318.25 meters underwater!

I received an email from Nuno Gomes’ friends informing me of a new world record he set in
Egypt last month. A portion of the email: “The shot line was measured under controlled conditions using impartial
observers. The official measurement is 318.25 metres sea water. This is a new world record.” You may remember Nuno from
a previous post of mine. His last record was 282m set in
Boesmansgat.

318.25 meters? That’s 1043ft. Talk about deep. Nuno and team, if you are out there, congratulations.
Click on for a more detailed account.

Yet another airfare search engine…

Yahoo has launched another fare search engine that scours other websites (expedia and orbitz do not appear to be on
the list unfortunetly) for the lowest fares. So far, I haven’t found anything thats been ”wow I better book this
right now” low prices, but some people are saying the site has found them signficantly cheaper fares. On average, I’m
only seeing about $5 less for most routes, but hey, every penny counts right? If you see a signficantly lower fare, I’d
be curious to know the route – drop a comment.

The “Visit A Small Town In Italy” Mini Guide

I started putting some information together for my wedding guests on our wedding in Italy and then suddently realized I could share with all! So if you want to visit a truly amazing small town in Italy but never knew where to start… this is the guide for you. Thanks to picapic, I was able to post up some of my videos and pictures for you readers without hosing my DSL connection, so enjoy.

Where am I taking you? Castiglione della Pescaia. Never heard of it? Well, that’s kind of the point.

You’ll probably want to avoid August in Italy as its the busiest time of the year. June and July are both good choices, with slightly cooler temperatures in June and very comfortable temperatures in July (in small towns. Don’t go to Florence in the middle of July). This region in Italy has a relatively mild climate in July. Don’t be fooled though—days can get hot, so bring lots of t-shirts/tanks/etc. You’ll also want to bring a light sweater and a pair of long pants for evenings out. Other must haves: sandals, bathing suit, suntan lotion, and Off spray (the mosquitoes can get bad), camera, and tons of film (or a big memory card).

If it wasn’t obvious, Italy uses the Euro. Up to date exchange rates can be found on this site.

If you have a high speed connection, you can view a three dimensional arial rendering of the area surrounding the town. It took me a while to stitch the photos together, but it’s kind of cool. You can see it here [1.31mb]. You will want to just download the file and open it up as its very wide.

Otherwise, for a much more detailed map with photos and links, have a look here: “Have a nice Navigation”. Click on the map to zoom in and around. You can usually zoom in more than once. The link goes to the official Castiglione tourism website. Lots there to see. You should also get accustomed to “interesting” translations like “Swimming no, guard duty on risk yours.” Here’s another decent map. Look for “Grosseto”.  (It’s easier if you download the map)

Getting Here

Pretty much every last carrier on earth flies to Rome. The airport you will want is FCO-Leonardo Da Vinci. (Fiumicino). I recommend catching flights in the late afternoon – or early evening – sleep on the plane, wake up, land in Rome. For the travel-challenged individuals out there, here are some probably already-known links:

Expedia
Orbitz
Travelocity
United Airlines
D.e.l.t.a. – Doesn’t Ever Leave The Airport
American Airlines
A.l.i.t.a.l.i.a. – Always Late In Takeoff, Always Late In Arrival
Real Time Status map

Getting from Rome to Castiglione is another matter. If you enjoy driving, the drive is roughly 2 hours and quite fun. Lots of country side to see while driving on highway and smaller roads. If not, the train is probably the easiest method. You would need to get the train from platform 24 at the airport at the “Ferrovie Laziali” terminal”. You need to get the Leonard Express train that links the larger terminal (Roma Termini) to the airport. That connection is roughly 30 minutes. Tickets cost 9.5 €. This train departs every 30 minutes from 6:37 to 23:37. **Use this as a guide, but be sure to doublecheck everything on your own**

From the Roma Termini connection, you’ll want to go to Grosseto (the nearest decent sized town to Castiglione). Depending on the train, number of stops, and a handful of other intangibles, the trip from Roma Termini is roughly 2 to 2.5 hours. Ticket prices are between 14 € and 20 €. From Grosseto, you can take a cab or the bus which stops in front of the train station and will drop you in various locations in Castiglione.

So, being a bit more specific…

Renting a car – some phone numbers and websites. There are other agencies from which to rent, this is only a small list of the more well known ones. If you have a need for speed, Targa rents Alpha Romeo Spiders. Warning: Italians consider red lights a suggestion.

 Avis  199 100133  www.avis.com 
 EuropCar  +39 0665010879  www.europcar.com 
 Hertz  +39 0665954701  www.hertz.com
 Targa Rent  +39 066529336  www.targarent.it

If you rent a scooter, rent it in Castiglione. You don’t want to try and make the trip from Rome on one of those. In fact, I think its illegal to be on the highway with one. If you are unsure whether to rent a car in Rome or a scooter in Castiglione….

The car will let you make day trips to Florence and Rome if you so choose, but finding parking in town can be tricky (particularly in the evenings). Be prepared to drive around a little before you find something. A scooter is much more versatile for getting around locally (you can park anywhere) – but it’s out of the question for getting to areas further away. If you rent a scooter and plan to take it a little rough, try and get one with wider wheels. Don’t try and take it on the beach, it won’t work, you’ll probably clog the intake and then you’ll be trying to explain how this happened to the rental office. Also, if you rent a scooter – wear a helmet. I know it looks cooler to run around without one but the police will not hesitate to ticket you. While the scooter seats can fit two people – it’s not legal, and again, Police will happily stop you.

Here are some thumbnails of the town: (click on em for bigger versions)

     
     
     

Much of what you will find regarding lodging will be in Italian unfortunetly… In general, if you stay in the town center during the summer, all evenings are typically busy with lots of foot traffic.

Some places to consider include:

Riva Del Sole. This is a nice hotel located in between the town center and Pineta di Roccamare (the area where the reception will be held). It’s a decent walk to town, but you can rent a scooter locally.

Hotel L’Approdo. This hotel is located right on the main street in Castiglione. Many of the restaurants and bars named on this page are within walking distance of this hotel. On Saturdays, you’ll be a few minutes walking distance from the market.

Hotel Lucerna. Is essentially in the same area as Hotel L’approdo but a bit is tucked away from the street but is also near the town center.

Hotel Miramare. This is a nice hotel right in front of a beach (it can get a little crowded). This hotel is also near many of the restaurants and bars in the area.

Roccamare – If money isn’t a primary concern, this is definetly the place to go. With enough friends the cost is not too out there. Roccamare is a private area near Castiglione made up of about 200 or so homes that span a five or so mile beach, which, while not techically a private beach, it cannot be reached from outside of the Roccamare area easily – thereby effectively making it a private beach. As you might imagine, renting a home that basically has a private beach is, well, not cheap. Searches on google will help you find stuff, but here’s one example. At roughly 3000 euro a week, renting it for a romantic getaway aint cheap. Renting it with 8 other friends makes it a bit more feasbile. All houses in Roccamare have an area of the beach assigned to them, and it’s almost always completely empty. This is luxury ladies. A quick video clip of the beach is here.

A few other things to do: (Other than hang out on the beach that is)…

Late night dancing at La Capannina, an open air night club.

Take a stroll down the main street in the evenings. It’s bustling with people, restaurants and bars to visit. You can stroll down the main path or down by the water. For a good caipirinha, try the Havana Pub. For something more Italian, try Bar La Fonte.

Take a drive (or a steep walk) to the top of the ‘la panoramica’ for a spectacular view of the ocean. Also fun – check out the church at the top of the hill for another spectacular view.

Catch an english movie with Italian subtitles out in the open in the town’s open air movie theater. Always a riot.

Florence and Rome are both a two to two and a half hour drive – if you get up early, this can be a day trip! You can also take the train or bus. Not to plug myself, but if you want to rent a place in Florence, I do have one for rent. I’ll save my Florence post for another day.

On Saturdays there is an open market (shoes, shirts, purses, fruit, etc) in town – if you want gifts to bring back, check it out.

Other than sit around eating Italian food and hanging out on the beach…. Well, yes, there are other options! In general, this site is the site to check out for information on the area- www.castiglionepescaia.it. Unfortunately, while some of the site is (loosely) translated into English, most of the interesting information is not – namely, where to eat, where to sleep, etc. etc..

Speaking of eating…

La Stella di Mezzanotte– My mouth is watering just writing this. Open virtually all hours of the night, this is the place to go for that late night snack. If you come here, you MUST try the ‘Olandese’.

Le Dune– This is a great italian restaurant. It often fills up quickly, reservations are highly suggested. Reasonably priced and excellent. Try the mussels.

Bar Ciro– For a morning bite and a coffee, this is a nice spot right before the town area starts in earnest.

So go book your flights already! Feel free to post comments and suggestions …

Just a little more Palau…

I came across another video of Palau’s underwater world – specifically the mantas. Not much to say bout it other
than, if you like underwater videos, it’s a pretty cool video. I’ve never had the chance to dive with mantas so I’m in
particular awe. The music on this video is a little more relaxed than the blue corner video I posted yesterday.

Palau, wish upon a star….

I was researching my next destination and came across a video someone made of Blue Corner, a particularly fast-paced
current-ridden clip-yourself-in or be swept-away shark infested dive. I have no idea what the soundtrack is, but it
fits perfectly and I can’t stop watching it again and again. Now if only I could come up with the million or so bucks
it seems like you need to get to Palau…. Anyway, check it out on
picapic.