Happy Little Trees

 Corsica is essentially Iceland, but with trees and beaches and less snow. Ok, it’s actually only like Iceland because it’s a delightful island with dramatic scenery and only two big-ish towns that can qualify as cities. We docked in Ajaccio, one of the two “cities”. After picking up our rental car we immediately headed for Napoleon’s birth place and snapped another picture for the I’m-only-taking-this-picture-because-you-demanded-it,-mom photo album:

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…and then we headed for the first of several glorious beaches. While Luke napped, I swam, and then climbed some irresistible rocks that jutted into the water and only stopped when surrounded by a bunch of creepy squids- I knew they wanted retaliation for my ingestion of their Spanish baby cousins the weekend before and I wasn’t about to test them.

Since the car we rented for Corsica was more like a van (with a full sun roof, thank you Peugot) our Corsica camping was rather light. Essentially camping consisted of parking the van somewhere and crawling into a sleeping bag. That coupled with the fact that Luke still made his espresso every morning and I still blogged meant we weren’t really camping, just living in a van—sort of homeless but with a very yuppy aesthetic (and yes, I will gladly write that sitcom script).

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There were a series of nights where we indiscriminately parked in either active or abandoned camp sites well after midnight and left before 7am to avoid getting charged (thrifty/kind of stealing, whatever). But eventually we found some Couchsurfing in Bastia, the northern most (read: other) “city” in Corsica. There we stayed with Camille who had an uncanny resemblance to myself in physical appearance and disposition, she also had a real, live, hot-water, indoor shower, so clearly we got along very well. Around midnight we piled into Camille’s tiny Corsican car and drove up the island to a party on the beach. We watched an enormous, orange moon rise over the Med and danced ‘til 4am to her friend’s dj set. A drunk guy made fun of our trancelike movements and informed us that we were facing the wrong way to pray to Mecca. Camille didn’t miss a beat as she responded, “Fuck you, we’re dancing for the moon.” Yeah, we’re basically twins.

The next morning it was time to head to the mountains to watch the tour. I was excited to have a legitimate camping spot and to go on the beautiful hikes that the area supposedly offered; I was less excited for the men-in-tights show. I knew the interior of Corsica would be beautiful, I google-imaged it, but I didn’t realize it would have views as picturesque and quaint as Bob Ross’s wildest dreams.

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We drove up the mountain and found a cozy spot at the edge of a forest where several other cycling “enthusiasts” (Losers) had already set up camp. People brought their dogs and let them run loose around the tents, a trailhead that led to castle ruins was right behind us and I had a little gas stove to cook on—essentially I was in heaven. Normally my kitchen is the thing I miss the most when I travel, sorry friends and family. I love to cook but when travelling salads are about as creative as I can get. This time we had it all figured out. I’ve never before had a car while on vacation in Europe. Not having to carry your life on your back means you have the luxury of extra things, like an insulated bag from the grocery store. Every day we’d buy a bag of frozen veggies, which would keep our butter and cheese cool for a few hours and by the next day we’d have some defrosted veggies to use as well. Pair that with my camping stove and I can now add a few items to my budget travel menu: spinach and tomato frittata, string bean salad with almonds and olive oil, and onions caramelized in a fig and red wine reduction. Imagine a broke version of Martha Stewart who doesn’t shower regularly:

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But seriously I think a concept restaurant of the sort could really catch on in Brooklyn. People would totally pay big bucks for a tasting menu of whatever was on sale prepared over a camp stove. Reason #476 to quit the PhD.

The hiking was as beautiful as Google had promised…

there's waldo
there’s waldo

But watching the tour ended up being pretty fun as well. I’m usually fairly resistant to consumerism and corporate branding. That said, if I get half a bottle of Moscato in me on a hot day with the collective excitement of crazed fans permeating the air- these particular morals go out the window. A few cups of the sugary, bubbly drink and I am jumping up and down cheering like a fool at the huge corporate floats decorated with pretty women who throw whatever crap product into the gathered crowd. Unfortunately there are three stages in Moscato chugging— enjoyment, elation, remorse. I’m bordering on the third stage here, with a selection of the useless crap I collected:

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The combination of immaculate beaches and stunning hikes puts Corsica pretty high up on my list of favorite things ever, and I was sort of planning my next trip before I even left.

Walking into the airport, I saw a middle aged man with a “Greenpoint” t-shirt, and in case I had any doubt “BK Life” was emblazoned on the back. I saw lots of “Brooklyn” on this trip to Europe, and even some “Williamsburg”. But Greenpoint? Greenpoint, BK Life? I’ll just assume this man is really into Żywiec beer, kielbasa, and the unavoidable cancer you get from breathing in the toxic air from a decades-old, not-yet-cleaned-up oil spill.

Leaving Corsica sucked, this reminder of what I was returning to didn’t make it any easier. Luckily for me, the Ajaccio airport is perched right on the beach. After checking my bags I got to soak in a few more minutes of sweet, southern European sun before embarking on a two-day trip back to “BK Life.”

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