We had a busy week after we got home from the Greek trip on which we lost the camera. Hilary had some health check ups at the State Hospital in Kuşadası and we sent off for her residence permit (ours expire in different months due to a complex set of circumstances which involved an official thinking he was doing us a favour rather than making our lives more complicated). Actually getting a residence permit here in Turkey is a great deal easier than it used to be. It can all be done online and through the post and we now both have permits for two years – so no more of that hassle till 2019!
We then headed to London for a flying visit to family. Really only a long weekend but it was good to see them. Home for one day (just enough time to throw the clothes in the washing machine) then we were back to Lesvos. The very nice lady who was selling us the house had arranged to be out for a week so that we could visit the noter together and do all the legal stuff. It all went very smoothly and our estate agent took us all out for a very fine lunch to celebrate.
Next day we got the water and electricity put into our names. Then we moved into the house. The day after that we opened a bank account and got a mobile phone. Though, actually, the bank account was not properly opened as according to Greek law, you have to put 10K euro into an account to fully open it and that could not be arranged until we got back to Turkey.
We spent most of August at home. Both of our residence permits were safely delivered. Ashley updated his Turkish driving licence to the new format (an incredibly easy process). The guy in the Emniyet who told us what we needed to do didn’t know the url for making an appointment and advised us to Goggle for it. We now goggle for everything! He also gave us a slip of paper which listed all the paperwork we needed. Two new photos, a medical report from the family doctor, receipts for two payments from a government bank (the two payments totaled around 15 lira which is less than a fiver sterling) and his existing Turkish licence. We have a new family doctor surgery here in Selçuk so we took the opportunity to visit her. No one else was there and she and her assistants were very pleasant. Because Ashley wears glasses, he also had to go to the ophthalmologist in the state hospital here and get a vision report. We took all those things back to the Emniyet at the appointed time and, four days later, got a text message asking us to go back to the Emniyet and pick up the license.
What with the lost camera etc. this is not really a very photogenic post. The picture at the top shows the dog who frequently visits us in the Lesbian House!
For those UK citizens who are living in Turkey or maybe elsewhere outside of the UK and want to vote in the referendum. If you have a postal vote this may not be of much use since the earliest they will be sent out from the UK is 3rd June, so odds are we will get them sometime in July.
We spoke to the Electoral Commission about this. They provided the telephone number of Electoral Services where we are registered for a postal vote, in our case London Borough of Ealing. We now have the forms by email for a Proxy vote, these can be printed, completed, scanned and returned by email. In our case the Proxy may then have to apply for a postal vote but that too can all be done by email and return of email.
If you are a UK citizen living in Turkey or elsewhere and want to vote, then depending on your postal service this may be what you need to do.
For the record we’ll be voting In. Apart from all the other good reasons, this one. On the front of our passports it says European Union. This is really important, because many of the rights we have to live here (and the same is true of those living in the EU and some other countries) are predicated on agreements with the EU. Leave the EU, those agreements are at risk.
That said, the important thing here is democratic process, having the opportunity to vote.
A couple of weeks ago we went off to Izmir with a load of documents all in a nice pink file to renew our residence permits. Beforehand we had researched what was needed, most of which we had to hand or could scan at home. What was left was some sort of proof of health insurance. We have GSS, the state health insurance which is managed from the SGK office. We knew it was a bit of a catch 22, health insurance is needed in order to apply for a residence permit and a residence permit is needed to have the state health insurance. We were wondering if or when this might trip us up.
Anyway, we went to the SGK office and explained we needed proof of health insurance for our applications for a residence permit. They printed off some papers, stamped them, signed them and handed them to us. We put these in our pink files and dutifully headed for Izmir. In Izmir, we took a ticket and waited in line. Just as it was about to be our turn, the office closed for lunch. But we were told to keep our number. When the office re-opened we were first to be seen and, after a bit more running round paying fees and getting the receipts copied (an enterprising gentleman has set up a tea stall and photocopy service in the grounds) it was all done and paid for. Three hours from start to finish (including the one hour lunch break). We have proof that we have applied to extend our residency and all we need do now is wait for the new permits to arrive in the post, probably according to the police in Izmir in a month or two.
Then a week before official date of expiry of our existing residence permits, we headed to the local GSK office to renew our GSS. We were told it could not be done, that we cannot be entered onto the system until we have the new residence permits. This prompted a lot of running around before we established this was actually the case, that until the new residence permits arrive we cannot renew our GSS. This is because we can’t be reinstated on the system until we have the new permit number (our kimlik numbers, which will remain the same, are not sufficient).
Of course we still need to pay the GSS premium every month, despite not being able to claim on it, and right now we are left with no health insurance. It is rumoured that should we need hospital care we can claim the cost back when we can complete the GSS renewal, but this is rumour and it is not something we want to test. It is all a bit frustrating.
We have now got ourselves some accident cover so if one of us falls and breaks a leg it is covered. If we have an accident on the bike we are covered for injuries. It also covers breakdowns, accidental damage at home and some other bits, and given how little it cost was a pretty good deal.
Next year we will start it all earlier. Residence permits can be applied for up to 60 days in advance. Long enough normally for the new ones to arrive before the GSS needs to be renewed – well in theory. It is slightly more complex for us and with a tighter time frame because Ashley’s residence permit expires a month later than Hilary’s and despite Hilary being on Ashley’s GSS policy her cover expires when her residence permit expires. So we only have 30 days to play with, which we are hoping will be sufficient. The system is still new – it only came into force in April and, at some point, new offices will be set up so that applications will not have to be sent to Ankara to be processed. Perhaps that will be in place in time for next year, perhaps not…
What is a TÜVTÜRK you may well ask… Well, it’s a bit like an MOT in the UK – a kind of roadworthiness test that has to be taken by vehicles at regular intervals. Our bike needs one every two years and it’s now two years since we acquired it, the guy who sold it to us took it for a test before we could transfer ownership, so our test was due last Friday.
So, first we rode to Izmir, met our friend and got taken to the TÜVTÜRK istasyon in Bornova to make our appointment. We booked a slot for midday on Friday. We also had the bike pre-checked (for which we were not charged) by a friend of a friend. We will go back to him for a routine service as his place is very good (they even gave us tea and roasted chestnuts whilst we waited).
Friday saw us back at Bornova Istasyon ten minutes before our appointment. We were given a numbered ticket (keyed to appointment time) and asked to wait. At midday on the dot we were called up to a window where the bike papers were taken and we paid 84.75 lira for the test. We were sent round the back to wait for the test.
They have a real production line for the tests at Bornova. We waited whilst they tested a whole ‘batch’ of cars and a few trucks. This took about 45 minutes but it was interesting to watch the cars go over the ramps, have their headlamps measured, their spare wheels, safety belts and other bits and pieces checked out.
When it was our turn our headlight was measured, our indicators and brake lights checked, tyre tread (we have ordered new tyres but they haven’t arrived yet so this was a bit of a worry), frame number, engine number, suspension etc. etc. etc. then we went around the side of the building for our brake test. This involved Hilary running along beside the bike, translating instructions for Ashley.
We passed. Or rather the bike passed. We got our sticker. It was all very efficient and a great deal less complex that we had been led to believe. So that’s that for another two years.
On 20th November Ashley sent off all the paperwork to renew his passport, application form printed from the internet, old passport, proof of address, new photos, and the form for paying. This now goes to Liverpool (not Germany as it did for a few years). It was sent from the PTT (post office) via their courier service (EMS), which was pretty reasonably priced. It could be tracked on the PTT site to Istanbul, then on the Post Office site once in the UK, so we knew when it arrived.
A day later the Passport Office took the money. It cost slightly more than applying in the UK, the extra is for the courier back.
The day before yesterday we had a text from DHL. This resulted in a few emails and phone calls because there was apparently some issue with our address this was all swiftly resolved and yesterday a courier arrived…. We signed for the package, opened it eagerly thinking it must be the new passport. But no, it was the old one and a letter we had sent them as proof of address. This resulted in a phone call to the Passport Office to check what was going on. We learnt that they send two packages, one containing all the old material, and one containing just the new Passport. However they did provided us with a tracking number for the Passport and we quickly learnt the passport was at that time in Izmir.
Today it arrived. 15 days in total, from posting to the UK to back with us.
Today Ashley started the process of getting new glasses since his old ones are more than two years old and we were pretty certain the prescription had changed. We went with staff from the Optician in Kuşadası to a local hospital for an eye test, and learnt that for some unknown reason our GSS (Health Insurance) was no longer in place.
We paid for the eye examination (at 100 lira it was not unreasonable). It should have cost a lot less, but had we cancelled, gone to Tire to sort the insurance out, then back to Kuşadası, all the running around would have significantly eaten into any savings.
Back at the opticians we ordered the lenses, varifocal, transition, with anti-glare coating and scratch protection, at a very reasonable price. They will be fitted, into Ashley’s existing Flexon frames, and should be ready for collection on Friday afternoon. As part of the general customer service Ashley had his current lenses fitted into older frames, Hilary had hers adjusted and çay was provided.
Then since we were in Kuşadası and it was approaching lunch time we went for balık ekmek in the much improved square near the fish market. It was, as always, cheap and delicious. We did look into the fish market just in case there might be some tuna or swordfish – unfortunately no such luck. We did learn that the restaurant / locanta next to the fish market will cook fish bought by customers on the market. There was a good deal of trade in giant prawns, selling and cooking. Ashley may give this a try at some point.
We’d gone on the dolmuş in case the eye exam involved something that would make riding unwise but, once we got home with a few bits of shopping we hopped on the bike and went to the SGK office in Tire (about 35 km up the road in the opposite direction from Kuşadası). Which was fun and games as it is market day in Tire and, of course, we couldn’t resist a couple of purchases. Anyway, the people in the office were as puzzled as we were about why our insurance was suddenly stopped. They checked our documents, took some photocopies, filled out a form, and they reinstated it…
With all the issues we have had with GSS we will be checking in the pharmacy that we are both properly on the system, but they definitely did something, as we have now been able to pay our current premium.
About a week ago, Hilary fell over in the Artemis Temple and scratched her glasses. She also sustained some nasty bruises but those have gone now… The scratches were too deep to polish out and, whilst they had no drastic effects upon her vision, Hilary was due for an eye test anyway. So we decided to get her new glasses, involving a new eye test and a new prescription.
On Monday we went to Kuşadası to visit Lara Optik. They are highly recommended on the Kuşadası forum. Our confidence in the place was further boosted when a friend walked in at the same time as us. Necdet was very helpful and very personable. He arranged an appointment at Ada Göz, a private eye hospital which offers a hefty discount for people with GSS – the Government Health Insurance scheme in which we are enrolled.
We had an hour or so to spare so we went for tea at Guvercin garden, the Belediye run tea garden right on the waterfront. No cruiseships this time of year though the harbour was not exactly empty… It seems the US navy were in town although we did not see any sailors.
After tea one of the guys from Lara Optik gave us a lift to the Eye Hospital, whereupon we discovered that Hilary was not registered for GSS. Ashley was registered and Hilary should have been registered as his dependent… We ended up payıng for her eye test. 120 lira. Not unreasonable but somewhat annoying. For that she not only got an eye test and glasses prescription but examination, treatment and eye drop prescription for some irritation she’s been suffering recently.
Back to the optician for a discussion of options. Hilary chose some frames and expensive varifocal lenses All in all about what the same as the equivalent would have cost in the UK.
The next day we went to sort out the Health Insurance problem. Not being on the system was worrying. This involved a trip to Tire on the dolmuş. It was market day so things were hectic. Ashley remembered the way to the SGK office where, after we explained what we wanted, the security guy issued us with a numbered ticket. We waited about half an hour then explained to the memur that Ashley was on the system but Hilary was not (we had taken along our translated and notarised marriage certificate, though they already have a copy of that). At first we were told it was because we had not got the paperwork from the nüfus office in Selçuk. We explained that we had delivered that back in September. Then the memur who originally dealt with us came over, showed the other guy how to put Hilary on the system, put her on the system and told us that she would be on the system should we return to the hospital straight away.
Today we went back to Lara Optik in Kuşadası to collect Hilary’s glasses. They are purple and, she thinks, quite becoming. As they are varifocals it will take a while to get used to them but she already notices a big improvement for reading, sewing and using the computer. And hopefully (inşallah) in future seeing her feet and the corresponding part of the ground at the same tıme.