23 Jul 2010

Pluses & Minuses (Part 1)

Now seems the right time for a little review, a little soul searching. Was moving back to the motherland a success, or at least a smooth process for me? And was relocating to Corsica the right choice? As for my partner, is his experience of the expat lifestyle a match to his initial idea(l)? Time then to pit pluses against minuses, and ditch out a few truths...

As we are an optimistic pair, we'll start with the pluses.


Sunny Delight: British Summers have a tendency to be unpredictable, with a cocktail of too much rain/ too many clouds and too little sunshine, although last Summer and the Summer before that weren't particularly disastrous (or maybe our expectations just got lower!). Here in Corsica, if there is one guarantee you are assured of, then hot Summer is it, with a reasonably mild Spring and Autumn as added bonuses. If you are a tan seeker and a bleached tress lover, then Corsica is your destination of choice. The fact it is an island also means that you are never far away from the coast, a beach, a cove, a harbour full of flash yachts, for that added holiday cliché. Sea temperatures are equally tempting (on average 23°C, almost like in your bathtub).

Location, Location, Location: 360° panoramic views over the bay and the mountain range are not a dream, they are a reality for the island's coastal towns and villages, unless of course you are renting a flat in downtown Bastia or Ajaccio where you face a no-win situation, as you are most likely to overlook a busy carriageway on one side and a depressing inner courtyard on the other, nose-to-nose with the opposite neighbour's kitchen balcony with all the fry-up and burnt-oil aromas drifting your way (could be worse, could be the toilets...).


The Great Escape: A bit of an exaggeration maybe as this is still Europe and this is only a small island, yet its diminutive size is deceptive as its mountainous topography means that road communication is not a straightforward affair (try the scenic albeit treacherous Western coast of the Cape as a taster), and the average journey will take longer than down the plains of northern France.

If you are looking to escape traffic and people though, steer clear of the RN193 and other main 'A' roads, and head inland for the road less travelled. Coastal paths like the Sentier des Douaniers which starts off the beach of Macinaggio will provide you with a bit of respite from civilisation, although it has now become a victim of its own success and is well frequented by groups of walkers/ trekkers!

If you live and work in Corsica, your commutes to work may stretch some mileage from your middle-of-nowhere village, yet you will not suffer the almighty road commutes from Hell that England has been made famous for (I had years of it!), stuck in miles of traffic jams, with easily 2-3 hours a day wasted. So, to our Corsican friends, let's put the RN193 commute back into perspective please!


A New Life: Moving from the big city to a small village was going to bring us closer to nature and satisfy my hobbies (landscape photography and botanics). This human dimension was also supposed to slow us down in a positive way, give us a new impetus, a fresh perspective, bring the family together, and give shape to ideas for our next stage in life, both professionally and personally. I had reached the point where the rat race had lost pretty much its meaning, and decided that city life was not necessarily what it was cracked up to be. I was ready for a change, and so was my partner.

There came an offer from my mum, suggesting that we join her and my dad in Corsica, so we took the chance. In a different life, I might have taken a longer leap and aimed for the shores of California or New Zealand, but my mum's offer had more grounding and presented a more controlled risk. (to be continued)

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