GR20 – Day 0 Bastia

Bastia, Corsica – untouched by the modern days, old and crumbling, and absolutely beautiful.

We flew to Bastia from London and what a stark contrast it was compared to the metropolis evolving rapidly with the current time. Here in Bastia, the skyline is not disturbed by modern looking glassy buildings reaching high into the sky. The time stood still here for what seems to be a long while, and if you desire to step off the path beaten for the tourist, and trust me, you don’t have to step off too far, you can too admire the town’s history that reaches into many centuries ago, the history you can see, and touch, and sense in pretty much every building your steps will lead you by.

From the airport, there are several ways to get to town. Taxi costs €52.00 during business days or €60.00 if you arrive on Sunday or during a holiday. If you have 4 people in your group to split the price between, the taxis are right there and available to take you to town on a very short notice.

UBER is cheaper. If you have cell data to order a ride, it would cost you €27 – €37. Again, they can fit up to 4 people for that price.

If you are traveling solo, or as a couple, the cheapest option is the shuttle that runs from the airport to town for just €9.00 a person. You might end up waiting for the next bus but really you can’t beat the price.

There are different choices of accommodation in town, from rather expensive hotels to much cheaper Air BnB places you can rent. Dave and I opted for Air BnB and for approximately $60.00 a night we found a very cozy apartment to rent within minutes walk of everything one might desire when in town, including the bus to South of the island where we will start our GR20 adventure.

Bastia is relatively small and safe to stroll, even during the hours when night falls upon the streets. We strolled a lot. Along the waterfront and along the main tourist route (you can get a map and a very nice guide to the town’s main attractions at the information center where they speak good English in case you are not quite versed in French) but IMHO the town’s treasures lie beyond the pink path, in the hidden corners and streets where no tourists are asked to go. Where the facades crumble, there you will find the heart and the spirit of this town.

There are several stores in town you can buy food from. Lovely baguettes, the most delicious salami, cheeses, €5.60 bottle of wine that is actually pretty good, fruit and vegetables – we came during strawberry season and man, were they sweet. If you are on a budget, you can very easily get an inexpensive breakfast, lunch, or dinner from the store.

Restaurant are plentiful as well, and open even during holidays. We had a wonderful meat and cheese plate at Bar Le Méditerrannée (€24.00 plus €16.00 drinks) and a wonderful seafood pasta at A Tana that set the two of us back by €46.00, two drinks included. Many locals come here for pizza and it smelled and looked delicious, and would have been little cheaper.

If your stove requires screw in canister, you can get one at Millet store, again within a walking distance from the main town area.

At 8:30 tomorrow morning we are planning to catch the bus to Sainte-Lucie de Porto Vecchio and further to Conca from where we arranged a shuttle and accommodation with Gíte d’etape La Tonnelle (phone: 06 10 56 92 88) and if everything goes smooth two days from now we will take our first steps on GR20. We are both excited and worried. The spirit is there but the knees are creaking and I’m barely over a cold that Dave is now coming down with and just like any other trek we were on in the past, the future lays in the unknown. Next time I see civilization and internet again, I’ll let you know how Forwsrd and Apps handled the challenges of Europe’s hardest trail.