“The extent of your consciousness is limited only by your ability to love and to embrace with your love the space around you, and all it contains.” Napoleon Bonaparte
It’s been a long time since I spent a delightful and surprising couple of weeks in Corsica but lately there has been a persistent whispered notion of a return trip, an idea that has become more insistent by the day. ‘Oh Corse, île de beauté’ as rhapsodized in a popular song was everything I hoped it would be and then so much more. Hugely popular in France and Europe, Tino Rossi, a velvet voiced crooner/actor, also born in Ajaccio, can be considered the second most famous native son of the island only after the one and only Napoléon Bonaparte. As for the Emperor he always claimed that were he blindfolded and dropped off at an unknown destination nevertheless he’d know immediately from the fragrance wafting on the wind he was on his native soil. Splashed in a profusion of colours and varieties, I remembered these words the first time I wandered into a field of wild flowers.
(Note: To improve your viewing experience click on the photos below to enlarge – once for medium, twice to zoom in.)
As for the quality or lack thereof of the photos I’ve a confession, or rather an explanation. This trip was taken years ago before the age of the digital camera but fortunately I then used to take my photos as slides so that now years later I can still project them on a white wall. Well, guess what? One day I was bemoaning the fact I couldn’t use any of the some 2000 (or more) slides I have accumulated over my years of travels for this blog. However, in a flash of epiphany, a thought popped up – why not try and take digital photos from the projected slides? Why not indeed and so I did! The results are spotty in quality but some are good enough I think to at the very least provide a good approximation of the real thing. If I find this works well then I’ll have several years of blogging left to share with you. I hope you’ll let me know via the ‘comment’ box.
Generally speaking most people, French citizens included, know little about Corsica beyond identifying it as Napoleon’s birthplace. I’m adding a map so you can follow along and as well I’ll add just a tad of pertinent local information, but not too much, I promise.
I landed at L’Ile-Rousse, the northerly port facing Nice, on the mainland, where I’d boarded the car ferry for a four-hour sail across to what turned out to be one memorable trip undertaken, to be honest, without preparation as it materialized upon a serendipitous inspiration. As I almost always do, I set off without a real notion of where I’m going or how long I’ll stay wherever, the uncertainty translates into the tantalizing joy of surprise. In fact it’s not that much of a gamble as traveling in Europe, no matter where one goes, the scenery is almost sure to be enticing and the discovery of local people and customs, to my way of thinking superior to any carefully planned holiday. To be sure, at times I’ve also rued the lack of preparation (getting hopelessly lost in the dead of night within the ancient walls of Carcassonne comes to mind) but the discomfort in time becomes cause to think back on what was then stressful as after all a jolly good adventure.
Disembarking I immediately headed south via the only, modest roadway that hugs the western coast down the length of the island. I figured to spend maybe three days, four maximum to go all the way around to finally get to Bastia, hence sail acrosss to Italy. Oh, one thing I should mention – I had wisely purchased an excellent map of Corsica on the ferry published by Michelin, in my opinion the best of the best source of information for travellers. It was already well into the late afternoon so that I was looking for a place to spend the night when I stumbled onto picturesque Algajola, a tiny village that nonetheless featured a ruined Genoa fort and a Club Med; lucky me. I found a spacious room that included a small cooking nook with fridge that has not ever since been equalled for price, view and comfort. The fortunate truth (for me) at that time there was a dearth of tourists caused by unrest and some amateurish violence (blowing up communications transmitters and vandalizing cars with mainland licences) perpetrated by a minority of hotheads that were agitating for independence from France, yet a never ending but futile quest. Mightily pissed off since the French generously payed in national taxes to keep the island afloat, they simply stopped crossing over and the few tourists around were almost exclusively foreign youngish campers. Great for me! My hotel was empty save for a couple of government surveyors who left a couple of days later leaving me in glorious peace. What was going to be a one-night stand lengthened into a full week and those who are familiar with my blog will realize why I keep on harping that it’s so good to make things up as you go; I’m unrelentingly greedy in taking full advantage of an advantageous travel situation and to juice it for all it’s worth.
The view from my top corner window and within a short five minute walk to the isolated beach. It was frequented as I found out rather clumsily by stumbling upon one basking ‘au naturel’ on the other side of a sand dune. It turned out several German campers were in the neighbourhood and used this particular spot as their private beach. It was rather fun to become acquainted with one of them in particular (Ursula) and practice my rudimentary German language skills. After all I had plans to visit Bavaria in the not too distant future, or so I claimed to give myself a touch of cover for my sudden interest in that area of Germany. In actual fact I did go several times since and love it more each time (check out my post ‘Bavaria and Neuswienstein Castle’). It was marvellous to fall asleep to the sound of lapping waves below my room. This particular day was a bit windy as you can see but I wondered what happened during a real storm?