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Costa Smeralda, Italy
Tuesday, July 8th

Marina dell'Orso di Poltu Quatu Marina dell'Orso di Poltu Quatu
Poltu Quatu Helicopter If you have no yacht, you can get here by helicopter.
Poltu Quatu Poltu Quatu is beautifully landscaped and maintained. Manicured bougainvilleas provide the predominate color.
We anchored off shore. Forty years ago, this windy, craggy coastline was nothing more than a series of poor fishing villages. Then the Aga Kahn and some of his wealthy friends formed a consortium to develop it. The Emerald Coast was born, and very soon was overrun by the jet set. Today, expensive homes, condos, resorts and luxury hotels crowd the coastline.

The tender took us into Poltu Quatu, a small harbor with many expensive yachts. We arrived at noon, just in time for all the shops to close. This being Italy, most everything closes down between noon and 3:30, unlike France, where shops close for only two hours. So here we were, in a very small town with nothing to look at except some expensive condos and yachts. The only activity we saw was by the gardeners and landscapers who seemed to be working at most every condo and home. In fact, the whole town was meticulously landscaped. We eventually found a grocery store and stocked up on some items for the cabin; and later came across a gelato shop.

Had we been told during the cruise director's daily talk or been given local maps, we would have known that Porto Cervo was a short walk away, on the southern side of a narrow peninsula. Sergiy told me he walked in that direction and came upon a beachful of Russians. Rumor has it that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, recently purchased a home nearby.

All in all, this was the most boring stop on our itinerary. Very posh, but very dull.

It was much more interesting back on board. Our anchorage was in a beautiful setting, out of sight from the harbor which was around a promontory. Off our port side was the rugged pink granite coast, and off the starboard a seemingly deserted island. A closer look revealed some modern structures that looked like flattened igloos, reddish-colored to blend in with the landscape. Dozens of small boats moved through the straight. White sails against the clear emerald green sea. Motorboats. Jet skies. Wherever the Star Clipper sailed, as we neared land, the locals would swarm around the ship. Cameras would be trained on us as we aimed ours on them. The Star Clipper was always the center of attention.

I hadn't heard yet who won the women's title at Wimbledon on Saturday and asked one of the ship's sports crew if she knew. Marine, a French woman, said no, but she could find out. Her mother, who lived in Paris, was a big tennis fan. Right now she was vacationing at Mirabel, an Alpine resort. Using her cell phone, Marine called her mother and had the results for me in minutes.


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