Corsica: Back to Ajaccio

Today really marks the beginning of the end as I return to Ajaccio in preparation for the flight home tomorrow. It’s kind of odd not to have to get up early in order to cram in five hours walking, but, given this is a holiday, it?s also rather welcome. (Well, I could have gone for the early bus to the capital, but I decided to relax in laid-back Porto instead.)

Genoese fort, Porto, Corsica

The curse of the low season strikes again, as the tower is closed at ten in the morning despite the sign saying that it opens at nine. I am told it actually opens at eleven, but at five past the gates are still chained shut.

I head for a coffee in one of the few open cafes. While I wait, the tower opens. Indeed, now the sign says it opens at eleven.

First stop on the way up is a small museum. It starts with a bible passage and heads downhill from there. It?s difficult to tell exactly what it?s for. It?s not exactly about Porto, it’s not all religious or historical. I guess it adds value-for-money to the entrance fee for the tower. Inside the tower is nearly as disappointing — and also only in French — but, fortunately, the same cannot be said of the view from the roof.

View over Porto from the Genoese fort, Corsica

The stop for the bus back to Ajaccio is in some doubt. The tour notes say not to believe the tourist office but it seems slightly implausible that it should leave thirty minutes walk up-hill away from the town centre. Implausible or not, it’s true and I leave Porto with the rumble of my wheely-luggage. Once on the bus, the trip is surprisingly quick and efficient. The roads start very narrow, with magnificent views over the coast and horrifying drops to the same. Once past Piana the roads remain twisty and narrow but are less likely to induce travel sickness.

Ajaccio seems very different on my return. Somehow smaller, but familiar and busy. I’ve spent most of the week seeing almost no one else, just the odd walker and a regular at a hotel bar. Seeing cars zipping in and out of traffic is a shock.

I take a quick wander around before heading back to the airport. On the first night it seemed large and alien. Today it seemed much smaller and more manageable.

Ajaccio harbour

I took Cours Napoleon as far as the beach, took a detour via the the Citadel, which was much more closed than that in Corte. Still a military base, the place is surrounded by barbed wire fences. Nearby is the restaurant I ate at on my first night here — that seemed miles away at the time!

Ajaccio street

I meander back up to the main shopping street, Rue Cardinal Fesch, which at this time on a Saturday is still largely closed. I had hoped to bring back a little something but ended having to go into a super market for a bottle of local wine — not exactly what I’d been planning. (Typically I picked the only bottle in the whole store that would not scan. My French wasn’t really up to the ensuing conversation so I just nodded and smiled until they took some money.)

Overall it was a fairly relaxing end to a great walking holiday. Some of the hikes had pushed my abilities but, ultimately, that’s a good thing. Even at the time where I was totally exhausted, the magnificent sights of the country never let me down. The food and hospitality were a bonus, and I loved the fact that Corsica is not just an extension of France. Despite the links, it truly has its own identity. It’s surprises like this keep me travelling.


One response to “Corsica: Back to Ajaccio”

  1. Your blog is almost as good as being there Stephen. The photos are lovely and quite descriptive. Bravo for your walk and the info re: yet another place I’ll never get to….