Bastia

Our overnight stop is in the town of Bastia. A bit battered and run down but with artwork and colour on each street.

Bastia was the principal capital of Genoese Corsica, and it became French only in the late 1760s.

Artwork and street scribbles adorn many of the walls around the city centre.

Many of the buildings look somewhat precarious, if not downright unsafe!

There are more Baroque churches in this city than any other on Corsica.

The most noticeable one is the twin towers of the St Jean Baptiste cathedral which stands prominently above the bustling quayside.

The Vieux Port – Old Port – is the busiest part of the town with many tall, gently decaying, buildings housing restaurants and cafes.

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Corte

Heading onwards through the winding mountain roads of Corsica we’re heading for the heart of this enchanting island.

Our destination is the curious town of Corte. Once the capital of Corsica during the reign of Pasquale Paoli.

Corte is set in geographical centre of the island and was but governed by Pascal Paoli, the father of the Corsican independence movement, after he stormed the Citadel in 1755. Hence it is still known as the spiritual capital of the island.

Enchanting coloured shops and restaurants line the winding streets of Corte as you head to the central attraction – the citadel, imposing set on a rocky outcrop with a commanding view of the whole town.

The citadel’s oldest portion – the château known as the Nid d’Aigle, meaning ‘Eagle’s Nest’ – was built at the highest point in 1419.

Little towns

Corsica is full of delightful little towns, each with their own unique characters and quirks.

We spent a day floating about visiting them en-route to our next destination.

Here’s the hubby at Algajola. It has a 16th century fort on the seafront and a long sandy beach.

Algajola is small with its older buildings clustered around its 16th century castle. Next to this is a citadel built in the same stone with a protruding circular watch tower.

Next on the road trip is the beach at St Florent. The town itself is small with a maze of narrow streets and passages.

Plus there’s a lively waterfront with a row of restaurants.

Like many of the Corsican towns Saint Florent has a Genoise citadel, built in the 15th century. It’s a sturdy round monument that looks out across the gulf below.

Mountain villages

We’re off to explore the hill villages of Corsica’s Haute-Balagne on this little road trip.

Tiny villages cling to the hillside along the winding roads that meander throughout the lush greens of the Corsican countryside.

Sant’Antonino is the oldest inhabited village on Corsica and the pastel hued houses cling together along the winding alleyways and back streets.

Buildings tumble down the slopes while you can discover colourful corners around every bend.

Ajaccio art

Sunny Ajaccio’s old streets are lined with beautiful, mellowed, old buildings. Muted shades of ocha and cream have been faded by decades of sun.

As well as attractive architecture you can also find a wealth of detailed wall art too. Whether it is an ornate Stormtrooper or a weathered woman.

A pretty door in faded baby blue provides the perfect backdrop to display local produce while the combination of brick red and air force blue makes an eye-catching sight.

The husband is once again dispatched as a photo prop (he loves it really!) while the iconic Corsican symbol can be found everywhere.

The eyecatching symbol is called ‘La Testa di Moru’ – the Moor’s head.

It originates in the Kingdom of Aragon and has also been used in neighbouring Sardinia since the Aragonese conquest in 1297.

Windy millers

Before we head out of Mykonos town we can’t avoid visiting one of the island’s most iconic sights – the line of windmills high above the town. *rubbish phone pics alert*

The windmills can be seen from every point of the village of Mykonos and are the first thing seen when coming into the harbour of Alefkandra.

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There are currently 16 windmills on Mykonos of which seven are positioned on the landmark hill in Chora.

Most windmills face the North where the island’s climate sources its strongest winds over the largest part of the year.

Most of them were built by the Venetians in the 16th century, but their construction continued into the early 20th century. They were primarily used to mill wheat and were an important source of income for the inhabitants.

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Their use gradually declined until they ceased production in the middle of the 20th century.

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Relics and rocks

As the husband desperately tries to drag me away from the old town, I once again get hopelessly distracted. This time by an enchanting, tucked away shop full of religious icons.

 

Painted on driftwood and old salvaged wood, this shop is an Aladdin’s cave of the sacred and holy.

 

Ever corner is crammed full of sumptuously coloured paintings, with glided details glimmering in the shadowy recesses.

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The, by now bored rigid, husband finally managed to pry me out of the shops and we head towards the rocky beach.

 

Here we can get a better view of Little Venice, the tiny, chic section of the old town where cafes and restaurants hang precariously above the sea.

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Captured in a thousand different paintings, this jumble of buildings have a wonderful waterside position but must get battered in storms!

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It might look relatively peaceful but Little Venice gets jam packed from midday onwards as it’s a perfect people watching spot and it’s also a prime sunset spot.

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The water gently laps the pebble beach (which is far more painful to walk on than it looks)

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A local man sets up his fishing rod and quickly becomes a tourist magnet as people flock to get a snap with him and his tackle 🙂

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If you look closely you can make out the crowds of people that have formed in the waterside cafes.

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The single file walk along the water’s edge is slippery and is made pretty difficult to traverse given the number of buggies and prams attempting to pass across.

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Little Venice

More mooching around Mykonos old town reveals my all time favourite shop tucked down an alleyway and smothered in postcards and paintings.

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Every square inch of this little souvenir shop is covered in paintings and postcards of this picturesque island. All azure seas and blue domes.

I’m a bit obsessed and have to be bodily dragged away by the husband . . . .

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Heading down another tiny alleyway we’re suddenly confronted with a rocky drop and the sea!

Behind us you can see the line of famous windmills, one of the iconic sights of the island.

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We also get an alternative view of the bustling little quarter known as Little Venice where restaurants hover just feet away from the lapping sea water.

You can just about make out one of the hulking great big cruise ships that flood this tiny town with 1000s of visitors each day.

Back to wandering the seemingly endless, maze like streets, throw up yet more lovely details.

More traditional gifts such as olive oil soaps and woven bags all tempt the tourists.

For such a small place, the Hora sure has a lot to investigate. So watch this space!

 

Old Town

Mykonos Town—called Hora by the locals— is the Saint-Tropez of the Greek islands. Beloved by the rich folk and beautiful people.

Put on the map by Jackie O in the 1960s the old town is a maze of white washed houses, colourful doors and glamorous shops.

Its cube like houses and the churches, with their red or blue doors, domes and wooden balconies are perfect examples of classic Cycladic architecture.

The Greek Archaeological Service acted to protect the town so the Old Town has been impressively preserved.  It’s almost like a film set!

We arrived super early in the morning to avoid the inevitable hideous crowds so we got to enjoy the picture postcard streets completely alone.

The only downside is that the shops don’t actually open until around 10am so we didn’t get to enjoy the colourful displays until the cruise ships starting disgorging literally 1000s of people !

A fairly unique feature of the Hora are the grey painted stones that mark out the meandering streets. Some of them are real stones and others have been painted to look like them.

Although blinding white is the overriding colour of the town, there are lovely splashes of vivid colours that break up the street scene.

Another thing that you’ll see everywhere are the painted staircases that most shops have.

These are a pretty architectural features that also double as displays for tourists to browse the shop’s wares. They also make very nice floral displays!

Painted doors double as shop adverts, shocking pink bouganvilla drapes itself lavishly around weathered old buildings and open squares provide an oasis of shade later in the day.

The hubby finds a furry feline friend, just one of the many moggies to be found all over the island.

The island has a population of nearly 12,500 and most of them live in the Chora, so it’s the only place on Mykonos that you’ll ever feel crowded.

Flatiron & 5th Avenue

New York is littered with world renowned architecture and instantly recognisable buildings.

One such landmark is the The Flatiron Building, originally the Fuller Building, a triangular 22-story steel-framed highrise on Fifth Avenue.

On completion in 1902, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city at 20 floors high and was one of only two skyscrapers north of 14th Street – the other being the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, one block east.

Close to the Flatiron you can see one of the city’s last remaining cast iron street clocks.

This 19-foot timepiece has an ornamental base and a wreath of oak leaves around the clock face.

It’s gilded in gold and has stood, providing the time for busy New Yorkers since 1909. It was completely restored back to its former glory in 2011.

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Every angle of this quirky building is gorgeous and its address instantly transports you to a world of decade, luxury and old school American elegance and expense.

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If you turn your back on the Flat Iron building you can spot another highly iconic sight – the towering Empire State building – complete with all the perfect NYC elements, yellow traffic lights and a yellow cab!!

The National Historic Landmark program (NRHP) focuses on places of significance in American history, architecture, engineering, or culture.

It recognises structures, buildings, sites, and districts associated with important events, people, or architectural movements.

There’s an impressive list of National Historic Landmarks located along Fifth Avenue.

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National Historic Landmarks in the vicinity of Fifth Avenue include:

  • The Empire State Building – 350 Fifth Avenue
  • Flatiron Building – 175 Fifth Avenue – National Historic Landmark
  • New York Public Library – Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street
  • Rockefeller Center − 45 Rockefeller Plaza
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral – 460 Madison Avenue

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This part of the city feels like walking through a film set.

It actually can’t get any more American than this snap of the Stars and Stripes fluttering in front of the world’s most iconic skyscaper.

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