This summer we chose a destination where everybody, big and small, could have their wishes realised. The boys demanded beach and pool, so we found a place on the internet. For us grown-ups a practical solution for the boys and the girl was important, and at the same time giving ourselves an exotic experience. Therefore we went to Corsica.
Saturday 3.7.2004, Stavanger – Nice
We had chosen a midday Norwegian Airlines flight. It suited us well. At home we preferred taking a taxi instead of leaving the car at the airport. It turned out more expensive than the alternative. Besides, the minibus was not equipped with a children’s seat and we had to take ours. The taxi driver was instructed to leave it in the carport of our house.
The plane was a bit delayed from home, but not more than we arrived in Nice on time. The journey went well and we took hold of a few free seats leaving us extra space. In this pleasant Côte d’Azur town we took a taxi straight to our hotel. 30 EUR for the trip was a bit pricey so I will remember that when we return.
- HOTEL NICE VIEUX PORT is between the Old City and Old Port. A few hundred metres from both. A practical location for this afternoon and for the ferry tomorrow to “la Corse”. Very OK hotel for 90 EUR + 21 for breakfast.
After relaxing a bit in the room we walked over to Promenade des Anglais through the Old City: Lots of small shops primarily for local people, narrow alleys and lots of smells and noises made it kind of suq-like. A fantastic start.
On the beach the boys had plenty of time in the water, but not nearly as much as they wanted.
We ate at a picturesque place (Rossati?). Afterwards we bought ice-cream from the best ice-bar of all times, huge and exciting selection. In the end we calmed down at the hotel, after a very good start of our vacation.
Sunday 4.7.2004, Nice – Bastia – Moriani-Plage
We had to get up a six, but our daughter woke us before that. We had a good breakfast with varied choices.
Then we walked with our luggage over to a fine ferry from the SNCF company. We had bought tickets at home and got very fine seats on the Superior deck. The ship left at 0830 and we arrived in Bastia, Corsica at 1245. The four hours went fast. There wasn’t much to do, but the ship kept a very good speed, was very silent and comfortable in the calm sea.
As Sunday was a bad day for renting cars in the city centre, I had to go to the airport to find Avis. I was fortunate and to be given a lift by a French couple from Marseille we met on the ship. My family waited at the terminal and an hour and a half later we could start the last 30 km to our holiday apartment on Moriani Plage, on the east coast of Corsica.
The rental car was by the way very good: Renault Laguna with all kinds of electronics and of course A/C – a must in the heat (30 degrees).
- We found Residence Marina Bianca easily. The reception was closed on Sundays but we found a posting on the reception door with our name and room number. The room was nice with toilet, bath, and bedroom for the boys, living room with a double bed and a baby bed for our daughter; and a kitchen corner with table. The balcony was facing south with a view to the pool and the sea right behind it.
We went for a swim right after unpacking. The pool was divided in two. The upper level was a little children’s pool, while the lower level was a spacious adult pool. The lowest level was in a way the sea only separated by a 25 metre sand belt.
We were able to do some shopping in the village and had dinner in the restaurant of the apartment complex.
Late at night we also got sheets and towels. My oldest son and I rounded a lovely day off with the Euro 2004 final between Portugal and Greece. The latter won undeservedly 0-1.
This is going to be a nice vacation!
Monday 5.7.2004, Moriani
Pool and beach day leaving us all, apart from the youngest sunburnt. We ate in town, the boys are in the mood for pizza these days. We also had a short drive inland and up the hillsides. Bad roads and picturesque villages. Great views.
Tuesday 6.7.2004, Moriani – Corte
Our being sunburnt made the choice of activities easy: Car ride. It was however a bit too long trip with vomiting in the car five kilometres from home.
Our goal was the mountain town of Corte in the middle of the island. We started off towards Bastia and turned inland on the main road. Good road standard. Corte is a university town with an old fortress and lots of nationalist history.
On our way home we first went south on narrow and curvy small roads resulting in back seat complaints. We had dinner in our room after going amok in the supermarket.
Wednesday 7.7.2004, Moriani
Day home with pool bathing, beach bathing, sand bathing and sun bathing. Every morning it is off to the baker’s in the village. This afternoon we had crepes and dinner in the village. A Tivoli opened too late for us to experience.
Apart from this the days are passing by with card games and Gameboy.
Thursday 8.7.2004, Moriani
As yesterday. Lovely sense of vacation.
Friday 9.7.2004, Moriani – Porto Vecchio – Bonifacio
After breakfast and a swim we went on a long trip by car again. From here to the southern tip of the island, the town of Bonifacio, there is approximately 140 km. As it is a National road, the standard is overall good. We gave the boys travel sickness pills and it helped against nausea. They are bored on long stretches, but are thrilled when we arrive at the next leg.
The first leg was to the little town of Porto Vecchio at a large bay on the south eastern coast of Corsica. It was a very nice place, best so far on the vacation (apart from Nice). Many restaurants, small shops and charming little streets.
The second leg was short and to a beach called Palombaggia. Our guidebook (DK Eyewitness) calls it Corsica’s most photogenic and spectacular. It was great, but a bit too windy. The beach has a backdrop of pine trees with large cones and reddish rock formations. The road leading down from the main road is surrounded by cork and eucalyptus trees, reminding us of southern Portugal.
The third leg was to Bonifacio. The town hangs on a cliff high over the southern tip of Corsica. Sand stone cliffs plunge vertically into the ocean. Like Porto Vecchio, Bonifacio is very touristy, but also very nice.
The darkness fell upon us on the way back and we returned at 2300. It had been a great day.
A car ride down the east coast of Corsica, from Bastia to Porto Vecchio, Palombaggia Beach to Bonifacio in the very south.
Saturday 10.7.2004, Moriani
Week two of the vacation has commenced. We slept long and my wife got up first to walk the 500 metres to the baker’s.
Later we all went to the supermarket. We bought a beach parasol that proved far better than the mini-parasol attached to our daughter’s trolley.
Sunday 11.7.2004, Moriani – Bastia
Today’s deviation from the routine was an excursion into Bastia, roughly 30 km to the north. The temptation was largely the Sunday market with handicrafts and all. The market proved to be some kind of flea market with all kinds of new and old stuff, including some clothes and cloths. Not so exciting for us, but it is always interesting to watch the people.
Our youngest son vomited right after we arrived, instead of in the car this time. The boys were thirsty so we sat down in a crêperie. While we had our crepes, Mum had a Corsican speciality, fradone, a kind of lens. The boys summed up their savings and bought a stack of cards with Corsican motifs, a good idea for 6 EUR.
Monday 12.7.2004, Moriani
This was a day home without any big activity.
In the evening we had an excellent dinner at Ernesto’s in the village. After that we went to the Tivoli. The choice of selections was not large, but the boys tried the carousel. The radio cars were moving too fast for them, especially as there was a bunch of youths very eager at bumping into others.
Let me also mention that we every night end up playing cards on the balcony, after our daughter has gone to bed. Normal time to go to sleep is now for both us and the boys around 2300.
Tuesday 13.7.2004, Moriani – L’Île-Rousse
L’Île-Rousse is on the north-western coast and is a good starting point for the Route des Artisans de Balagne – the handicraft route to the mountain villages.
The road over the mountains was partially new and in any case very good. The height had made the vegetation partially scarce. We come down to the coast with its steep cliffs interspersed with great beaches.
The small town seemed nice. There were many out strolling. We found the local marked located in an open building which looked like a Greek temple. Mum let herself indulge in local delicatessen as myrtle jelly, liquid honey and honey vinegar. The vendor was unusually offensive and multilingual. He even mastered some words in Norwegian, in addition to English.
Lunchtime. In a quiet side passage we found ourselves a table where I fell head over heels for the extraordinarily elegant and refined cutlery and table cloth. The boys were obviously less pleased with the choice of restaurant as there was no “meny d’enfant” nor pommes frites. Sullenly they settled for a lasagne while we parents went for an alright plat du jour with various typical Corsican food. It is nice to notice that our daughter now indulge with great pleasure in baked tomatoes and squash, plus pasta dishes in general.
We walked around a bit down at the harbour. On the way back we stopped at an Italian ice bar and had fantastic ice-cream.
“Strada di l’Artigiani” as the handicraft route is called in Corsican-Italian offered few artisans, but many small villages, small roads and great views. Of the villages Pigna must be mentioned as particularly interesting.
The afternoon was rounded off at a beach east of L’Île-Rousse. Gravelled sand, great swell and crowded. The latter in contrast to “our” beach. We returned home in the evening dining nothing but plain food in a restaurant along the way.
A car ride from the east coast to the north western coast of Corsica. Corte, L’Île-Rousse and the Artisan Route in the mountains.
Wednesday 14.7.2004, Moriani
Bastille Day, the national day of the French. We had a good time at home. Everybody, apart from our daughter has now got a fine tan. Mum worked very heavy for it today and was rewarded with a strong red colour.
Our oldest son managed to swim diagonally in the pool, the longest possible distance (15 metres). He has become very good after the two metres’ of the first days. Our youngest son had his diving mask destroyed, and besides it was not allowed in the pool. Subsequently he was effectively outplayed for the most part. We call him the crab as he mostly moves sideways along the edge of the pool, or clings to us. He worries about letting go, even though he has the swimming distance in him, technically speaking.
In the evening we dined at Ernesto’s again. Good food, but slow service this time. When we got out from the restaurant the streets were seeding with life. Everyone had come to town to celebrate the day. People crowded along the long beach and at 2230 we all could experience great fireworks. It really was good and the best we have seen since the world championship at Stockholm’s “Vattenfestivalen” in 1996. Our daughter scared and cried all through the fireworks. She also gets scared by dogs we have noticed.
Thursday 15.7.2004, Moriani
Last whole day in Corsica. Beach and pool, and lunch at home. Packing and then dinner in the restaurant where we are staying.
Our daughter has mosquito bites in her face and arms. Fortunately they do not itch. We others has, apart from Mum, also been bothered at nights. The last few nights we moved inside to play cards and shut the balcony doors almost completely. The mosquito repellent was good to have.
We settled the bill with the receptionist. Expensive sheets.
Friday 16.7.2004, Moriani – Bastia – Nice
Everything was put in the car and we moved in slow traffic congestion back to Bastia. I had difficulties finding a parking space but was lucky and could deliver the keys to Avis. We got on board the ferry just in time. Good seats on the ferry this time as well.
On the quay in Nice we got a lift with free harbour transport part of the way to the hotel. We had an even better room than last time, on the same hotel. We had a last shopping round in the Old City, a walk in the park and seashore. Tremendously crowded in the streets in the evening.
Saturday 17.7.2004, Nice – Stavanger
Another small shopping round with a visit to a patisserie before taxi (30 EUR again) to the airport. It is a very nice airport. The home journey was on a full airplane and we were seated partially divided. It went well.
We took a taxi from the airport home. It surely pays off to bring your own car if it’s less than 2-3 weeks. We came home well and the rains could start. But it didn’t matter, because we had a great vacation in Corsica and as always a couple of fine days in Nice.
A bit more
We used this guidebook: