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Corsica and Sardinia

 
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Late Doors
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:46 pm    Post subject: Corsica and Sardinia  Reply with quote

Not long back and its all been knitting together in the ol' memory banks not to mention nearly 450 pictures. Will have to break it up into smaller bits as we had 6 stop offs, about 5 bus rides, 6 trains and a ferry. Far from arduous though and I'd go back anytime to any of the places and indeed anywhere else on the islands. Rocky coast lines, coves and secluded bays, picturesque and varied scenery perfect for walking, the smooth lapping Mediterranean rolling onto classy beeches, fantastic food, elegant towns, affluent harbours, great people, no scuzz of any description, sunshine, hospitality and as close to the perfect holiday destination i have been.

Corsica is a French island but only relatively recently. Prior to napoleon's capturing of it it was held by Greeks, Romans , Pisans, Genoans  and briefly by The Brits. Nelson lost his eye in Calvi

Landed in Corsica Sunday lunch and got the bus into Bastia then Calvi for sunset Described as Provence without the Brits which sounds pretty damm good to me

Probably the islands flagship resort Calvi has an understated shabby chic elegance. A large calm harbour full of luxury yachts amidst the backdrop of mountains melts into an almost Robinson Crusoe setting with palms and thatched roof cafes in between the  narrow gauge railway and curved narrow beech. At the other end of the bay  stands the raised citadel, a walled old town overlooking the whole area and beyond. Behind the citadel lies another craggier and smaller bay and a different natural landscape altogether

The town center itself is small. A waterfront with three parallel streets behind it running across a steepish incline with narrow descending lanes intersecting them all. Not much tourist tac but speckled with cafes and restaurants and subtly lit come dusk.

Beers were very pricey. Seven quid a pint on the waterfront. Wine was cheaper and the restaurants expensive but not ridiculous. Salads for lunch and set menus at night including a sublime wild boar speciality casserole.

Now then, a word or two about French women. Undoubtedly the finest in the world. We can have the debate if you like but anyone who disagrees is wrong  so its a pretty pointless debate. Corsica i think has the top echelons of them as well and i think i will just leave it at that.

Three fantastic nights in a beautiful town and we were sad to leave. However, that would prove to be the same with all places we went such was our enjoyment. Next stop Ajaccio further south on the west coast.

The Old Town high up in the citadel



Views either side of the Citadel





The Harbour with the mountain back drop


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ace pics LD. Did you see Cellino's yacht?
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ajaccio was a different town. Not officially the  capital but the seat of government and the largest town on the island. Napoleon was born here  but for a couple of buildings commemorating that, you wouldn't think so. Apparently he isn't the major heroic figure in his hometown as he is in mainland France. Probably due to the islander's independence and their view that Napoleon somehow betrayed them.

The main town itself is pretty ordinary. Chic and lively but a plain working town. An expansive square Place De Gaulle bookends the main drag before it reaches the road along the water front. To the right are the beaches and to the left the harbour area and port where cruise ships also dock and unleash their human cargo into the shops , restaurants and cafe bars that line the area. Quite a precarious scavenging point for the pigeons by the look of it as well as they rummage around the chairs, feet and tables. Lots had talons missing, some no feet at all just little pigeon stumps hobbling amongst the cobbles beneath the tables

Behind the water front are the criss cross alleys of old town with their ambient night time lights and little restaurants serving smaller menus. It was back end season and the place had a relaxed winding down feel to it. That was to be the overall vibe of everywhere we visited. One bar we called in had the two owners and the pregnant waitress lounged outside in the chairs drinking wine and smoking dope. We sat next to them and had a pleasant hour as assorted rap and Cajun music rang out.

The usual luxury yachts and boats were docked down at the front. I looked out for Massimo's all over fc but no luck. That would have been a good shout in the other section. We did see a blue blingy boat called Blue Ice that was for sale. A cool 15 million we found out and that was just a bog standard boat albeit pimped up a little.

We warmed to place very easily lazing on the golden beech near a beach side cafe serving fantastic wood fired pizzas. There is a fabulous outdoor market selling local produce and delicacies. Each stall had free samples that we tried with a keen appreciative intensity. So much so that we didn't need any lunch. You can take the couple out of Yorkshire but you can't take the Yorkshire out of the couple as they say.

Found a north African place as well. Service non existent but very tasty tagines. In fact i have to say that the notorious French arrogance is alive and kicking in Corsica. A couple of times we had a laugh at it, just makes it easier not to leave a tip as well.

Two nights there before a long five hour two bus journey to the vey south tip of the island Bonnafacio.

Pizzas and red wine on the beach, ace



Old Town


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was - ahem - conceived on Sardinia


Which in my view should at least get me a discount in the LUFC club shop
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A jizzcount?
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Grind wrote:
A jizzcount?


Effectively, categorically, in a word - yes
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Late Doors wrote:
Quite a precarious scavenging point for the pigeons by the look of it as well as they rummage around the chairs, feet and tables. Lots had talons missing, some no feet at all just little pigeon stumps hobbling amongst the cobbles beneath the tables[/URL]


As always, a very well written and entertaining travelogue.

On more important avian matters, my understanding is that pigeons are prone to a bacterial infection called bumblefoot, which can lead to gangrene and the infected part dying off.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah right? i thought it was more likely they got caught with a moving chair whilst grabbing crumbs but that sounds more feasable

Bonifacio

This place has some history. Its accepted by many to be the place described in Homers Odyssey inhabited by cannibals and the fierce cavemen. The geography and geology certainly suggest it's the very same place. Since then various scraps with the moors Italians Spanish and French have ensued and today although it is technically French it had a very Italian feel about it.

The bus dropped us off next to the harbour and high up in front of us was the old town accessible by a very arduous climb with the back packs to the fortress type gates. Jeez i was sweating like one of Nigel Evans'  interns by the time we got to the hotel.

Just the one night there in Bonifacio before we were to take the ferry the day after to Sardinia that we could just make out across the water in the hazy distance. Plenty of time though to enjoy this handsome and characterfull  town. The harbour was split into three. The ferry dock, the working fisherman boat area and the leisure boat area. The area was pretty quiet and things were closing down for the season but high up in old town things were very much on the go. Very much a day tripper area it was only late afternoon into the night and early the following morning that we got the full majesty of the place. Stunning white chalky sea torn  cliffs held the town aloft along with cliff top trails and two lighthouses. The evening proved even more atmospheric as a mist rolled in restricting the views but providing its own spectacle.

The town was a joy to walk in and around its narrow streets and perimeter paths overlooking the sea. Lots of small cafes and restaurants with no one hassling you to come in just simple chalk board menus that were enticing enough. I hate places that have front people bothering you when you cast even a minor glance at the menu. It's absolutely guaranteed to send us scuttling away.



As it happened we had one of the very best restaurant nights we have ever had. L'Archivolto where we had a little table for two almost in the window looking out onto the terrace but still inside. Bags of character, brilliant staff helpful not fussy and efficient. Perfect. The food was just as good, a local speciality of Aubergine Lasagne.

Up bright and early the following morning as it was a sunny clear day. Dawn had just broke and the day trippers a good few hours away so we got a great feel for the place and its surroundings as we ambled around for a couple of hours in almost total seclusion. Hope the picture does it justice.



About one o'clock we were on the harbour about to board the ferry. A large motorbike gathering of mainly middle aged continental bikers were first on. Some of the fiercer looking Italian bikers seemed to be a bit too fond of the beer on the trip over and I'm glad i don't ride the same roads as they do. They weren't half knocking it back

So it was Au Revoir to Corsica with a tinge of sadness and Buonna sera Sardinia 50 minutes later as we docked into Santa Theresa


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2014 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like Corsica Sardinia has seen  its share of  conflict and occupation. While Nelson was patrolling the surrounding seas looking to have it with napoleon and the French navy he saw it as strategically vital. It seems though that whoever had it at any time didn't really know what to do with it so it was often given up without a fight leaving the natives with a sense of isolation and independence.

Another trek up from the harbour into town but nowhere near as steep as Bonifacio. It was Saturday afternoon, news of the Huddersfield game wasn't coming through and nerves were on edge.

The town seemed eerily deserted but i wasn't  focused as we found our way to the BnB we had booked. What a fantastic view as the windows of our room opened. An idyllic Mediterranean bay, golden arced beach sheltered by rocky surrounds and the slow sweet rhythmic hiss of the sea as it stroked the sand. We could have just sat on the terrace for the next four days. We didn't of course although a soothing almost hypnotic ritual bottle of rosé there commenced the evenings. Supplemented one night by our fantastic host with Cheeses and Sardinian sausage. We aren't really lounging about people during the day although we did spend a good few hours just lying on the perfect beach.

The town of Santa Theresa is very intriguing. Purpose built mainly in the '50s the whole place has a universal studio look to it. Boxy and perfect pastel coloured streets arranged in the American grid layout surround the central square. There's an almost Dystopian look about it but that would be doing the utter charm of the place a massive injustice.

Further afield the near suburbs host more detached houses lending the area a less uniform elegant and affluent feel. Pizza cafes and assorted boutique outlets pepper the streets but its only in and around the central square where there is a concentration of commercialism.

Just over the brow of the square all lanes lead down to the beach. We were blessed with late summer sunshine so naturally people headed there. Continental people are so much cooler than us on the beech aren't they. Groups, couples, old, young, singles, families and kids gathered to enjoy it in relaxed, organised style. We had a laugh contrasting that with an August bank holiday in Scabby.

Found a couple of fantastic eateries as well. Il Grotino two nights running. Packed, efficient, lively, atmospheric and  beautiful simple classic Italian food. Oh and some hitherto unknown Sardinian wine called Monica we loved. Pizzas were amazing but not as magnificent as the ones in Pizzeria Balajana  The crispest freshest tastiest dustbin  lid sized perfection you could ever wish for complete with a jug of Monica. Topped with Parma ham and rocket, nometty nom'kinnom.

Night time Entertainments as well with an accordion player on stage in the square. Of the musical entertainer variety as opposed to the land occupying refuse liberating  type we get round here. Fantastic community spirit as well as holidaying Italians with line dancing, kids performing routines and all in the warm open aired ambiance of the village square.

By day three we were ready for a long walk which we took along the western end of the bay along the rocky tops of the land edge. A sensational perfect coastal walk with Bonifacio glistening in the distance 11 km away across the sea. MrsD pointed at a large tortoise. We've never seen a wild one, it was wonderful. It stopped and looked at us whilst munching then moseyed along under some shrubbery. My zoned out relaxed mind thought of Blade Runner and i recited to the indifference of MrsD  towards  my nerd like infotainment.

So you look down and see a tortoise. It's crawling toward you
A tortoise. What's that?
Know what a turtle is?
Of course.
Same thing.

I can't remember a more relaxed leisurely and enjoyable few days ever. The whole place is the perfect wind down holiday retreat.

Another long two bus ride for the penultimate stop of the fortnight and not without its drama as we headed to Alghero on the west Coast

first glimpse outside from the room. i think we are going to like it here.



cute town



ace coastal walk, Bonifacio in the distance



*drools*


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LATE DOORS IN YET ANOTHER HOLIDAY SHOCKER!

Good reporting LD! 10/10
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

'' ta

I've tried to show a bit of brevity but I could go on about the place for ever. Took about 450 photos as well but tried to show the ones that represent the place.

last bit now ''

On the bus meandering up the inner mountain route to Alghero it causally occurred to me that there was a car heading sideways on our side of the road towards us. Just as I was thinking, hmm that can't be right it smacked into us, spun 180 degrees and came to a smoking grinding halt alongside us on the other side of the road. The front on side corner of it concertinaed. Our bus abruptly stopped and a weird calm came about. I feared the worst as i surveyed the car. The elderly women passenger left the car ashen but calm and looked at the driver's side. It was crushed but the driver moved, then shuffled to the passenger door and also pushed his way out incredibly unhurt. That was when i knew the situation was ok. Other drivers rushed to the scene with phones and pushed the car to the side of the road best they could but it was still 60% blocked. The driver himself looked at his steaming half crushed vehicle and gestured to it in the same way a centre half would to a fallen forward feigning  injury in the penalty box.

I feared we would be stuck there for hours but the driver made a phone call and shuntered his way through the jam and we were off on our way a mere minutes after the crash. A hour later at the foot of the climb a police car made its way past us in the opposite direction towards the stricken vehicle.

Alghero.
Dominated by a staggeringly huge port and harbour with long beach  the bus made its way along the front  before despatching us near the old town. Our hotel was a 20 min walk beyond the old town along the promenade walk into a quiet residential area. The place is big, very big, certainly a tourist holiday town but also a real working place as well. Been at the forefront of centuries of occupation as well. In fact there is a very strong Spanish specifically Catalan influence all over from the language, dialect, road names, old architecture and cuisine. Not surprising really since the Spanish were there for about 400 years.

Alghero faces west one of those sea side towns where the sun sets across the water and we were looking forward to the evening spectacle. The old towns waterfront is impressive enough but when the lowering sun bathes it in golden hues it becomes something quite magnificent.

Three absolutely superb meals as well  2 in the so good we went again Angedas on the prom front. Also found a beer place selling local craft beers as well a world ales. The local Ichnusa beer is ok but like a lot of generic European popular beers  lacks character depth and interest. An American pale ale from Marduk brewery in New York was particularly excellent.

Got some Beach time in to top up the tan, no orange dust for us two, oh no, the real thing.  All in all three cracking nights and days in a great town but it was all coming to an end. just one more stop off in Olbia on the Friday night and then the plane back to Leeds.

Olbia was an unexpected treat. Thought we were just going to throw it in for convenience as its the Airport town but we really enjoyed it. Particularly the free museum where the well preserved and reconstructed remains of a genuine old Roman boat were on display. Quite magnificent, a two thousand year old boat hull laid out for you to walk around. Massive significant history right there. In fact the whole town is an archaeological gem as it was an important strategic Roman town due to its natural harbours and shelter. Like a lot of other Sardinian coastal towns it went into ruin and decay over the centuries becoming a Malaria ridden swamp. The mozzies are still around, the little bastards but no malaria.

Yep a fantastic unforgettable two weeks on two wonderful islands .









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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Late Doors wrote:


An excellent travelogue, as always Sir!

From the self-portrait photograph, you and your good lady appear to have let your hair grow slightly longer than normal.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2014 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LD seems to be sporting some shapely legs too.


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