Napoleon Camped Here? Really?

Ajaccio, Corsica:

This morning Margaret had breakfast in the room, and it was La Veranda for me. We read books in the room in the morning.  Margaret finished her book Lost Lake which was a quick read.  I had started reading a book called “All the Light We Cannot See” yesterday.  I had made some progress and was really enjoying it but realized that I wouldn’t be able to finish it on the ship.  When I went to get a coffee later in the morning I found a book called the Pope and Mussolini.   It is a historical recounting of the relationship between Pope Pius XI and Mussolini during his rise to power and WWII.  It seemed to be very interesting stuff.  I decided to start that book and finish the other excellent book when I could spend more time on it.

We had lunch in Compass Rose and then decided that Margaret would go on the tour but we would spend an hour walking around old-town Ajaccio before the tour. After we walked through town, including seeing the family home of Napoleon which is now a museum but was closed today, we returned to the ship to pick up our tour numbers. Halfway back to the ship Margaret said that she wasn’t going to go on a 2 ½ bus ride when it was going to rain. Turns out she was right! Napoleon was born here and returned here often. In order to make the afternoon tour more interesting I had to think that, when he was the equivalent of a French Boy Scout he must have gone camping where we are going today.  And the idea of that was what made the trip interesting for me.

But, you know me; I was going to go no matter what to see more of Corsica and that I did.  The tour took us up to the mountains which are pretty much pure stone, although there were lots of oak trees (including cork oaks) and maritime pines at first and then another type of trees later that were more traditional very tall pines that made good lumber.

It rained a bit and got much cooler. The highest mountain peak was over 2,400 meters and was dramatic. The plan was to turn on a small road that went down to a restaurant and rail station that was located in a valley. But, the turn was too sharp for the bus so we had to head down a few miles further to turn around on a dirt area designed specifically for that.

On Corsica there are wild boars running around (wild of course, after all they are “wild” boars) on most of the island. There are lots of chestnut trees and the boars love to eat the ones that fall on the ground. Turns out this makes for very tasty boar meet which, when turned into salami is an expensive delicacy around the world. At the stop we were offered some spec and wild boar salami (but not the pricey stuff), some cheese and boxed wine. Not really much to write about that. But, I’ll probably figure out a way to anyway, here goes.  I walked around to take some pictures of the old decayed hotel which had once made this location a famous mountain resort. The shortest writing I’ve ever done after a warning!

Unfortunately, that hotel is really incredibly decayed and now the area around it is near a spot where you can pay 5 Euro to put up your tent overnight as a stop-over on a hiking trail. The bus took off about 4:30 so we could get back to the harbor by 5:30 which was when everyone was supposed to be aboard for a 6:00 pm departure. Our tour guide, Alex, asked if we still wanted to go by the hillside village on the way down. It was supposed to be our first stop but, because it was raining, she delayed it. Everyone said “No, let’s just return to the port”. Yet, when the turnoff came the bus went to the left anyway. The hillside village was pretty typical stuff in these parts so when she asked if we wanted to stop and look around for a while everyone said “No”. This time, fortunately, she listened and the bus continued on.

Everything was going well until we got close to town at which point the traffic turned into stop and go, mostly stop, for about 5 miles. Time clicked away and at 5:30 we were still about 2-3 miles from the Mariner.   We didn’t get back until just before 6:00 pm and the Mariner’s departure was delayed because of us. Oops!  The tour lady probably took some major heat (to put it mildly) from her boss.  I still gave her a 5 Euro tip because she really did try to show us more stuff and, after all, this is her world.

The announcement by the captain upon departure said that because we left late we would be delayed on our arrival into Portofino in the morning. Double oops!

We went up to the Observation Lounge for some Pink Flowers with our favorite bartender, Mihaela. We spent some time talking with the piano player and having some conversations with the other waiters and some fellow cruisers. Good times!

After we had dinner at the Compass Rose which went well enough until Margaret’s dinner came. Very salty, not what she expected and she barely touched it. Fortunately, this was the first time this has happened in 12 nights.  Hopefully, tomorrow things will be better.

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