Category Archives: Bureaucracy

Winds of Change

One of the first things we did once were were back on Lesvos was go to customs in Mytilene and enquire about reregistering the bike, changing it from UK registered to Greek registered.  This should in theory be a great deal easier than trying this with a Turkish registered bike and was always part of the plan.  The plan is to have this done before March of next year because after then there are simply too many unknowns. The added benefit of doing so is that if we do not then the bike would need to go back to the UK every year for an MOT and doing that would be a pain, fun maybe, but a pain and not something we want to be forced to do.  So the Triumph needs to become Greek registered and plated.  As said we went to customs, papers were taken, stuff was photocopied,  the engine and frame numbers were photographed, and Gregory at customs said it should all be possible and that he would be in touch.  So now we are waiting, and at some point assuming it all goes to plan there will be some money to pay.

This task done the weather took a bad turn.  First was a cold wind storm.  Temperatures dropped, the wind gusting at near gale force.  This went on for a couple of days, then there was a brief lull.  We’d seen the news, a Mediterranean cyclone was heading our way.  There was not much we could do, ferries were cancelled due to the cold wind storm, all we could do was sit it out.  So we made some plans and watched the forecasts.  Reality was that by the time it crossed the mainland it would have weakened so worst case scenario was more gale force winds and a lot of rain.  The cold went, it got warm, the air became really humid.  The forcasts started to suggest we would get off very lightly, but to be on the safe side we stocked up on supplies, nothing major, food for a few days, plenty of beer.

We know other places got hit really bad, there were flash floods, there were some deaths.  It was a very powerful storm with some very strong winds, storm surges, and torrential rainfall.  Obviously our hearts go out to those who got it far worse than us, to those who lost loved ones, to those who had homes flooded and property destroyed  All we got was 30 hours of near continual rain and some gusts of wind, even our internet remained working.

Storm

Then slowly the skies cleared.  Wind and storms become a memory.  For now, once more it is warm and sunny, there will be more autumn and winter storms, some will in all probability seem more intense than the so called Medicane.  There are still birds heading south, flocks of House Martins and Swallows are passing through, as are Pelicans and more.  In a week or so we’ll move south to Selçuk for a while, we have things to do in the meantime including hoping to hear about the bike.  Winter is coming, but not yet.

Road Trip

For those who may be interested pretty soon we are going to be starting a road trip.  We are going to blog about it most days, along with photographs, so there will be regular updates here and on facebook.

We will be picking up a Triumph Bonneville America in Swindon and riding it to Lesvos.  It’s going by way of London, we have a few things to attend to before hitting the road, but by 14th we should be well on our way.

There is of course a reason for this apart from the fun of it all.  We find ourselves living partly in Greece and partly in Turkey.  In Turkey there is a good public transport system, this is not the case on Lesvos, so it is in Greece that we need a vehicle.  The Harley is Turkish registered, trying to take it permanently to Greece would be a nightmare we do not even want to think about, so in time we’ll part with the Harley, and the UK registered Triumph will become Greek registered.  We intend to complete the registration process before March of next year, after then things might get more complex and we might as well take full advantage of EU membership while we can.

We will worry about the registration process when we get to Lesvos, there will be paperwork and expenses, but it does not look too hard.  Until then we get all the fun of the road and the delights of France and Italy.  More on this as it unfolds.

 

 

Three countries in a week

Greek-visiting-dog

 

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!

Public Service Announcement

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.

passport_epa

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.

 

Catch 22

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…

How our Bike got it’s TÜVTÜRK in Izmir

TUVTURK-PlaketteWhat 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.

The miracles of modern bureaucracy

Ukpassport-coverOn 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.

Little Surprises in Life

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.

I can see clearly now… (but it is still raining)

Feb-13-aAbout 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.

not-a-cruise-shopWe 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.

new-glassesToday 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.

2012 – A Review Part 3 – July to September

July

Come July the weather was getting really hot.  July and August are not months Boats-at-Ahmetbeylifor strenuous activity.  When we had nothing else to do we took to heading to the beach at around 4pm and cooling down in the sea for a couple of hours.  We continued to do this through August, making use of beaches at Pamucak, Ahmetbeyli, and Claros.

We were aware that the islands were likely to be cooler, and Hilary had never been to Santorini, so a trip to Greece happened.  We got the bus to Marmaris and hopped on a ferry to Rhodes.  A week later we came back on the ferry from Kos to Bodrum.  The trip was a lot of fun, an overnight stay in Rhodes, then on to Crete.  After a couple of days in Chania, from whence we walked SamaGorge-1ria Gorge which was amazing, we moved on to Heraklion visited the museum which is being redeveloped, and then on to Santorini.  We went to Akrotiri, the museum with the murals, hired a quad ATV, stuffed ourselves on Santorini Fava, and generally did the tourist thing.  We even managed to find a reasonably priced restaurant with ‘the’ view.

Ramazan started in July and went on into August.  We were not fasting, but many people around us were. It must have been pretty tough for those fasting, the days were hot and very long.  The beach at Ahmetbeyli was a lot quieter, it is pretty hard to swim and avoid getting seawater in your mouth.  We generally avoided eating on the roof terrace until after sunset, not really a problem, if was a lot cooler and more pleasant for eating after sunset.

August

By early August we decided that we wanted a portable air conditioning unit for the back house.  It was day after day of temperatures around 37C, and remaining really hot at night.  It took us a little while to get the unit we wanted, there were delivery problems, but eventually it arrived.  We mostly used it at night, to help us sleep.

For us the beach remained the place to be in the late afternoon, a chance to get a break from the heat.

We took another trip south to the Mediterranean coast.  To Uçağız which is spectacular.  We walked to Kaleköy, not far, but in the blistering heat i180812Bt was tough enough.  We chartered a boat to take us to Kekova and to various other places (mostly swimming places).  We shared the boat with two really pleasant French tourists who like us wanted no music.  We swam, snorkelled in some amazingly clear water, walked to Aperlae – it was a fantastic day out.

Later in August on of Ashley’s crowns fell out.  We went back to the local dentist who had fixed it the last time.  The problem was that the tooth beneath it had broken so the solution was not going to be so simple.  We were given various options and various costs for the options.  In the end we opted for having a whole load of work done, very much the same as what was planned on the NHS before we left the UK, crowns and bridges. This work went on for a few weeks, it was traumatic, but worth it.

September

Remaining on health issues, in September we became eligible to buy into the state health insurance scheme.  For us this represented very good value, because the one policy covers both of us.  It did mean that once again we had to go through the bureaucracy of state, was a couple of days of running back and forth to Tire and offices in Selçuk.

We got a phone call from the police inviting us to attend the police station in relation to Ashley’s application for a Turkish driving licence which he made last June.  We went, filled out some more forms, Ashley had a blood test for grouping, paid some charges at the tax office, and the back to the police station for fingerprints.  A day later we were called again and told the licence was ready for collection. Ashley now has 2 driving licences, his UK one and his new Turkish one.  Unlike the UK one it is for life.

Frank, a friend of ours had by chance booked a last minute week in Gumbet.  He abandoned Gumbet for a few days and came to stay with us.  We showed him around Ephesus and did a few other tourist bits.

We contracted a local builder to convert our basement into a garage.   The work was done over a weekend because during the week he was busy doing restoration work on the castle.  The window was moved, a new door fitted, and a ramp made for the bike.  It is a much more sensible use of this space and made us clear a load of stuff we had stored (dumped) in there.

Our last road trip of the year took place over late September and into October.  To Eğirdir.  We used Eğirdir as a base to visit Sagalassos, and had plansagalassos6ned at least one other trip out.  Sagalassos was amazing.  The other planned day trip ended up with us sat in the local sanayı having the rear wheel respoked.  Not what we had planned.  We will be going back to Eğirdir next year, there is more we want to see in the area and it is so beautifully located, the sunset over the lake was particularly good.