Monthly Archives: August 2018
Sailing around Corsica – Pianottoli-Caldarello and the Figari Airport
As we approached the Pianotolli-Caldarello marina, we needed to dodge dozens of wind surfers and kite boarders that were zigging and zagging across the marina entrance.
|We were too busy keeping out of
the way of the wind surfers and
kite boarders to take a photo of the
whole crazy scene but this wind surfer
off the port side almost ran into us.
|Pianotolli-Caldera marina Captainarie office|
Just beyond the gauntlet we were met by a young woman who provided detailed directions as to how we would be docking. Subsequently, she was very helpful, particularly when translation from English to Corsican French and vice versa was needed.
The Pianottoli-Caldarello marina is a relatively small marina with few amenities. Water and electricity are provided. Showers are available, but require some kind of key that we were not given. A shuttle is available to take you to town for provisioning, laundry, or any other of your particular needs. The shuttle costs 2.5 euros and runs every hour.
Our plan was to leave Ice Floe at the marina while we spent the next day and a half seeing what we could of the interior of Corsica. We were informed at check-in that the only way to get to the airport was by taxi and we were provided with a list of 8 phone numbers for local taxis. It was around 15 km (~9 miles) from the marina to the airport terminal, even though you could almost see the end of the runway from the marina.
That evening I made several calls to the taxi services and left messages. The following morning, after calling all the numbers, some more than once, we reached 2 live. One gentleman indicated it would not be possible and one woman indicated that we should call the airport taxi – she said the local cabbies, as a courtesy, defer to them for rides to the airport. I called the airport taxi line and left several messages with increasing urgency. None of my messages were ever returned. On top of everything, my cell phone signal was not very good and some conversations were cut off and calls dropped.
I spoke to an individual in the Captainarie office and asked for assistance but she indicated she could not help me and was decidedly not friendly. This was the first instance in the many months we have spent in France that I was treated rudely and to say I was getting discouraged does not begin to cover it. We decided we would take the shuttle that was on its way to town as we expected we would have better reception and luck from there.
Well… we did not. If we were fortunate to connect with a live person, the moment they learned we needed to be picked up from Pianottoli-Caldarello, the answer was “It is not possible”. Following one conversation it became clear that the cab driver could / would pick us up from the Figari Spar Supermarché, but could / would not pick us up from the Pianottoli-Caldarello Spar Supermarché.
George consulted two map apps to see how far it was from the Pianottoli-Caldarello Spar Supermarché to the Figari Spar Supermarché and said there was one route that was 2.1 miles and another that was considerably longer. The difference was the short route showed a small road that the other didn’t. It was in the 90s, but we had full hot cups of tea so we set off on foot.
These occasions, when we have the chance to see more of a country than the coast, are often a great opportunity to broaden our knowledge of a region. This walk was no exception. Our first discovery was a Cork Oak tree. Of course, George immediately recognized it and knew quite a bit about cork (doesn’t everyone?). Well now I do, too. First of all, all cork comes from these trees. Corsica has many, many orchards of Cork Oak trees, as well as Cork Oaks in forests and in people’s yards. On this walk, and our subsequent drive through Corsica, we never saw a large Cork Oak that had not had its bark harvested. The cork bark protects the tree in fires.
|Cork tree – note the bark, which is cork, is stripped from the trunk
of the tree up to the first limbs
|These are the entire front cover of each cigarette pack. There are no other graphics – no advertisements – no logos.
There are lots more variations, but these are a good representation.
Back to our hike
|You have arrived at your destination|
|George forging ahead to scope out where we are|
|This cow did not make it to the airport|
|Not every barbed wire fence came with a
|Swampy ditch with hundreds of frogs|
|We got to see this really cool bug. I was less excited when I found one on my shoulder. It is as big as it looks.|
|Trees never give up and we didn’t either|
|Spar Supermarché – Figari|
Sailing Around Corsica – Anchoring between Ajaccio and Pianottoli-Caldarello
Ajaccio to Pianottoli-Caldarello
Our first anchorage (Anse de Cacalu) was in a large protected cove overlooked by a well preserved watchtower. There was no obvious trail to the watchtower, but George had seen several people hiking up along a saddle so we decided to try it ourselves (in truth, I went along with George’s plan just because).
|A crab and a beautiful critter we have seen on rocks close to the surface – Anse de Cacalu|
|Anse de Cacalu, Corsica|
We used the stand-up-paddle boards (SUPs) to get ashore near a spot where George saw people making the trek up. We did not see a path or a way up other than a steep craggy rock scramble which led us, after much exertion, to a position where we could see the path – the only problem was we needed to bushwhack our way down the other side of the hill (mountain) to get to it.
All’s well that ends well. Once on the path it was a strenuous climb to the top but required no more bouldering or bushwhacking.
|Ancient watchtower overlooking Anse de Cacalu|
|Atop the watchtower|
The amusing part of this adventure is that when George went to retrieve the paddle boards, he found them about 100 feet away from the path we should have taken. The jury may be out as to whether George pushes me to keep me from getting too old, too soon, or if his plan is to do me in before I get too old. In either event, we both lived to see another day.
We spent two days in this beautiful anchorage enjoying some nice snorkeling in the wonderful warm water (80 plus degrees) and some decadent lounging. The evening before we headed out was the evening the earth eclipsed the full moon. When this occurs it is referred to as a Blood Moon because the moon turns a deep reddish brown when some of the Earth’s atmosphere and light from the sun is bent around the Earth and illuminates the moon. The reddish brown color is due to the way Earth’s atmosphere scatters different wavelengths of light. While we were unable to get a good photograph, I borrowed the one below and can testify that it looked just like this photo. We were in the right place, at the right time as this eclipse was not visible from North America.
|Anse de Ferry, Corsica|
We sailed the following day to our next anchorage – Anse de Ferry and spent the night.
The following morning we continued on to Pianottoli-Caldarello.
Sailing around Corsica – Ajaccio
Ajaccio – Capital of Corsica
|Ajaccio’s large port dominated in this photo by a cruise ship that appears even larger.|
|The jetty has been fortified by large concrete jacks that nestle together|
|Donkeys now inhabit what was once a large moat surrounding the city castle|
|Giovanni, a kindred spirit, and me|
|On the approach to Ajaccio we passed by someone behind a parachute boat who photo-bombed my shot of a large cemetery right off the water (seen in closeup, below).|