Bonifacio and T Mobile Rant

What’s up

Before describing our time in Bonifacio I want to catch you up on where we are and current plans.  We are in Elba, a small Italian island off the west coast of Italy.
Ice Floe has been scheduled to be shipped to St Thomas, US Virgin Islands from Genoa, Italy between October 25 and November 5.  Even that broad window of time is not certain.  We are sailing to Genoa, arriving on October 15 to get her ready for shipment and to ensure we have cleared customs before our grace period expires for Ice Floe’s stay in the European Union without being subject to a costly value added tax.
It will take approximately 10 days for her to arrive in St. Thomas and we will meet her there.  We will need some time to get her all set up and then we will fly home to join the Thanksgiving holiday at Allison’s and Mike’s home.
We will be voting by absentee ballot.

T Mobile Rant

We could not have been more pleased with how well the T Mobile UNLIMITED international cellular and data plan has worked for us this year.  Unfortunately, there is some small print in the contract that indicates they can block roaming on your phone if your roaming use is uninterrupted for 3 months.  Interestingly, T Mobile sales representatives and customer service representatives are not aware of this policy.  George received notification his service would be turned off within a month.  During that time he spent many hours on the phone with customer service to see what alternative plan we might enroll in.  They vehemently denied that his service would be turned off.  They said “It is unlimited”.  Even as he read the notification to them they continued to deny it.
Here is the real kicker – George’s roaming service has been PERMANENTLY  blocked (as in his phone number will never be able to get data outside the US with T Mobile).

My phone number will be up soon.  It has hardly been used these past months.  This does not matter because the clause the restriction is to the length of time you predominantly use roaming – not about the amount of use.

So…. in the very near future we will have difficulty with Internet access – our phone and text services will not be effected.  Internet is a necessity as George needs to check multiple weather models each day to keep us safe.

Oh well – we are deep into our research of what plan may work for us in the Caribbean.

Now let me tell you about Bonifacio

Approaching Bonifacio Old Town

Allison, Mike, Riley and Tristan joined us in Sardinia on August 21st.  It needs to be said that I could not be more grateful that our children have carved out vacation time from their many obligations in the “Real World” to join us in our “Dream come true World”.

Allison and Mike took the spare cabin and Riley and Tristan slept in the workroom – Riley in an ample, if slim, nest on the counter top;  Tristan in a hammock that failed to grow as much as Tristan had over the past year.  Tristan did not seem terribly daunted by this fact and took to sleeping with his legs draped out along the hammock sides.

A bad weather system called a Mistral was forecast during their stay with us.  A Mistral is a strong, cold, dry, northerly wind in France.  The strong winds of a Mistral and the large swells that develop, make for uncomfortable, at best, sailing and anchoring.

One item on everyone’s “Choose your own vacation itinerary” was to visit old towns and castles.   So…We decided to sail the short distance (~ 7 miles) across to Corsica and spend several days in Bonifacio.

The Citadel and Old town of Bonifacio were built in the 9th century on the top of white, limestone, cliffs which are about 230 feet above sea level.  Legend has it that a staircase, named the Staircase of Aragon, was hand-carved out of the limestone in a single night by soldiers of King Aragon during a siege in 1420.  However, it is widely believed that it was carved out by Franciscan monks long before King Aragon’s reign.  The staircase leads to a spring with fresh water.

Staircase of Aragon showing modern safety
Staircase of Aragon visible as diagonal line

Allison longed to climb the stairs and Riley was quick to second her desire.  I said I was not going to pay 5 euros to climb 187 stairs (said playfully, but sincerely).  By the end of our stay in Bonifacio we must have climbed 10 times that many stairs, but we never did climb these fabled ones.

I feel a little bad about that.

The town overlooks a natural harbor that now includes a modern marina.

This large, natural, harbor is both beautiful and unique in Corsica
Ramparts at edge of remaining cliff

The cliffs have been undermined by the sea and portions of the Citadel walls and some residences seem precariously perched at the edge of of overhanging cliffs.  There is conspicuous evidence of large portions of what was once part of the cliff down below.

Portions of what once was a part of the cliff lie below
Note reinforcement of the cliff face

Despite the appearance of imminent collapse, I trust a close eye is kept on this national treasure to ensure it will be kept safe for centuries to come.

Old Town

For our first visit to the Old Town, we rode a small “train”, similar to the one we rode to Monet’s gardens with Margaret and Burt.  From that point on we hiked up the 200+ feet – George and I likely made the trip 2-3 times a day – Allison, Mike, Riley and Tristan surely were up and down more often than that.

The climb sure felt more steep than this picture shows

We explored the narrow streets, and like much of Corsica, found few adornments compared with Old Towns on the France mainland.

We followed gravel paths beyond the town that led us to beautiful new views of the town, cliffs, and an old cemetery.

We must have taken 20 pictures of these cliffs.  This one, taken by Mike, is my favorite.
Defensive walls surrounding the ancient town complement the protection afforded by the cliffs
This cemetery in Bonafacio, like of most we saw in Corsica, was entirely above ground.

Many shops were essentially man-made caves carved out of the stone.

This candy store had a narrow entryway and continued deep into the mountain.

Riley and Tristan are great travelers.  They want to see and try every new thing and are always up to pose for a picture.

Tristan was excited to see a castle and unfortunately there is no castle, per se in Bonafacio.  On top of that, the fort was closed.  It appeared to have been converted to a school.

More stairs!

George hung a line from the mast so the kids could swing (when we were not under sail).

Tristan went first and suffered quite a bit until we got the harnesses padded better.

We (especially Tristan) were antsy for the beach so we climbed up to old town and then down to a small beach.

The water was rough from the mistral so no one swam but we spent a nice day climbing rocks, conversing, and searching for sea glass.

Wine bottles make great beach glass

The following morning Allison, Mike, Riley and Tristan were still in search of a beach where they could swim.  They set off on a hike that lasted a good part of the day.

They climbed up one tall hill and down into another valley over and over again.  Their fit-bit estimated they climbed the equivalent of 137 flights of stairs and walked 9-10 miles.

They had encountered a number of beautiful beaches along the way but never could decide which one to swim at.

May your lives and ours be filled with many more days like these.

Riley is missing because she took this great picture

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