Monday, June 6, 2016

Day 17: Ajaccio--Napoleon's Birthplace

September 27: Sorry, but today won't be a blog post about hiking because our hike was DONE! The GR 20 was behind us and for the first time all year, I had absolutely zero plans to do another hike. Of course, eventually I'd do another hike, but for this hiking season, I was done--and I hadn't even started planning for the next hiking season. After nearly seven continuous months of hiking, I was done! Free! Free at last! =)

The beautiful view out our hotel room window in the morning!

But I still have more to write because I was still in an exotic, foreign country and although I wasn't hiking, there's still more to share! Both Karolina and I scheduled our flights to leave Corsica tomorrow, so we had all day to explore the largest city in Corsica, the capital of Corsica, and the birthplace of Napoleon--information that the whole city beats you over the head with from naming their local airport the Napoleon Bonaparte Airport to statues of the man to postcards of him. The people of Ajaccio clearly take a great deal of pride that Napoleon was born here, although from everything I read, he never did a thing for Corsica after his rise to power.

But anyhow, with no rush to get miles under our feet, Karolina and I slept in late. Or rather, laid around surfing the web on our smart phones. I had so many emails and messages to catch up on.... the 16 days I was offline might have been the single longest time I'd ever been offline since I first connected to the Internet! What I really wanted was my laptop--there's only so much I can do from a smartphone--but I had shipped my laptop home from Milan. As much as I wanted it now, I'm certainly glad I didn't carry that heavy thing on the GR 20. I had made the right call sending it home. But it left me with no Internet access except for what I could do on my smartphone.

The hotel included a continental breakfast, so eventually we got up to to catch that before they closed it down for the day. Throughout this whole trip, I was stunned at the amount of food Karolina could put away, probably double the amount I could eat. She must have gone back for more food a dozen times, then jokingly "fought the toilet monster" to make room for more. Honestly, I don't know how she does it. She puts thru-hikers to shame!

Then we walked around town a bit, taking photos and admiring the views. Karolina was fascinated with every palm tree we would pass, like it was some strange plant from an alien world. Apparently, they don't have any palm trees in Poland or the Netherlands.

Karolina couldn't pull herself away from every palm tree that we'd pass!

Karolina was anxious to swim in the Mediterranean Sea--something she had never done before. I hadn't either, in fact, but it just looked like another body of water to me. But she didn't have a swimsuit so we wandered around some shops for her to find an outfit she could swim in, eventually settling on a cute little dress that cost a mere five euros. It wasn't a swimsuit, strictly speaking, but it was lightweight and would probably dry quickly. The short skirt did tend to flap in the wind and water like a smaller version of Marilyn Monroe's dress.

We also stopped at the supermarket to buy some food and snacks for the afternoon. A lot of the stores appeared to be closed because it was Sunday. Sunday could be problematic in that regard. We had pushed hard to finish the GR 20 the day before because we weren't sure that buses would even be running on Sundays. I'm still not sure of the Sunday bus route, but a lot of Ajaccio was certainly closed for the day.

Once Karolina had her new "swimsuit," we headed to the beach where we took turns swimming in the great Mediterranean Sea. I jokingly warned to to "watch out for sharks," and she told me that there weren't any.

While I didn't for a moment think she'd be unlucky enough to actually be attacked by a shark, I was certain that they were there. It's a salt-water sea attached directly to the ocean. Why wouldn't there be sharks? Maybe she wasn't worried about sharks before, but I figure it's my job to keep her on her toes. That's how you stay safe. =)

Apparently this has something to do with a Polish pun about palm trees being crazy... or something... but I didn't really quite understand it....

I sat down on the beach and watched all of our gear while Karolina took the first dip in the sea. Her observations included that the sea was much warmer than anything else she had ever swam in (but the waters of the Baltic Sea aren't known for being warm either), and much saltier than the Baltic Sea.

Now it was my turn to swim in the Great Sea, home to countless thousands of shipwrecks. Initially, I took off my shirt to swim in just shorts--I had pants where the legs zipped off and it was actually the first time all year I'd taken the legs off--but my delicate white skin felt like it was burning after all of about 10 seconds so I put my shirt back on again. I really do hate direct sunlight! My legs might have felt fine, though, because of all the hair on them. =)

I waded out into the water, which was.... cold. Not super cold, mind you, but cold enough that it feels uncomfortably cold upon first contact. After 10 or 15 seconds, it doesn't feel so cold anymore and is quite comfortable. It went pretty well wading into the water up until the water level reached my torso when I knew I'd just be torturing myself by continuing to slowly wade deeper into the water, so I just plunged in the rest of the way. Ahhh! Cold!!!!

And about 10 seconds later, I could breathe again and all was well. And not a shark to be seen for as far as the eye could see!


Later in the afternoon, Karolina and I tried to book a sunset cruise. Dress up a bit and act like the classy people that we clearly were not. =) I had a tie and a nice, collared shirt to look presentable while flying, so I dressed up in those. There were lots of kiosks for sunset cruises in town, but they all turned out to be closed. So, no sunset cruise for us! Instead, we decided to do laundry. It was just as well we missed the cruise, though, because later in the evening there was rain, lightning and thunder. A small boat was probably not the best place to be in such conditions.

We headed back to the hotel and picked up our disgusting clothes--which probably should have been burned, but we were going to try washing them anyhow. We were directed to a laundromat a few blocks away run by another motel. We purchased soap and eventually got the machine going after a bit of trouble. I thought about taking off my tie--it seemed like overkill for the laundromat, but left it on because I knew it would be fun to blog that I washed my clothes in a laundromat while wearing a tie. I might be doing laundry, but by golly, I could be classy while doing it! =)

After the laundry was done, we took the clothes back to the hotel room then headed off for dinner at a restaurant with an outdoor patio. I do like those outdoor patios so common in Europe. =)

I made a note in my journal that I "tried to steal Karolina's bread by accident." I'm not entirely sure what that means. I don't remember doing that, at all, and I'm a little perplexed how I would do something like that by accident. Maybe Karolina will remember and comment when she reads this blog post? =)

And long after dark, we headed back to the hotel. Our last full day in Corsica was officially over!

We're always on the lookout for silly and ridiculous photos, and when we found this mural, I had an idea....

I had Karolina fill in as one of the silhouettes, pretending to take a photo with her camera. =)


Cruise ships dock at Ajaccio, and Karolina wanted to take a photo wearing her new dress like she was a celebrity passenger that had just stepped off of it.

The beautiful Mediterranean Sea! (The GR 20 is located near the crest of those mountains in the background.)
Karolina wades into the shark-infested waters.....




I pretend like I'm drowning. Or maybe just waving hi! =)


That's me, returning from my own first dip in the Mediterranean.

Karolina captured this video of a rare sea monster coming out of the Mediterranean!


 


Karolina was just walking like this--and it was strangely hypnotic, so I started taking this video without her even knowing it. Not at first, at least! =)

 

Here I was trying to get an "artistic photo" of Karolina walking the streets of Ajaccio. I really liked the pattern that the water drains on the street made! It's a Sunday afternoon, though, so everything was closed and few people were out!

Who says you can't look good while doing laundry? =)

'Twas a full moon.... and if weather cooperated, we might even see a total lunar eclipse at 4:00 or so the next morning!
Ajaccio at night! (That's the moon in the sky, not the sun!)



Dinner is served!





1 comment:

Karolina Śmiech said...

I do remember the moment when you "accidentaly wanted to steal my bread" - you ordered a pizza that night and I ordered a tuna steak, which they served with bread as a starter. You wanted to take some bread but after a while thought bread doesn't go will with pizza, so that probably was part of my order. I was incredibly hungry (of course!) so I didn't complain about having all the bread for myself! :-)