Today's destination is Bastia. Bastia is a city located in the northeastern part of the French island of Corsica. With a population of about 45,000 people, Bastia is the second largest city on the island. The most populated city on Corsica is Ajaccio (~72,000 people). Even though it's a French island, the Traveler's Century Club considers Corsica to be a separate "country" on its list, which explains why my son and I went out of our way to be here.
We arrived in Bastia, Corsica at 7am, although a loud announcement on the ship's PA system said that we needed to be out of our rooms at 6am. From what we could tell after exiting our room, there wasn't any good reason for this. People were just leaning against the wall outside of their room rather than being comfortable seated (or sleeping) inside of their room. Our guess is that it was just a ploy to get people to spend money on breakfast. We didn’t eat.
As soon as we got off the boat, we looked for a taxi … and it was a long search. The usual drill when disembarking off a large boat in a port town is to act like you know what you're doing so that you can avoid being pestered by throngs of taxis and touts. But not in Bastia, Corsica. There wasn't a taxi to be found. I attempted to look as clueless and helpless as possible at the disembarkation point ... red meat in most port towns.
If it was 4am on a Sunday morning, I could understand. But this was Tuesday at 7am. One taxi finally pulled up and parked in front us, turned off his taxi light, and started walking into a cafe. I asked him where I can find a taxi and he said I was at the right place. And then he proceeded to walk into the cafe. Apparently, taxi drivers in Bastia are not exactly desperate for passengers. About 20 minutes later (around 8:15am ... more than an hour after leaving the boat), we finally found a taxi who would acknowledge our existence. He took us to an ATM and then to our hotel. Only 14 Euro…not bad.
We arrived at 9am at the Ostella Hotel and asked if we could get a room that would include access to the spa and fitness center. They offered us a room for 80 Euro (same price I saw online) vs. the 35 euro per person for just spa access. I accepted. Erik and I then proceeded to enjoy a leisurely day. We had breakfast and lunch at the hotel. For lunch, I opted for risotto fruits de mer and Erik chose the ever-popular spaghetti with tomato sauce. We went to the pool but found that the water was much colder than expected and it was taken by a class. We went in the hot tub instead.
Lunch at the Ostella Hotel
The view from our balcony at the hotel
Relaxing in the room
In the afternoon, we walked down to the street to the "Hyper U" mall to get Erik a haircut. I found the experience to be much more amusing than Erik did, since he was the one that walked away with very short hair. 22 Euro for his haircut and my entertainment. Money well spent.
Erik is trying not to laugh while giving me the evil eye
Resigned to his fate
Clean cut Erik (with some ice cream on order to soften the blow)
After that, Erik and I went to our room to finish our “living your best year ever” planning and I typed 5 days' worth of trip summary details. We were happy to hang out at the hotel and enjoy a leisurely day rather than drive all over the place again. We needed the break from driving. Around 6:30pm, we were back in a taxi headed for Corsica Ferries, feeling as if we had been at the hotel overnight, even though it had just been for the day. A good call, thanks to the coin flip on the boat last night.
A view of the Tyrrhenian Sea from our balcony
Sunset from our balcony
Sunset from our balcony, part 2
We made it to the ferry and had some time to spare so we walked down to Saint Nicholas Square and found a pizzeria. Erik and I split a Pizza Margherita and a chocolate fondant cake with whipped cream. Pretty tasty. Thanks to dessert (but worth it), we were running a bit late, so we had to hurry during our long walk (with our bags) to the boat. It turned out to be a "hurry up and wait" situation. Our boat was delayed. After 40 minutes of standing, it was finally time to board.
This time, our room had 3 beds, including one bunk bed that we didn't bother unfolding. It seemed to be a handicapped room as it was a bit more spacious than our room on the journey to Bastia. Overall, the boat seemed a bit seedy - nothing special. We tried to go to bed early but were thwarted by very loud announcements through the speaker in our room, encouraging us to go to the restaurant and bar ... in other words, to spend more money.
Getting ready for bed ... if the announcements would stop coming through the PA system
Close quarters but grateful to have our own room
When we wake up early tomorrow, we should be back in Toulon, France.
Mark Aspelin is a travel writer and author of two books who has enjoyed a wide variety of adventures in his travels to over 100 countries and all 50 U.S. States. Mark lives in the mountains outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which serves as a great home base for his blog, New Mexico & Beyond (www.nmbeyond.com or www.markstravelblog.com).