A couple of weeks ago, I shared Part 1 of our 5-day hike in Corsica on the Mare e Mare Sud. We started our hike with a night in Porto Vecchio, on the Southeastern coast of Corsica. The next day we hiked to along a country road and up some steep terrain where we spent the night in Cartalavonu, and roasted in a small room with no air conditioning and a boiler under it! Day 3 was supposed to be short, until we got lost, then found our way to the wonderful town of Levie. If you want the full experience, read Part 1 here.
Day 4 – Levie to Aullène
Mood: A little sluggish, but ready for the day
Weather: Sunny and hot
I woke up in the morning still full from the glorious dinner at La Pergola with a twinge of soreness in the quads and calves. I stretched, took a few swigs of water, and checked my phone to see if we miraculously got access to wifi while we were sleeping. Nope. Without any social media to distract me, my dear husbandy was the victim of my morning boredom, so I rolled over and started poking him until he woke up.
“Ready for the day?” I asked.
“B, c’mon, it’s time to get breakfast. She said breakfast was at 8:30 and it’s already 8:10.” I pleaded.
Silent acknowledgment demonstrated by rolling over and a slight stretch.
I won’t bore you with the details, but after 15 minutes, Omar was up and reluctantly brushing his teeth. We headed down for breakfast where we met up with three ladies who we’d seen for the two prior nights, also doing the Mare e Mare Sud. There was another couple hiking the Mare e Mare, but in the opposite direction. We were the last ones at the table, and you know what we had for breakfast? Yup. Baguettes and jam with coffee. Of course, there was a selection of jams and preserves, and the choice between coffee, tea, aaaand hot chocolate. Hot chocolate in the middle of summer?! How French. (Interestingly, we did not have our coffee out of bowls, so maybe not it wasn’t that French).
After breakfast we packed our bags and set them out for pick-up. Throughout our hike, Corsica Adventures picked up our luggage each morning and dropped them off at our accommodations for the evening. This arrangement allowed us to carry only a day pack with our water and snacks.
The day ahead of us was supposed to be about 17km/10.5mi or 5.5 hours. As we headed out of Levie, we passed The St. Laurent Chapel and some gentle rolling forest. The trail was hot but relatively flat and the scenery was a mix of farmed pastures and rolling hills. We stopped for lunch in Quenza and treated ourselves to a sit down lunch at the café in the main square. After a shared plate of spaghetti bolognaise and a side salad were geared up on full bellies and continued to surge ahead.
We continued through rolling pastures, forests, and crossed a few small rivers. Several hikers took a dip in the river, but since I’m not much of a swimmer (actually, I don’t swim at all), we cooled our hands and feet in the water and continued on.
We hiked, and hiked, and hiked, all the while sharing our dreams, discussing our plans for retirement, reminiscing about our past travels, and singing songs (oddly, my repertoire consists of patriotic American songs like God Bless America or America the Beautiful). Along the way, we met Spaniards, Swiss, Belgians, French, and Italians. This is the reason we love hiking. Connecting with each other, with nature, and with others.
Before arriving in Aullène, we passed the small village of Ghjallicu, a delightfully charming town with just one main road, a few homes, and a church. We delighted in the town well, where cold, fresh water quenched our thirst and refreshed our skin. The fresh mountain spring water in each of the towns we passed was one of the most unexpected and memorable parts of our hiking trip.
As we arrived in Aullène, we saw our first glimpse of wild boar in the forest hills! There was a slight rustling in the leaves. At first, I thought we were encountering fellow hikers, but the sounds were coming too far off of the beaten path. Then, Omar caught the first glimpse of a large black animal—a boar! Hiking in North America, I’m so accustomed to seeing deer on my hikes that the sight of a wild boar was exciting and made me a little apprehensive. I mean it’s not like I can predict deer movements, but I definitely cannot predict boar behavior. Plus, they are big!
That evening in Aullène, we stayed in the Chambres d’hôtes San Larenzu. It was a simple room with WIFI! It was our first night with WIFI in 4 days which felt like a blessing and a curse. We were torn, after the initial withdrawal of not having internet, we’d gotten used to the freedom of not being able to check email or social media. We looked at each other, should we? Shouldn’t we? In the end, we caved, but agreed to limit our internet use to 10 minutes. It was just enough for me to check in with friends and family, and well, for Omar, triage a few things at work. Womp.
Dinner and breakfast were served by Henry Laurent and his family, who run the small inn and the restaurant across the street. Dinner was amazing. Again. I decided to take a night off of snapping photos and gave Omar a dinner experience without me hovering over his plate with my iPhone. We had a hearty vegetable soup to start, and a wild boar stew that was apparently featured in a local cooking channel. Yum.
Breakfast was a gorgeous spread of freshly baked muffins, breads, cakes, and croissants! Finally, something other than a lonely baguette! I went to town on the cakes and croissants and stuffed myself with buttery goodness. It’s one of the benefits of a hiking trip, eat you can eat your heart out.
Day 5 Aullène to Ste. Lucie de Tallano
Mood: Aack! My legs!
Weather: Can we get some shade already?
Day 5 had another 10K or about 6 miles on our agenda. To start, we passed a charming old olive mill, then we wandered through forests, meadows, and a few more streams and rivers.
Honestly, we were tired. Our legs were sore, and I started getting fed up with the constant sun block-bug spray application rotation. The hike was still beautiful, but I was counting down the days when we’d get to the beach and relaxation portion of our trip!
Ste. Lucie de Tallano was probably the largest of the towns we stayed in since our first night in Porto Vecchio, and frankly our least favorite. The town was a bustle with tourists, which was a bit of a shock to our systems after the tranquility and isolation of the four days before. Unfortunately, I didn’t do a good job of staying hydrated during our hike and felt a little under the weather. Luckily, we had a lovely balcony off of our room at the Chambres d Hôtes Minchelli to enjoy the mountain view. After dinner, we turned in early for our last day.
Day 6 Ste. Lucie de Tallano to Fozzano
Mood: I’m read to be done. Wait no, it’s over?
Weather: Sunny, hot, and is that a cool breeze I feel?
Our morning on Day 6 started with a little tiff. An entertaining little spat between the lady running breakfast and one of the three ladies that were also trekking the Mare e Mare Sud with Corsica Adventures. It was our last day and we started EARLY! We were told to be at breakfast at 7:15am so we could make it to Fozzano in time for the bus transfer. Well, you know, it being the last day and all, we were tired. We were sore. We were—dare I say, a little cranky. Omar and I got to breakfast at 7:22am.
“Bon jour!” we said.
The woman glanced at her watch. In French, “It’s 7:22, I thought you were told breakfast was at 7:15. You’re late. Do you want hot chocolate, coffee or tea?”
Well, good morning to you too…
We made our requests for coffee and sat down at a table set for five. We were the only people in the room with 4 tables, with a total of 13 place settings. I glanced at Omar. “She’s a little grumpy.” I whispered. He winked at me and we started in on our breakfast, which was, yes, another baguette with jam.
Then, at 7:39, the lady we’d gotten to know on the hike came down for breakfast. And this (in French):
- Breakfast Lady: “Where are your friends? It’s 7:39 and you were supposed to be here at 7:15! I have 13 people coming for breakfast this morning!”
- My internal thought: Who cares lady? You aren’t actually going cook anything! All the baguettes and jams are on the table. :-\
- Hiking Lady: “Weeeellllll, good morning to you to!”
- Breakfast Lady: “You’re late. I’m busy. Do you want coffee?”
- Hiking Lady: “We are on vacation, I think I’ll need to have a word with the proprietor here about your attitude.”
- Breakfast Lady: “I thought we agreed on 7:15 for breakfast. I do have other people to serve.”
- Hiking Lady: “We never had a problem at the other places we’ve stayed along the hike. You ARE here to serve breakfast aren’t you?”
This little spat went on in French with low mumbles under their breadths and witty quips at each other for a few minutes. All the while, Omar and I sat, awkwardly and obediently, sipping our coffee and spreading jam on our baguettes like two children watching their parents in an argument. It was uncomfortable at the time but provided us lots of chatty entertainment on our hike.
The last day of the hike was DE.LIGHT.FUL. I’m not just saying this because it was the last day. Day 6 started with some seriously steep uphill climbs. I was hot and anxious to get the hike finished. Then, about an hour and a half into the day, we noticed that we were nearing the tree line. It’s one of the thrills of hiking, the anticipation of the tree line, that moment when the trees break and the open sky hits you. And then we reached it. And it was absolutely breathtaking. The sea in the distance, the ragged edges of the mountains we’d just travailed over the last 4 days, the wind blowing, the sun shining, this is the reason vacation is rejuvenating. There is a gratification in getting to places in the world like this with your own two feet. No cars, no motorbikes, no helicopters, just us. It makes me feel so small in a vast world, but strong and proud at the same time.
The trail continued on the ridgeline for about 40 minutes, which was a real treat. I was so busy taking in the views that I was pricked several times by thorny bushes, almost stepped on a 3 lizards, and not very good about staying on the trail. As we started our descent, we had a mix of emotions. It was exciting to get to the end, but also sad that the hike was coming to an end.
When we arrived in Fozzano, we treated ourselves to a beer and a lunch of charcuterie. The town is small, and we picked up lunch at a small local store.
With the hike done, our shuttle transfer picked us up at about 2pm to take us back to Figari airport so we could pick up our car rental for the rest of the week.
We survived. We conquered. 81 kilometers. 50 miles. 5 days. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
Stay tuned for Corisca Part 3: Days 7-11. Part 3 is all about beaches, sun, luxe, and leisure!