We decided to visit l'île de la beauté when I found a very good flight deal from Amsterdam. We knew we wanted to travel to see mountains, and unfortunately going to Switzerland was a little out of our budget for this trip, so why not snow-capped mountains in the middle of the Mediterranean sea?
We had gone to Paris the previous weekend and I sadly caught quite the nasty cold. They warn you how shitty it is flying with a cold but I had never experienced it. Making our descent into Ajaccio, Corte, I then immediately understood what they meant. Ouch. The view from the airport of mountains surrounding the port city made up for it though!
We went to see a french pharmacist who gave me Fervex to treat my symptoms. Why am I mentioning this? Well because that damn medicine knocked me out like no over the counter medicine had ever done before.. I ended up sleeping for most of the scenic 2hr train ride to the old corsican capital of Corte.
Once we arrived in Corte, we made out way to our VRBO rental, realizing as we arrived that it was in the most perfect location; directly opposite the old citadel. You also know you're staying in a coveted place when there is a historical sign about the building right outside!
While waiting to meet the owner of the VRBO, we walked to the citadel to check it out. There we ran into a very friendly dog that began to follow us everywhere. This pup followed us around for an entire hour! In Corte many residents let their dogs wander the village during the day, kind of like outdoor cats back home.
Our plans changed a little due to me being sick. I pretty much slept the entire first day while Jon enjoyed downtime as well. The second day I forced myself to get up and go hike despite my cold! It was a perfectly sunny day. Thankfully it still being April, temperatures only rose to around 20 degrees celsius. Ideal hiking weather! This was the morning view from out apartment:
We decided to hike in the Vallée du Tavignano, trail to Ponte di u Russulinu, because we did not need a car to get to the trailhead. When you budget travel you have to take into account location proximities! The trailhead is behind the parking lot for the citadel. The hike is 15km return and pretty easy; the biggest potential enemy being exposure to the sun as there is very little tree cover.
The hike was simply gorgeous. It was my first time being in mountains of that size. It not only had breathtaking scenery, it also showed signs of its historic past with its religious wayside shrines, old retaining walls, and man-made terraces carved into the sides of the gorge.
Later that evening we went to the town square to have supper. It is completely dead. It felt great being away from the masses (especially after visiting Paris!), but kinda strange at the same time. The wait staff all commented on our Québecois accent. Amongst themselves they spoke in corsican; a mixture of french and italian. Afterwards we just wandered the old alpine city as the sun was setting. Corte is known as being one of the most authentic old Mediterranean villages remaining.
The next morning we took the train back to Ajaccio. Arriving into the city we noticed two gigantic cruise ships parked in the harbour. The downtown was bustling with tourists, a few braving the cool temperatures while lounging on the beach. As soon as the cruise ships left however, the city completely emptied out. It was almost eerie to witness. We slept in the city overnight and took an early morning flight back to Amsterdam.
Pros of the trip: -Hardly any other tourists in April.
-Beach & mountain vacation in just one spot
Cons of the trip: -Less than stellar food.
-Ajaccio outside of summer is pretty much closed down at night