From Elba to Porto Vecchio it became progressively windier. Enjoyable, it was a hint. When we got under the lee of the port’s headland, things calmed, but we still wondered how we would get off the downwind berth we were sent to.
This was another place of stunning deja beauty. On top of that, it had been cleaned up as the starting venue for the most recent Tour de France. One did not feel one was in a port.
I had been anticipating this stop. We would be going to the Bonafacio, a place I had read of through the years and imagined with the help of photos. The ride to this port sliced into limestone* cliffs by natural forces felt so familiar. The reality, as is so often the case, was a unexpected, but not unwelcome.
Fortunately, we didn’t have to deal with in-season crowds, and we made it to our parking area without the usual three hour crawl from the village limit to the port. When we climbed from the bus, dozens of racing boat halyards were rattling in the 20 knot wind — there was to be a Regatta the following three days. Here and there crew were preparing but more seemed to be in the cafes than in cockpits. We admired their judgement.
The walk to the old citadel town was short, but the walk up was steeeeep. Our guide didn’t mention there was a less ambitious road (we think she was intent on keeping the group together). The net result is a few folks missed the citadel town altogether, including Janet who had redeveloped tendonitis that started with hill hiking in earlier in the summer.
The town was a classic of defensive engineering. Invaders would be fatigued from dragging weapons and armor up the slippery marble. They would be crowded together at the switchbacks and gates and cannon and arrow slits were positioned to take advantage. The double gate had a chicane within with firing slits into that area. And then there were the terrors of the waiting postcard, ball cap, and vendetta knife shops.
The stairs into the homes on the narrow streets were nearly as steep as ladders so that rocks and sewage and hot stuff could be dumped on intruders’ heads and faces before they could bring weapons to bear. And the restaurants were priced to bring any invader to their knees in capitulation.
The outer houses hanging from the cliffs were sacrificial walls to protect wealthier inhabitants toward the center of town. Here “room with a view” could include cannon ball holes.
It was a very interesting place, especially at the top near the memorial honoring the Legionnaires where the wind was approaching gale force as we sat and listened. Here where folks were trying to hold their heads on, I mean hats, the guide revealed that a mafia like organization here blows up any construction that doesn’t comply with their vision for Corsica. Sounds like our HOA.
Our trip back down was quicker, and Janet’s situation improved with retail therapy involving the purchase of cork products (with a bit of Sterling attached). And here we ordered our first meal completely in French (yes, Corsica is French). I don’t know if the waiter liked our French, but we got what we wanted without pointing at the menu and his, “merci” at the tip was sincere.
This was the first place ashore since the U.S. where the toilets were less than clean (as in fu-yuck) but still 0,50 Euro. This is not considering the toilet at Monte Capane.
When we got back to Porto Vecchio, the wind was so strong the Captain opted to stay in port overnight ($$$) and until midnight things were rocking and aslant. We still won Pictionary for a variety of reasons — not the least of which was smarts.
*Corsica is half granite and half limestone and the dividing line is dramatic.
Please enjoy the photos. Photos without captions don’t really need them. Click on first one to scroll.