Pre-GR20 in Corsica 9/2/2013-9/4/2013

Over the next few days I will be posting an account of my 2 week sojourn in Corsica, France with Ryan. I will post what we wrote in our journal during the trip along with pictures. Note that each day either Ryan or I was responsible for writing in the book so who is referred to as "I" and "me" will change from day to day. 

As a bit of background Ryan and I have wanted to hike the GR20 in Corsica for about 6 years now. In February we finally decided to tackle the 112 mile trail with a total of 40,000 feet of elevation gain and 40,000 feet of elevation loss. and booked our flights for September. We spent all summer hiking instead of climbing to make sure our legs were strong and we were prepared. What follows is what happens when we arrived on this French island many people have never heard of.

 9/2/2013  - The plane debacle according to Ryan

Lon dropped us off at DCA as he was heading to the train station for his business trip to New York. He said, “If the plane doesn't make it to NYC there are plenty of other options to get you there.” We said, “Don't worry, we’ll be fine.” Ugh the foreshadowing. After a leisurely beer and leftover Mellow Mushroom pizza we made our way to the gate and 10 minutes later they announced the flight was delayed due to weather and we would not get to JFK until ~9pm…exactly when our flight to Nice was leaving. An hour of panic and rebooking and then rebooking to get back on our original flight (now delayed a little less) ensued and in the end we hoped our flight to Nice would be delayed too. After knocking a few people over upon on our arrival into JFK we learned it was! We arrived in New York by about 8:30pm and our flight was delayed until 9:40pm. Even further delayed until 11pm. We were going to make it to Nice by Tuesday as planned!

9/3/2013 – First day in Corsica according to Ryan

We arrived in Nice two hours late and therefore decided not to venture into town. Hung around the airport watching planes while sipping café au lait. Finally it was time to board our flight to Figari on Air Corsica. Sat behind four Ukrainian girls who flirted with the male flight attendant and giggled for the whole flight. Much to my surprise we landed shortly after taking off, hopped in a cab, and made it to our hotel (Hotel Holzer II) quickly. Finally! Corse! We dropped off our stuff and strolled around Porto Vecchio for 30 minutes before succumbing to our hunger at a pizza place with a wood fired oven. Delicious Corsican wine (so much that Jamie started speaking French) and I made jokes with the staff (pour les moustiques et l’ambiance – for the mosquitos and the ambiance referring to our request for a candle at the table). It wasn't too long before we made it back to the hotel and crashed at 10pm.

Touchdown in Corsica! 

Lessons Learned: Don’t panic about weather delays as they are often transient. Being a tourist isn’t an American thing but Europeans probably do a better job…

9/4/2013 – Trail prep day according to Ryan

Woke up and had the hotel petit dejeuner (breakfast) for €7 each. (Reminising on this breakfast later in the trip we would realize how awesome a buffet including breakfast meats and croissants would be!) Then we hit the town for provisions for our future lunches. Bread, cheese (Brebbis), and various dried pork and wild boar sausages were purchased. Also learned after the fact that we should look for AOC and AOP certified charcuterie as it would be up to higher standards. We then tried in vain to find a taxi to one of the supposed fantastic beaches nearby, but none were to be found. Instead, we walked by the harbor and found lunch at a swanky but relatively inexpensive place. Following this we decided to call it quits in Porto Vecchio and get the bus to Conca and La Tonnelle, the campground near the start of the trail. We had to walk only a few hot city blocks (Jamie exhausted) to meet up with the owner of La Tonnelle, a nice and weathered man, who let us ride up front in his van. Arriving in Conca we quickly realized that we were finally here as the rolling hillside and rocky landscape became closer. La Tonnelle is super nice. Camping is really easy. Right now sipping another Pietra (Corsican Beer) and planning tomorrow…

Camping at La Tonnelle

Lessons Learned: Don't pretend like you understand language when you don't. Ask. It makes you more endearing, you learn something, and people usually know when you’re responding blindly. Also, avoids costly miscommunications.