Posts Tagged ‘Porto Vecchio’

Corsica Landscape Learned (I/II)

October 26, 2014

It is a long time since I left the Carlo Riva Marina at the southern basin of the harbor of Rapallo with Van Emst family. Magnificent moments of the glorious voyage thru Corsica coast side are recorded and forever sealed in my memory.

I sit in a cafe & snack bar enjoying Pane Carasau, that is a traditional flatbread, with La Bottarga di Cabras, the roe of the Sardinian Flathead Mullet. It makes a genius snack. Especially that coming from the pond of Cabras. I know that I’m far from there yet and therefore need to start picking up pace with my journey. Afterwards, while enjoying a glass of noon brandy and one of my very last petit corona cigars, I hear the radio playing a tune from the past, “Second Chance”, a song by American rock band 38 Special. Something that really reminds me having a second chance of my own life. “All I made was one mistake, how much more will I have to pay?”

I have been born with short fuse which I have occasionally had to pay quite a bit. This feature, as I have learned, is something one can never completely weed out but you can always develop. In general the whole path of life seems to be just one steep walk on the line in between development and purgatory. I recall a very good definition about mentality of Mediterranean people. It was said that for example an Italian being sharp and punctual is taking that as an act of slavery while driving fast is an act of liberation. This explained quite a bit to me originating from faraway north. It was, however, far from driving fast for me this time. I had managed to hire an old 2CV Fourgonnette van “Weekend” version with removable rear seating. This made it possible for me to overnight in the car if so needed. It was an amazing relic from the good old days. Exactly like I preferred.

After discovering the old beast of burden I had rejected previous plan for having base camp in Porto Vecchio and instead decided to go round the island on counterclockwise direction by first driving the 2CV eastern side up till town of Bastia on the Tyrrhenian sea, looking the Tuscan archipelago. This would be around 150 kilometer trip that I should accomplish in three to four days. Surely, the 2CV could go the whole way in a single day, but why rush if we already come so far without any real schedule. Then I would say farewell to the Citroen and go onboard a train from Bastia to Ponte-Leccia junction and continue down to Ajaccio, which is terminus and capital in southwest of Corsica. This would eventually save me time and money while still discovering plenty of the island. We were having the first days of July already and my mind was grabbed by a mixed emotions by the fact that I had been lazy and goofing around Porto-Vecchio for way too long. I needed to get myself away from Corsica well before August when the masses of european tourist will arrive. I had not planned anything after Ajaccio but it would be great to sail to Sardinia, It did not need to be any similar blow of luck I had with Van Emst family but any decent ferry would do me fine. I had decided to leave this decision to be taken until on site at the harbor and take it all forward a day by day. In any case I had a distant dream of eventually meet the beaches of Porto Pino and Pinetto Porto and that Caribbean-like turquoise sea at the very southern tip of Sardinia. After all it was concluded that my heart definitely deserved a second chance.

I left Porto-Vecchio on 6th of June heading for Pont de Fautéa camping at Conca, a small strip of beach thru the commune of Lecci. I had decided that “my home is where my car is” would be my theme for this stage and Citroen was good enough vehicle to give some privacy and shelter for sleeping and that was practically all I needed. The ride was smooth as always on 2CV. Tiny engine purring steady like a kitten. I had the windows open and kind of regretted selecting such a hard top model but after all this was the best vehicle to offer long bed for sleeping. With up to date standard car this 30 km ride would take less than an hour. Today I was traveling more like at the speed of a scooter and it took me over an hour to reach Pont de Fautéa. They advertised the restaurant with fish specialties and as it was lunch time already I headed for fresh fish or even just a soup since it was really hot day again. Don’t get me wrong here. I really love hot weather and that never makes me complain. Well, at least if it will stay below + 35 °C.

The fish soup was actually very good with all the trimmings like stale bread, garlic and mayonnaise. Camping site itself was pretty modest. It seemed that some camping sites are like ten square meter supermarkets. Only the name reveals that they are actually for camping. Otherwise the traveller would not notice this when the difference to real camping facilities is such huge. I ended up far from complaining. The weather was like a dream and with filled stomach I had a bit of a snooze in the shadow of the restaurant terrace looking to very pleasant view towards the sea. While the moderately slow traffic passed by camping site, with some caravans and recreational vehicles, I had a somewhat ugly nightmare about the deadliest accident in aviation history at Tenerife airport. After waking up, I decided, it is going to be for some time before I shall have fish soup again. I also decided completely discard all TV content from now on. Especially any aviation documentary. This is something I have well used to since we have not had any television set at home for long since. After some refreshing gulps of freshly squeezed lemon drink I was slowly recalling a snippet of a poem and let myself back to the road and next camping site.

“The sea was sapphire coloured, and the sky
Burned like a heated opal through the air;
We hoisted sail; the wind was blowing fair
For the blue lands that to the eastward lie.”

I managed to select a radio station that played my favorites from the seventies. This was pretty odd but extremely amusing because these stations tend to play all modern tunes only. Today bands like 10cc, Journey and Thin Lizzy had their time in the air. It was around 30 km to beach side camping site Sole d’Or for the night and I really wanted to reach that during daytime. Nothing wrong with the nights though but I just did not wish to end up chasing this perch in the dark with these dull yellow headlights. Of course it is not impossible to overnight in the bush either but today I felt like having a shower and decent meal that would make my day. While driving the sunny coastline with old tunes from the past I started to think that if, as it’s been said, when perfection is no coincidence then were the hell all the young dolly birds? My wife had spent her time in southern France for some half a year already while it was originally supposed to be only a short vacation. She probably started wondering if there is coming back at all. Myself, I had been traveling here and there and starting to wonder exactly the same. Well, maybe longer separation would eventually clear the outcome of our relation. I tried to get rid of thinking the unpleasant issue of personal relationships and instead stay enjoying slow road and great scenery. The radio sound did suffer from little 2CV engine roar. Well, this, less than 400 cc, engine did not actually roar but was more like vaguely screaming in pain as we climbed some low hills. Luna by Alessandro Safina, however, vanished completely under the noise and become a part of the cacophony.

In 1909 Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton wrote in his book The Heart of The
Antarctic, “Men go out into the void spaces of the world for various reasons. Some are actuated simply by a love of adventure, some have the keen thirst for scientific knowledge, and others again are drawn away from the trodden paths by the “lure of little voices”, the mysterious fascination of the unknown.” I’m pretty convinced that the last definition is true in my case. Leaving for this completely unplanned voyage just happened. Like the most of the things in my life. Very little future was planned and even if so then these might still not have happened at all. Still I would not wish to determine me being at a loose end since even unplanned there has always been this “lure of little voices”.

Starting from Porto-Vecchio the Corsican east side views are no different to any other southern landscape of today. At July the scenery is still moderately green all over. Mountains stay port side inlands and paint the horizon with occasional white tops. The road is good quality even not among the widest ever seen. The speed limit varies from 70km/h downwards and occasionally there are warning signs of deer danger. Also multiple sighs scattered for commercial accommodation, villas, beach bars and restaurants. Practically the left side of the road is for private houses and right side for these services and grazing land. There are occasional bridges over rivers running from the mountains. These rivers are, of course, at mid-summer time more or less dry furrows. At places a power line pylons follow the road direction. The island has, in addition to traditional fuel power plants, various interesting energy projects of utilizing wind, sun and hydrogen power.

I was guided by a crumpled tourist map that I had grabbed somewhere in Porto-Vecchio. It showed that by boat shop Isula Marine Solenzara at junction of Solaro, I should turn right and drive Marine de Solaro up till the beach. At the junction there was a luring sing informing about Le Crocodile Bar and I could almost smell the Pastis. The road becomes narrow and follows the side of boat shops fenced storage area. There are some private houses on right side of road now straight as an arrow and eventually ending at parking lot right next to sea. I have reached camping Sole d’Or Les Flots Bleus, the blue waves that is and what an excellent place it all turns out to be. Before anything else I decide to park the vehicle and head towards Pastis at the beach bar in near distance.

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011-2014).