It was an early take-off from Schiphol airport,...
as the KLM-boeing descended we crossed gentle rolling hills at the hinterlands of the Mediterraenean Sea, welcoming us with bright sunlight and 30°C. The first leg, to Nice, was done. Bicycles unpacked and assembled, we quickly rode through the city and down to the portside, where we were able to get two seats for the ferry crossing to Isle de Rosse, Corsica.
At the North-West corner of Corsica, our route starts and ends. Among the features you come across are dramatic rock formations, scorched foothills, medieval watch towers and remains dating back to the neolithic-era. Accompanied by turqoise bays on the right hand, and scraggy rock outcrops on the left, the hot Augustus sun let us work up a good sweat as we follow the west coast down.
The detour to Filitosa, is made in temperatures high of 37°C, resulting in an emergency stop in the rescuing shadow of some grapewine covered olive trees at lunch-time. Where a good part of the after-lunch excersices are rewarded with a downhill road in flowing serpentine bends, the neolithic site of Filitosa is well worth the visit. It wasn't until the 1940's that the site of the stone-age people was discovered by a German archeologist.
Steep climbs are giving way to dramatic sceneries and exciting downhill travel, as we arrive at Propriano we've been averaging 85km per day, and our seventh day is picked as a rest day. We enjoy the fruit de mer down at the marina. From here we turn north, toward the central spine of Corsica.
Corte, is where we head-off from Propriano and leave the coast. In 12 biking-days, we are able to enjoy both ever changing coast lines and rugged mountains. Corte is an university city closely linked to the history of Napoleon Bonaparte and events changing good old Europe at that time. In this way we miss out on the east coast, but get to see Haute-Corse.
From Corte a very wide and very short motorway, paid for by EU money, makes an excellent place to set the speed record - 72km/h. Suggestively, the EU divert some more economical aid to pay for a most urgently needed bicyle-path, where after a few kilometers this motor-way suddenly narrows, and continues in the old way - leaving bikers very exposed, with handelbars almost brushing passing cars.
Corsica traversed, we find ourselves in the historcal city of Bastia and ready for the end sprint. With two days to go before the ferry departes from Calvi, an average of 110km per day is required.
Cape Corsica, the peninsula extending north from the city, is a condensed part of the landscape of Corsica. A rocky shoreline, interrupted by welcoming sandy beaches, has intriguing mansions located at regular intervals along the more protected eastern coast.
At three quarters of the peninsula, we take a left turn, landing on a little used dirt road to cross the peninsula. Passing through the valley, road signs warns to go astray in the heavy undergrowth - as there are plenty of deserted asbetos mining holes in the area.
After a constant climb, most of the early afternoon, the rouge Western shoreline is reached in a series of steep descends. To get to the camping north of the touristic, yet characteristic town of St Florent, a race against the clock is undertaken as the sun gently sets in the sea.
With only the dry agrarian plateu left for the last day down to Calvi, we order in the traditional pizza aux feux de bois, a dish you can find everywhere and at any time in this french-go-italian island-province. Accompanied by some Corsican red, we are two happy cyclists wanting to extend our stay considerably.
To the rythm of breaking waves, we can look back at two weeks of spectacular rock formations at Tete-a-chen, historical sites like Filitosa, citadels and bastions, caverns and wild gorges, turqoise diving waters and challenging mountains.
In short, Corsica is a condensate of southern France, spiced up with Italian influences, where nature and scenery will leave you gasping for air.