After the disappointments of last night, we woke up late (ok I did) and grumpy (both of us). Breakfast on the terrasse lost its charm and the music of the Saigne could not sooth. We didn't even really talk during breakfast. Major travel lesson, when you are dissatisfied with your environment, nothing, no matter how spectacular or unique, is impressive or interesting. Even thought we liked the place the first night, after our mediocre meal, everything was tarnished.
Fortunately, today was going to our first day in Corsica, so we had something to look forward to. We took off for the Nice airport. But since we had extra time, we made a side trip to Biot.
Biot was a Templar's Knight stronghold and due to the nature of the sand found there, it is also the pre-eminent glass-blowing area in France. It was a beautiful perched city and you could see why the Templar Knights would choose this hilltop. You could see for miles and miles, including the sea. Didn't buy any glass, but it looked really cool!
The Cote d'Azur airport in Nice has two terminals. From JFK, we flew into terminal 2 because that was an international flight. But, Corsica is presumably French, so we thought we might have to go to terminal 1. We made several circles around the airport without ever finding one sign that indicating in which terminal we could find Air Corsica. Since the car rental return was at terminal 2, we opted for that one. And guess what?...that was the right terminal. Yes, the terminal for international flights is the one that services Corsica. I guess that tells you a lot about what mainland France thinks of Corsica or vice versa.
When our flight took off, you could see the entire Cote d'Azur from Nice to St. Tropez...it was stunning. But, not nearly as stunning as flying into the coast of Calvi, Corsica. The bay with mountains in the background was extraordinary!
While Robert got our luggage, I went to get our rental car...makes sense since I am the one who speaks French and he is the one with the muscles. Now, usually one would not expect a remarkable encounter when completing such a mundane task...but my dealings with the Patrick, the Hertz guy, had to be one of the best ways ever to be introduced to a country (and so far Corsica feels like a different country). Both Robert and I agreed he looked like Haas from Gunsmoke, just darker complexion and darker hair. He had a Hertz shirt on with the first 4 buttons unbuttoned. My first thought was...great, I am dealing with someone who fashions himself a Casanova.
But, I could not have been more wrong. Patrick was so happy that I tried to speak French to him that he made us a "cadeaux" (a present) of adding Robert as a driver for free and totally upgrading our car! He told us where to get authentic Corsican food and drew directions for us to our hotel. This guy was awesome!!! He was stationed inside the terminal, but he went with us to the car park to make sure we got the right car and everything was OK, even though there were other Hertz employees in the car park to do that. Then he went around the car and found every tiny, weeny scratch and marked it so we wouldn't have any problems when we returned it. He made sure we had a car with air conditioning and didn't charge us for it, even though this was a lot more expensive (a feature we definitely missed our first two days in France...how can it be so hot in October). Patrick showed us how to use all of the extras on the car and finished with "c'est une bonne voiture" (this is a good car—I had to agree). Then, he told us that if we had any problems or questions, with the car or Corsica, we could call him! How cool was that!! Basically, I love Patrick!
As we drove to our hotel, each view was more fantastique! We kept oohing and ahhing! We came up to our hotel were so happy because it is beautiful! I saw pictures on the internet but there hadn't been any reviews about the place, so I had been a little worried. The worry was wasted! Our room is amazing...it is a suite with 2 balconies and we can see the sea...no more cave for us! Not to mention the huge tub. OK, really liking Corsica so far.
We would have to drive to the place Patrick suggested, so we opted to walk to a restaurant in town (and drive tomorrow night)...since that would take us all of 5 minutes. On our walk there, I saw Napoleon not less than 50 times...there is a definite Corsican look.
We found this place called Santa Maria next to the Sainte Marie Marjuere church and got our first taste of Corsican cuisine, which consists of a lot of wild boar.
It was delicious! Since the wild boars diet on chestnuts, you can detect a nutty flavor in the meat...v. different and good. I had boar as an appetizer and Corsican lamb in a black olive sauce for the main course...it was sooo good. Robert had the wild boar appetizer (charcuterie) and wild boar main course....he was loving it. The potatoes were baked in their special cheese called brocciu and cream....Heaven!
Such a relief to have good food again especially since food is such an important part of the trip for us! And of course, since we were loving our environment, we talked non-stop through dinner, though we did not come to any conclusion on the state of world affairs LOL. What a difference good food, comfortable lodgings and nice people make—it is so much easier to enjoy each other.