Da Ko Lipe a Ko Bulon le

Il passaggio con barca veloce da Ko Lipe a Ko Bulon le, dura circa un’ora di navigazione sul mare delle Andamane a ridosso dello stretto di Malacca e costa 400 B a persona.
Durante la navigazione oltre a Ko Tarutao sarà possibile, se ci sarà chiara visibilità, avvistare anche l’isola malese di Langkawi. 

Se vi capita però di imbarcarvi con mare agitato evitate di salire per ultimi perché la compagnia, 

imbarca a nostra insaputa, più passeggeri dei posti a sedere creando non pochi disagi durante la navigazione a coloro che rimango in piedi o peggio ancora seduti a prua sui sedili.

Per quelli invece che saranno comodamente seduti da metà barca sino a poppa, si preparino a fare un bagno con schizzi più o meno forti d’acqua di mare per tutto il tempo di navigazione sino all’arrivo perché la velocità del motoscafo non accennerà a diminuire neanche con onde molto alte.


Da Ko Lanta a Ko Lipe

Prezzi a persona 

1300 B via terra + nave 9 ore 

1600 B con nave 6 ore

1900 B motoscafo 3 ore

Abbiamo optato per la traversata con nave a 1300 B. 

La traversata tranquilla con motonave Fortune express 1 della compagnia tiger line, la nave di fabbricazione malese, un po’ datata, molto caldo nei posti passeggeri in coperta mentre nel piccolo ponte si può stare in circa 15 / 20 persone quasi tutti al sole ma con la brezza del mare e la vista di alcune bellissime isole dell’arcipelago di Trang dove facciamo scalo a prendere i passeggeri che devono scendere oppure salire. 

Durante la traversata oltre agli sbarchi in mare c’è uno sbarco ad un molo e riescono a salire un po’ di venditori locali con frutta, pollo fritto e bevande che sono presi d’assalto dai turisti affamati e accaldati compreso noi. 

Dopo 5 ore circa arriviamo a Ko Lipe davanti a Pattaya Beach, bellissima spiaggia ma rovinata nel mare dalle decine di long tail boat e sulla terraferma da un’infinIta’ di ristoranti, hotel e discoteche.

Sicuramente il primo impatto dell’isola e’ deleterio per i miei gusti. Non è la Thailandia che amo.

In the wine region between Bibbona, Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci

After a long absence, this afternoon I wanted to go back to the countryside between the hills and sea in the lower province of Livorno, which even in this wintry season, looks extremely suggestive and that can give, to those passing through, a serenity that only places like this can transmit.
Taking the provincial road SP 16A from Bibbona towards Castagneto Carducci, the landscape offers rolling hills that slope down towards the sea with a succession of olive groves, vineyards and forests of holm-oak and oak trees. Here and there, there are ploughed fields, which in this period are a bright brown colour thanks to the light rainfall over the last few days, and vines stripped of their leaves, waiting to be pruned.
In the 5km that separate Bibbona and the Avenue of Cypresses at Bolgheri, you come across a number of agritourism farms and country houses and the entrance, at the 3km point along the provincial road SP16A, to the ‘Tenuta di Biserno’, an estate that produces excellent wines.  
Continuing along this provincial road, you arrive at the Avenue of Cypresses, which connects San Guido to Bolgheri “in duplice filar” [“in double rows”], as the poet Giosuè Carducci recounts.  

After a few minutes on this cypress-lined avenue going towards Bolgheri, you reach the beginning of the town, that today presented itself with the sun illuminating the castle facade, while in the background the sky didn’t look any too promising.  

 If, at the junction of the provincial road, rather than going to Bolgheri, you turn right towards the sea, after about 1 km there is the junction with the provincial road SP16B that, from the Avenue of Cypresses reaches Castagneto Carducci and where, along the way, you pass all the best Super Tuscan wineries. I look forward to telling you about these in one of my next articles.

The ruins of the largest copper mine in Europe are to be found in Tuscany.

My interest in mines led me to visit the Camporciano Mine at Montecatini Val di Cecina in the province of Pisa on 4th December, on the day that 170 years of the feast of St. Barbara, patron saint of miners, was celebrated.
The Camporciano Mine was the largest copper mine in Europe.
The ore was first mined in the period of the Etruscans (600 BC) when they came from Volterra to extract the precious mineral that was useful to them for utensils and furnishings, it was exploited through the centuries up to 1907, when the final closure was decreed.
The Alfredo Well, the hub of the mine from where the valuable copper was extracted, had a depth of over 300 metres.
In the early 2000’s, thanks to the Mayor Renzo Rossi, the town council followed with attention with the partial safety measures and restructuring of the principal structures of the mine, creating a very suggestive museum park of industrial archaeology. It is possible to visit and is located about half a mile from the town of Montecatini Val di Cecina, in the north of the metalliferous hills. Today there are guided tours of the mining complex and the Alfredo Well.IMG_9076.PNG

Grand Cayman, a paradise set between Mexico and Jamaica

In recent years, we have often heard people talk about Grand Cayman for reasons other than those that made me go and visit it. A pearl in the Caribbean located between Jamaica and Mexico that together with two other islands, Little Cayman and Bric Brac, makes up the Cayman Islands.
I arrived in the capital, George Town with the American Airlines scheduled flight from London Heathrow via Miami, the last flight from Miami to George Town took about an hour.
The small airport, characteristic of a Caribbean island, is distinctive for the photos you see in the arrivals hall of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, to remind us that we are on territory of Her Majesty, the Queen of England.
For the few days I was in George Town, I stayed at the Marriot situated on the incredible Seven Mile Beach. A fantastic hotel with all the comforts and impeccably organised, the unforgettable breakfast and restaurant with the marvellous chef, Pepin.
Seven Mile Beach is the main beach of Grand Cayman with very fine coralline sand, crowded around the hotels, but if you want more privacy it is possible to also find more private areas of the beach; don’t miss talking a walk in the evening to watch the spectacular sunset.
In the days that I was on the island I just had to do some diving, given that there are so many interesting dive sites and with inviting water temperatures of up to 28 degrees.
Without doubt, I was most fascinated by the dive inside the Kittiwake shipwreck that lies at a depth of about 20 metres and where you can go into the hyperbaric chamber of the ship in which there is an air bubble in the upper section. Many fish swim around the wreckage, reminding us that we are in the Caribbean.
Another very good dive was at theOro Verde Wall where once you’ve made the giant leap from the boat you go down into the 500-metre deep blue waters, changing direction you reach the tip of a large rock that emerges from these blue waters, with a depth of 25 metres and steep walls and from which it’s great to see all the big fish passing by and thousands of colourful fish on the reef.
Another experience, this time without oxygen, and obviously inside the lagoon where the sea isn’t more than five metres deep and with the protection of the reef itself, you can go by boat to the area Stingray City and see the stingrays up close and who wants to, can be caressed by the crystal clear waters.
After leaving Stingray City, again by boat, it is must to stop off at Rum Point for a tasty grilled fish on the beach.
For the evening after having returned to George Town, I can recommend the waterfront restaurant, ‘Da Toniwhere you can eat great fish dishes and there is an ample variety of international wines.
I leave this paradise with a hint of melancholy and I thank all my friends for the days spent together and the excellent hospitality.20140301-162018.jpg20140301-162113.jpg


A town by the ocean in Brazil submerged by sand dunes

I arrived in Itaunas (Espirito Santo) from Arrajal d’Ajuda via Euanopolis, where I took the connection for Santo André and from there to Conceicao da Barra to end my journey by taking the bus from Conceicao da Barra to my destination.
If I hadn’t had to wait for the connection for Conceicao da Barra from 3am to 12pm, it would have been an normal journey with 3 simple connections. To spend nine hours in the middle of the night in a bus station in an average Brazilian town is however, an adventure within an adventure.
Let me be clear, I am not talking about security, far from it, but the waiting around with nothing to do in a place that begins to slowly come alive at 3 in the morning, when it is possible to closely observe Brazil, the real one, with all its contradictions and its pluses.
Waiting at the Rodoviaria meant that I also met two globetrotting French people on their 6 month journey around South America who had the same destination as me and so we ended up being together for 2 days.
Finally by 4pm we reached Itaunas , with its typical streets of sand, that make the town look like a place from another era, almost unreal, perhaps also because of its geographical position that makes it difficult to reach from the main roads.
The carnival in February enlivens Itaunas, but even more people arrive in July for the Forro’ Festival,a typical dance of the north-eastern area and that is known of all over Brazil.
In the days when I was staying there, there must have been just fifty tourists, so it was easy and cheap to find a place to sleep or to eat in the few restaurants that were open and where you can enjoy the tasty Moqueqa dell’Espirito Santo, a vegetable and fish soup.
It is worth visiting the beach at Itaunas that can be reached from the Sand dunes that lie between the sea and today’s town but that covers the entire old town that was built between 1750-1800 after cutting down the forest that lay close to the beach. In 1930, thanks to the continual wind on the beach, little by little the old houses disappeared under the sand and the houses moved back to their current position.
The beach is part of the Estadual de Itaunas Park,a 3,674 hectare nature reserve which stretches for 25 km along the coast and has 20-30 metre high sand dunes. You will see many animals there, including monkeys, sloths, armadillos (tatú) and many others. The park is also one of the bases of the Projeto Tamar and in February I was able to witness, together with the biologists, the hatching of the eggs and the turtles entering the ocean to start their new life.