Calvi-Solenzara- and Au Revoir for now-

We spend three nights at Calvi, spending our first day wandering the old city, which means more climbing in extreme heat, although near the top of the citadel there’s a strategically placed ice cream shop with shady seating. The views are worth the effort, the harbour full to bursting with some of the most expensive boatage to be seen on the Med.

We’re less ambitious on our second day, opting to do a late afternoon stroll on the boardwalk that runs along the railway line. A tiny train putters back and forth around the bay. In the evening we go and find a harbourside bar for a beer and a people watching session- always a pleasant way to pass an hour or two.

We leave Calvi in the morning to head south via some ancient excavations, a journey which becomes frustrating. The ruins are next to a Basilica- elegant from the outside but tickets are required for a glimpse inside- tickets from some museum or other located elswhere! I wonder how many visitors the church receives! Likewise, the remains of the ancient village- medeival perhaps-who knows?

There’s an annnoying search for a site after this, and we end up checking into an enormous ‘beach village’ with 3 or 4 pools, huge bar, restaurant and ‘entertainment’ area with gift shop etc. I’m interested to see that their FB page is telling everyone to cut down on electricity use when their multiple pools and splashparks are fully functioning! It’s ok for 1 night though and next day we pootle on south to a site near Serenzola on a beach, which couldn’t be more different- a ramshackle bar/reception and choose pitch where we like. It’s bohemian and we spend an afternoon on the beach, although when I attempt entry to the sea I’m stymied by my feeble water skills on the steep ledge and have to extricate myself by shuffling backwards, thus filling my cozzie with gritty sand; then I have to remove it by pulling it out of my pants area- not a dignified look, but one that entertains Husband, of course.

We’ve only one more night on Corsica for now so we head on down towards Bonifacio where there’s a site near the port city, in an old olive grove. It’s still too hot to do much but we attempt a walk along a footpath towards the town which quickly becomes overgrown and impassable. There aren’t many people daft enough to attempt walking into Bonifacio. But we’ve already visited. If you haven’t visited, reader I heartily suggest you do. I’d put it in my top 10 European cities and Number 1 most beautiful harbour!

It just remains for us to get to port next morning and get on the ferry, navigating around the narrow streets and down a very steep road to the marina. I’m glad we’re going down, not up, but we’ll have to on our way back! We get a coffee and settle down to wait, discovering later that we need a barcode for our tickets- not something we knew. I go to the ticket office then a battered, ancient ferry comes wheezing around the limestone cliff. We, the passengers must get out of vehicles and Husband has to reverse into the hold, being shouted instructions at. It may be as well that he’s so hard of hearing on this occasion. Then we’re off! And just across the water, Sardinia awaits!

Grace is also known as the novelist, Jane Deans. Her new novel, The Conways at Earthsend is now out and available from Amazon, Waterstones, Goodreads, W H Smith, Pegasus Publishing and many more sites. Visit my website: janedeans.com or my author page on Facebook: (1) Jane Deans, Novellist, Short Fiction and Blog | Facebook.

Coast to Mountains in Corsica

We relax for a couple of days at Baie de Voies, near Porto Vecchio, following our arrival to Corsica. It’s a sheltered bay, the sea glassy and flat with a roped off area for swimming so I take advantage here, where even my lack of swimming expertise can’t lead me into difficulties. But the water is deliciously warm and there’s nobody watching my undignified floundering about.

There’s little else here except for a restaurant opposite our site entrance. When we wander up there, we join a long queue to enter, but we’re soon in and sitting outside. I’m fascinated by the meals at the next-door table, where one of the starters appears to be an enormous bone, halved lengthways, from which the lady diner scoops the marrow.

Next day we’re off up north, aiming for Calvi, but deciding to break the journey at Corte, in the mountains. a city which used to be the capital of Corsica. To begin with the road is busy and especially snarled through the small towns but when we leave the coast road to turn inland it becomes quiet. It’s still hot- the low 30s- as it has been almost since arriving to France.

Along the winding road there are wandering cows grazing and as we round one bend there’s an enormous, bloated corpse of an animal, feet sticking straight up. It’s a wild boar.

The site we’ve found at Corte is tricky to get into- accessed by a very narrow bridge over a river, but we make it. There are only 2 pitches available. It’s rustic, converted farm buildings providing the services, but it’s pleasant enough- and handy for the town. We’re only here for one night, but early enough for a climb up to the citadel, which we can see glimpses of through the trees on our site. It’s another stiff climb up and up and when we reach the entrance we must pay entry to the museum to continue.

I’m not interested in reading the verbose passages in the museum- a few short sentences of information would have been fine, but the views from the very top of the fortification are breathtaking- mountains crowned with wispy clouds and the old towns terracotta rooftops.

It’s a fine, handsome old town with crumbling facades, bust with tourists and locals alike. We get a beer in the square- reward for our climbing efforts, then meander back to our site.

In the morning we pack up and set off towards Calvi, on the north coast, a city with a reputation for tourism. When we arrive, we locate our site, although it’s an inauspicious entrance, like the track into a recycling depot, but we get to reception and duly ring the intercom, to be told to enter through the barrier and cross the site to the ‘second reception’, which we do.

Here it’s hotter than ever, with shade at a premium so we opt for a spot under the eucalyptus trees where one or two others have parked. The site seems unprepared for vans and motorhomes and when I DO find a water source it’s a grubby hosepipe on the dusty ground, the water brackish and unpalatable.

As with most of Corsica so far, the site is crammed with mainly German tourists, a smattering of Dutch, one or two Swiss and not one single British vehicle have we seen. But we’re a step away from Calvi city centre and it’s outrageously picturesque, which is good news if we can summon the effort to go and look in the searing temperatures!…

Grace is also known as the novelist, Jane Deans. Her new novel, The Conways at Earthsend is now out and available from Amazon, Waterstones, Goodreads, W H Smith, Pegasus Publishing and many more sites. Visit my website: janedeans.com or my author page on Facebook: (1) Jane Deans, Novellist, Short Fiction and Blog | Facebook.

Over the Med to Corsica

On the quayside at Toulon, waiting for the ferry to load we become listless in the oppressive heat of the evening. By 10.30pm we’re still not going anywhere, even though we’ve moved Heaven and Earth to find our way here, to check in and follow all the gabbled instructions. In the next lane there are motor bikes and some ageing bikers who provide some interest. We make tea and continue to wait. In the terminal building a counter is doing furious trade in croque monsieurs and baguettes and I push through the crowd to get 2 bottles of water for the night.

At last a stream of vehicles begins to come past in the opposite direction and foot passengers dragging wheelie cases stagger past looking exhausted. I wonder where they can go at 11pm?

We’re waved on, up the ramp and into the hold. Hooray! We clamber up the inevitable numerous flights of stairs to the passenger decks and flourish our cabin sticker at a crew member. There’s a long series of corridors like a Premier Inn then we’re at our door, although without a key. We’re rescued by a man wielding key cards and we’re in. The cabin is tiny but has two narrow beds, a window and a shower and toilet. Hooray again! We dump our overnight bags and head for any kind of bar we can find and everything is open and serving; the restaurant food looks good but it’s late and we’ve eaten. There’s a wait to get a drink but we do, then sink down into seats, grateful to be on board and on the way. The lights of Toulon slowly recede as we glide out of harbour into the dark.

The ship is busy. Families, couples, singles, dogs- all life is here, passing by, queuing up, bustling, but it all settles down and there’s nothing else to do except get a quick shower and turn in. In spite of my poor record of sleep on overnight ferries, this time I sleep as if drugged and wake to see it’s already 8.30am. There’s no rush because we won’t dock until 12.00midday. When we surface, heading for the bar’s ‘express breakfast’ [orange juice, croissant, coffee] it’s almost as if the bustling has continued throughout the night, with people and dogs everywhere.

This is a ferry with aspirations of cruise ship. On the top deck there’s a tiny pool surrounded by deck chairs, a pool bar serving drinks and snacks. A couple of islands pass by- Elba perhaps?

We wander around the side and I sit down next to an elderly French lady who is going to visit family. We enjoy a chat together, both of us proud grandparents.

Sure enough, as midday approaches, so does Corsica and we’re pulling into Porto Vecchio in stately fashion, turning down along a lengthy inlet, motor and sail boats racing past. Then we’re told to return to our vehicles. we drive off, making for a supermarket first before driving a few kilometres up the road and out of town to our first site, at ‘Baie de Voies’. Down a long track to a beach there are terraced pitches facing the sea. It’s a peaceful setting, small boats moored up and a roped off swimming area. We check in, park up, plug in and relax. It’s been a long old journey!…

Grace is also known as the novelist, Jane Deans. Her new novel, The Conways at Earthsend is now out and available from Amazon, Waterstones, Goodreads, W H Smith, Pegasus Publishing and many more sites. Visit my website: janedeans.com or my author page on Facebook: (1) Jane Deans, Novellist, Short Fiction and Blog | Facebook.