The First Part of my Spring Break. It was a great trip with my Mom.

Corsica Travel Blog

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Statue of Napoleon I in Ajaccio

           Today was one of the longest days ever. There is not much to tell thought. We were lucky that we got to sleep in a little bit.

            It started with the long taxi ride to the airport. It is usually make worse because the French are crazy drivers, and I swear that that will be what kills me. The plane ride was fine, at least for me. There was some turbulence because it was very cloudy and a little bit of rain. Mom did not like that at all. I really enjoyed looking out the window because we flew over the Alps. They were so beautiful.

            We landed in Nice (which was nice…hahahaha).

There were cows all over the roads
And had a couple hours of wait time before our ferry ride over to Bastia. Nice is a beautiful city, there is not much we could do though because we had our luggage with us and there was nowhere for us to leave it for a while. So we ended up at a small bar/restaurant in the outside eating area. We had sandwiches and Cola Light (Diet Coke). It was very nice just sitting there, but it was so windy I had a hard time keeping my hair out of my face.

            Finally the Ferry arrived. It was a very nice boat, humungous. It had many stories, bars, restaurants and nice seating areas. We took seats (with a little table) right next to the window so we could look out over the water. Originally the ride was supposed to be 5 hours, but because of the wind, which they called bad weather, we arrived more than an hour late.

Beautiful statue in Calvi
I got so bored, well not bored exactly, but very restless. I read a lot of my book and listened to music. I spent a lot of time just looking out at the waves. The wind was making them huge. They were mesmerizing to watch. I felt like I was being put under a trance. I really wish that either of us had remembered to pack a deck of cards. They would have been fun.

            We finally arrived in Bastia a little after 7pm. We were looking at the paper for the hotel and realized that we were going to be spending 2 nights here in Bastia and then 2 in Ajaccio, and then 1 more in Bastia. I had been planning on 1 night in Bastia, then 2 in Ajaccio, and then 2 again in Bastia.

Calvi
In the long run it really doesn’t matter, but I was just so tired that I was not prepared. It truly did not matter what order we did it in though. I just had to adjust my mind.

            It was also a long taxi ride out to the hotel. The hotel is near the airport which is not in the town. The hotel is very nice. The only problem is that it has a European shower. That means that the shower head is not attached to the wall. Whenever I have had to use one the water seems to get all over the place.

            We finally were able to eat dinner around 9pm in the hotel restaurant. We were the only ones eating in there.

We found these incredible rock formations on the road to Calvi
It was strange because it was so quiet, and the one waiter (who was very cute) was just standing off to the side waiting for us to want something. The dinner was expensive, but it was also very good. Then we finally got to bed.

             Today we went to the airport to pick up the car we rented. It was kind of neat, because I was able to speak to the lady in French. She spoke English, but I liked that once she heard my accent she didn’t just switch to English. I appreciate that. It was not until I had no idea how to say something she said “In English if you want.”

            So we got out car, a little Volks Wagon Polo.

The harbor in Ajaccio
I love this car. If it was not a stick shift I would want this car. Once we had the car our plan was to go to the tourist office and find out what we would like to do, and where the good beaches are. However somewhere along the way we must have passed it or something. So we decided to just keep driving. Corsica is shaped a bit like a hand giving thumbs up. Bastia is located on the bottom of the thumb so we circled all the way around the thumb.

            We had also not had breakfast yet by the time that we started out so we were looking for somewhere to eat. However it is Sunday and not much is open in France on Sundays. The country just kind of shuts down.

View from my hotel in Ajaccio
We found one place that was a little bar/café. It was defiantly a local hangout. There were any people already there, and all the others that came in knew and greeted each other. There was a small grocery store open next door too. We had coffee and hot chocolate. It did not look like a place that served food, but the lady asked us if we would like a croissant and when we said “yes please” she walked over to the grocery store and bought us some. It was very nice of her. After we left we continued on our ride. We passed some beautiful areas. The ocean was absolutely amazing. The ocean was on the right and the beautiful mountains on the left. We saw some Billie Goats up on the hill at one point and stopped the car to take pictures. These 4 or 5 goats did not prepare us for the 40 or 50 goats we ran into later. It was amazing, just like in movies. We are just driving along (on very curvy roads) and we turn a corner and there are goats just hanging out in the middle of the road.
Statue of Napoleon III, Ajaccio was his birthplace
We took some pictures. We are kicking ourselves now for not getting out of the car to take our pictures with them. However they probably would have horned us to death. It was like being in a movie. I always see ones where they have to drive the car through a herd of cows. Only in our case it was goats.

            We spent most of the day just driving. It was very nice. For lunch we found a small grocery store and we got some cheese, a baguette, pares, and some marble cake. We found a beautiful place to pull over. We sat along the side of the road overlooking the ocean. It was beautiful. We think we saw dolphins, but we could not be sure. We were pretty high up on a cliff.

            We made it back to Bastia around 5pm.

Pretty
We went back to the hotel for a while. I put all my pictures on the computer. I know I will be taking many more, and I took over 100 today. In the evening we went out looking for a restaurant. Not much was open. We finally found one place that was great. At first we were not sure if it was open because we were the only ones there, but the lady sat us down. The waitress was so fun. When she found out we were from the U.S. she started talking about how she used to be married to a man from Chicago. Then she told us about other people she had met from the U.S. You could see her picturing all these people she had met, and at which table they had sat at.

            When mom asked her what type of local wine she should try, she looked at us and said, “I will bring you something.

Driving around the thumb of Corsica
” She brought mom a very nice red wine. Mom does not usually like red wine, but she liked this one. They did not have regular menus there. They had everything written on chalkboards and she brought it over to us and explained what everything was. It was fun having her explain it to us because when she did not know the English I usually knew the French so we worked together on it. I had a ton of fun. The restaurant filled up while we were there so we figured we just came in earlier than is normal dinner time. Before we left she gave us her address so that we could send her California postcards. We gave her ours in return. We shall see how that works.

            Today we left Bastia and headed South-West to Ajaccio.

Goats hanging out in the middle of the road
It was a very beautiful ride. We only took a wrong turn once, but we realized it very soon and were able to correct it without any problems. I bet we did not even go a mile before we figured it out.

            The drive was just under 3 hours. It took us through beautiful mountains with breathtaking views. We drove through these towns that are so small I am sure if you blink you would miss them. The roads were a bit scary. They were curvy the whole way and the French drivers are scary. I swear they took each curve at 50 mph. It was crazy. I thought we would die. Mom told me that one evening she wished upon a star to get us through this trip with the car. Hopefully it works.

            The whole time we were driving I also kept thinking that it is a good thing that Lesley isn’t here (for those of you who do not know, Lesley is my best friend).

Driving around the thumb of Corsica
She would love this place, but the roads were so curvy she would never stop being sick even when we aren’t moving (Lesley: this road is 10 times worse than the road to Hayfork, and I know how much you hated that one).

            The plan we had for when we arrive in Ajaccio was to go to the tourist office, check their hiking trails and beaches and see what else there is to do. After all Ajaccio was the birthplace of Napoleon. However when we arrived it was 12:30 in the afternoon and everyone in France (except the people working in the restaurants) goes to lunch for 2 hours. So we had to figure out what to do for an hour and a half.

Corsica

            We were not really hungry for lunch so we just sat down at this little café. They had outside seating and the weather was absolutely beautiful. So we just sat out there for a while and had wine and diet coke. We were going to just order some type of appetizer to munch on, but they gave us a bowl of chips. We sat out there for about an hour just watching the people go by. There are some interesting people out there.

            After we couldn’t sit there anymore it was still not 2pm and the tourist office was still not open. So we decided to walk along the main street for a while and maybe do some shopping.

The towns just seemed to pop out of the hills
However that did not work because all the shops were still closed for lunch. So we just walked. We walked along the main road and looked in the windows, on the way back we walked along the harbor.

            Once the tourist office was open we went inside, but it was not at all like any tourist office I have ever been in. There were not brochures, no maps, or anything. There was not even a person in there. So we left.

We decided that we should go check into the hotel, however we could not find the street anywhere on the little map that we had. So we just drove around for a while trying to find the street and finally mom made me get out and ask for directions. So I got out and she drove away and said that she was just going to find a place to turn around. As I walked away I kept thinking that most of the French double park all the time, she could have just waited there.

The fist guy I asked directions from did not understand what I was saying even though I was speaking in French and I am about 95% sure I was asking correctly. I walked on down the street about 2 blocks until I came upon another person. This guy knew the name of the hotel and he kind of knew where it was, but was unsure which street exactly so he just showed me on my map and said “it is one of these two streets.” So I walked all the way back up the street to meet mom. However I ended up waiting there for close to 10 minutes. Apparently she went down this other street hoping to turn around but ended up going up this huge hill, and at the top these guys were moving a refrigerator and taking up the whole street. She couldn’t get out of it because there were cars behind her. When she was finally able to move the car rolled back and she almost hit the car behind her. She was able to stop it though. Finally she came and got me.

We drove in the direction the man pointed me in, but we could not figure out what street is was we were supposed to go down, so we stopped this time at a grocery type store called Super U. I got directions and we were at the hotel in a moment. The hotel was very nice. We each had our own little bed and there was a balcony with chairs for us. It overlooked the harbor. It was a great view. By the time we got settled in it was still early enough in the afternoon that it was not time for dinner, but a little late for much else. So we just went for a walk.

We walked along the main road looking at some of the shops again. We went all the way to the end of the main street and it opened up into this very nice square where they have a statue of Napoleon. He was born here so there is a pretty good number of Napoleon stuff. Most of the streets are even named after him. So I got my picture taking with Napoleon.

We then headed down toward the beach. There was no real beach, but we headed toward the water. We found some very nice looking restaurants there. We walked by this playground where there was about 100 small children playing. They were so fun to watch. We continued walking for a while before we turned around. We decided we would like to try one of those nice restaurants tomorrow night. On the way back to the hotel we just stopped at the Super U and bought some wine, soda, cheese, bread and a sweet for dinner. Then we spent the evening sitting on the balcony looking out at the ocean and snacking, and talking. It was a very pleasant evening.

             This morning as mom and I were reading our little travel book about Corsica we read about this city that we thought we would like to see. The city was Porto. We read that it had a nice beach and some things to see such as an aquarium, and a bird preserve and interesting things like that. So we thought it would be fun to go up there for the day. It is located about half way up the Island on the West side.

            We had a nice breakfast at the hotel and we were on our way. We were not exactly sure which direction we were supposed to go, so we just followed a sign pointing to Calvi which is on the same road to Porto, but much farther north. It is at the top of the Island. Finally we realized we can’t possibly be going the right way because we were on the same road we came in from Bastia on for 45 minutes. We finally had to pull over at this bar in the middle of nowhere to ask for directions to Porto. They told us the easiest way was to go to Ajaccio and then go another way.

            Well you can imagine how upset we were since we had just come from Ajaccio. So we drove all the way back. We decided to just go to the hotel to use the bathroom and ask the receptionist how to get to Porto, which is what we should have done in the first place. Once we had the directions we were on our way. She said it would only take us about an hour to get there. Now we figured it would take a little longer than that because we don’t drive as fast as the French, but to me it seemed like the drive took hours. We only stopped a few times to take pictures. The first time there were just these old abandoned stone houses. The second time we stopped was because we drove into this amazing canyon like area. The ground was an orange color and the rocks were orange and jagged and huge. It was just an amazing sight. On our way back through it (going home) I hung out the window with my camera and took a video. I have not watched it yet, but I hope it turns out. Mom and I decided that it reminds us of 2 things. The first is the part in Indiana Jones where he is a kid and is running away from those guys. The second reminds me of the Wiley Coyote and the roadrunner. All those scenes where he is on the cliffs with his rockets (I thought it was more Wiley Coyote than Indiana Jones).

            By the time we finally made it into Porto it was 2pm. Mom and I were starving. We drove around the city a bit looking for any signs of life. There was almost none. We found only one area where there were people around. They were doing road work. There were no restaurants open. One woman let us into her restaurant, but we were the only ones in there and we did not get a menu to look at. She just sat us down and went into the kitchen to prepare something for us. She gave us a meat platter or something like that. It had a couple different types of pork and a green salad. It was good, but the meat really had no flavor.

            When we went to pay for the bill the woman would run the card through the machine and the phone would ring messing up the transaction. She tried the card 3 times and the phone rang 3 times before we just used cash. This woman did not speak English, so of course mom tries making small talk with her while she is trying to do the card. This means then that I am trying to translate, and mom just has to pick a topic that I have no idea how to translate. She talks about the road work outside. Luckily I was able to get the point across. So she told us that they are fixing the place up for the tourist season.

            After lunch we just headed back to Ajaccio. We tried to stop at a beach but none of the roads have any indications as to how we are supposed to get to them. We did find one beach, but we ended up only staying for a few minutes.

Back at the hotel we just relaxed for a little while and then headed over to the area where we saw all those good restaurants yesterday. BUT THEY WEREN’T OPEN!!! We could not understand it. Not one of the restaurants was open. It is a Tuesday night. What are restaurants doing closed at 7:30 pm on a Tuesday night? We walked all over town. The only things that were open were bars. However they were stocked full of men. Out of hundreds of men at these bars we only saw maybe 5 women. We did not feel comfortable eating in there alone. So after walking all over town we ended up getting Panini’s at a roadside stand near the harbor, and we ate them on the walk back to the hotel.

After we got back to the hotel we put on a movie on my computer and then went to bed. Nothing about today went at all as planned, but what are you gonna do? We just kept telling ourselves we are flexible.

             Today we left Ajaccio to go back to Bastia. We decided that we wanted to make a stop in Calvi. It is another of the bigger cities in Corsica. So we drove back through Porto and on up. The drive took us about 3 hours. We got there around 12:30 so just in time for lunch.

            We found a nice little restaurant where I had pasta and mom had Cannelloni stuffed with some kind of meat and cheese. It was a very nice place, I enjoyed our lunch. After lunch we wandered around the city a bit. It is a beautiful city. However, there was still not much there for us to do because it is off season. We have found that in Corsica it is a bit of a disadvantage to come during the off season because there is just not much to d. We would have liked to have snorkeled, but the water is just too cold now. On the other hand if we had come during the season because we would not want to drive in those cities. It was chaotic even now on those roads. Then we would have missed so much.

            We thought about staying longer in Calvi but mom did not feel comfortable driving on the curvy roads at night. That was fine by me because even as a passenger those roads are not piece of cake. When those other cars come zooming around the corners I feel as thought I have no control.

            One think I have forgotten to mention about the drive to Calvi was that we kept running into cows. It was the funniest thing. They were just like the goats the other day. They were just hanging out all over the road. You had to be careful around every curve incase something was on the other side. Mom and I slowed down at one point to watch the cows get out of the road and this man in his car came zooming around the corner and did not slow down at all. He sent the cows running. He actually even hit one cow in the hind leg. The poor cow jumped about 5 feet in the air. However, it still walked away so I guess it was ok.

Mom and I originally decided that had Lesley been here we would have been black and blue. For those of you who don’t know, Lesley plays a game called “cow” which is the exact same thing as “slug bug,” only with cows. She also hits really hard without even realizing it. However as we went along we decided that Lesley would be so sick from the road that she would be curled up in a ball and we could be the ones to turn her black and blue. I know that sounds mean, but if you had seen all the bruises she has given me over the years you would understand.

We arrived in Bastia around 5pm and got comfortable in the room. We decided to eat at the hotel restaurant because mom did not want to drive anymore and we did not really see any restaurants in walking distance. We knew were going to have to get up early in the morning, so it was early to bed for us. I had a very good time in Corsica.

 

 

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Statue of Napoleon I in Ajaccio
Statue of Napoleon I in Ajaccio
There were cows all over the roads
There were cows all over the roads
Beautiful statue in Calvi
Beautiful statue in Calvi
Calvi
Calvi
We found these incredible rock for…
We found these incredible rock fo…
The harbor in Ajaccio
The harbor in Ajaccio
View from my hotel in Ajaccio
View from my hotel in Ajaccio
Statue of Napoleon III, Ajaccio wa…
Statue of Napoleon III, Ajaccio w…
Pretty
Pretty
Driving around the thumb of Corsica
Driving around the thumb of Corsica
Goats hanging out in the middle of…
Goats hanging out in the middle o…
Driving around the thumb of Corsica
Driving around the thumb of Corsica
Corsica
Corsica
The towns just seemed to pop out o…
The towns just seemed to pop out …
Corsica
photo by: heckakim