Sunday, October 23, 2011


So … Corsica.

Bookwise, my timing could not be better for this cruise. I’m reading The Count of Monte Cristo, and the damn thing takes place in this particular area of the planet. Just last night, I read a passage in which someone (from Corsica) recounts the story of when he threatened to kill a man, and told him that there is a “vendetta” between them. The person hearing this story asks if the threatened man understood that word, as it is a Corsican word. So then, today, I’m on a bus tour (somewhat extravagently called “Corsican Panorama”) and our tour guide starts talking about Corsican history and talks about how Corsicans are famous for their vendettas and I thought, “Dude, I so totally just read that!”

(The bus also stopped and our driver chatted with a few locals out on a wild boar hunt. The tour guide told us this was a great opportunity for us to hear the Corsican language. It is apparently a cross between French, Italian, and Latin. To my ear, it sounded a lot like someone speaking French with an Italian accent. Which makes a sort of sense, I guess.)

The cruise itself is at about 2/3rds capacity. There is an upside and a downside to this. The upside is that the “Corsican Panorama” tour, which went off in a 50-person tour bus, had only five of us on it – so it was really like a private tour. The downside is that my tour tomorrow in Monte Carlo got cancelled, because there were only about 3 of us on it. Ah well – shit happens.

So, anyway, five of us on the ol’ Corsican Panorama bus. The ship is at anchor a short ways out from Calvi, a city on the western coast of Corsica (facing France – yeah, I needed a map for that). We pile into the bus for a drive up to a church – Notre Dame de (or de la, I forget) Serra. ANYWAY, this isn’t a church you go to for sightseeing. Actually, it’s pretty much a room and a statue of the Virgin Mary. (And when I say “room,” I’m overstating things, as one generally expects a room to have a ceiling. I’m just saying.) But the church is located at the top of a hill, with a terrific view down on the town of Calvi and a lot of, well, Corsican outdoors. There will be pictures. 

There’s also a picture of the cemetery. This because, when I looked over at the cemetery, a certain distance away, I totally underestimated the size of the gravestones. I mean, I thought they were all, y’know, gravestone sized. And then I saw some people walking around them, and realized that I was seriously mistaken – the gravestones were a bit taller than the people. (“Family graves,” we were told.)

The church was the high point (literally and figuratively) of the Corsican Panorama tour. The rest of it was just riding around on the bus while the tour guide told us about Corsican life (historical and present day). I confess I may have dozed off slightly. (And, as there were five of us, the guide probably noticed.)

After the tour, I can back to the ship … and ultimately went back to Calvi to do a little shopping (bought a great little linen jacket) and hunt down an internet cafe.

Internet on the ship is crazy expensive. It’s under a buck a minute, but not by much. On the other hand, internet in Calvi is no picnic. It’s 4 Euro for 30 minutes (more like 20 cents a minute), but you’re working on a French keyboard, which definitely slows you down. I mean, you need to hit “shift” to get to the numbers; the “a” and the “q” are switched, and the “m” has relocated. Typing took much longer than usual, and proofreading was mandatory. (I ended up getting cut off when my 30 minutes ran out while I was trying to type in my damn password.) Was not expecting the keyboard to be different – I guess I’d just expected that everyone who uses the same alphabet as we do would have had the keyboard set up in the same way. That’s a surprise. (The things we learn travelling the world.)

I am pretty wiped out. I can now honestly say I completely overdid things with the whole walk-to-the-ancient-castle thing in Nice. So I’m all sore and stiff and feeling like an idiot. My tour for Monte Carlo isn’t the only one they’ve cancelled – indeed; they’ve cancelled three of the four tour options, due to lack of interest. The only one they’re running has an “activity level” designation of “Strenuous” because of “numerous steep inclines.” My knees have vetoed any idea of going on this tour. I’m yielding to them on this one, as that wasn’t a tour I’d wanted to sign up for anyway. On the plus side, I’m told most of Monte Carlo can just be seen independently (and on foot … at one’s own pace), so that’s going to be Plan B.

1 comment:

Peg said...

I was wondering where you have been. Apparently world traveling again!