Staying longer in Europe
Regrettably, those two embassies apparently don''t know about the Schengen Treaty and are handing out bum dope...which isn''t all that surprising. E.g. the Dutch Embassy in London provides specific coaching on how Canadians & Americans can avoid Schengen limitations, while the Dutch Embassy in D.C. specifically says this is all but impossible.
Virtually all of coastal Europe, from Norway down thru the Western Med including Greece, are Schengen signatories, and Schengen limits citizens of non-Schengen countries to no more than 90 days (total, including all countries) of visitation in any 180 day period. No ''resetting the clock'' as with VAT exclusion. In practice, this rarely surfaces as an issue unless the officials have some other reason to be upset with you, in which case Schengen is a handy way to fine you and then toss you out. And of course some countries (Belgium stands out in our experience) are more diligent about this than others. In one case, Greece fined a U.S. yachty $500 in 2003 for overstaying his 90 day limitation by one day.
For more info on this consider visiting www.svsarah.com/Whoosh/Whoosh%20Main%20Page.htm and opening the Cruising in Europe section.