Bastia, you made it exceptionally hard for us to get to know you. It wasn’t your mighty citadel built by the Genoese in 1380 that kept us from entering your lovely old port. Instead it was bad planning on our side, not knowing how popular you are. How small and exquisite your harbour really is. We got a little peak at your beauty when we poked our bow into your Vieux-Port to check if there really was no safe little spot for us to park our boat. Thankfully Sol took this picture of you, the only one we have.
Next we tried the new marina that was built in the newer part of you. But again, no luck. What a disappointment when we had to realize that you had no place for us to stay the night. Anchoring was not possible either, since the swell was too high and the wind was coming from the northeast pushing us onto shore. After a long and eventful day crossing over from Elba nobody was happy to learn that the next safe place for us to stay would be Port de Taverna, about four more sailing hours away!
Thankfully there they had space and we made it into the marina just when it got dark at 8.30 pm. But I kept dreaming about you, Bastia. I couldn’t forget you. Maybe there would be a bus? Yes, there is a bus. 9.30 am today we are standing by the main road waiting for it. The schedule said 10 am. By 10.45 we give up waiting and start walking back, resigned to the fact that Bastia cannot be seen. “The bus!” Bill yells and we all start running back, only to find out that the bus is full. But, there is another one coming in twenty minutes. OK, we wait. The children are cranky and hot. They are NOT dying to see you, Miss Bastia. For some reason I think of you as a woman, I don’t know why.
So we wait some more and there comes the bus and drives right by us. We waive and start running and the old Corse driver steps right out on the street to us to apologize and how he forgot that there was a stop. Meanwhile it is 11:20 am and in my head I wonder if it is even still worth going to see you. The last bus back leaves you at 4 pm. If I would have known about the traffic jamming the small main road and forcing us to a stop and go at the entrance of every town, I would have probably never gone.
But the bus driver is hilarious and so personable, it is as if everybody on his bus is family. At one point while standing still in a line of cars one lady yells from the back to the front “can I step out by the side of the road to have a pee?”. He calls back: “Just jump out and catch up with me while I keep rolling slowly with traffic.” Which is what she does and nobody bats an eye.
And then, finally, we drive through the tunnel under your citadel by the old town and get off at the grand Place Saint-Nicolas. We made it into your heart, Bastia, and you did not disappoint me. We only have three hours and I intend to enjoy every minute of it. Pictures we cannot take since the camera is out of battery. We find an awesome tiny veggie store-lunch place run by a warm Corse who runs a farm 15 minutes outside of your city limits. The cold cuts, cheese, bread, tomatoes with chanterelle are down to earth and to die for.
The kids think the same of your ice cream at the Vieux-Port. We even make it up to your citadel to have a marvellous view to the ocean before we stroll back your nice main shopping street to catch the last bus back to Port de Taverna.
Bastia, you played hard to get. And you got me wanting to come back for more. But that will have to wait until another time.