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Trip Report Gertie in Corsica and Sardinia

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Gertie in Corsica and Sardinia

This trip started off inauspiciously. I have always wanted to see these 2 islands, one belonging to France, the other to Italy, but both with a distinctive culture by the look of it. And Napoleon is one of my ‘wish I had met’ historical figures. When I asked for info on Fodor’s no-one replied who had actually been! Put the same query on Travellers To Go and Fodor’s Friends on Facebook (whatever happened to that group?) and guess what: they didn’t know either but an old school friend saw the post and said Yes, she had been a few years ago and loved it. Did I want company?? So, as they say, the trip was born.

We got an Easyjet to Bastia out of Manchester (our hometown) which was at 7 on a Sunday morning. Anti-social though it was, it wasn’t half as bad as flights from other UK airports. And Manchester airport is a dream compared with Heathrow. Am thinking of replanning my comings and goings from the UK on that basis. Several people I chatted to on the flight had already found this out: they had travelled north from Oxford and Birmingham rather than face LHR/Stansted/Gatwick etc!

That early start turned into an early arrival in Bastia and a stroll from the airport bus to our hotel. Bastia is a pretty port, not full of industrial mess, lots of ferries to and from the south coast of France and the west coast of Italy. Streets are wide and straight, French style, buildings are pastel colours. The whole place could have been in the south of France…with prices to match. We managed some lunch in the Place Napoleon (where else?) though a lot of places were closed. It was July 14th, Bastille Day, a Sunday, and France, even Corsica, was getting ready to party tonight. By the time we got down to the harbour for dinner, all the restaurants were opening for business and the place was packed. The sunset was spectacular on the water and all the buildings around the waterfront. Fish was the thing to eat here, and white wine to go with! A fantastic firework display at 10pm stopped the traffic. We were lucky to be on foot and found our way back through the night market and children’s rides on Place Napoleon.
We stayed in the Best Western ‘Bastia Centre’ which was a bit of poetic license: it was a good 10 minutes pull up the hill and not really central at all. It looked like a converted Ibis, a French chain, perfectly acceptable but not fancy. I had booked the hotels with a bit of trepidation at booking for someone I had hardly seen for the past 45 years. But it worked out. Best part was the convenience to the train station, of which more later.

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