rob joined me in Glasgow and Kieran would join us in Sardinia, and we took our pipes and some percussion with us. Rob and I wore our kilts which makes for interesting travels outside of Scotland as people are keen to talk to you wherever you go.
All in all the trip was a great success. The Interrail ticket and the train travel in general was trouble free, we met some lovely folk and made new friends, and the carnivals we experienced in Sardinia were beyond our expectations. Here are some photographs of the trip which will appear in context in the later posts.
I had originally started this travelogue as a single blog post but after only a few days of the trip being added it was becoming excessively long, so now I shall post each day as a separate post. Watch this space for day one.