lördag 8 september 2012

Homage to Corsica

This year our family of five went on holiday to Corsica, France. Me and my wife had been there two times already,  before the kids came into the picture. We absolutely loved it and dreamed of returning one day. Little M not being so little anymore (2,5 years), some cheap flight tickets, a few visits to the Gites de France site and the trip was planned.

This year we were a bit too tired for great adventures so apart from doing part of the GR20 the trip mostly consisted of "normal" family vacationing. However, I hope the photos will provide some inspiration, especially for hiking-hungry parents who might be in need of a traditional vacation not too far from the sea, while at the same time being able to do great hikes in stunning scenery. Corsica is just that, "A mountain in the sea" and it's not for nothing that the french call it the "Island of beauty" (Ile de Beauté).

Our view from our first Gite in Pedanu (Pietralba), Les Aiguilles de Popolasca or possibly Les sents D'Asco in the background

We were very happy with our two rented houses. This was the second time we used Gite de France and I'm very pleased with the service we received from the administration and from the house owners. It was swift and friendly. An extra baby bed was arranged in no time.

The first week we did a few small hikes, but with the exception of a trip above Lama it was mostly to visit our favorite bathing spots in central Corsica.

Hiking in the Scala di Santa Regina

"Our own" secret waterfall

Swimming in the Asco

Lama (Picture: Pierre Bona, from wikipedia)

The village of Lama is well worth a visit in itself due to its well preserved typical island architecture, and it is also a good starting place for a hike up the Monte Astu. This is a long hike however and a bit out of range for us. Especially as we like to sleep in the morning. We also had some trouble due to a poisonous plant called the Peucedan. None of us had long trousers (which is recommended) and the blisters you could get from contact with the plant looked quite nasty, so we decided to turn back when we encountered too many of them as we climbed up the mountain.

On the way home from Lama

Hiking late has its advantages - Sunset seen from above Lama

The next week saw us move to the beautiful village of Évisa on 800m of altitude, 24km from Porto. The idea was that the second week would be more hiking oriented. However, as it turned out we ended up spending a lot of time on the coast swimming anyway. The weather was quite hot and the scenery around the Golfe de Porto was absolutely stunning.

Bathing on the beach of Porto

Evisa was a good base for hiking however and we went for short walks in the neighborhood. The free-ranging pigs were always an attraction.

The boy who could talk to pigs

A particularly nice walk on a hot day (almost all days were hot) were the natural pools in the Aïtone forest a few kilometers east of the village on the Chestnut-trail. The huge Laricio pine trees are also particularly impressive here. The Romans used them for building masts for boats.

F exploring the small waterfalls near Évisa

The chestnut trail was especially interesting since it had very nice signs explaining the fascinating story of chestnut cultivation which still is a big affair in Évisa. There is even a good Corsican beer flavored with chestnut, the Pietra.  

Snack break on the chestnut trail

Another nice walk was the Gorges de Spelunca. The best walk and scenically most stunning, is supposed to be a descent from Évisa into the ravine, but to climb up again with the kids did not seem inviting, so we settled for a short walk along the river to the genoese bridge.

How many children can you spot? - Gorges de Spelunca

A nice longer walk a bit south of Évisa is the Lac de Creno. It's a nice little lake not far from the village of Soccia and the walk is easy. Just about perfect as a small challenge for the kids. It takes a bit of time to drive there though. 37km doesn't seem far, but mountain roads take their time. As our landlady pointed out there are 240 turns on the breathtaking 22km road between Évisa and Porto.

Pigs by the Lac de Creno

At the end of our stay it was time for the ultimate adventure: The GR20! A nice little section was chosen: Col de Verghio to Bergeries de Radule. It was an easy walk through the forest leading to an extraordinarily beautifully located shepherds hut.

Going down to the bergerie it was fun to try out an exciting feature on the GR20: The chains!
Negotiating the steep passage near the bergerie

M admiring the scenery around the waterfall from Bergeries de Radule

After arriving it was time for lunch. It was prepared on my gadget of the year: The Caldera Cone. When packing for the trip I thought that the "extremely heavy" (Almost 80g!) caddy for the Cone was very handy since you easily had everything in one neat package. With the exception of one thing: The pot. Something I discovered when it was first deployed to cook some coffee. Necessity is the mother of all invention however and some experimenting revealed that the edge of a large conserve-can could fit (somewhat precariously) in the cone supported by the edge. Coffee could now be brewed and the vacation was saved. For lunch ravioli was prepared directly in the can. It worked OK, but I do not really recommend it since the can had a tendency to fall down in on the burner while stirring. Maybe we will all die of Bisphenol-poisoning too.

Cooking ravioli in the can - works in a pinch

All in all, it was a great vacation. Many gorgeous places still remain to be seen. We will go back again for sure.

Sunset over the Golfe de Porto from the Calanches near Piana

6 kommentarer:

  1. Breathtaking sunsets Gustav! Looks like a fantastic place for family holidays. Something for everyone.

  2. A fine holiday you had with the family, and hiking didn't come short either. The list of "great places for family & hiking holidays" grows - Takk!

  3. Joe, Hendrik, I'm glad you liked it! I do less and less of real lightweight adventures, but I now see it as my mission to convey means of an enjoyable outdoor life WITH the kids. Judging from my experience with M's older brothers we will be able to do short overnight trips already next year. If I get my wife and/or a friend or two to join me it will even be comparatively easy.

    In my experience you need to try and see what works and start with simple trips. Once that works you can work yourself up to more advanced treks. If you take in mind the children's ability to walk and choose the route accordingly, it is even easy. The only time we had trouble on this trip was when we hiked a short distance around noon before lunch.

    The problem with hiking with kids is mostly psychological. It has a lot to do with the consultants call "expectation management". You need to adjust your own expectations as a parent of going on a 10-day unsupported Sarek-trip, to more realistic shorter hikes. It is a pity that many do not go out at all, just because they can't hike exactly the way the did before the kids. Getting the kids accustomed to certain small amounts of hardship is not a bad idea either. That way they will not complain about a bit of rain or shorter stretches through rough terrain. I will write more on that topic later.

    1. I'm looking forward to that article. Out little one will be one in a couple of weeks, maybe a good time to take him for an overnighter - if M lets me!

  4. Very nice to read about my island (Corsica) ! I'm pleased to see how you've enjoyed your stay with us.

  5. Thanks for dropping by Elisa! We will return for sure. Maybe even for a short trip this summer.