Monday, 9 August 2010

1. Ancient Cemetery from the sea
2. A street of family tombs 3."The Evening" in the Art Museum
4. Bonaparte's house
5. Galeria villiage
6. Calvi Citadel
7. Karen and Steve on Threshold
Hi from Clare, Corsica -Ajaccio to Calvi, 8th August 2010 We sadly said goodbye to Kathryn on Saturday 31st July. We very much enjoyed her company and we hope she feels relaxed after spending a week on “Eye Candy” away from her busy schedule. Saturday was spent doing boat chores, the newsletter, Andrew went to the Laundromat and I went to the supermarket. With everything up to date, we set out Sunday for some sight seeing. FORGET, TILL DEATH DO US PART Our first stop was the ancient cemetery. This might sound a bit morbid but the family tombs are like little houses and viewing it through binoculars from the sea, the cemetery looks like a miniature village (photo 1). We haven’t seen anything like this before so the cemetery was added to the sight seeing list. We waited 90 minutes for the bus, unfortunately, not knowing the French word for weekend we failed to read the timetable correctly (that will teach us). We just about gave up but I’m glad patience won out. The family tombs (photo 2) went back for a few hundred years. It certainly has an impact and as Andrew said “Wouldn’t you feel different about family if there was a place with generations of your relations all together”. I said to Andrew “so what happens when a girl marries, which family is she laid to rest with? He thought about it for a moment then grinned and said “Clare, let’s get out of here” All too hard I guess! SOOTHING TO THE EYE So after that experience we decided on something uplifting and went to The Fine Arts Museum which holds a collection of works of art from the 14th to the 19th century. The museum boasts France’s most important Italian collection outside the Louvre. There were also separate departments with Napoleonic and Corsican paintings (Photo 3). We spent a few enjoyable hours looking at the art works over four floors of the building. On the ground floor there was also a temporary exhibition of marble busts. These were of the Bonaparte family and other significant people from the same era. By the time we got to this section, we had seen so many paintings of the Bonaparte’s we could recognize and put a name to most of the busts. Not a bad quick history lesson! GOING BACK IN TIME We went on to Bonaparte House National museum. Napoleon was born there on 15th August (Andrew’s birthday) 1769. The collection includes furniture belonging to the Bonaparte family dating from the end of the 18th century: memorabilia, portraits, weapons and documents relating to Napoleon and his family. The thing I remember mostly about my visit is that when Napoleon’s dad died at age 39 he left his 35 year old wife with eight children. Thankfully he also left her a large four story house with plenty of bedrooms (photo 4). BACK AT SEA We enjoyed our time in Ajaccio; a very interesting and vibrant city. However it was time to move on and so we sailed 35 miles north to Girolata. This is listed in the cruising guide as a superb anchorage in a beautiful setting, dangerously crowded in July and August and advises yachtsmen not to use it. Well that assessment turned out to be 100 percent accurate. We anchored away from the area up against a cliff and spent a very comfortable night. The following morning the wind was increasing and many yachts left the anchorage. We poked our nose in but backed out and decided not to stay as there were still too many boats with fenders out and in close proximity of each other. We sailed 10 miles further north to Galeria and although windy it was a wide deep gulf with very few boats at anchor. This is a beach holiday destination for French people. The waterfront had many restaurants and holiday apartments. We walked to a lovely little village up the hill to buy another crusty fresh bagel. It is a very peaceful and pretty little place (photo5). NEW NEIGHBOURS We have noticed that the majority of boats (power and sailing) around Corsica are privately owned with French or Italian flags. There are a few Aussie and New Zealand boats and the occasional American. After five seasons in the Med we saw our first Japanese flag and yes, the occupants were Japanese. . We haven’t seen any privately owned German or Scandinavian boats here. We have left the large fleets of charter boats in the Eastern Med. So no more hire boats with ten naked German men on board having a holiday. Perhaps they enjoy the warmer Eastern Med climate and don’t mind having to motor everywhere. The breeze in the Western Med has been a lot more consistent and we have happily sailed a great deal. BACK WHERE WE STARTED On Wednesday the 4th August we sailed ten miles to Calvi. When we first took delivery of “Eye Candy” in 2005, our first big trip was 180 miles from Menorca to Calvi. We got a bit of a beating then in heavy seas and strong wind. Well nothing much has changed. Our first night in Calvi was relatively calm. We had a very enjoyable evening with friends Karen and Steve on their American yacht “Threshold.” The following morning the wind gathered and we spent a very wild day at anchor in a rolling sea. To travel upwind into town as planned, we would have got drenched. Had we gone down wind we could have ridden the breakers right onto the beach. Andrew and Steve kept in touch on VHF radio giving a running commentary on boats dragging and dinghies afloat. One poor girl tried to row her dinghy to the beach in 30 knots of wind. She drifted down through the anchorage until a chap with an outboard came to her rescue. By dinner time the boat was still rolling violently. Our plates were sliding from one side of the table to the other. The sausages rolled across the table but we managed to stab them with our forks before they fell to the floor. We slept very poorly that night – oh happy days! THINGS ARE LOOKING UP Friday morning the wind dropped and so we went into Calvi to go up to the Citadel which was built in 1268 by the Genoese (Photo 6). I don’t know why we didn’t visit the Citadel back in 2005. Maybe we were just glad to have survived our first passage and weren’t feeling very adventurous Other points of interest about Calvi are: Lord Nelson lost his eye in battle here, it is the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and Napoleon took refuge in the Citadelle when he was obliged to flee from Ajaccio. Since 1963 the French Foreign Legion has occupied the barracks in the Citadel. They have a good display of the Legion’s training and activities in various hit spots around the world. All I can say is that the men look extremely fit (and not bad looking either). We moved to another anchorage away from town for the night. We were out of the swell and well protected up against a cliff. Now with little fear of spilling drinks down the front of ourselves, we invited Karen and Steve from “Threshold” to join us on “Eye Candy” for happy hour (photo 7). Another enjoyable evening was had sharing stories and information. “Threshold” has traveled as far as 80 degrees north and has spent a number of seasons in cold climates. They now have their first sun tan in five years. That kind of sailing is not for us! SO WHERE TO NOW We will continue north to St Florent in Corsica and then on to the Italian island of Elba which is about 35 miles east of the northern end of Corsica. With a bit of luck we will get our Italian sim card working and be back on the internet and Skype. Love Candy xx