Mark and Lou's Excellent Adventure travel blog




Bust of Napoleon at the Maison Napoleon - Ajaccio



Delicious salad - Corte

Ajaccio and Corte - Corsica

After finishing the GR20 Sud, we had a few days up our sleeves and so we thought we would explore some of Corsica's towns.

We got the train from Vizzavona to the coastal town of Ajaccio, famous for being the birthplace of the one and only Napoleon Bonaparte. Ajaccio was to be our base for the next two nights.

Our hotel was central to everything and we enjoyed wandering around the local streets, grocery shopping and browsing. We even picked up our own Corsican vendetta knives, hoping they won't be confiscated by airport security and we won't be handed over to the Gendarmerie. Honest, they're only used for cutting baguette, saucisson and fruit - we don't mean any trouble.

We spent an afternoon exploring the house where Napoleon was born. It was interesting, although extensive remodelling had occurred from the time he had lived there. The Bonaparte family certainly had their own trials and tribulations, having been forced to flee the home which was subsequently ransacked by the townsfolk. It sounds like his mother Leticia was a very strong woman and a force to be reckoned with, remodelling and redecorating the home when the family were able to return. Much of the furniture that she had acquired was in the home, having been faithfully reupholstered in keeping with the original fabrics. Napoleon spent his childhood in the home, but by age 16 he was already on the path to his stellar military career.

We strolled down to the beach and I put my feet in the cold, refreshing water of the Mediterranean. Many tanned and bikini clad bodies of all ages and sizes dotted the beach. We bought our own bottle of liqueur de Myrte, as well as deli items - ham, goats cheese and the sweetest little cherry tomatoes. When it got too hot outside, we retreated to the icy air conditioned room.

A couple of bouchers were fascinated by Mark's Garmin camera and so he did a demonstration for them on how it worked by syncing with the phone, which they loved. 'Bon vacance!' they called after us after we parted ways.

A couple of days later and we were on the train again to Corte - ancient citadel town and original capital of Corsica. We arrived on Sunday afternoon to a quiet and languid pace.

Our hotel manager was astounded that we had travelled all the way from Australia to see his beloved Corse. He called us 'Australia' and asked us whether we loved Corsica. When we replied with an emphatic 'oui', he seemed very happy. The hotel was like a cool and quiet oasis, with a beautiful shady garden. Fresh rosemary exploded out of a garden bed and we picked a couple of sprigs for our scrambled eggs.

We walked into the old town in the heat. It's such a pretty place with buildings sprouting out of rocky towers, all different colours with window boxes of flowers and herbs - olive trees in terra cotta pots.

We enjoyed lunch of four cheeses pizza and the best salad I've had for a long time. It inspired me to be much more creative with salads when back at home. Here, food is an art form, a thing of beauty as well as nourishment for the body. We accompanied our lunch with our Corsican favourite - a cold Pietra beer. The restaurant's dog roamed from table to table, looking for the coolest position to recline in. He chose us and laid at our feet - such a dear little thing. We enjoyed his company. Roaming back through the rocky paths of the old town streets in the now scorching heat, we arrived back at our hotel and promptly slept for about four hours.

As I write, we are on a train bound for Bastia as we fly out to Lyon tonight. We have enjoyed Corsica so much. It's a unique, fascinating and diverse place with so much history.

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