My husband and I woke up this morning to see thru our porthole window cloudy skies. Today, our Windstar Yacht was scheduled to arrive at Porto Vecchio, Corsica France, a lush island paradise, known as the birth place of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Among European Tourists Porto Vecchio is known as "St Tropez" of Corsica, a fashionable resort town dotted with art galleries, boutique shopping, gourmet dining and night life
A complimentary shuttle arranged by the cruise line took us to the Old Town, which was about 10 minutes uphill ride from the modern marina. We started wondering thru narrow cobblestone streets (the town is best explored by foot), and found the Place de Republique ( the main square), visit the imposing St Jean-Baptiste Church dating back to the 19th Century and made our way to the Genoise Gate which offered panoramic views of the Harbor, sea and surrounding mountains.
Our last stop was the Tourist Bureau, where we arranged a Taxi to take us to Bonifacio- a must -see popular medieval town located in the southern tip of the island. The total taxi cost one way was 60 Euro, on the way back a different taxi driver asked for 84 euro.
Travel Tip: If you plan to visit Bonifacio independently, try to arrange a round trip taxi as soon as you get off the ship! Ask the cruise director to help or the port person. We couldn't find any taxi stands in Porto Vecchio and trying to arrange it on your own can be a challenge if you don't speak French language (the official language in Corsica) We had to wait 45 min at the Tourist Bureau before our taxi arrived.
Leaving Porto Vecchio on our way to Bonifacio, the real Corsica start unfolding- a mountainous lush, green island with a rolling hills and happy grazing cows. For some reason reminded me of Maui, Hawaii....
Passing thru Porte de Genes (the only way to enter Bonifacio) , our taxi driver dropped up off in the Citadel since it is a steep uphill climb to the Citadel and the Old Town from the Marina. A little tourist train also runs in the summer from the Marina (5 Euro)It didn't take us long to realize that the taxi left us at a vintage point overlooking the Marina and it's jet-set yachts- a perfect picture opportunity!
Travel Tip: Ask your taxi driver to drop you off in the Citadel
We started making our way to the top of the town to the entry of King Aragon Steps. After paying admission 2.5 Euro we start descending. Legend has it that this 187 steps carved into the limestone cliff face were built by the Aragonese in a single night in their failed attempt to gain the town in 1420.
Travel Tip: Climbing the steps require to be physically active- the steps were uneven and at places, slippery. However this was memorable experience and the views of the gleaming Mediterranean Sea and the cliffs were stunning!
Bonifacio's Old Town, with a labyrinth of narrow streets and historical buildings was built by Genoese and its great place to wonder around. After exploring King Aragon's Steps, we stopped by chic boutiques and passed trendy restaurants. In addition to the Old Town, the Harbor also offers a wide choice of restaurants and shopping.
Mid afternoon was time to go back to Porto Vecchio and board our Windstar Yacht because the next port of call was waiting!
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This Spring my husband and I sailed with Windstar Cruises and I wanted to share with you our wonderful experience. This was a 6-night itinerary from Barcelona to Rome which we combined with pre and post stay. The weather for the end of April most of the time was in the lower 70s, perfect for exploring!
We embarked the 150 guest Windstar Yacht at Barcelona Cruise Port, located in the city center. There was no line and It took us less than 10 minutes to go thru check in and security.
Our stateroom was located on the lowest level (Deck 1), but we found it very spacious at 188 sq ft, which is larger than staterooms we've had before on a similar size ships. It had two porthole windows. We really liked the ample closet space (2 closet + 1 dresser), and additional space we found under the bed to store our suitcases. There was a sitting area which we often used for in room complimentary dining. The bathroom had vanity with granite countertop and luxurious L'Occitane bath amenities.
We left the port with a traditional raising of the sails ceremony and complimentary glass of mimosa. During our voyage, we visited the famed islands of Palma de Mallorca, Corsica, Sardinia, & Elba. I will write a separate blog for each port visited individually.
On board Windstar, it truly felt like you are on your own private mega yacht. Tastefully decorated in nautical color palette furniture, the common areas were spacious and we never had to wait in line to dine or order from the bar. With its open seating policy, Amphora Restaurant was the main dining room for dinner. The complimentary Specialty Candles Restaurant offered romantic Al Fresco dining under the starts. The Veranda Restaurant with Al Fresco dining , located on the top deck was open for breakfast and lunch and served rich choice of buffet dining. There was a signature BBQ evening, which took place inside (due to weather) where favorites like roasted lobster tail, roasted pig and lamb chops were served.
Included in your cruise fare are soft drinks, specialty coffees & teas, bottle water, and smoothies. Alcohol beverages are an add on, but we've noticed that the prices for a glass of wine or cocktail were pretty reasonable - about $8
Since the median age was typically 55, being in our 30s, we were pleasantly surprised to see some other couples in our age group. Windstar brand caters to adults only, there are not children facilities on board.
The entertainment options on board are somewhat limited, mainly because the focus is on the destination, and the small size of the vessel. With that said, I should mention the Lounge offered a port of call briefing before dinner and a live music performing after dinner .There was a mini casino adjacent to it. During sea days, most of the guests gather on the top deck forward, where the mini pool, jaccuzi and the Tropical bar were located. When weather permits, the Watersports Marina located at the aft of the ship is open, and offers complimentary kayak, paddleboard, snorkeling, and optional scuba.
Lastly Windstar has an open bridge policy meaning if you wish you may visit the Bridge where you can observe how the Captain and officers navigate the ship.
.A memorable experience of our Windstar Voyage was a complimentary private event organized by the cruise line in Palma de Mallorca. Guest were treated with a private art collection viewing followed by cocktail reception and local dance performance in the March Palace located in the Old Town near the Gothic Architecture Cathedral "Le Seu". Check my YouTube Video of the event youtu.be/kTp3fxKR4Gg
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