Tough Act to Follow

Trip Start Oct 26, 2006
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Trip End Aug 2007


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Saturday, May 19, 2007

We have just finished the first two weeks of our bike tour in beautiful Corsica with perfect weather, unforgettable sights, sounds & smells, and unexpectedly ran into some good friends. One thing is for sure, this first part is going to be a tough act to follow going forward. Where do we start? We'll try to keep it short and simple and hit the highlights in order to not lose your attention.

If you recall, we left off last time having returned home from the Berner Oberland ski tour, stopping in Chatel for some R&R after Holly's pulmonary edema scare. We needed a full week back in cold & wet La Grave to get unpacked, do many loads of laundry, clean and move out of our apartment, load all of our winter gear into Colin's barn, get the bikes tuned up, and repack for our bike tour. We were also a bit delayed as waited and watched for the weather to get better in the south of France and Corsica. Seth may have been able to deal with the rain, but there was no way I was going to start off our bike tour by being wet. I'm ready for some bikini time on the beach in the sun, damn it! So I gained us some research time on the computer while we waited. Fortunately we didn't have to wait long.

We left La Grave on the morning of Cinco de Mayo, going over a snow covered Col de Lauteret on our ride to Briancon where we would catch the train. Fortunately the sun came out soon after the Col and I was able to strip off my rain jacket, booties and warm pants. Much to my chagrin the temps would immediately sky rocket once we got to the south of France and daily temperatures hover around 75F for the following 2 weeks. Once in Briancon we took the train to Nice, overnighted in a gross (cheap) hotel, then catch the ferry to Corsica the next day, landing in Bastia (NE coast). Upon arrival in Bastia, the first thing we noticed (in addition to crazy drivers) was the sweet smell of flowers, singing birds (especially at the campground), and the sight of sparkling blue/green sea water along sandy beaches. These sights, sounds and smells would flourish over the next 2 weeks.

We spent our time in Corsica going in a roughly counter clockwise direction, skirting mostly the coast. Starting in Bastia, headed north around Cap Corse, then west to the NW coast town of Calvi, then veered south until midway down the island we headed east from Porticcio. This brought us up and over the Col de Bavella, to Solenzara on the east coast, then south to the beautiful Bonifacio on the southern tip, where our Corsican leg finished up.

Highlights

Cap Corse - By far one of our favorite spots, the northern tip is a peninsula that is the most wild and unspoilt part of the island. Due to its geographical features of steep, rugged hillsides that drop straight down to the sea, it doesn't lend itself well to building large touristy resorts, hence there are fewer tourists there than the rest of the island (which of course we prefer). Many of the buildings in the old sleepy fishing villages are in a somewhat dilapidated state, there are few hotels, restaurants and supermarkets, little traffic on the hilly, winding roads, all making for a perfect bike touring area with a lot of character and beauty. Our favorite village was Centuri, where we caught our first sunset after dinner out on the rock jetty in front of the village, finishing our bottle of wine from dinner.

Campsite at Ile Rousse - Overlooking the sea high up on a hillside, we weren't sure if this perfect looking spot was still part of the campground, but decided to set up camp and would move if they told us to. They never did! Had another great sunset view during dinner.

Porto Campground - By the 5th day of our tour, it was getting quite hot, maybe around 80+. As we pulled into Les Oliviers campground in Porto, the first thing we saw was the swimming pool with waterfalls. We were changed into bathing suits and horizontal on the lounge chairs mere minutes after arriving at the campground. Went out for a nice dinner that night after watching the sunset!

Col de Bavella - People are getting much friendlier as we get away from the more touristy coast and towards the mountains. Col had rugged, wind-blown trees, contrasted against beautiful red rock.

Bonifacio!!! -  The perfect place for some R&R after 2 hard weeks of riding. While Seth decided to ride 100 miles, I took a rest day to go shopping and cruise the old town in the Citadel. It was there that I ran into my good friends, Darren and Sam, from Morzine (where I lived in the French Alps prior to meeting Seth). It happened that they had just bought an apartment there and would be spending their time there when not in the high season months of summer and winter in Morzine running their holiday company. They now have a 1 and a half year old, Jack, who I hadn't met yet. They invited us for dinner the next night, and of course we had a great time as we dined on the balcony of their top floor apartment. I had great intentions of taking some photos that evening, but the wine started flowing as soon as we got there so I promptly forgot. Their apartment is in the old city of Bonifacio, which is located in the middle of this old citadel. Looking from the side, one corner of the city is perched on top of white, overhanging cliffs, appearing that it is going to topple over into the depths of the deep blue sea at any moment.

What will we miss from Corsica?? West coast sunsets, sweet smells, great campgrounds, nice beaches, coppa (cured ham), perfect riding weather, chirping birds, canistrelli (a biscotti-like cookie that is not too sweet), walking around the old city of Bonifacio, and of course the great scenic roads.
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