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.
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.
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.
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.