Schengen is the area comprising the greater part of continental Europe. They not only have a single currency (the Euro) but have shared travel control. This means, as a traveler, I have to exit after 3 months, and can stay for only 3 months in any 6-month span. This is a little different from many individual countries in that in these places, after the visa expires in 90 days, you simply have to leave for a short time, after which you can return and reset the clock. (Disclaimer: I haven’t researched any specific country’s “stay away” policy, since 3 months seems long enough to me to stay before moving on.) Nopers, sir, in the Schengen, if you stay for 90, you have to leave for 90 before you can return for another 90. Or so I understand. And that means exiting the bulk of Europe, and not returning for a minimum of 3 months.
I didn’t pay much attention to it when on my way to Spain, because I was only planning to spend a month there, and had no real plan at the time for after my month expired. Then, I went to Portugal for 2 weeks. OK, now I’ve used 6 of my allotted 12 weeks. On I go to Taormina. And now the problem.
I like it here, and it’s a great place to Covid-hunker. Low case rate, lots of space for me to ramble about and not get (literally) in anyone’s face, good food, good people, quiet (except for the neighboring dogs – fuck those guys). My short term plan had updated to stay here longer, a couple of months, maybe.
Then, last night I was reminded of Schengen by a fellow traveler I had met in Lisbon. (She's a Canadian who is now in Crete, and needs to exit about the same time I do, if you're curious.) I followed that up with some quick research, and learned that I can’t simply hop to, say, Malta ($15 round trip from Catania), for a weekend and return. Huh. I need to exit and cannot return for a while. Kind of a bummer when Omi is lighting up the planet, but I'm a law-abiding person, and the penalties for overstaying visas here can be severe. I put them in the same bin as fire, anything on Derek Lowe's list and wolverines of Things I Won't Play With.
So, I have to leave before the end of January. Guess I won’t be getting a new bottle of Scotch for the evening’s tipples after the current one is drained.