7.4.17

Corsica in 36 hours

Ready for take-off
 What do one do when faced with a tightly packed early morning to midnight programme in the city of Ajaccio and at best 36 hours to explore the Island before going home.

Well there is no single solid answer to that, but here is what I did based on my interest in nature and photography, not to mention the fact that 80-90% of the Corsica seemed shut down for winter.
Corsica certainly struggles with well know effects of a very seasonal tourism sector.

My stay in Ajaccio was fixed, in the sense that my hotel was booked well in advance, before this chance opportunity of spending about two half days on the road. Thus, I needed to return to my base in Ajaccio for the night.

A rental car is a must, I fixed myself up with an almost new Peugeot 108. Short of a Suzuki Jimmy it is a perfect match for up to two persons rocking the tiny mountain roads of Corsica. You will read plenty of warnings in plenty of travel magazines on how passionate, fast and reckless Corsicans drive.
I am happy to tell you it is over stated, Corsicans are certainly passionate drivers, but no more so than many other Europeans. The mountains roads are no worse than in Northern Norway, Sweden, France or Italy for that matter.
Not once did the tiny Peugeot come out short in terms of speed and acceleration on the narrow winding roads, sure I had to work the transmission to get the most from it, but it performed surprisingly well.


Ajaccio beach
Ajaccio itself is an almost ordinary southern European beachy tourist city.
In the sense that it is saturated with the same unimaginative tourist traps as everywhere else, but there are upsides to Ajaccio.
The Secret Gallery
A multitude of narrow and charming alleys to explore for one and a genuinely rustic and almost scenic quality to at least part of the beach-side of the city.
It happens to be the birth city of Napoleon Bonaparte too if one have such interests.
Mountain Runners
 The back country from Ajaccio is hilly and generally amazing. It makes for some excellent mountain running experiences. I had a great morning run, with the guys (and gals) from Corsica Run Extrem, pure bliss :)

Knowing I would have to be very selective in terms of what to see and how far to venture.
UNESCO World Heritage listed "Calanche de Piana" was very high on my list and since "Pointe de la Parata" was on the way it seemed a very nice stop along the way and since I have a thing for waterfalls I wanted to find one of those too, "Cascade du Voile de la Mariée" sounded like a promising one given the season and distance from Ajaccio, so it went on the list too and then of course intermitted stops in between as I would pass interesting stuff. All in all a decent game plan for two half days or so.

Genoese Towers of Corsica
The short hop to Pointe de la Parata was not super remarkable, it was short though.
The view from the hilltop just before the Genoese tower is perfect for the classic view of the small isles and the towers.
I found a secluded spot and enjoyed a brief moment of silence taking in the view and a sip of water.
The image from my pitstop will hardly qualify for a price for original thinking, but it was a very nice moment and will serve great as a pleasant memory.
Rural Corsica #3
From there I set out on my drive towards Calanche de Piana, an entertaining mountain drive in its own right and with plenty of interesting vistas and more intimate rural scenes of beauty.
The village of Piana marks the Southern entrance to this gorgeous area. Piana though, as the rest of Corsica was more or less closed thanks to my way off season visit, but it is a very scenically located village none the less.
1st floor on the left
Calanche de Piana itself is a truly gorgeous region of deep red rock formations and a very scenic drive. I truly regretted not having packed a couple of rolls of colour film for this part of my trip. A roll of Ektar, Velvia or Provia would have been a blessing and it represent one of a handful moments in life where I have longed for a roll of colour film.
Red Rock #5
Thanks for my limited time to explore, I stayed along the scenic drive and did not venture too far on foot, even though I would have loved to. This area is much more beautiful than my images display and I would love to go back with some colour film and much more time.

I arrived very late at the hotel that night and slipped into bed right away, after repacking for a few hours of exploring and my flight home the following day.

A very early breakfast and then off on another drive, this time heading East and towards Cascade du Voile de la Mariée. An easy and relaxed drive taking me to a tiny roadside stop. Already at the stop i could hear the muted roar of the waterfall, a promising sound. I grabbed my bag and walked through a small gate before the short walk to the waterfall.

Cacade du Voile de la Mariée
It was stunning, Amazing actually and I thoroughly enjoyed a quiet time, a sip of water and just appreciating the gorgeous nature around me. Took the time to capture a few images and stroll for a bit along the powerful stream leading water away from the waterfall, before walking back to the car and save for a stop at a scenic rural scene I spotted on my way out, drove straight to the Airport for check in.
Rural Corsica #5
All in all, Corsica was an amazing experience and I would certainly love to come back with more time on my hands and i would probably choose to go way off season again too, simply to get to enjoy the gorgeous nature in almost complete solitude. Ohh and I would bring colour film with me.