Panic at the railway station! A large crowd comprising mainly tourists awaited the 10:47 departures which crossed here, these being the Bastia to Ajaccio and Ajaccio to Bastia services. The platform notices said that quai 1 was for northbound trains and quai 2 for the south but the ticket clerk advised us that today the train for Ajaccio would be leaving from quai 1. The two-car diesel units arrived simultaneously but the unit on quai 1 was from Ajaccio so we rushed over the tracks. But it transpired that each train was to return in the direction from which it had come and that through passengers would have to change trains. This confusion caused us to be at the end of the scrum to board and we had no idea where the luggage area for bikes was. By the time we’d reached the door, the tiny train was wedged and we could see no alternative but to await the afternoon train. Then there was a commotion as three German cyclists suddenly started unloading their bikes as they wanted to go north! We loaded ours in their place and eventually the train departed, 20 minutes late. Two of our bikes were hanging from hooks in the small luggage compartment at the end of one car with the other bike wedged along with Christine and I plus two young women who appeared to be locals, disregarding the No Smoking signs in traditional French manner, though at least they were exhaling through the open window.
Rowan was one of many standing in the aisle and managed to grap a tip-up seat by the door when a couple of hikers alighted at the next stop. Halfway into the journey about half the passengers got off and we were at last able to sit down to enjoy the marvellous mountain scenery. We rattled through a long tunnel on the descent towards Ajaccio where the landscape flattened out and were surprised at the amount of industry on the approach to the island’s capital. There was no sign of any rail staff at the terminus, it appeared that like Corte, the booking office opened only for a short spell prior to departures. No-one checked our tickets and we wondered how much fare evasion went on amongst locals who knew the system – indeed most of the intermediate stations were unstaffed. The fare was expensive too, at €87 for the three of us and our bikes. There was no breakdown of the charges so we had no idea what they charged for cycle carriage.
We picnicked and rode out to a campsite, quickly erected our tent and walked down to the beach opposite the site for a swim. Then we shot into the city for a quick look round, finding it pleasant enough but not especially interesting. On the way back we called in on the Spar supermarket for food which we cooked at the campsite. We finished eating as darkness fell.