Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Towards Sardinia

January 28, 2017

“Difference in between charity and philanthropy is when a kind-hearted gives hungry person a fish then a philanthropist is teaching them how to fish.”

I have had my share of travelling on train but every now and then it is a necessity. It is around 100 km as the crow flies from Bastia to Ajaccio and another 50+ km if you travel by car. Railroad is 158 km long to be exact. The scenery was my main reason for choosing train thru town of Corte. Driving at Corsica I had experienced already and now it was time to see the views and not to worry next corner road construction surprises. I also pondered, for a short time, if I could manage to catch a plane and fly over Corsica to Ajaccio. Viewing those colossal mountains from above would certainly make a highlight of my voyage on this less than 10 000 square meter island. Sticking to original plan with train was, however, more or less stipulated by my wallet.

This Railways of Corsica (CFC) train is pale white with blue stripes and has four separate wagons. They have also red with yellow stripes but these are used on beach express tracks from Calvi. I should have actually visited Calvi town. If not anything else then just to see the ancient remains of a house wall that is claimed to be a wall of the actual house where Christopher Columbus was born. Well, this is a legend that practically none can prove. According to history books Columbus was born 1451 in the territory of the Republic of Genoa.

Missing to visit Calvi was not worth regretting since I had quite unfortunately missed too many other fascinating sites already. Yet I managed to visit one fabulous one right before stepping onboard the train. Oratoire de la Confrérie de Sainte Croix is a small chapel that lies in the heart of Terra Nova. It holds a black crucifix of Christ that was, according to the legend, found tucked in a fishing net of fishermen in 1482. This hidden treasure was suggested by the clerk at the train ticket office as I was questioning what would be the place to still visit before train was leaving in three hours. I really cannot explain the interest of visiting these chapels and churches but this definitely turned out to be one spectacular place not to miss by anyone being in Bastia town.

There is a gloomy and dark, 1422 meter long, tunnel of Torreta soon after train station. It actually starts the three and half hour journey with Chemins de Fer de la Corse, onboard train number 23 from Bastia to Ajaccio. I had certain anticipation in my heart for meeting some of the magnificent mountains, Gustave Eiffel’s steel built viaduct at Vecchio and finally almost four kilometers long tunnel at Vizzavona. It would have been great to have time to check up these by walk, well except for the tunnel, of course. At the time of leaving Bastia I did not know what was coming to me so I just relaxed and stared out the railway wagon window.

The view is sedative to eyes as green trees rush here and there occasionally opening a broader scenery to mountain tops in the distance. It is pretty and welcoming sight making me happy to explore even more. While stretching myself on the train seat, I finally realise how much better opportunity this is for a traveler to enjoy when compared to taking the same trip by rented car. I really love driving around but it’s all about keeping eye on the road and traffic and a lot less to the views. Sure one can, and always should, stop for greater examination of the landscape. That is too easy to forget as getting to the destination seems to be more important. Yet it is not about the destination but the journey, as they say.

The train wheels generated a mild screech when the train went thru slight curves. It was amazingly comfortable ride, though, when considering the age of the train. Windows were big for good view and even the seat was certainly not among the most comfortable I still was really enjoying it all. I had some apples, brocciu cheese and thin slices of prizuttu ham to go with a few thick slices of buttered Corsican loaf and bottled water. Brocciu cheese is as I know, considered as one of the national food in Corsica. One of the great features of it is that brocciu does not contain lactose. I don’t personally have any issues but for lactose intolerant persons this is a surprising delicacy which can be fully enjoyed without any unpleasant disadvantages. What an ideal lunch box after busy morning. I felt a bit hungry wondering where, how and whom with to enjoy it. There is an old African saying: “Do not let us eat alone.”

In my life I’ve met people with varying looks. Small kids so pretty as easter bunnies, gorgeous looking women leaving you speechless and men so ugly they had to shave in the dark. A few seats ahead of where I was sitting, facing towards me, I saw two young girls. One lean and brown-skinned, with boyish short sand colored straight hair. The other had lit radiant skin and dark brown long curly hair. They were excitedly looking out the window and communicating the scenery with someone who sat opposite them. For some odd reason I imagined they reminded me of two daughters of Le Patourels. This is of course a recollection from book, Green Dolphin Country. An epic story of two sisters living on the Channel Islands in the mid 1800’s, and the man they both love. Green Dolphin Country by Elizabeth Goudge was, more than 700-page monolith, book of my childhood. From there I can also recall the mother of daughters, Sophie Le Patourel, sophisticated woman, horrified by bustle and vulgarity and noise which George Stephenson’s terrible steam engine caused hurtling people to destruction at twenty-five miles an hour.

The train kept going slowly but steadily along the railroad. Our journey seemed to take longer than it actually was. Happy wobbling from side to side prepared a cradle for my sweet afternoon nap. Yet I tried to keep eyes open, having a pistachio out of my pocket every now and then. I should not fall in sleep now. I had been eagerly waiting to see one sensational landmark of Corsica. Gustave Eiffel, a French civil engineer and architect, had his engineering skills used at Corsica as well. Le Pont Eiffel is the largest viaduct built between 1890 and 1892, in fact, a rail bridge and stretching more than 170 meters over the river Vecchio. This magnificent 84 m high construction is completely built out of steel metal. It was built for a small train named le Trinichellu, a link in between Bastia and Ajaccio. Later in 1827 a road bridge was also built below Le Pont Eiffel, for all other vehicles. Le Pont Eiffel was named as a “Monument Historique” on 29th July 1976 and classified in 1992.

Then suddenly I felt the train slowing down remarkably. There it was. We were travelling over river Vecchio! What a scenery, what a construction. I was honored to feel the presence of Gustave Eiffel and his team in every bolt and each rivet. “Je vous souhaite les salutations!”

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011-2017).