Corsica ...... amazing !!!

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June 12th 2011
Published: June 12th 2011
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Bastia, Corsica 1 – 6 June 2011

Arrived in Bastia via ferry from Livorno Italy – very relaxing 4½ hour trip on the boat. Loads of motor bike riders on their mighty big BMW bikes; MTB cyclists, road cyclists plus folks heading for their campervan holiday in Corsica.

We had 4 nights at Hotel l’Alvi, Bastia situated overlooking the beach. We wanted to relax after our Cinque Terre walking and be rested ahead of starting our 7day self-guided trekking adventure across Corsica.

It was so lovely to chill out with some major sleep ins and afternoon snoozes. We even agreed we wouldn’t bother with a 7hr+ trail situated near where we were staying. Agreed it was time to really relax.

Our first night in Bastia was interesting. Robbo experienced her first FDS situation = I had a fresh dog shit (FDS) situation which translates to the more sexy French as ‘J’ai eu une situation la merde de chien fraîche’
Yes…. I stood in a huge pile of freshly laid material and made worse that I had my walking boots on so the tread of these shoes (picture a 4WD tyre) really held the FDS
material. I used my first ‘merde’ or ‘shit’ so I hope I’m practising my French language with correct usage & pronunciation.

Tout bon! All good!!

Then we headed out for dinner, 1st restaurant we waited for 20 mins+ with nothing happening from a service stand point = no menu, no offer to take a drink order, so we walked out after eating two packets of the thin bread sticks but unfortunately I realised later that I’d stupidly left my carry bag so later I had to sneak back to grab it, lucky it was still there!!!!. The adrenalin was pumping for old Robbo.
One thing that we have noticed that the locals do like their smokes but with the frequency of chain smokers, although you can’t smoke inside, if the restaurant is open-air under a partially enclosed three-sided marquee which covers all of the seaside/ocean or port view restaurants, then this structure is regarded as outdoors so light on up baby. Yuck….

We took a break from Italian/French food one night to experience Vietnamese – not bad at all. We’re definitely very spoiled in Sydney with King Street, Newtown etc but for a change from all the Italian/French meals we’ve had to date it was very refreshing.

Our lazy days in Bastia were divine…nothing to do except lay by the pool, dip in the warm clear ocean and snooze off & on throughout the day…..we really needed this mini break.
Corsica hiking adventure tour

Well a rocky start literally before we even hit the famous Corsican hiking trails…. We arrived at the crack house chic hotel** foyer hoping that our tour company would have dropped off our trip dossier folder with the all important itinerary, maps and details of our hotels etc etc. Well nothing was there and that night Dave made numerous calls to their emergency contact to find out that we needed to take a train to somewhere else etc etc. 1st fight for Robbo and Dave as Robbo was less than impressed by a tour operator who couldn’t get the basics done, plus we couldn’t go out for dinner as the rain was so heavy in Corsica that the road was like a raging river… tired, grumpy and hungry NOT HAPPY JAN!!!!.

*** hotel lobby was not existent, just an empty area with dirty concrete stairs until you reached
a old door with 'Reception' sign, inside it was not together horrible but it did look little shabby so we named the 'crack house chic' hotel.

But as one day ends another day dawns and the next morning we were more calm and collect, we were having our breakfast of baguette, croissant and café and voila our dossier had been dropped off by the postman very early so that was great and quite a relief. We caught the assigned train into central Corsica and met our walking companions and taxi driver who dropped us at the 1st hike outside of Corte. It was spectacular with waterfalls, mountain lakes and rock pools albeit pretty tough with pretty steep rocky climbs. Even the views from the train carriage were amazing of the snow capped mountains.

Stayed in lovely hotel in Calacuccia and had dinner at local restaurant of lamb stew and cannelloni pasta, vegetable soup followed by local sheep cheese & fig jam and then a pear tart and cream. Yummy and washed down with a local house wine. The town was packed with road cyclists, hikers and motor bike riders and the restaurant we went to must have had done approximately 60 – 70 covers, it was humming serving up dinners for hungry guests. After a typical French breakfast of delicious coffee and baguettes we were picked by our lovely driver and taken up the mountain for start of our walk.

Our walk was a 13km route which started high in the mountains on the ‘Col de Vergio’ where the French Foreign Legion have a base and we basically had to descend in the pouring rain to the most beautiful natural swimming pools and waterfalls. The terrain was tough today as the extremely heavy rain made the granite rocks very slippery and we were actually clambering over boulders. Highlight included crossing a suspension swing bridge. After the rocks and clambering for 3 hours we walked through beautiful old growth forest which including chestnut trees and saw wild pigs feeding off the wild chestnuts. Our walk took us to the quaint little village, Evisa where we had joy a hot bath after being the rain most of the day. Our goretex jackets are amazing for keeping you dry….such a good investment!!!!. The rain did not clear so meant it was very rainy & misty and it was quite cold so we didn’t go swimming in the pools.
We ate our lunch of olive/cheese bread and chocolate croissant in the rain – very romantic.

Had dinner at the hotel consisting of Peitra beer – the Corsican beer made with chestnuts flavour, minestrone vegetable soup, wild boar stew, and polenta and a dessert of prunes aux de vin (prunes in red wine) followed by an Armagnac.

Next walk was an out and back hike from Evisa to village of Marignana (9km+) – technically challenging like the day before on this walk as it was still so wet so the granite rocks were very slippery and/or covered in moss. Robbo took her 1st big fall on her elbow/forearm and sustained a massive bruise but nothing broken… few tears and whimpering but Dave simply demanded I continue on. During our walk, Dave was leading the charge and he got a massive scare as a large male wild boar who had been snoozing but was well camouflaged in the soft dirt path popped up when he heard us coming along. I’m not sure who was more scared, Dave or the wild boar.

After making it home after 4.5 hours, we enjoyed yummy pizza for a late lunch before heading off for a hot bath and late afternoon snooze. The rain was clearing that night so we could see straight down the valley to the ocean from the high mountains – just gorgeous.

Our next walk was from Evisa to Porto (14km) taking us from the interior back to the Mediterranean coast passing through the Spelunca Gorge, village of Ota and coming through the Gulf of Porto.
The walk was beautiful descending through the Gorge and then following an ancient road to a little village, Ota. From there we took an unmarked trail to get amazing views overlooking the Gulf of Porto – just so beautiful. We had a lovely descent to the village. Dave was the only brave one to take a dip in the very rough seas/waves, everyone else was just looking. We had a gorgeous dinner overlooking the ocean – very romantic.

Next day, Dave created our hiking itinerary from Porto to Piana (14km+) – we followed some of the unmarked climbs that took us in total up to 750m from sea level – tough going in parts – literally scrambling up through thick bushes & rocks but well worth it when we reached the top. It was a great day of walking including a delicious picnic on top of the mountain before our trip down to beautiful village of Piana.

We stayed in a gorgeous old hotel, Hotel Roches Rouges… was very old world, straight out of an Agatha Christie book or if anyone has seen the film, Evil under the Sun with Peter Ustinov as the world famous detective, Hercule Poirot, that is what our hotel was like.

We enjoyed a couple of bottles of red wine overlooking ocean and the sunset against the beautiful red rocks. The hotel was packed by the evening creating a great atmosphere with the terrace absolutely buzzing with pre-dinner festivities. Dinner was amazing including a delicate duck dish served like with a light frothy soup.

We transferred to Ajaccio from Piana via a local bus service which was a great way to see the coastal towns and beautiful sandy beaches this side of the island offered. We stayed in a youth hostel type 2-star hotel as our last night of the self guided tour where we both had great sleep after very casual pizza dinner and a lovely breakfast.

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