Tuesday Aug 28, 2018
Ajaccio is a city, a French Mediterranean city with a lot of hustle and bustle. My GPS decided to “Lose satellites” on the way into the city!!!! Complicating the issue, my hotel, is on a pedestrian promenade and parking is off site. Fortunately, I found it AND a small parking space on the street for my small car. Luckily the parking allowed me as much time as needed for under 7 Euros. Settled into Hotel Fesch, I walked around the neighborhood. There are beaches on the north side and the port on the south side of the peninsula Ajaccio.
Old town is typical old narrow streets that I’ve become used to seeing. A half mile from my hotel is Bonaparte’s childhood home. A typical home for the family of some moderate means who were administrators of the city. The line to visit Maison Bonaparte was LONG on the hot afternoon. I decided to return next AM in the cool of the day just as it opened. Then I would leave town.
Inside is OK but all the signs are just in French. Documents, photos, etc were mildly interesting. I probably should have rented the audio device but my hearing aids make them a pain. I did get some interesting interior images, although they are not Bonaparte images. I walked back to the car through the large Saturday street market.
Leaving the city, once again the GPS would not find a satellite. It took several frustrating mis-directions to find my way out. Along the route to Bonifacio in the far south the GPS cut out again. I had intended to visit some famous megalithic sites but the signs “disappeared” and I never found them.
Bonifacio is a VERY windy place, at least the 24 hours that I was there. There is a high perched citadelle fortress around the old town above the pleasure boat packed harbor. Some of the modern resort occupies the surrounds the harbor. The information office is in the fortress with the very narrow cobbled streets packed with tourists. I get a map and kind of locate my hotel. OK it was “lunch time” at 2P inside the fortress was needed. Cold and windy outside, I find a place inside to relax.
The address of the hotel is the BACK of the buildings lining the harbor on the approach to the fortress! No reception office visible. A helpful local suggested the restaurant of the same name on the harbor promenade!. Four staff there and only the waitress spoke English. I do not have the French for conversation. Check-in done I had to “wait for someone to show me to my studio.” 15 minutes later a guy shows up and walks me a hundred yards down the promenade and up three flights to a lovely one bedroom apartment overlooking the bustle of the harbor and shops. I dropped my backpack and collapsed. “I am not liking this town.” I thought.
Bustle and wind and a lovely view from the three-room apartment. It is really an extended stay rental not a one night-stop. I worked on some photos and writing. After dark I went out to see the lighted fortress. Bummer, it was not as I had seen in promo photos. The current view is dark with scenes projected on the fortress walls; most unattractive. I try to shoot the neighborhood. With the darkness surrounding the BRIGHTly lit restaurants and bars, it was not attractive. Back up the narrow three flights to my home and bed. Above the bustle, it was not a quiet night, even with my ears on the table.
I didn’t know if I would try to ferry to Sardinia but since I was disenchanted with the town I decided to head to Corte in the central mountains. Booking.com to the rescue and a place secured in Corte.
The extensive breakfast was nice and the helpful English speaking waitress was on duty. Check-out was another adventure. No one on staff spoke English or seemed to care about the “hotel” side of the business. The free parking pass card did not work and I had to pay 19 euros. The staff seemed to be not interested in my problem. You might say “They don’t have TheirShitTogether.” The restaurant was fine but the hotel seemed an afterthought, with little thought. Get the feeling that I did not like this town????
Sunday noon I arrived in Corte. Driving up the river valley in the bright cool morning, I felt the resort frustrations disappear. Corte is an old fortress town from the Genoese era and long inhabited before that. It was the center of Corsican partisan resistance and revolution in the 1700s. It is a beautiful old French-Mediterranean hill-town with a university in the new part of the city. So the vibe is younger and less touristy. Hotel “U Passe Tempu” was central with a nice mini-kitchen studio that could have been for a few days. It is just up the hill from a gorgeous fountain on a cobbled street leading to a small church. Tucked away beside the church, it is a nice place.
Photographing both late afternoon and early morning was a pleasure after the touristy resort bustle of Bonifacio and Ajaccio. There is a high perched citadelle here also but its better viewed from the outside from the town below. Tourists and locals were out and about on the evening.
I photographed some people descending a narrow street. “That is MY daughter.” He said in English. I showed him my set of a half dozen images of the street, including the one with his daughter. We had an extended talk about street photography and telling a story with the image. He called his daughter back to be a “natural” in his shot of the street.
When traveling solo, there are few opportunities to have conversation with people. I welcomed the chance to talk to him even thought it began sort of by challenge. I had another long conversation with a young (English speaking) French couple in the Calanches that I really enjoyed. Typically, conversations with the desk clerk at a hotel are interesting; they are often bored and welcome diversion.
Corte and the local mountains are a “GoBackTo” place. It could use a few days of exploring/experiencing. There is fine hiking and mountain scenery in the area.
Back in Bastia. The AVIS was car turned in and I checked into the hotel I used last time. I have my reservation for the Tuesday PM Moby ferry to Nice. This ferry sports massive Looney-Tune characters painted all over the ship. It is cheap without the cabin and car. The ride is 7 ½ hours to Nice. The downside is about a 10PM docking and then the 1 mile walk to my hotel near the train station. I had entered the hotel’s coordinates into the GPS. It made me walk the one-way streets for cars! If it didn’t connect to satellites, I would have taken a taxi.