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G + 21 : Epilogue - Reflection on Duties


There were stars in the sky at 5.30 am when it was time to get up. The flight to Nice was scheduled for 07.40 am. Plenty of time for coffee and to enjoy the morning view of Ibiza’s old town. The cab was late - of course - but it did not matter. Reserve time takes the stress out of travelling.


The cold Tramontana had made short shrift of the clouds over the island. Visibility was excellent and I was hoping the flight path would take us over the route we sailed the last two weeks. And so it did. The beautiful west coast of Mallorca passed below, also Port Mahon which we could not visit, Marseille, Cassis, Toulon, Fréjus, Antibes, Cannes and Nice followed. We were flying right over Saint-Tropez – would love to have a glass floor!

Marseille from above - the Greek Port in the Center - the Calanques of Cassis at bottom


From 30’000 feet high, the Ligurian coast looks peaceful and prosperous. It was so for ages until it was drawn into the conflict between two great powers: Carthage and Rome. Neither was interested in the territory but needed it as transfer corridor. The Ligurian tribes were not united. Both parties played them. It became the fate of Liguria. Prosperous when left alone. Never able to unite. Suffered when others fought on its lands The French – Spanish wars had nothing to do with Liguria, neither the Ottoman – Spanish wars nor the fight between the Royal Navy and Napoleon.

Battle of Pavia 1525 in the Italian Wars between France and Spain - makes nice decorative Tapestry but are horrible for the People who live on their lands


Reminds me of my home country. Our Alpine passes are transit corridors too. But our ancestors united. Kicked out the Habsburg first. Then defeated the German Emperor. Followed by the Duke of Burgundy. Then Spain and France. We had our wars but no foreign wars on Swiss territory. You always have an army - either your own or your enemies’. Learnt that in officer school. Genoa could have led. But it selfishly only looked for itself.


The white Crests caused by the Mistral from high up


Visibility during the flight was superb. We could see 50 miles. As the flight approached Marseille, I noticed that the crests on the waves got larger and larger. They reached 2 m in height. Reminded me of the three days we were stuck in Porquerolles in the second week. Will never forget the whistling of the wind in the riggings and how the flags stood straight.

The Flags over the Capitainerie in Porquerolles at 7 am in the morning


The Greek traders who came here 3’000 years ago in their tiny boats knew how to deal with the unpredictable Mistral and protected their trade route with a string of ports. Chapeau! They not only were savvy business people, they also figured out the Riviera’s weather pattern. Having sailed into Marseille a week ago, I now understand why they choose it as their main harbour. It lacked water and food. But it was safe. Water and food can be bought. Safety cannot. It is a perfect example of how weather pattern write human history. Do the tourists visiting Antibes to go to the Picasso Museum think about the Mistral and the Greek? Probably not. But the Mistral is the reason the town exists. .

Antibes from the Air on the Way back to Nice on Saturday Morning


Last but not least, the citadel of Ibiza continues to puzzle me. It is on the scale of Malta. A frontier town to the Ottoman Empire. Malta was besieged in 1565 and stopped the Ottoman expansion to the Wesr. The Spanish Kingdom spent a hell of a lot on wars. Was it worth it? The Ottomans were defeated. yes. But France was not. Nor the Dutch. Nor the protestant States in Germany. Once the silver inflow from Latin America slowed down, Spain had nothing to show for except fortresses,

The mighty Ramparts of Ibiza as seen from the top Platform - the Cathedral to the left


Many citizens of the Spanish Empire despised its rule. The Dutch broke away. The Kingdom of Sicily went its own way. So did Milan. And eventually the colonies in Latin America. The Spanish Kingdom did not create an identity as the United States in 1776. It expelled Jews, Moors and Moriscos -the most innovative of its people. Nor did the Empire provide economic opportunities for its Christian subjects. There was no vertical mobility. Just bureaucracy. If you were poor, you stayed poor. If you were noble, you were entitled. The silver from Bolivia could have transformed Spain into a global economic power house. It only made it a military power. And military power fades once the funding goes. Lessons for our inflationary spending today. Spain still stagnates.

The Yacht with the incident - Ibiza is one of Drug Capitals of the World


Our last day was also a sharp reminder of what else goes wrong in our societies. On the motor yacht next to us a 32-year-old man collapsed – too many drugs. too much alcohol. Cleo, our chef and nurse, went over to resuscitate but it was too late. The man passed away. He was wrapped in towels and laid at the back of the boat for two hours guarded by the Guardia Civil. Made me wonder why our rich and famous think using drugs is ok. Drug consumption on Wallstreet, in the City of London, Washington DC, Zurich and Geneva is at an all time high. Is there really nothing else in life that is enjoyable? Have we become so shallow? The selfish consumption hands entire countries over to drug lords and kills thousands of people every year. Does anybody care about the consequences? I guess it is time for a serious discussion. As a historian I must say it: no society survives when the elite abdicates responsibility. We are more than just a selfie that needs instant gratification.

There is nothing more Fun than Sailing the Day after the Mistral - here near Toulon


On this sobering note I close my blog for 2023. It is – for the time being - the end of our Genovese journey. We cannot do the leg from Istanbul to the Crimea due to the war. For the part from the Baleares to Seville it is very difficult to find a sail boat. We will resume if anything changes. For next year we follow the route of the Roman grain ships which brought every year 400 – 500’000 tons of wheat from Egypt to Rome. We would love to start in Alexandria. But too complicated. No yacht owner will let his ship go to Egypt. It was also the route which Apostle Paul took when - as Roman citizen - he insisted on being tried in Rome. We will start in Cyprus and make our way to Knidos, the ancient and abandoned town we visited in 2017. Planning starts shortly. We already have our eyes on a boat.

The Greek Double Harbour of Knidos we visited in 2017 - Saint Paul travelled through it




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