Category Archives: Bureaucracy

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


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.


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.


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.

Hilary is a Window – an experiment with obtaining HGS

Here in Turkey there are two motorway and bridge toll systems.  OGS which works off number plate recognition and KGS which works by pressing a card to a reader, a bit like Oyster cards in London.   You do not need to stop at a toll booth with OGS, with KGS you do.  We have been using a KGS card because the OGS system does not work with motorcycles, bikes do not have a number plate on the front.  KGS is being phased out because it slows traffic flow too much, is ending in January, and a new system is being introduced to replace it.  The new system, HGS works by bar code recognition.  The idea is to place a sticker with a bar code on the vehicle, usually the windscreen, which can then be read by a sensor as traffic speeds through the toll booth.

We went to the PTT (Post Office) to inquire about HGS and how it might work with a motorcycle.  We were told to mount the sticker on a windscreen.  We explained the problem, motorcycles do not normally have windscreens (ours can have but we did not want to complicate matters).  Various options were discussed, mounting the sticker on the headlamp or some other forward facing surface seemed a start until we asked about what happens in the rain.  Mounting on the crash helmet, this might help enforce helmet laws, but has the same problem, a lightly plasticised sticker is going to fall apart in the rain.

The solution, stick it to a piece of plastic card which can be taken out of a pocket when approaching the toll and held forward for the scanner to read.  Mostly when using the motorway Hilary is on pillion, so she can look after the sticker and pretend to be a windscreen.

Happy with the solution we completed the necessary paperwork, two short forms, paid 35 Lira which breaks down as 5 Lira for the sticker and registration, and 30 Lira of credit.

 What you need:-
Photocopy of vehicle registration papers.
Actual registration papers
Ikamet or Passport.
And ideally a windscreen.

Following the Rules

Recently we went to Aydin to buy a new printer.  The previous one refused to work shortly after we installed the new print cartridges.  Whilst we were in Aydin we experienced two instances of officials not knowing the rules, and both of them had commendable attitudes to sorting the issues out.

First was a bus driver.  There are municipal buses in Aydin which take you anywhere on their route for the princely sum of 1.5 lira.  We were on the bus between the train station and Forum (a mall).  A youngish man got on with a document which he believed made him exempt from paying the fare.  The driver looked sceptical.  He had never seen such a document before.  So he phoned a friend.  The document was cleared and the young man travelled for free.

Later we went to visit the excellent archaeological museum which is just opposite the Forum.  We showed our Muze Kart.  We were asked if we were Turkish Nationals as, according to the man in the ticket office, only Turkish Nationals are entitled to a Muze Kart.  Hilary explained that there was a new law which meant we could have Muze Kart if we have an Ikamet.  He looked sceptical.  But he looked the rules up in some papers he had on the desk and, sure enough, in we went without paying.  He seemed happy enough to have learned something new.

We were asked not to take photographs.  We would never use flash within a museum in any case, but it’s a pity we have no photographs to show you.  The museum is really impressive.  The finds are mostly from Tralleis, Magnesia, Alinda, Nysa, Alabanda and Ortasia.  It’s only been open since the end of August but we would recommend it to anyone with an interest in archaeology.  There is a wonderful, wonderful marble statue of Pan and a fascinating Hittite bronze.  Outside there are two lions, one in the Roman style, the other strictly oriental.  A wonderful touch.


A few months ago we tried on the offchance to get a Műzekart and were politely told by the staff at Selçuk museum that only Turkish Citizens were entitled to one.  More recently we heard this rule had changed and a friend of ours had managed to get one.  Currently there is no indication of this rule change on the Műzekart web site which still states that applications from non-Citizens will be refused.  More helpfully the website lists many of the places where a Műzekart can be used, it is not a complete list, and there are some exceptions which are clearly listed. All the exceptions are areas within sites where you have to pay extra in any case (e.g. the Harem at Topkapi and the Terraced Houses at Ephesus).

With this potential change of rules in mind we walked into the museum in Selçuk and asked, expecting to have to try to explain there is a new law which means that people with a residence permit and kimlik numbers are now entitled to one.  We were pleasantly surprised, not only were the staff aware of the new rules but knew exactly what needed to be provided.  We were asked for Kimlik Numbers and Residence Permits, and paid 30 lira each.  No photographs were required, the photos in our Residence Permits were scanned and used for the card.  There are no forms to fill out, everything instead entered onto computer.  Our local mobile number was taken and it was explained we may be called for security reasons, so we guess having a local phone number may be necessary.  The whole process took less than 5 minutes.

To summarise, what you need:-
Residence Permit
Kimlik Number
30 Lira
Contact telephone number

The cards are valid for one year and give free entry into virtually every museum and archaeological site in Turkey under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. For us, this represents a significant saving. We will be making a great deal of use of these.

And Finally – Getting a Turkish Driving Licence – Episode 4

It has taken a long time but yesterday we got a call from the police to say my driving licence was ready to collect.

We are not 100% sure what the rules are about being required to have a Turkish driving licence, like many things here the rules seem to change and there are many views as to whether it is necessary or not.  We know people who are still driving on a foreign licence after living in Turkey for many years and we know others who have obtained a Turkish licence.  The last time we were stopped by the police it was asked for and they accepted our explanation that we had applied and it was with the police, the previous time we were stopped it was not asked for.  The reality is that having one means if we are stopped and someone decides my UK licence is not sufficient we will not go through vast amounts of hassle and potentially being stranded with a vehicle and unable to legally drive.

There are additional benefits.  Unlike the UK licence it is for life, not until some age specific point where it would need to be reapplied for.  I also get to keep the UK licence which could potentially be useful.

So today we took ourselves off to the police station, and now, almost exactly three months from when I started the process, I have the licence.  Episodes 1, 2 and 3 give further details of the process.

For the record a breakdown of the cost, this is for a motorcycle licence, one for a car would be more expensive.  25 lira – dossier with all the forms
50 lira – Translation of UK driving licence
65 lira – Noter, for notarised copy of translated licence
6 lira – photos
5 lira – Belediye ID check
15 lira – blood group test
20 lira – eye test
96.35 lira – processing fee
79.75 lira – for the licence
A total of 337.10 lira