On leaving Salerno, we sailed past the Amalfi Coast, the Isle of Capri, and in the night we woke up at about 11 pm to catch Mt Stromboli which is currently active. Unfortunately, because of the cloudy weather, not much was visible. Still the evening out on deck was lovely. It wasn’t too cold, and the waters of the Mediterranean were flat. It was, as they say, smooth sailing.
We woke up docking in Ajaccio, a French port on the island of Corsica. Corsica is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean, after Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus. (am wondering what’s with the “s” alliteration for the Mediterranean islands …). Corsica is located closer to Italy. It enjoyed a brief period as an independent republic, before coming under French rule in 1768. France had purchased the island to settle a Genoese debt.
The Corsian flag shows a black Moor with a white bandana just above his eyes. Previously, the bandana covered the eyes of the Moor. The lifting of the white bandana symbolised liberation of the Corsican people. The flag fell into disused in the late 18th century and was only revived in the 1980s.
Ajaccio was where Napoleon was born. They are very proud of Napoleon, and so you have several museums and statues dedicated to him. Ajaccio is a very pleasant seaside port town, with many buildings and shops around. However, they too practised Siesta. It was confusing coz they really started quite early – at 12, some places even 11.30 am. So, expect to be chased out of museums.
We visited the museum that Napoleon Bonaparte was born in, and walked around the streets for a bit. Napoleon’s birthplace was not a very big house, though it would have been extremely lovely in those days. His father was a judge and held other official positions in Corsica. However, even then, they needed to supplement their income through the sale of farm products such as olive oil. I guess judges didn’t earn a lot in those days. It was quite interesting walking throught he museum, though it was difficult to spend time appreciating the commentary because we were being hurried along by museum staff wanting to close for the noon siesta. Museum staff kept closing the shutters after each room we walked through.
We found a very lovely beach very close to town, though we did not sit. Saw a Napoleon re-enactment and took a few photos of statues, and buildings. Even sent a couple of postcards. To be honest, we did get to the point where we were now tired of looking at buildings and architecture. Also, after our day in Pompeii the day before, well, nothing could quite compare after that. Weather-wise, Ajaccio is very pleasant, and it is a much cleaner town than some of the others we’d visited. Not as hot, though, which also made it pleasant. It was our last day on the ship, so we wanted to savour the pool and start to organise ourselves for packing.
Packing to leave a cruise has its own routine. You get special tags denoting what time you leave the ship. You have to make sure that your bags are out of the door by 2 am in the morning, and check that your day travelling clothes are in your hand luggage. You also get your bill, and you have to make a decision about gratuity and how much you want to pay. The ship will “recommend” an amount, and then you have to decide whether you want to pay that, or more, or less.
We went down to our last 5 course dinner, said goodbye to our dinner partners, and enjoyed the last of what the cruise had to offer.