Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Bonny Bonifacio ..... July 2010

Bonifacio harbour and Citadel
13 July 2010
When we had collected our hire car in Porto Vecchio in the morning we were warned that if we were going to Bonifacio we should get there before 6pm, as there was a festival on in the evening combined with fireworks for Bastille Day. What we underestimated was the capacity for carparking in this rather small community jammed between clifftops and comprising mostly of water! After several circuits of the one way road system we finally found a pay carpark with just enough room for our little Panda.

We set off exploring this strategically placed historical port, the waterfront area was jammed packed with boats of all shapes and sizes, the marina staff looking totally overwhelmed by the endless stream of boats heading into the harbour. The area was pleasant enough, with wall to wall restaurants displaying menus looking somewhat outside our regular eating out budget.
Looking down into Bonifacio's busy harbour
It was time for another uphill workout and we started the climb up to the citadel, stopping along the way for several photo opportunities, the views down into the harbour and also out across the Bonifacio Straits were just superb. We entered through the arched city wall, passing the extremely old wooden gates into a maze of tiny alleyways, running this way and that, another step back in time. Of course there were more tourist shops and outdoor cafes than would have been originally planned for but there were just so many small alleys to explore you could lose the crowds every now and then.
It's always a hike to the top
We walked right through the walled citadel and out the other side past the now derelict Army barracks that presented a real opportunity for someone with a spare billion euros to redevelop this area into something rather spectacular. Out on the edge of the peninsular was the town cemetery. It was like no other we have seen before, there were little rows of above ground tombs, they looked like mini terraced houses, a front door to each with compartments inside for the coffins and a plaque on the outside end of each. They were extended family tombs it seemed, and neighbourhoods of relatives all in a village style setting, a main square, side streets, but of course empty of people. It was a very interesting place.

Dinner time was fast approaching but the vast selection of eateries we had already seen were already now full, unbelievable. Exhausting all options in the old town we made our way back down to water level. Tired after a long day touring, hungry and getting irritable we pushed on through the ever increasing crowds and finally accepted an indoor spot at a harbourside restaurant - we wanted to be outside with all the action, but in hindsight we should have thought of that earlier!!
This cemetery was like no other we have seen
The rugby mad owner was thrilled to have some Aussies and Kiwis in for dinner and didn't think we should be inside either, so simply instructed his staff to pick up of table and put it out on the street, no - not footpath, street!! There was just enough room for the infrequent bold car to get by, then the gendarmes came by and wanted to give him a ticket for "parking a table illegally" (that was his translation) but it seems that they let him off, we were from good rugby playing nations, there were celebrations on for Bastille Day, why he said, should they spoil our time in Bonifacio?? Why indeed!!! We had an excellent french meal with a very good carafe of table wine and left with fond memories and didn't spend a fortune. We slipped out of the carpark before the 11.30pm blast off time for the fireworks display, we figured it was now or never, Bonifacio was jammed packed full, the roads getting blocked, and we were having the display in Porto Vecchio the following evening.

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