Have you missed us? That’s because we have been away, this time to the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean, for a much needed break. But, well it’s us and if you are one of our regular readers then you know that means, that it’s not going to be without incident.
So here is a round-up of our adventures.
The Flight and travels: We turn up to Heathrow Airport on the Thursday morning to discover our flight to Marseilles has been cancelled, not delayed, outright cancelled, with no warning, no apologies and if we hadn’t have made a fuss that would have been it. But we did and British Airways (reluctantly) put us in a hotel for the night and found us alternative flights for the next day. No matter what we said or did that was it for us, BA would not compromise and that is what we were allowed. I can go on and on about the bad customer service in fact we could write an entire post about the bad service, the terrible accommodation and the lack of food (for Vegetarians) in the hotel and airport. For now we’ll just say that and let you imagine the rest.
Still… Getting ….There….
We wake up at 6.30am AM!! and charge to the airport, different terminal, still no food for the veggie and no help from the hotel, thankfully the BA airport staff work out a way to give us a ‘Goodwill’ voucher for food. Theres a manic rush to Pret a Manger for breakfast on the go and onto the plane. We arrive in Nice (not Marseille) for a connecting flight and a 3 hour layover, our bags are sent on to the connecting flight and we search for coffee – Oh good Artisan Bakery! Which seems to mean tiny, cups of froth, at extortionate prices, no matter where you go in the world.
Another flight, this time on the a tiny A320 Airbus and just enough time for the cabin crew to sell a quick drink in the aisle and we land at Calvi Airport.
We wait at the baggage claim
and we wait
Our luggage has not arrived – it turns out the suitcases never even left Heathrow’s Terminal 5, apparently the worst of all airport terminals for lost luggage. We spend the next two days with no luggage, no toiletries and no medications. Meaning we are stuck in the apartment/house, in pain and constantly on the phone to BA among others shouting, screaming, pleading and more.
Eventually after many, many calls to British Airways (Don’t even bother) and Air Corsica (they were nice and helpful as the language barrier allowed) over the next 2 days, a cab driver appeared at 8pm with two battered suitcases.
Finally we could start our holiday, the one to relieve the stress and anxiety we have suffered all year!!
So we are in Corsica but where? We are staying in a house in Marine de Sant Ambroggio On the West Coast, between Calvi and L’ille Rousse. A little – well it’s not even a village, just a collection of holiday homes and a marina with a few shops (a Gas station, Patisserie, Boulangerie, Wine Shop – that is always closed – estate agent, Yacht Club, Boat Hire. All of which close for siesta and then don’t open again. There is a Restaurant that is open of an evening and isn’t bad, but it does closed at random times. but more of that in a bit. There is a ‘local’ Supermarket near the train station up a rather steep hill and if you follow the map of the AirBnB owner it’s about a 2 hour walk – or a 5 minute walk up a shortcut kept secret by the locals! – that is pretty much it. We have had a couple of quiet holidays in the last few years, but seriously this was like deader than a zombie’s day dream!
But we were there for 2 weeks so we searched for stuff to do. What did we discover? Well…
There is nothing! Literally this seems to be the worst place we have been to so far for a vegetarian meal! Even the usual Pasta and Pizza isn’t an option, the Pizza is mostly a meat topping, plus I don’t eat Pizza. The pasta is Cannelloni and the cheese was vile (This was a last ditch attempt on food). Do not expect to go out and eat if you are vegan, the reception that we received asking for vegetarian was simply “Non, allé,’ [Translated as ‘No, get out”], so we would imagine much worse for Vegans. So nothing at all to eat for Bob if we went to a restaurant. We relied on self catering. However for the Meat and Fish eaters you will spoilt for choice! Mussels with Frits seems to be the speciality and seeing signs for it all over, Ash got a real craving for it. We do have to mention the price, for any main dish, in any kind of eatery you should expect to pay between €20 – €30 this is the minimum. We did see dishes starting at €64.00!
As for drinks, in one of the restaurants we ordered a bottle of Wine (Red) which wasn’t bad but it was nothing special. The wine started at €18, we didn’t even bother looking further down the list as we can only guess how much that was. Beers are limited to Blonde and Amber Lager, Pietra and Kronenberg which are neither of our dream drinks however the prices we fairly reasonable for that – around €3 – €5 for 500ml. We did see a Corse IPA however a 300ml bottle was €6 which was just pushing it. We mostly bought some bottles of wine in the local store and some cans of various beers. The cheapest wine was what we ended up drinking, which unlike in London was actually pretty nice, there was a Calvi winery but it was too expensive to consider. The Kronenberg 7.2 was alright but only if you really like Lager. Pietra was the better choice but was 50% more expensive but is the most available beer on the island. We had a few cocktails too, Caipirinha the drink we first discovered in Spain, Bob had a spicy mojito (which was yummy!) We also experienced a new Cocktail (we don’t remember the name) Grenadine, raspberry juice and white rum (I think?) from the restaurant ‘Le Bonne Table’ look it up if you are around the area.
We had been told that Corsica was a nice place to go to, a little quiet but still plenty to do and see. Yeah………If the South and East are like the West, then the whole place is boring with nothing to do.
Sure it was nice to be in the sea, to literally walk out of the back door and pretty much be on the beach but after a few days you crave a new experience. Something….anything to do! We tried the local restaurant, it was pretty much dead. We thought that maybe the next town over would have something, Nope. Everywhere just seems completely and utterly dead. This place makes Stegna look like party central!
Supposedly the biggest town on the West Coast…. Right….. Who is writing this stuff? You get off the train, there is a huge supermarket to your left and a marina to your right. With about 24 scuba shops and half a dozen seafood restaurants. Beyond that is the ‘town’ itself, this is two cobble stone roads, running in a V one going up, the other down. These roads consist of tourist trap shops, selling the famous Vendetta knife, Drift wood boards starting at €90 and Sarongs at €36. That was it! If you walked a little further you came to the Citadel, which looked more impressive from outside than when you actually entered as all of it has been gutted and turned into apartments.
By far the better town. Each morning in L’Île-Rousse there is a farmers market in the town square and in the afternoon the same square gets swamped with gangs of men playing pétanque. Tourist shops, Supermarket, Restaurants – But there is more variation (Still no Vegetarian!), A few Pharmacies, Tattoo Parlour, book shops and a lot of Gelato places. Which we partook in as we waited for the train home. The beach is pretty small though.
This little village between Sand Ambroggio and L’Île-Rousse is one of the better places we found. It’s an old village with a 16th Century fort and much of the old town is still lived in. There are a plenty of restaurants and shops and a lovely, mile long golden sand beach, at the end of which are some large boulders (but more of that later). This is where we had dinner and Bob got to experience the wonders of ‘What the fuck is that taste’ cheese in the Cannelloni. Truly one of the worst things we have ever eaten.
The Chariot restaurant however is quite nice, with its large open courtyard and the church who’s bell chimes 13 minute late! There is a good supermarket and a couple of really nice jewellery shops and a nice little souvenir shop literally hidden away down a side road, selling hand made wind-chimes, jewellery and Object ∂’art. There is also a bike hire, but at €35 a day it’s too expensive, there is a tattoo shop too, but it only seems to be open between July and September! And the train line runs right through the village, stopping at an old ticket house at one end. We suspect that the village would shut down at 11pm, but we didn’t stay to find out, as we had a long walk home, along to train-tracks as we missed the last train at 7.30pm.
If you were to stay on the West Coast of Corsica, then we would recommend you choose L’Île-Rousse or Algajola depending on whether you wanted quiet or outright dead as a door mouse.
Don’t go unless it’s for a walking/climbing/biking, adventure holiday, then aim for the centre and pack your own food – especially if you are vegetarian or have allergies, because the Corsicans take great offence to you asking what’s in the food! As we said if you want a quiet time, in bed by 10 and reading a book on the beach, then this could be for you. For us however we will be heading back to Greece or Spain next year. Unless you can recommend an alternative that isn’t going to get a loan to get us there. You could always sponsor us to go and review a place!