Traveling can be one of the most stressful parts of a trip. Once at the destination, it can become easier, as you have more control over events.
Traveling to Corsica worked very well for both Emily and me, but I might change our return trip if I was to do it all again.
I flew in from Canada. I searched flights on Travelocity, trying to determine the best itinerary. Once I have found an itinerary that works, I usually book direct with the airlines, as working directly with the airline makes communication easier. I ended up with flights from Calgary to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Marseilles on KLM, with a less than 2hr layover in Amsterdam. After about a 2 1/2hr layover in Marseilles, I flew Corsica Air from Marseilles to Calvi, where Emily met me in a taxi at the airport. I left from Calgary at 3pm Friday August 10th, and arrived in Calvi at 4:30pm local time Saturday August 11th.
I booked my flights in October of 2017, a full 10months in advance. I watched the price on the ticket for KLM, and it started to go up, so I purchased. The flight ended up not being the absolute cheapest, but to save $300, would have meant at least a 5 – 7 hours longer travel time. What I purchased was by far the quickest travel time I could get. The Corsica Air flight was about 75Euros.
Emily was supposed to be working in the United Kingdom leading up to the hike of the GR20, though some of those plans ended up changing. She booked from London to Bastia on Corsica Air. She stayed at a hostel in Bastia, before traveling to Calvi by train. The hostel in Bastia offered an airport shuttle, so she didn’t have to worry about getting to and from, though it’s important to keep in mind that many of these places have limited English, so make sure to learn some local phrases before you go.
Emily’s travel was pretty straightforward. It allowed her some time in Calvi to get supplies, including the all-important fuel canister, which she found at the Super U supermarket downtown.
I had Emily take a taxi to the airport to meet me. I thought it would be the easiest way to find each other. We then took a taxi to the hostel that Emily had also booked (over the phone, in broken French), the Relais International de la Jeunesse.
The hostel in Calvi was very nice. The staff were very friendly, the room (shared with 6 other people) was large and clean. Dinner and breakfast were both good. Unfortunately, the fact was that it was August, and we were at sea level, so it was very hot, even at night. With my jet lag, I really do not think I had a great nights sleep. Cost for the hostel was 20 Euros, including breakfast. Dinner was a group affair, nice to meet and interact with other travelers, although for us Canadians the dinner at 8:00pm felt quite late, as we usually eat by 5 or 6pm. Cost for dinner was 24Euros.
We got the staff to book us a taxi for the morning, to get to Calzonna. The ride was short but cost about 55Euros.
For some reason, we did not book our accommodations for the end of the GR20 until we had arrived in Vizzavona and had access to wifi. There were no hostels available in Porto-Vecchio or affordable hotels. We had a ferry booked for early Saturday morning, so we needed to be close to the harbour. We decided on a campground. It worked great. Had access to showers (I had at least two), laundry and was only a 35-minute walk to the ferry.
The part of the trip I may change (although it was fun) was getting home. When looking at the map of Corsica and the surrounding area, I was enticed by the prospect of visiting Rome. The map on the website, Corsica For Hikers, showed a direct ferry route from Porto-Vecchio to Rome. So, we decided to visit Rome at the end of the trip and fly home from there.
What quickly became apparent that we could not get direct from Porto-Vecchio to Rome; the ferry route had been discontinued. Emily persevered and found a route. We would travel to Piombino in Italy, then take two trains to Rome. The trip went off perfectly, even with the ferry arriving late due to rough seas. But we left the campsite at 4:30am, and arrived in Rome at the hostel (which was only a short walk from the train station) at 10:30pm, 18 hours of travel time! We did make use of the time, catching up on reading and relaxing in general.
We were so tired from the hike, and the day of travel, we really did not have the energy to explore much of Rome the next day. We did visit the Colosseum, but did not go in, as we did not want to pay the entrance fee. We visited a number of cafes, and watched some locals have a barbeque in a park and play a 3 on 3 version of volleyball.
Our hostel was fantastic. Had a full kitchen, rooms had air conditioning and was an easy walk from the railway station and to the Colosseum
We used a ride sharing service to get to the airport, gettransfer.com. Our driver was great. He contacted us the day before pick up, and advised us that we did not need to allow an hour to get to the airport, as it was 3:30am we were planning to leave. So we were picked up at 4:00am, still early. Arrived quickly to the airport. My flight was early, but Emily did not fly out until the afternoon. Emily came with me to the airport, as she felt that she did not want to just hang out in Rome for a few hours by herself.
I still feel that our last couple of days of travel where a lot of fun, and very interesting. But two things
First, our ferry went first to Sardinia, where we could have disembarked and taken a ferry directly to Rome from Sardinia. If we wanted to see Rome, this would have been the fastest way. Unfortunately, we didn’t find out about this route until we were on the trail, long after we’d booked our ferry.
Second, if I was to do the trip again, I would seriously consider just staying in Corsica, and taking the bus back to Calvi (or Bastia for Emily) and retracing my original route home. After the hike, we were too tired for spending much time being tourists.