Corsica: The road to Bastia and the Cap Corse peninsula
07.06.2009
At 5 pm, as we reached the Austrian Alps, Igor started to reminisce about his first bicycle expedition, which was to the Alps too. It was with great relief that I thought to myself: "Luckily, we have not decided to conquer the Alps on recumbent bikes!"
Suddenly Igor asked: "Will you come here with me on recumbent bikes?" Jeez – I haven't even sat on that bicycle, I don't know how to cycle uphill, but apparently my husband is ready to take me for a ride to such high mountains!!! Being a wise and experienced wife, I answered: "Of course I will join you, if this makes you happy, but not necessarily on a recumbent bike – let's check this equipment first, shall we?" Fortunately, our attention was soon drawn to magnificent views. Green, grassy slopes of high mountains looked idyllic with small houses scattered here and there. There was a highway as if glued to the hillside, some vineyards, castles or ruins of fortresses – simply amazing! All those emotions and blissful moments of reverie were brutally interrupted by a command of our GPS: "Continue for 140 km". We laughed our socks off.
It was almost midnight when we pitched our tent at Pineta campsite (EUR 5/person plus EUR 7 for the tent).

08.06.2009
In the morning we packed up our stuff, prepared breakfast, drank delicious coffee and asked the parking guard if (and for how much) we could leave our car there for an entire month. Although the gentleman tried to speak English, the conversation was pointless – he did not understand even the simplest words! After three more attempts, Igor gave up and decided that we should leave our car at a parking site in Livorno. Oh no! Packing our bikes back, looking for a parking site, unpacking the bikes again and then looking for a way to the harbour? I did not like that scenario. I still remembered a few Italian words that I read while we were travelling, so I tried using the simplest Italian possible, which sounded like: "Auto un camping pineta, and we (I pointed to Igor and myself) giro de Corsica e Sardinia con la bicicletti". The smile that appeared on the man's face indicated apprehension. He wanted me to write down how many days I had in mind and then he talked to his boss. Well, it was quite expensive. EUR 8 per day – it was EUR 240 for 30 days! However, Igor jotted "EUR 150" on the sheet of paper, and finally our offer was accepted.
The ride to the harbour took no more than 20 minutes. Unfortunately, while planning our trip Igor checked Sunday ferry timetables, but in the end we left Poznań on Sunday (instead of Saturday). In short: we missed the only Monday cruise to Corsica! Still, I wasn't worried – I thought it would be a good opportunity to get accustomed with the bike. Later in the evening, we were both happy that our car was so spacious – instead of setting up a tent, we spent that night in the car quite comfortably, with mattresses and sleeping bags spread in the back.

09.06.2009
This time we reached the harbour right on time. The ferry to Bastia cost EUR 54 (for 2 people and 2 bicycles). It would have been cheaper if we had booked it online a month or two in advance. Unfortunately, we weren't quite sure when exactly we would leave, so we had to pay our dues. We were pleasantly surprised by the prices at the ferry restaurant – the food was not overpriced, but it was very tasty! After a 4-hour cruise we set foot on French Corsica.
I noticed that some guy took photos of us as we disembarked. Well, we should get used to it – after all we are freaks with bikes! But suddenly Igor smiled at the guy and started talking to him in Polish. It was Remigiusz, representing the "Cycling Family" (www.rowerowarodzinka.pl), who came to welcome us at the pier. The rest of his team were waiting in a cafe at St Nicolas square. Finally we could take our virtual friendship to the real world. Two "almost-three-year-olds" – Natalka and Madzia – were so busy playing that they even did not notice our arrival. Later they were very eager to test the recumbent bikes. We exchanged a few hints and remarks, took some snapshots, and went for a 6 km test ride. At 3:30 pm we bid them farewell and headed for Cap Corse.
I was a little worried about the traffic on those narrow, winding, mountain roads, but Corsican drivers were very patient – they waited until we passed, without honking or cutting in – great! The views were stunning – we cycled along the coast past old watchtowers, turquoise bays and never-ending rows of oleanders that seemed to be bowing to us from behind long fences. Thus we reached the Mocinaggio campsite (EUR 8.5 per person). The standard was medium-low. Igor went back to the harbour to get some cash from the ATM and did the shopping.

10.06.2009
We set off at 10:30 am, cycling slightly uphill. The road stayed like this until we reached the Col de Serra pass. The view of the West coast of the island was so amazing that we did not want to go downhill! Somewhere near Morsigia the road turned just excellent – stuck between the mountains and the sea, winding, narrow – simply breathtaking! We pulled over at a gas station, but it looked different from the ones we knew from Poland: there was a newsstand, souvenir shop, toilet, a few cafe tables on a porch in front of the building, while two petrol pumps standing at the roadside were totally inconspicuous.
On our way we saw a few buses passing one another on that narrow road. In my opinion those drivers were world champions. In the evening, around 2 km outside of Nonza, we saw a herd of cows grazing among cork oaks. We decided that it was a perfect place for our night roost, so we set up our tent in a secluded spot, far away from potential nosy parkers.

11.06.2009
The cell phone let us down – its alarm clock failed to ring at 7 am, and our natural body clock woke us up at 8:00. Nonza was still ahead of us, up the hill. The views were so magnificent that we constantly felt like taking pictures instead of pedalling. The distinctive black colour of beaches near Nonza can be attributed to slate rock from the old mine near Canari. Nonza is a town miraculously attached to terraces cut into a steep slope. It prides itself on narrow houses covered with slate, steep and narrow stairs between the buildings, as well as secret passages and courtyards seemingly invisible at first glance. There is also a church, and a well-preserved tower that serves as an excellent vantage point, allowing to admire sheltered roof balconies.
We enjoyed a picturesque downhill ride all the way to Marine de Farinole. In St-Florent we came across a few Poles who had been exploring Corsica for the past dozen years. During a friendly chat they gave us some advice. At that time both myself and Igor thought: "How can they come back to the same place over and over again?!" Later on, as our expedition neared its end, we were sure that it is possible – Corsica is equally tempting in each season of the year!
We went to the harbour, sat on a bench and snacked among numerous yachts and boats. Cafe tables seemed to be fighting over every strip of the square around us. Those were our first days under the scorching Corsican sun. Obviously, with sweat streaming down our bodies we did not feel like sightseeing around the town or going to the citadel.