Our new tickets channeled us through Boston with an eight hour layover. In preparation for a long oceanic fight, niece Laurelee suggested we ditch Logan Airport and explore Beantown. In fifteen minutes, the subway landed us in Boston Commons standing on John Hancock’s grave. We hooked up with a comical tour guide who explained many tidbits of American history, along with the fact that we would soon be visiting the ancestral land of Paul Revere; his parents being French Huguenots.
Our jumbo 767 into Frankfurt, Germany pleased all jet setters. Lufthansa not only provided abundant, delicious food, but also permitted Claire and Ashton to stretch out on the floor while providing non-stop multi-media for Rusty and Walker. Setting foot in Deutschland and honoring his German teacher, Herr Sweitzer, Walker ordered a 30 centimeter Weiner schnitzel. Gorged and excited, we boarded our next flight to Marseille, France.
After an easy landing we buzzed through baggage claim, passed three people talking at the custom’s desk, and walked outside into the blustery Mediterranean air. Our un amis de un amis (friend of a friend), Remy, was waiting for us with our “Welcome Orners” on the airport marquis, a blown-up family photo in hand, and the traditional kiss to kiss to each cheek.
We immediately felt at home on French soil and dined on a meal from French soil; Remy taught us how to collect wild edible greens and flowers around his chateau. Our basket was full of colorful pink cistus and malva flowers, yellow roquette buds, and shades of green lamb’s quarters, fennel, mint and thyme.
Instantly we connected with his wife Cecil and her daughter, Roman, reciprocating words from our respective languages. Remy, linguistically versed, patiently translated when the conversation faltered. With a view of the Mediterranean Sea, we toured the thousand year old olive grove, shepherd’s cave, aqueducts, and bee colonies. Remy even showed us an ancient salt trading route with the remnants of a limestone road cut by iron wagon wheels.
Reluctant to leave, but with the promise to see each other soon, we headed to the ferry with Remy at the steering wheel. Without him we surely would have been stranded. He however not only got us there in time (the ferry dock for foot passengers had been relocated several kilometers away), and arranged an escorted ride to the loading platform ahead of all the passengers (foot and car).
The twelve-hour ride from the southern coast of mainland France to the island of Corsica was spent eating baguettes with artisan cheese and sleeping in our cozy four-bed cabin. Occasionally, we dimly heard French announcements over the loudspeaker. The ferry could have been sinking for all we understood; nothing but the chilly Mediterranean waters could have awakened us.
At 7 a.m. Rusty easily exited us off the ferry, onto a shuttle, and hiked us to the Bastia bus stop. Marsha, his cousin had generously provided not only her Corsican villa for the summer, but also many pointers, one of them being the public bus schedule. We dutifully read it, without being aware of French holidays. While breakfasting on local grapefruit, pears and strawberries, we waited for the 10 a.m. bus and then the one to arrive at noon.
Knowing that something wasn’t quite right, we flagged down a taxi driver willing to transport us the 30 kilometers needed to reach Moriani Plage. Racing down an autobahn-like highway, Pierre was clocked at 140 km/hour. For math class, Ashton later calculated that Pierre, with us on board, was 50 miles/hour over the designated speed limit.
Bianca, other amie de amies, hospitably picked us up at Pierre’s drop-off (ironically the town’s bus stop) and piled us in her compact car with luggage on lap and dog kennel on floor.
Grateful for our many friendships, we arrived exactly 72 hours to complete the itinerary of our C& C trip (Corsica, Pennsylvania to Corsica, France). We look forward to sharing our SSS adventure (sea to sea sabbatical) with you.