Thanks again for all your help getting our bikes down to Nice – it was very much appreciated!
Well hello again everyone! We are off and at it again! Got four weeks holiday and we are making the most of it. We planned on riding Corsica and Sardinia, as we have heard so many good things about the islands. Then the plan was to head across to Italy, to visit Mt Vesuvius, Herculaneum, (close to Pompeii, and just as good), and the Amalfi coast, before making our way back up through Italy and Austria back to Germany, so we could take our bikes back to Manfred, who we bought them from in the first place, to service, have their overdue TüV inspections done, and leave in storage with him until our next adventure.
In order to maximise our riding time, we needed to get our bikes shipped to Nice, France, which was a suitable jumping off point for us all to get to, then get an afternoon ferry across to Bastia in Corsica. Rob Jones, who runs Fly and Ride (www.flyandride.co.uk) came to the rescue, and picked out bikes up from the storage facility we left them in after our last trip a year ago now (IOM TT etc.), and transported them to Nice for us. For 675GBP.
Outstanding service, and no way could we have done it for that price – plus it would have taken us about 4 extra days just to get to Nice. The service is designed for UK riders to have their bikes transported, normally to either Nice, or Malaga, in Spain, and you fly out get your bike, ride all around having a great time, then drop your bike back to be transported back to the UK, while you fly home. The return trip is only marginally more expensive than a one way like we did. (Malaga works really well for the south of Spain, and Morocco.)
Owing to yet another roster change for me, I actually ended up back in HKG a few days earlier than I should have, which meant we could leave earlier, so Chris and I flew from Hong Kong to Nice via transit of Frankfurt, arriving a day ahead of the bikes. We got to Nice on the Tuesday, 09 May, picked the bikes up on the Wednesday, got them prepped, Ken and Pam arrived direct from Melbourne on the Friday afternoon, and we were off to Corsica on Saturday afternoon. Arrived into Bastia, on the NE coast that evening, tracked direct to our hotel, and left the next morning for our destination of Calvi, on the NW coast, via the long way around up around Cap Corse, the cape or peninsula that forms the northern most point of Corsica. Just a taste of things to come, but the riding was awesome, with never ending bends, and spectacular scenery. Of the 200 odd kms we rode that day, at least 185 kms were never ending bends – on great road surfaces, and great corners. The only straight bit of roads we came across were the last few leading into Calvi.
Calvi was a great place to overnight, with an old fort, and old town, and great waterfront.
The next day we headed down to Ajaccio, the capital, which was great until the last 20 kms where we hit all the peak hour traffic. However, we did spend the night at a sort of resort out to the west of the city, where our rooms were right on the (stony) beach. Got to swim in the Med, although it was still a bit cool. Then it was off the next day through the mountains again to Porto Vecchio, and on to Bonifacio, a spectacular old fortified city sitting on a headland overlooking a beautiful narrow natural harbour – think mini fiord. We had 2 nights here, to enable some exploration of the area, including a boat trip out to one of the nearby islands to go swimming, then take in a bunch of sights on the way back, including entering a grotto from the sea. They could actually get tow boats in at once, because once you got through the entrance, it opened up into a natural cavern with a hole in the ceiling, which when positioned correctly from below, strongly resembled the actual shape of Corsica! Then we had a great dinner high up in the old town watching the reflections of the sunset on the cliffs stretching down to the south, with the top of Sardinia visible in the distance.
Thursday saw us get the 50-minute ferry ride across to the top of Sardinia, and head to a very nice hotel near Porto Cervo on the Costa Smeralda. Just a short ride of some 70 odd kms. The next day saw us heading, via a rather circuitous route to Alghero on the NW coast of Sardinia. And while the never-ending corners continued, there were a few surprises – the odd decreasing radius corner, just to keep you on your toes!
We stayed in a great, and cheap, resort a few kms out of town, and had 2 nights here, to enable us to go for a day ride up to Stintino and the beach at La Pelosa, which we did. However, it was blowing a gale that day, and quite cool, so while the beach was nice, it wasn’t conducive to swimming!
Back in Alghero, for dinner, which was very nice. The old town of Alghero is very nice. In although, we found the top part of Sardinia fairly average – not great scenery, although a lot of the riding was reasonable. Things definitely got better from here on in though! We headed back across the island to end up in Cala Gonone on the east coast, approximately a third the way down. We had great riding getting there, and it was spectacular – we came out of a tunnel to be greeting by a big drop – probably about 1000 feet – with switchback after switchback, to drop down to this lovely little town on the coast – and out hotel was right across the road from the beach! Swims where once again required, and at least the beaches were starting to get better – although still stony, rather than sand, at least they were like huge sand grains! And pinkish in colour.
Then the next day we headed for Jerzu, to the south end of the big Gennargento National Park area that takes in all the mountainous areas of Sardinia in the central area. Apparently, this mountainous area was famous in the 70s because they used to hide kidnapped persons in the area as it is wild and scarcely populated. It was also a wine producing centre. Our accommodation in this spectacular town hanging on the side of the mountain was the one and only pub/restaurant. 2 star and cheap, but very interesting, quaint, clean, and only too helpful. Language was a little issue – they spoke no English, and our Italian is terrible!
From here we headed for Villasimius on the SE corner, for the night, before heading onto Cagliari on Wednesday afternoon, to catch the overnight ferry to Naples. We stayed in this great little self-catering apartment in a residence of 12 of these, just a mere 100 metre walk from the beach. The water around these islands is simply amazing in it’s clarity – you can see vast distances through it, and the colour is beautiful. Our ride here from Jerzu was very interesting, as we had been looking for some archaeological sites here and there on our routes, and this day we found another one, although, as it turned out, we had only missed it by a couple of hundred metres the afternoon before. Effectively, we did a big loop, probably close on 150 km, from one afternoon to the next, with only riding the same bit of road for about 20 km! Again, it has been bend after bend after bend. A bit like doing a never-ending track day! And bikers everywhere – you can certainly see why many European riders head south to Corsica and Sardinia to ride – on the whole, the weather has been great, the scenery is spectacular, and Sardinia in particular, is relatively cheap.
So today we arrive in Naples, about 0800, and will head to Mt Vesuvius for a look, then onto Herculean, (think Pompeii, but less crowded, then down towards Sorrento for the night. The Amalfi coast is next, then we are going to zig-zag up through Italy for a week or so, before ending up back in Munich on Friday the 2nd June.
That’s it for now, and the way I am going, the next update will probably be written on the flight back to HKG! Guess it is a holiday, after all!