As visitors travelling on British passports, Barry and I were only granted 3 month visas on entry into Turkey. That meant we would have to leave Turkey by the 8th of January 2019. And that meant we would be in a very uncertain position, as northern Hemisphere winter in this part of the world produces unpredictable seas, high winds and we had no clear destination or safe harbour to spend the rest of the season.
We could have sailed over to a Greek island, but the Aegean is fierce at the best of times and looking at the wind prediction apps, showed many long storms roaring through this area, as a result of the Greek Meltemi wind being joined by various other wind fronts fairly regularly. Not a preferred option.
So after a lot of research we decided the best option for us, despite financial cost, would be to apply for Turkish residency which would give us 12 full months here and would avert the need to make a quick and scary dash out into the great windy unknown.
We made the application with the help of Mike’s contact, Gunhan who is a translator in Kaş and sat in his office while he completed the application online via his computer. In order to apply for residency, we needed to get 4 x biometric photographs each, health insurance, and produce the other typical documentation, plus pay the application fee. For details on the fees, do check out Barry’s blog this week.
The whole paperwork process was pretty simple – we visited the local photographer who ensured the photos of us were embedded with security details, making them ‘biometric’. After that we trotted down the road to the insurance company where the lady completed our paperwork on her computer and printed us copies of the policy in English and Turkish. We had a choice of two approved insurance policies and we went for the slightly cheaper one. We are covered for medical expenses however, operations for issues such as hernias, injuries to shoulder, hips, back, various organ diseases, uterus or prostate troubles and tonsillitis, require a 12 month waiting time before the insurance will cover treatment. We were told however that emergencies will be covered if we visit the local hospital.
While we were waiting for the policies to be completed, we were offered tea or coffee, which I accepted and were both given bottles of water.
I practised my Google Translate Turkish and mentioned that we both loved cats but the reason Baz wasn’t stroking the office cat was because he had an allergy. I wish I’d kept my mouth shut, as the poor cat ended up exiting the office via the front door off the end of the guy’s shoe. Lesson learned there. Silent apologies to the cat for my lack of foresight.
We took the insurance documents and photos to Gunhan where he completed our application and made appointments for us to have our interviews in the closest office. Gunhan generously gave us a 50 percent discount on his usual fee as Mike’s friends, which we were very grateful for.
As Kemer is two and a half hours drive from Kaş, we decided to hire a car for a week and also take in some of the local sites. Kaş is on the ancient Lycian way we knew we’d have plenty of places to visit in seven days. But more about those another time.
As our first appointment was at 10.30am, we got up before the crack of dawn and, rugged up against the chilly morning, set off in our lovely Hyundai Accent that the hire car fellow had delivered to Smiley’s restaurant the previous evening for us. Smiley had arranged the car hire when we mentioned to him what our plans were. He’s a great guy, knows everyone, and is definitely the man to see if you need information or assistance with anything during your stay in Kaş. He not only organised our car, but also secured an excellent price for us. As we walked back to our yacht from Smiley’s Restaurant which is right on the corner of the harbour, we felt very grateful with the way we were being assisted so generously.
Our journey to Kemer was pleasant – a little slow to start with as there was fog in the hills – but as we descended towards the coast road and the sun rose above the horizon, visibility increased and Baz drove the car along the winding roads like an old pro! After passing through several towns along the coast – Demre, Finike and Kumlaca - we arrived in Kemer with plenty of time to park and find the office. It wasn’t through the main entry of the town hall building, but we were shown by a helpful officer around the side of the building past the tourist office, to the small office at the end of the building.
It was already full of people being interviewed at the three desks in the office and we were shown seats that we could sit in while we waited. When Barry’s turn came – an hour before my appointment – we were both called to one desk together, and the officer completed first Baz’s application and then mine. Barry was given a stamped printed piece of paper and his file that he had to take into the Manager’s office, who signed the paper and returned it to him. While this was happening, I had my interview.
There was a slight hitch when one of the columns of a printed document only showed “Aannsha Reb”. The officer asked me if I was Mrs Jones as she pointed to “Barry Jones” in the row above. I had a moment of concern as I imagined me having to leave Turkey in a couple of weeks while Baz got to stay on A B Sea. But when I pointed to my full name on my passport and then indicated that perhaps the column hadn’t expanded enough to read the whole name, the officer apologised, highlighted the name in green and proceeded to stamp my application with a smile of approval. Phew!
As we left, I practised some more Turkish, this time with a better result. I mentioned that today was Barry’s birthday. The officer got out of her seat and went to the manager’s office where she told him and then the other officers in the room. They all chuckled and we left, happily clutching our residency permits. We’ll receive the plastic residency cards in a couple of weeks via mail.
The rest of the week was spent touring the area, including visiting the snow-capped mountains in the hinterland, where we saw a very large bear print! But we’ll tell you more about our travels in the next few blogs.
As I write this, it’s Boxing Day, and I’ve got great memories of our Christmas Eve with five others on a friend’s yacht.
This was followed by a great full English breakfast at Smiley’s restaurant on Christmas day. Turkey doesn’t celebrate Christmas, being a Muslim country, but when we entered Smiley’s yesterday morning, everyone wished us a Merry Christmas, and they even played Frank Sinatra singing carols and the old favourite Christmas songs!
After that, Baz and I headed back to the boat where we recovered from a fairly boozy Christmas Eve, by relaxing on A B Sea watching movies. It was a very relaxed time, totally non-traditional, but what a great experience! Of course we both keenly missed our son Luke in Australia but managed to have a chat with him on video a couple of days before, and also messaged him on Christmas Day.
That leaves me feeling all warm and fuzzy, so I’ll stop this blog here. I do hope you enjoyed your Christmas, and wish you and your loved ones a prosperous and joy filled Happy New Year.