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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend in Corsica

After a busy preceding week at the Tour de France, as well as in the Champagne region with our friends – we took the 75 minute flight from Paris down to the French island of Corsica early Friday morning.  The island is situated in the Mediterranean.  Here’s what we were up to over the last 4 days.

1) In search of our own little beaches

We picked out a small ‘villa’ a kilometer or so from Bonifacio, which is a small port town at the southern tip of the island. This gave us a good location to wander daily to various beaches.  Since this portion of the island is almost 3 hours from the biggest airport up north, it’s far less touristed.  As a result, you can pop around from beach to beach with ease in a rental car – often just hiking your way down to your own little beach.  Or, a beach with only a few people on it.

For example, this one:

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Or this one:

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And then of course this one:

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Amongst others that we visited.  We’d usually just hang out for a few hours, and then drive 5-15 minutes to another one (also sometimes involving a short hike). Really the best way to do it!

There was mostly just a lot of playing around in the water and having fun.  The clarity and visibility in the water was great!

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Plus, the water was just the right temperature that it didn’t feel too warm or too cold.

2) Some Stand Up Paddle Boarding

About 3-4KM from our place was a beach that rented all sorts of water toys, including stand up paddleboards.  So we decided to go in search of more secluded beaches via paddle board.

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We ended up paddling about 1KM outbound along the cliff edges.  The only challenge was that the winds were howling through this area across the bay (out to sea), which would ultimately make it incredibly difficult to get back.

So instead we just plopped on a beach at what would become the turnaround point:

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Then, we made the journey across the windiest part of the channel, before edging closer to shore for a bit of a break from the wind.

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And then ultimately the trek the rest of the way back to shore.  I’ve only done some limited stand-up paddle boarding in the past, but it was definitely pretty cool – and far easier than I remembered/expected.  If I lived on the water, I’d definitely do it more often.  But living in the city makes that less of an inviting proposition.

3) Lots of testing of the GoPro Hero4 Session

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For the past week I’ve been busily testing the GoPro Hero4 Session*.  Between spending some time at the Tour de France last week, an unexpected upgrade to a BMW convertible within the Champagne region of France, and a trip to a tropical island – there’s been some sweet footage captured.

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Of course, capturing sweet footage doesn’t mean the unit itself is completely sweet as well.  I’m kinda mixed on it – there are some aspects that I love.  For example, the size of course, and the frame mount are both really well executed on.  As is the fact that it’s totally waterproofed.  And the quality is more than sufficient for most people’s needs (no doubt the Hero4 Silver is better of course – but in a larger size).

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On the flip side, the way they’ve configured the buttons (from a software standpoint) is just horrendous.  Seriously, how did this aspect ever make it out of the labs?  It’s super finicky and totally non-intuitive if you want to do anything other than start a video.  Further, while they suggest use of the Smart Remote, that doesn’t allow you to do things like switch from regular 1080p mode to high speed 720p (i.e. 100fps) mode.  That requires your phone – which is less than ideal when you’re floating in the water.

Hopefully GoPro will come to their senses and re-arrange the software on the buttons to just match what they’ve done for years on other models (every review has appropriately slammed them on this).  It’s really the biggest turn-off in the device for me.

In any event, here’s a short montage video I put together from the trip – shot fully on the Hero4 Session without any video correction/modification:

As you can see, things came out quite well.  I also used a dual mount on many of the shots, so I have identical footage from a Hero4 Silver at the same time – which I’ll include in my in-depth review.

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(*Side note: One day I should write a post on how much better or worse certain companies do when it comes to their PR activities and effort they put into ensuring you have what you need  (when you need it) to do a proper review.  It’s impressive to see the wide range of differences that exist, even from big companies.  This is a perfect example of where they were able to get me the camera in time for a trip to a cool locale that I could really get the most out of it.  Whereas other companies struggle to get units.  Sorta the case of early bird gets the worm.)

4) Some inadvertent off-roading

Sometimes when I’m feeling adventurous I’ll just look at Google Maps hybrid satellite view and see if we can get to a given destination without any assistance on routing.  Usually in cases where I want to override what the directions are otherwise telling me.  One simply looks at the roads and then just follows the little blue dot.

Most times that works out.  But on rare occasions, it does not.  This would be one of those occasions in search of a beach where it definitely did not.  We got to what should have been the road connecting to a different road – only to find gigantic concrete barriers.

Unfortunately we had assumed we’d be able to continue one-way through this dirt road in our front-wheel drive rental car.  We hadn’t quite considered the implications of having to go back up some of the things we drove down on our beach quest.  Most notably this section:

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As always, the camera makes things look far less sketchy – but it took three tries to find the exact tire path up this section of rutted out and somewhat steep roadway that the car didn’t get stuck on.

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Obviously, we recorded it…all three attempts.  I included the most successful finishing attempt within the montage video.  This was also one of the ones where I dual-recorded Hero4 Session & Hero4 Silver.

5) Eating and Relaxing

Finally, in addition to much beaching, we also did a fair bit of eating – mostly at the little villa.  We cooked dinner each night outdoors on a grill, primarily with copious amounts of meat and cheese (and wine).

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Really, lots and lot of meats and cheeses.

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The villa had a private pool and gardens that was shared with a much larger 18-person villa (ours was like the maid’s quarters in comparison, to the right of the pool).  So we relaxed a bit there.

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But somewhat oddly the owners of the villa would also relax there each day.  So it sorta made you feel like someone was watching over you.  And kinda took away the ‘private’ part of ‘private villa’.  If it wasn’t for that, we’d definitely rent there again as the location and property is stunning.  But with so many other options in Corsica easily bookable online, we’d probably stay somewhere else next time purely due to the overseers.

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Still – we had an awesome time on the island.  It’s nice in that it’s a bit off of the North American tourist routes, so it tends to be much calmer than other beach spots in Europe.  We figure it would also likely be awesome in the September/October timeframe too.

With that – thanks for reading!

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40 Comments

  1. Turn The Damn Cranks

    Seems like a great week! And a Lucy shot is always welcome.

    Quick question — which mount did you use to attach the GoPro to the paddleboard? Seems like you wouldn’t want anything permanent on a rental, but that doesn’t look like a suction cup.

    Thanks!

    • I used the sticker one on the SUP, which in retrospect I should have done earlier. They come off super-easy with a credit card (tip of the day for rental cars/etc…).

      Unfortunately, shortly after that scene where you see The Girl hanging out next to the boat, the camera got swiped off into the water. Thus requiring some moderately deep water retrieval (about 30ft down).

      Obviously just a case of not waiting enough time after application, since I plopped the mount on there and then we paddled 5-10 mins later. I wasn’t terribly concerned since most of where we were it was fairly shallow and I figured I could get it if it wandered

      On the car, I used the suction cup mount.

  2. Stepan

    Next time, drive the front wheeler backwards, when going uphill.

  3. Joe E

    Go Pro vid was pretty cool.

  4. Reg

    Thansk for the great post, sounds like you guys had a good weekend!

  5. cj

    And what salami is that? It looks definitely yummy!

  6. jey350

    Ray,

    I like you but you make me upset this time…
    Why did you blog about this small piece of paradize ?!?
    Beautiful sea, nice mountains, incredible food and wine. It’s like cote d’azur in much better.
    I spend all my summer holidays in Corse and I don’t want to many people comes too 😉

  7. Matthew Weigel

    So… Paris Triathlon?

  8. Thomas Chan

    Hi Ray,

    Just noticed the girl was holding the SUP paddle backwards. The blade should angle away from the paddler (to create a more positive blade angle during the catch/entry phase of the stroke).

    Cheer 🙂

  9. Robert

    That water is amazingly clear! Looks like a great time had by all!

  10. David

    I’m sure the Girl appreciates you including the video of her struggles with the paddle board. 🙂

  11. Jorge

    I’m wondering what happened to the DC Rainmaker podcast. It’s gone from iTunes.

  12. Paul K

    Corsica looks amazing. I am going in a few weeks and was wondering where the beach that you jumped from the rocks into the water is? Really want to try it out! Glad you had a nice time and thank you.

    • I don’t see a specific trail name to the beach. But here’s the GPS coordinates: 41.378064, 9.174073

      You can just plop that into Google Maps. You’ll see the road (D260) off to the east of that, it’s perhaps a 7-10 minute hike down to the beach from there, which is where the rocks are. Really cool place.

      Essentially just take the road south out of Bonifacio towards the lighthouse. Enjoy!

  13. Great post again thanks Ray. I was wondering how much stuff you take with you on a trip like this? Just to put this video together: link to youtube.com I had to take the three cameras of course but then loads of different combinations of mounts to give me options and of course all the chargers. It really adds up.

    • A fair bit of stuff. 😉

      On this trip, camera wise I had:

      – GoPro Hero4 Session
      – GoPro Hero4 Silver
      – Canon 7D DSLR
      – Nikon 1 Waterproof DSLR
      – A medium sized pile of mounts (perhaps a soccer balls sized pile of them)
      – DJI Phantom 3 drone (with camera)

      Tomorrow is ‘worse’ in that respect as I’m headed on a sailboat trip for a week. I’ll have pretty much the same as above, plus another 2-3 GoPro’s and then potentially also the VIRB XE (if FedEx/customs cooperate this morning).

    • I assume that you didn’t list all the chargers you need for this stuff. With that number if gadgets I assume you need a fair few chargers unless you wake up every couple of hours to swap over what’s charging!
      Do you have a release date for the Virb XE? I thin I’ll probably be getting one.

    • Yeah, for charges it’s actually messier on the watch side. On this trip I had: Epix, Ambit3, V800, FR225, 920XT, and something else I’m forgetting. Each of them requiring their own little chargers.

      For cams the Session uses micro-USB. For the Hero4 I use the dual battery charger, but then in turn plug that into a dual-high amperage wall USB outlet that can charge two devices there. The DSLR cameras for this trip I just charged up a pile of batteries since those last forever.

      In theory since the final media sample for the XE was sent to me Monday, it’s now also shipping to someone (somewhere). In theory… (that’s the way they’ve been doing it lately).

    • I feel you’re pain (to a lesser extent). It’s a real problem these days going on a trip and making sure I have all the kit – AND all the stuff to charge the kit!

      I have a slight win here as I have a Moto 360, a Nexus 7 and a Nexus 6 so all of those can be charged via a Qi charger so I can save a little there.

      Thanks for answering my questions – you really do a fantastic job on this site. Will buy by XE through your affiliation link as I like to support your site when I can.

    • Thanks for the support, I appreciate it!

    • Huso

      Hi Ray,

      will there be an in-depth review for the epix?

      thanks

  14. Mich

    Hello Ray,

    Thanks for all this great articles and review that you provide on your blog.

    Quick question, between the GoPro Sesssion and Hero 4 silver, which one is the best image quality or which one you recommend ?
    Thanks for your answer and have a nice day.

    • Definitely the Silver for quality (both in range with available resolutions, as well as comparing equal resolutions).

      In general, I’d still recommend the Silver, unless there’s a specific use case you have for the smaller Session.

  15. John B

    The pod cast has become a weekly part of my commute home. I enjoy the banter between you and Ben. It’s the right mix of goofy game show/talk show host (Ben) and person speaking with authority (Ray). I’ll keep listening. However, I do wonder at times if I need to continue reading the blog.

    • Thanks, glad you’re enjoying!

      Hopefully once I get beyond next week you’ll see an increase of content here on the blog. Been a bit congested with various stuff the last month, but like when you clear the traffic jam – lots of free time starting the day the TdF ends. 🙂

  16. Kevin

    You can make a rock solid car mount for BMWs and most other German cars by using the tow bolt, a bolt, a couple washers and a tripod mount. The tow bolt should be in the toolkit in the trunk.

    You can screw it into the front or back bumper and not worry about it falling off.

    Buy a couple tripod mount compatible bolts in different lengths. Buy a selection of wide washers with small holes for the bolt (you may have to buy a smaller washer to bridge the gap in the big washers)

    Assembly: take the tripod bold and add one or two washers. Insert that assembly through the tow bolt. Stack more washers on the top of the tow bolt. Use them as shims and stack enough of them that the tripod mount will screw down tight.
    Screw the tow bolt into the bumper. You can mount the camera above or below the tow bolt

    I use a little threadlok because my tow bolt is about 15 degrees off horizontal when it’s screwed in all the way.

  17. Alfie Karman

    ty for this and the earlier stuff. GP h4 here we come

  18. Corsica is magic ! love it ! Do the GR 20 trail path one day… it’s magic !

  19. Pat Mountford

    Hi Ray, very cool destination and on the list! Was looking at the 5th photo, the one where all four of you are suspended in the water. How did you take this shot? Was the camera sitting on a reef with timer set?

    Thanks
    Pat

    • It’s funny, there was a random buoy that was submerged a few feet underwater. Not really sure why, but it was tied to the ground. The camera perfectly floated on the top of the buoy. 🙂

  20. Sorin

    So here I am, mid-working week, already 30 degrees C at 10 AM, trying to get my job (at least apparently) done, and instead opening dcrainmaker feed to read about self-punishment and sweat in some mind-boggling race which I would never even be able to think about finishing, just so I could, in a sick twisted way, feel better.

    Instead I get THIS! Thank you very much for ruining my already miserable day 🙂

    On a more serious note: great pictures, great places. Also try Sardegna next time, similar landscapes and isolated beaches, but with excellent seafood (or horse meat, if you’re into that) instead of salami and cheese 😉

  21. Ken daullary

    Ray, is that a big plate of soppresata!! Looks delicious. As always great post

    Cheers!