|At the start of L'Aperitivo Italiano last Wednesday|
I flew in last night, after our very successful L'Aperitivo Italiano event on Wednesday, organised together with the Italian Chamber of Commerce, the Embassy of Italy and the Dante Alighieri Society.
It's a pretty full weekend, beginning with a nice dinner tomorrow with some college friends from the Ateneo who are also flying into Tokyo for a week of fun.
SUNDAY AT A BEACH
30 MINUTES AWAY FROM TOKYO
Then on Sunday, it's a day at the beach at the pretty swish estate of one of my master of the universe friends in Tokyo, complete with a private mountain, renovated antique Japanese farmhouses with wine cellars and all, underground speakers all over the estate so that you hear your favourite songs wherever you are on the property, and waterfalls created by a famous landscaper.
Ordinarily it's about a three-and-a-half hour drive from Tokyo along a remote area of the Chiba peninsula that's pretty hard to get to.
The best way to get here used to be by helicopter.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE
AN UNDERWATER HIGHWAY MAKES
But several years ago, a new underwater highway, ten minutes long underwater, was opened to this particular area of Chiba, giving people willing to pay the steep highway tolls an incredible shortcut from Tokyo.
This highway literally cuts across the sea, but about 300 feet underground.
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THE MOST EXPENSIVE TOLLROAD
IN THE WORLD
The last time I drove this highway, it was something like US$100 one-way in toll fees -- and therefore US$200 roundtrip -- for this 10-minute underwater drive that shortened a 3.5 hour trip into 40 minutes.
This was once dubbed the most expensive tollroad in the world, and it probably still is. But it sure is worth it.
10 MINUTES SHORTER
BECAUSE OF TOKYO'S NEWEST HIGHWAY
Then just this morning, I heard that Tokyo's newest underground highway, with an exit literally outside my neighborhood, connects with this underwater tollroad, further shaving 10 minutes from the trip.
So now, a pristine beach without crowds or pollution, is 30 minutes away door-to-door by car. No traffic either. Because it's quite pricey, so few cars use this route.
20 MINUTES TO HANEDA AIRPORT
This same highway also cuts across a heavily populated suburban area of Tokyo, albeit underground, to head straight into central Tokyo. So now, Haneda Airport is 20 minutes away by car from my house via this new highway.
Not bad at all. And that's what I call a real lucky #Travelife.