Corsican Connections


Algajola is a small town just east of Calvi, on the northern tip of the island of Corsica. John had chosen Algajola as his research indicated it was smaller and probably more manageable. He was right. We had a room in a small hotel on the sea with a beach just out in front.

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We had hired a car in Bastia because we wanted to explore the area. The hilltop villages were interesting but Calvi was a gem.  The sandy beach was wonderful and the water terrific for a swim. Later we spent hours just wandering around the citadel and through the streets where we found fabulous shops and places to eat and an amazing deli.

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Before we left home on the Sunshine Coast, we had met a Corsican at a restaurant just up the road. He said his name was Kevin. We were immediately suspicious however it turned out his mother was English and his dad Corsican and so the name Kevin. In conversation, he discovered our plan to go to Calvi and insisted that we should go and say hello to his Uncle who worked at one of the restaurants there. Well, we did.

Jean Charles was a darling and in spite of the fact that it would have been one of their busiest nights we were treated very well. It was a festival night and there were to be fireworks at 11:30. Our booking was for 7:30 and we are not usually ones to hang around, but the food, the service and particularly the setting totally enchanted us and we found it very easy to while away the hours. We had a photo moment with the family and promised to catch up with Kevin and give him all their love. Our evening was wonderful and to top it off we were entertained by a spectacular fireworks and music show over the citadel.

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Our hotel was in a wonderful location and breakfast on the terrace overlooking the beach was divine. We decided that it was the perfect location to try stand up paddling (SUP). It looked perfectly easy. There were people of all ages, shapes and sizes paddling and kayaking in the calm aqua waters of Algajola bay. It was 12 Euro an hour. We decided to share. The instructor gave us the thirty-second drill and I was off.

The instructions were to get on the board on my knees, paddle out thirty metres or so and then stand up, keeping the T-bar of the oar in one hand and the other about the middle and stroke two to each side to keep balanced. Stay in the middle of the board with feet hip distance apart. Probably bend the knees. I had so much going on in my head and then I tried to get from my knees to my feet. Wow that was much harder than I thought. I wobbled for a second or two then tumbled into the water. Getting back on the board was also harder than I thought it would be. I heaved my overweight, old body back on to the board.

I thought I would practice a bit more and paddled further out. By this stage, I was probably two hundred metres off shore. OK time to stand. I brought one foot to the centre of the board realising again how much easier this would have been if I was a few kilos lighter. Next foot and I was up again. Exactly what happened next is a mystery. Somehow, I faced dived into the front of the board. As I grappled for the board in the water I wiped my nose expecting blood and relieved when there was none, my forehead hurt and I felt a bit weird. I clambered back to the kneeling position and laughingly reassured the two-concerned nubile young women who had seen my antics and paddled over to see how I was. I assured them I was fine and headed towards shore.

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John was waiting on shore for his turn. He was a bit perturbed by the graze over my right eye but I assured him it was all good and he should take his turn. After my debut, he decided to take it easy and was very cautious. We got some ice for the bump as it grew significantly over the next twenty minutes. It turned out to be quite a shiner.

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