Corsica adventure - a summary

Old Oct 12th, 2017, 07:13 PM
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Corsica adventure - a summary

The main purpose for my travel was to walk the GR20, a steep, beautiful, multi-day walk through the mountains of central Corsica. I did this in a small group with the British-based Exodus company, with local guides. Not sure if this is a standard Fodors traveller activity so won't go into detail here but feel free to ask anything you want to know. It was certainly a challenging and stunning 15 day walk, 8-10 hour days, staying in basic 'gite' accommodation and occasionally diverting into small village hotels.
Pre the GR20 I flew into Corsica's Bastia airport, got a taxi to nearby Casamozza Station (20 euro) then the train to Calvi, on the island's northwestern side. The taxi driver tried hard to tell me the trains were unreliable and that I should let him drive me to Calvi for only 200 euro! Happily after paying just 13 euro for my ticket and after a 13 minute wait, the train arrived on time and after a pleasant three journey looking at mountains, coastline, villages and churches and fort on little hilltops, and practicing my French with a local gentleman, we arrived in the centre of little coastal town Calvi.
With a day and a half before my group arrived I explored the old town, walked up to Notre Dame church on a hill overlooking Calvi, swam at the beach, had a beer at one of the touristy waterfront restaurant/bars overlooking the boat harbour and went further into the backstreets to eat. My train friend had recommended A Cassetta, which looks more like a charcuterie/delicatessen shop at the front but there are tables at the back. Sadly it was full, but I found A Piazetta and Chez Doume very good. Our group later went to a restaurant on the town end of the Calvi Beach, wouldn't go back; inflated beachfront prices but deflated quality.
Our hotel, Les Arbousiers, was lovely. Friendly obliging staff, a good breakfast with fruits, yoghurts and the usual European breads/cheeses/jams/meats. A 5-10 minute walk from town.
After the GR20 walk I left the group, who flew out directly, and made my way south to get a ferry to Sardinia.
Because there were no buses running on Sundays in the off season (which apparently started that very weekend), I stayed where the group transport left me, in Solanzara, at the hotel of the same name.
Cost - 105 Euro for a seaview room plus 14 euro for breakfast (I went out) and they debited by credit card account immediately on booking (what is it with hotels that do this??). That notwithstanding a charming little hotel, with lovely terrace garden/bar/restaurant and pool. Also made use of their 'wellness centre and hammam' - essentially a sauna, and massage table.
There were the usual waterfront restaurants, all much of a muchness and actually quite pleasant, but my find was dinner at O Resto on the (little) main street. Across the road from more buzzier places, the service and food was great, house-made treats. I asked for a small bottle of sparking water but they only had big bottles so she gave me a big bottle, charged me half price and told me to take the bottle with me anyway, also shouted me the customary miet liquor post-dinner (which is traditional I know but most restaurants had charged for this).
Monday packed a little picnic of crusty bread, cheese and charcuterie ham from a local store and went to catch the bus to Porto Vecchio. The bus stop is in the main street and the bus was 55 minutes late but the locals reassured anxious me that it would come, and it did. Then bused Porto Vecchio to Bonifacio on the south coast, arriving early afternoon. I'd planned to look around this delightful old, old town for a few hours but there seemed nowhere secure bags or packs so I just jumped on one of the constantly leaving ferries to Santa Teresa Gallura, 50 minutes away, and took photos of the old houses on the cliff top as we sailed away. Goodbye to a both challenging and restful time in Corsica; hello Sardinia - to be continued in a second installment
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