I’m on a Boat
Elise (Not a Rick) here.
Sometimes when motorcycling around the world, down days are needed as much as Kit and Kyle may disagree. Luckily for them, we had 36 hours of boat time to catch up on sleep. The original plan was to take a ferry from Tangier to Genoa, France, but we realized we could leave from Nador, Morocco, and arrive 12 hours earlier in Sete, France. This allowed Kit to get in some French seaside motorcycling and Elise and Kyle to split down to Corse and Sardegna for a week.
Though much of the ferry was spent sleeping (I’m not kidding, I think Kit and Kyle each slept at least 28 of the 36 hours onboard), some trip planning got done. We also got a (perhaps rough) introduction to Italy was conducted in the form of a bottle of grappa.
Disembarking the ferry and entering France was perhaps the easiest border crossing of the trip thus far; the passports were stamped and we were on our way to Montpelier to secure the items needed for Europe, namely SIM cards.
Though Kit and Kyle got SIM cards, Kyle had a bit of culture shock and going from navigating open Moroccan roads to old French city centers was a bit of a challenge. We ended up getting an impromptu tour of the entirely of Montpelier. This is where Kyle and I bid our adieu to Kit and set off towards a very spontaneous visit to Corse and Sardegna.
Back on a Boat
After some grinding out of French freeways to make it to Toulon for the ferry, we enjoyed a quality bottle of wine. Lifehack to traveling around Europe cheaply: take overnight ferries and then you don’t have to pay for hotel rooms. Bottles of wine help dissipate the engine noise as well.
The Beautiful Island of Corse(ica)
We arrived in Bastia, Corse, early the next morning and set out to rejuvenate our bodies with some coffee and pastries…and wifi to see what the rest of the world was up to. A little research (wow, this must not be a Rick adventure) suggested the D81 road through the western coast of Corse.
The research paid off (what a concept) and we were soon greeted with sever landscape changes between mountains and brilliant blue Mediterranean south of Calvi. The roads were terrific as well, etched into the cliffs in places with hairpins on every corner.
Almost every corner seemed like a jaw-dropping moment, but we eventually made it down the coast past Porto and Piana to Plage D’Arone. We’d gotten a tip we could camp here. Unfortunately, that was incorrect, but the owner of a cafe allowed us to stay in his parking lot. Might be a downside for some people but we had a view of the sea!
Yearning for more mountains, we consulted a map and backtracked to Porto to head to the hills. Soon, it seemed as though we’d traveled back to Yosemite with huge granite cliffs, plunging into rivers below. The only difference was the number of pigs around every corner.
Apparently, you can ski on Corse as well, and the mountain air definitely had a hint of autumn behind it. We reached the top of a spectacular pass, excited for more curvy roads.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, we ended up getting a very pastoral view of the countryside.
Another slight issue for the Elise and Kyle team is we eat a lot of food. France, however, has a bit of a rest time around lunch and cafes and more or less any shop that sells food is closed between the hours of 2 and 4pm. We discovered this the hard way after driving for 2 hours before coming across a cafe with some leftover pastries from the morning. We devoured them, barely able to realize how tasty they really were.
Southern Corse food is centered around “fruits de mer” (seafood) and I was keen on getting some traditional cuisine for dinner. Kyle is a bit more hesitant when it comes to seafood (to put it lightly) so he opted for a bit more traditional spaghetti.
Kyle had remembered Corse had one hot spring, and somehow we’d ended up staying the night only 6km away, as the crow flies. After repacking the bike again (it must be done very precisely with two up on a 650) we collected some food from a patisserie and headed to the hot spring. I think it is difficult to beat a fresh baguette in France, so we indulged ourselves with bread and leftover Moroccan apricot jam.
It turns out that after several hundred years people develop hot springs, but now Kyle can cross off Corse hot springs. After a relaxing morning in the sun, we continued down the coast towards Bonifacio where we would catch our next ferry to Sardenga.
By now we had done a lot of riding through Corse, and my butt was quite tired, to say the least. The 650 isn’t exactly meant to carry 2 people so we were milking it for all it was worth. We stopped at a beach to rest and get some lunch but were soon chased away by the angriest yellow jackets (I kid you not, one almost tried to fly in my mouth).
Southern Coast and Bonifacio
Though we had thought Calvi was spectacularly impermeable, Bonifacio was even more so. Built on cliffs on a spit out into the sea, whitewashed walls closed off the city and the cliffs below made it nearly impossible for anyone in the 1600’s to penetrate the walls without permission. We continued to gawk at the walls and the fact that most of the city was built on an undercut cliff, as we munched on some crepes to finish off our time in France.
Our ferry left from the port below Bonifacio and watching the ferry arrive was a spectacle. The whole ship did a 180 turn without the center of the ship moving. I’m not sure how it was done since the channel was barely wide enough for the boat to fit cross-ways.
Though Kyle and I both decided the next time we would come to Corse we would have a sailboat to see the coast by water, the ferry ride out of Bonifacio was a close second. As the sun set, we enjoyed our short ride across the channel to Santa Teresa, Sardegna, Italy.
After arriving on the island to the South of Corse, Sardegna, we headed to find the first thing every hungry tourist desires when visiting Italy: Pasta. Luckily, restaurants are on every corner. Here, though, Kyle realized how long he’d been in North Africa, speaking French and Elise realized that other than English, all she knew was French. Together, neither knew any Italian. After some awkward hand gestures, the waitress understood us. We pointed at some words on the menu and hoped for the best.
In high school, my family had an Italian exchange student who happened to be from Sardegna, and that is why Kyle and I went to Sardegna. To say the least, it is a beautiful island and we did not spend nearly enough time exploring it. We very much enjoyed the company of Daniela and her family and were extremely grateful they allowed Kyle to do some of his first proper laundry since Dakhla.
We did spend some quality time on a gorgeous beach, but we needed to press on to Rome.
We’ve become accustomed to sleeping on ferries now and took another to mainland Italy, where we almost froze to the motorcycle on our morning ride to Rome. To say the least, we were not prepared for fall. With a phone not really working, we navigated to BMW Mottorrad Rome in hopes they would do some small fixes on the bike and keep it until Kyle returned. Luckily, it worked out.
After finding our accommodation, we set out to figure out where to put Kyle’s bike for his week-long hiatus. Kit is doing all of the exciting things these next 10 days and Kyle will be enjoying a nice shot of rain in Germany and the Netherlands, discovering his Dutch heritage. Soon however Kit and Kyle (and unfortunately not I) will be reunited to continue though the Balkan countries and eventually to Georgia.