Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Letter to Maggie: Best Way to Tour Europe by Boat

2012 07 10 (8 days to go on the Schengen Clock)
Yassmine Hammamet, Tunisia


Thanks for the review. Marina di Ragusa is the winter destination for sure.  The only thing better would be the Canary Islands.

Meredith leaves Tunisia on July 18 the date we are once again "legal" (by our passport stamps) to reenter the Schengen Zone.  Once out of Tunisia we will bounce off Malta and perhaps Lampiduza, see as much of Greece as we have to before turning around and getting out of here.  

Egypt was a good bet earlier but with the latest constitutional showdown between Arab Brotherhood and the Courts a visit looks less likely by the day.  

Ten days into our stay we loved Tunisia.  After twenty the love has subsided.  Unrelenting heat, absence of meat and entertainment and clothing have left us somewhat disaffected. Xenophobic uniculture is so damn boring.  I would not say the countries of the Med are racist exactly but they are a lot closer to racist than not racist. 

I would kill for a decent pad thai but fear I must head for the next continent (east or west) to find such a thing.

Local people are very welcoming and we have spent several days in the homes and company of very generous gentle compassionate people.  We like the Tunisians we have met.  (not including taxi drivers and the grasping thieving merchants and customs guys)

Boats leaving Hammamet this morning (the three americans) were all hit up for baksheesh.  No pay no papers.  If unchecked this pernicious practice will destroy any attempts by the Tunisian government to build tourism or develop small business export markets.

In part we blame our disaffectation on our status as exiles from Europe.  As you know not that all the thievery is personal. 

We have been watching the new Italian boat tax, originally imposed on all  boats but (when that caused boats to flee the jurisdiction)  "clarified" to assure boat owners that the new tax would only apply to boats in Italy owned by Italian residents.  

Once the boats returned the law was further clarified to include boats regardless of flag or domicile of owner where the boat had an Italian captain.  This month there was yet further clarification to include any boat carrying Italian crew.  

Next week we expect to hear the tax will be imposed if you serve spaghetti on your boat.  

It is not just the tax but the burden of keeping tabs on it all.  Way too much paperwork.

From your descriptions it sounds as  if Sicily is a great place to visit for a while and from Marina di Ragusa we can always stage to Rome and Naples and Venice and Genoa.   All of which confirms the general view amongst North American boaters we have met that the best way to see Europe by boat is to leave the boat at home.  

Thursday we hope to make Ej Jem for a concert in the coliseum by the Hungarian National symphony and 100 violins.  Then we head to Dougga and Bulla Regia for a final sight see.  On the weekend we join Tarek and Fatma (the lawyer and doctor who own the boat beside us)  for a family wedding and overnighter in Tunis.  

And then we must stare down the customs dudes when they demand pay for papers.  

But we will be away and that is what counts.

Bob and Connie 

1 comment:

  1. What an adventure. It does prove though that too long in one place gets very boring. We are now back in newport at our old marina. You can never go back after so long away. We paid for the month...probably a year's docking where you are...so we cut the lines on the 24th to float around the bay and islands. Can't wait. When are you coming back?