ERIK ŠTURM & MANJA PEČKAJ – Bovec, Slovenia
After our second adventure, we travelled onward from Corte by car. We were nearing the south of the island along the eastern coast. We travelled slowly, along narrow mountain roads over many passes. Stopping by many rivers, we went for shorter walks.
The most memorable was the Purcaraccia river where we walked by its gorges for more than an hour. The river’s water level was quite low at the moment so the pockets, which it carved through hundreds of years, were visible despite the low level. Smooth natural slides along which the water flows from one into the other were visible at the edges of these “pools”.
A very special water park, suitable for cannyoning in the summer!
Near the small town Porto Vecchio, we mounted our bikes for one afternoon and headed to the peninsula of beaches. We passed dozens of beaches in 30 kilometres, beaches that are key tourist destinations on Corsica.
Views of long sandy beaches with summer villas were quite remarkable. We even tested, with frantic swimming, the warmth of the sea on one of these beaches.
It was quite warm considering it is November!
We reached the incredible, small town of Bonifacio by car and did a little sightseeing. The whole of the old part of the town is built on a gigantic cliff, and one gets the feeling that the whole part of the town would come crashing down into the sea at any moment.
The houses maintain their antique look with gentle shades one their facades, and simple additions like wooden shutters, amphorae etc…
From there, we travelled toward Aiaccio along the west coast and prepared for our next biking “move”.
We left our car in the village Tiuccia, near the town Aiaccio, and geared up for our bike trip. We set off for a several day bike trip toward the town Calvi and from there turning back, along more mountainous terrain.
On the first day we biked along the coastal road to the town Cargese.
This part wasn’t very demanding from a biking standpoint. We looked on the wondrous Corsican coast along mild ascents and descents. The light turquoise sea romped into the vivid, brown rocks and it looked like the coast was full of natural “jacuzzis”. The white foam glaringly contrasted the dark rocks.
We climbed the pass Col de Lava (491m a.s.l.) from the “lazy” coastal road and very quickly descended to the coastal town Porto.
The mild ascent turned into steep slopes while the view of the sea turned into green landscape filled with olive groves and evergreen vegetation.
Of all the sunny days, we chose the moodiest weather to go biking, so we were soaking wet at least five times by the time we got to Porto and waited out the rain.
It makes no difference what kind of clothes you have on, on sunny days, but one is quite grateful to have a gore-tex North Face jacket that protects you from the rain and cold in moody weather, while riding fast down the slopes.
From Porto, we quickly went up the Col de Crox pass (260 m a.s.l.), where we spent the night.
For morning recreation we biked to the next pass, Col de Parmarella (408 m a.s.l.). Our way was made shorter by views of reddish-brown, sharpened peaks all around us, so the time for the descent to the coastal village Galeria came quickly.
Due to the forecast of rain, we turned around and went toward the mountainous terrain and the town Calvi (thus, we spent the afternoon biking in bad weather near the coast). We took on the challenge of slopes going in the direction of Bocca de Marsolinu pass (443 m a.s.l.) In the background, the landscape was that of mountainous Corsican terrain with steep peaks which made the ascent much easier.
It was already before noon that we were speeding down the slope toward the town Calvi, where we took a long break. We didn’t lose time with sightseeing in town, as we plan to do that when we return by car.
So we continued on our way toward the village Galeria. The coast was formed into a large cliff that was eroded by the rough sea at the water level, deeeep down. We reached the part which we biked already in the morning and hurried toward Col de Crox (we spent the night there the day before) and pitched our tent on the same spot. After biking more than 110 kilometres and beating quite a few metres in altitude difference, we didn’t want to worry about where to spend the night so we pitched the tent in the same place, as mentioned.
There was one change, however. The first night was quite calm, but the second was marked by a hungry wild pig that didn’t want to leave our empty food cans and kept returning near us. But our nightly companion must have been tired too, as he went away and allowed us to get a good night’s sleep.
We wanted to head on very early on the third day, but the rain ruined our plans. After waiting the weather out, by drinking coffee, for nearly two hours we headed on our way.
We had to take on a part of the way we already did when we reached Porto by the sea. A new challenge awaited us after that – the Col de Sevi pass (1103 m a.s.l.). The 30 kilometres of the road were interesting mostly because by following the landscape, one had the feeling of going higher.
The start was at sea level with typical coastal vegetation – pine woods and oleander. After that, mostly chestnut woods with small villages carved into the terrain, above deep canyons, started to appear. Domestic piglets were grazing freely near these villages. Here and there a wild boar was looking at us by the side of the road.
The chestnut woods turned into mixed forests up higher, with sparse green undergrowth. The rain, however, was driving us forward. The higher we went, the steeper the road was, there were less hamlets and more and more green undergrowth and bushes.
The fog prevailed at the highest point, so one could hardly see sparse brownish, red rocks here and there featuring a low bush here and there through the dense fog and mist. Due to the cold and uncomfortable weather, we put on almost all the clothes (for such conditions) we had and descended to the seaside in just a mere 15 kilometres, coming down from 1100 metres. We finally warmed ourselves in the sun on the coast and headed toward our car, some 10 kilometres away.
The destination reached, we took a long shower, ate a hefty dinner while drinking some wine, all with a view of the sea. Believe me, how good this relaxing felt after three days of biking around 270 kilometres and doing 5000 metres in altitude difference altogether.