Nice to Bastia by boat

Ferry going nowhere
Ferry going nowhere

The other two slept well but not me as it was very noisy for a spell during the night, with men and machinery engaged in some nocturnal operation involving water spraying. We got up around 09:00 and checked out, the hotel owner kindly allowing us to store our flight packaging until our return. We shopped for lunchtime food and picnicked in a park before heading off to the harbour for the 14:30 ferry to Bastia. 14:30 came and went while the Mega Express 2 showed no sign of going anywhere. We had a coffee then walked out on deck to look at the pouring rain, this beginning to feel more like the floating restaurant in Caernarfon than a vessel that would take us to Corsica, except that this one was enormous with self service cafés and a plush restaurant.

Eventually it was announced that the port authority would allow us to leave around 16:00 when they’d completed their operations, without explaining the nature of these “operations”. We returned to the café and I sampled the famous Corsican Pietra beer, made with chestnuts in addition to the usual ingredients. It was lovely, but it would be lovelier still if we were at sea.

Around 17:00 the tannoy burst into life again to tell us that the sailing had been cancelled and we’d have to catch the 23:00 sailing from Savona in Italy! We’d be provided with cabins for the overnight sailing. Cyclists and foot passengers would be transported by a coach leaving at 20:30 while motorised customers would have to drive there. So we took our bikes into Vieux Nice for a look round and ate at a non-floating restaurant before returning for the coach. We had to remove all our luggage from the bikes of course, but also had to detach the front wheels to squeeze them into the luggage area. The two hour coach ride along the autoroute through numerous tunnels and viaducts was mainly in the dark. On the coach we learned the true nature of the “operations” from an Englishman who’d phoned his contact in the ferry business. The captain of the ferry had flushed his bilges at sea, causing a particularly bad oil slick. An aircraft pilot observed this, photographed the culprit and presented the evidence to the French authorities who confined their ferries to port until a €500,000 fine was paid.

We had only about 20 minutes to board the ferry when the coach dropped us at the quayside so hurriedly put our front wheels on, loaded our bags and wheeled our bikes onto the ship. We squeezed into our tiny cabin, showered and climbed into our bunk beds. Sleeping at sea was a new experience for all of us, and it did at least save us the cost of a night’s accommodation in Bastia as we hadn’t booked in advance.

Day 3: Bastia to Ile Rousse