Monday, September 17, 2012

Porto and Calvi - Part I

The days are rushing together now.  We didn't have very good internet access last night in Porto, so I again have two days on which to report.

We are enjoying the group we are with.  There are about 25 people in the group, including the tour director.  Most are couples (including another gay couple, from San Francisco), but there are a couple of single guys and single women.  Most are 50+, though I think there may be a few in the 40's; several appear to be in their 60's.  Mark and I have commented how fun it is to "go play" with people are own age.  I received quite a compliment (I thought) the other night from a fellow who is a couple of years older than I am.  When I told him I will be celebrating my 54th birthday later this month, he look surprised and said, "I had you pegged as someone in their mid-40's."  :))

Between Corte and Porto
Our daily routine is to get up, gather our things together and head down for breakfast - which varies in quality from place to place.  Some mornings (like this morning in Porto), we have simply a "continental breakfast" consisting of a croissant, some bread and butter and jam, coffee and orange juice.  Other mornings, like yesterday in Corte (where we stayed at a really nice place), we had an assortment of pastries, cereal, eggs, coffee, juices, etc.

I love this picture Mark took of me from the balcony of our room in Corte
After breakfast, we go up and change into our cycling gear and get our bags packed and carried downstairs to be put in the transport van.  Then, after lubing our chain and checking our tires, we're off on the route that has been set out for that day.  

Mid-morning, our support (transport) van awaits us somewhere along the route.  Here, we can get something to drink, fill up our water bottles and snack on nuts, chips, cookies, etc., as we wish.  Then, we're off again for another 1.5 - 2.0 hours until lunch time.

The mid-morning stop yesterday, on the way to Porto
We had quite a climb yesterday after our snack stop, again through pine forests.  We had to dodge wild pigs, goats, cows and a few sheep.  One never knows what one will run into around the next curve in the road.

The late-morning ascent yesterday on our way to Porto
I didn't take this picture, but it's typical of what we might see
We don't usually cycle as a group.  Small groups form, and many times Mark and I ride by ourselves.  We all have maps, we all know where the recommended lunch village is, and we all know where we're staying the next night.  We all generally set off around 9:00 and generally roll into our destination between 3:00 - 4:00.

Lunches vary.  Yesterday, on our way to Porto, we stopped in Evisa for lunch.  We can around a corner, and saw this:

A picture of Evisa I cribbed from the Internet
We stopped at a little place right alongside the road and ended up having a plate of Pate Bolognaise (essentially, spaghetti with meat sauce).  Other days, we have had a small pizza.  Today, on our way to Calvi, we stopped in Galeria at a little patisserie/boulangerie (a bakery - the latter name Mark keeps pronouncing like "boo-lingerie" (as in women's underwear)) and had a delicious submarine sandwich.

Our descent into Porto yesterday afternoon was AMAZING.  As we descended out of Evisa, these are the views that we saw:

The drop-offs from the road were frankly a bit terrifying at points.  I thought I would have trouble with fear of heights in the French Alps, but didn't.  Yesterday was far more of a challenge in that regard than the Alps.  The road was very narrow at points, and there were many blind curves.  To make life any more interesting, there were huge tour buses plying up and down between Evisa and Porto.

Our hotel accommodations have been ... varied.  Our first night in Porticcio, outside Ajaccio, was in a 5-Star hotel that was, well, luxurious.  The next night, however, was in Zicavo, and our hotel was a family-run place that was comfortable but anything but luxurious.  The next night in Corte was heavenly; last night in Porto was ok, but again not luxurious.  Tonight, in Calvi, we are in a very nice Best Western just outside of town.  As I write this, Mark and I are sitting on a private little porch off of our room.  In the distance (a mile or so away), I can see the sea.

Our hotel in Porto.  Our room was the one behind the balcony where the blue jerseys are hanging.
We also have a routine once we arrive at the hotels.  Our bags will have already been delivered to our rooms, so we go there, take off and hand wash our cycling kit from that day in the bathroom sink, then hang them up to dry.  Then we take showers, and that is usually followed by either journal writing or writing emails or blog entries.

Yesterday, Mark and I took advantage of being just above the beach to go down for a dip in the Mediterranean.  The lead picture, above, was taken from the balcony of our hotel room.  All we had to do was go downstairs, then walk down the stairs pictured immediately above, then across a wooden bridge and on down to the beach.

The beach was not sandy, but rocky.  Not for the first time on this trip, I was wishing I had brought some water shoes.  But one can bring only so much.

The beach at Porto
Dinners are typically arranged by the tour company and are part of the package.  The dinner at the 5-star was fancy, but not very filling.  The dinner in Zicavo was hearty, consisting of a vegetable-bean soup, followed by a sort of cannelloni and sort-of stewed beef with gravy, followed by cheese and chestnut cake.  The following night, in Corte, was the highlight so far.  A delicious salad, probably the best I've ever had, followed by pork cutlets and something else (can't remember), with a sort of ricotta cake for dessert, topped with Schnapps.  :)

Last night, we were on our own for dinner, and we, along with a couple of other couples from Salt Lake (there are four couples from Salt Lake on this tour, all of them doctors and spouses, two of whom we didn't know before) went down the street to a restaurant where we ordered salad and pizza, both of which were very good.  We enjoyed both the food and the company.

Yesterday's route

Yesterday's ride:  Elevation Gain:  6600'

No comments:

Post a Comment