Sunday, February 26, 2012

We have wheels again!

Our latest rental car for next 2 months
Finally got another rental car this week.  The Swiss guy who shared in the contract last autumn didn't want to rent another car.  He is thinking of berthing in this marina for another year.  If he remains here, then he will purchase a car rather than renting one.   We and the German couple feel a tad picky about with whom we wish to share a car.  Personalities must mesh well if this arrangement is to work amicably.  Bill finally asked a Canadian couple if they would like to share in the contract and they agreed.  Again we have 3 boats sharing a car for 2 months -- Tatti & Hoenning on M/V BARACUDA and Helen & Dennis on S/V DREAM PROVIDER and us.  When the contract expires the weather should be good enough for us to head north to Turkey.  Timing is everything.

On Friday we made the initial trip to the south side.  Someone at the marina needed a ride to Ercan airport and we volunteered to drive him there since that airport is not too far from Nicosia and we needed to go to the south side at Nicosia to buy auto insurance.  On the first trip across the border in each new rental car it is required that we purchase liability insurance for the vehicle for the south side.  This is only 25 Euro per month -- for the vehicle, not per driver.  25 Euro per month divided by 3 is nothing -- about $11 USD.  Try buying liability insurance for that price in Houston!!!  

We visited Lidl, the German supermarket; and stocked up on pork chops and ham.  Lidl has the best of those items.  Lidl also has delicious little apple turnovers and other pastries baked on-site.  Great late breakfast after getting up at 05:00 to get our friend to the airport.  These German-style pastries are not nearly as sweet as American baked goods.  About half the sugar.  I like the slight tartness better than the overly-sweet American version.

Wildflower season has begun!
Next we drove to the Sun Tower Mall for the routine visit to Carrefour, where I purchased a couple kilo of smoked streaky bacon for the freezer and a few American name-brand items that are not available on the north side of Cyprus.   We will return at least once more before heading to Turkey.  Our freezer will be fully-stocked with the excellent pork from Lidl and bacon from Carrefour when we leave Cyprus.  Chicken, beef and lamb are available everywhere but pork is difficult if not impossible to find in Turkey since it is a Muslim country.  So I won't waste freezer space on chicken or beef; that freezer will be dedicated to pork. 

We strolled through Ikea, where Dennis & Helen treated us to a lunch of Swedish meatballs.  Helen thought it was funny to be eating Swedish meatballs in an Ikea in Cyprus.  Not what one usually would think of having for lunch in a Greek area.  I was surprised how good these tasted since it is just a frozen product.  Next trip I will buy a bag or 2 and their unique meatball gravy mixes.  This trip my cold-bag was already filled to bursting with pork chops, ham, cheeses and bacon.

We had fully expected to be stopped at the border exiting the Turkish side because the Swiss guy who was on the previous rental car contract said that Bill had an outstanding speeding ticket.  TRNC has speed cameras all over their side of the island.  It is funny to us because there are numerous signs posted warning drivers that a speed camera is ahead -- giving drivers plenty of time to slow down to the posted speed before passing the camera.  They sure don't warn drivers at home about speed cameras.  Anyway, apparently Bill didn't slow down one time and was caught on one of the cameras.  The system checks each person when they exit the country (clear out on a boat, clear out on a ferry to Turkey, or cross the border to the southern side of Cyprus).  If you have an outstanding speeding ticket, then you are not allowed to leave the TRNC until you pay the fine.  Good system.  Except that sometimes it takes months for a speeding ticket to show up in the system.  Bill's ticket did not show up in the system when we crossed the border this week.  We know it is just a matter of time, so next week we will find a police station and pay the fine.  Better to get it over with rather than be delayed crossing the border one day.  The reason the Swiss guy on the previous rental contract knew that Bill had a speeding ticket is because he was stopped when exiting TRNC for a recent trip to Switzerland.   His name was first on the car rental contract, so his name was flagged at the border crossings for all tickets issued for that vehicle.  He protested that all the speeding tickets probably were not his, and he visited a police station to view the camera tapes.  Sure enough, only 8 tickets were his; 7 tickets to the other man on the contract; and 1 ticket for Bill.  Obviously Bill pays more attention to those speeding camera signs than the other 2 guys.

Market--Karpaz Gate Marina
The mini-market has opened at the marina.  Shelves are not yet completely stocked and the freezers have yet to be filled, but there was sufficient inventory to open for the anxious yachties in the marina.  The market has an excellent selection of products available, including fresh breads and produce.  But knowing some of the people berthed in this marina, I'm sure there will be complaints.  Now those folks who kept complaining about not having a mini-market can now complain that the prices are not as cheap as the local produce markets or the big supermarkets. 
Market--Karpaz Gate Marina
Having once owned a small grocery store, I understand completely that a mini-market cannot sell items as cheaply as a large supermarket and would never expect this to be so.  I am very pleased with the selection of products in the new marina mini-market.......AND with the prices.  

Playground at Karpaz Gate Marina
And the marina has a new children's playground.  There are no children on boats in this marina now -- in fact, we have been surprised at how few cruising boats in the Med have children aboard compared to how many 'kid boats' we have met everywhere else in the world.  But the playground will be nice for local kids to use.  And for guests who will frequent the large resort hotel that will be built on-site.  The hotel must be built before the casino can open.  This complex is a huge project.

Gym--Karpaz Gate Marina
Gym--Karpaz Gate Marina
The marina gym is also open.  It opened the week before we returned from our trip to Houston.  Bill and I have been working out for about an hour almost every day and enjoying it very much.  This is the best gym we have found at any marina.  The equipment is top-of-the-line and it is open every day.  Nice TVs in front of each treadmill, elliptical and stationary bike.
Gym--Karpaz Gate Marina
Good, loud upbeat music to boost your energy while on those machines.  Very, very nice.  We will miss this gym when it is time to move on.

And, speaking of moving on; we have decided to contract with a marina in Marmaris for one-year and obtain a Turkish residency visa.  This will solve the problem with the new 90-days in/90-days out visa rules in Turkey.  The plan is to sail to Alanya and clear into Turkey, which should give us the normal 90-day tourist visa.  We should be able to do this in late April or very early May.  Then work our way northward along the coast of Turkey to Marmaris, where we will check into the marina.  Once in the marina and we have the annual contract in hand, then we can obtain a residency visa.  Supposedly, this process takes a week or so.  Then we will be free to come and go as we wish for one year.  Each time we sail to Greek islands, then it will involve obtaining a new transit log when we return to Turkey; but at least this way we are assured of a place to stay next winter and won't have to worry about that 90-in/90-out rule.  I hate to waste so much money doing this, but it makes sense to do it this way.  When you compare 6-month marina rates to 12-month marina rates, paying for the full 12 months makes sense even if we won't use the marina for many of those months.

Outside seating for marina restaurant
As warm and beautiful as the weather is today, it feels like we could leave now.  But it will be back to cold, rainy and very windy later this week.  So best to wait awhile longer.  No point in leaving this lovely secure marina.  Better to be warm and safe here than to be cold in a rough anchorage.  Today was so warm it was tempting to sit outside for coffee at the marina restaurant.

BTW, when we crossed the border back into the TRNC this week we again received 90-day visas with no hassle whatsoever.  We didn't even have to ask for 90 days; that is what is automatically given when the visa is stamped when one crosses the border at the drive-through crossing.  Many people in the marina have encountered visa problems.  When they have crossed the border, upon re-entry to the north side they have been given only 10 days or 30 days rather than the standard 90 days.  Several people have been told they must obtain residents visas because the regular tourist visa can be renewed only once.  Everyone who has encountered a visa renewal problem has experienced this problem when crossing the border at a pedestrian crossing.  Those of us who cross the border at the vehicle crossing always receive automatic 90-day visas again.  Sort of makes that rental car even more attractive.

1 comment:

  1. Eating Swedish meatballs at an Ikea in Cyprus! lol! I loved that. Sometimes you just have to marvel at situations in time.

    My husband and I were once (2005) in a 5th floor apartment in Kabul, Afghanistan, sharing a meal with an Afghan family in the dark, save for a propane light, because there was no juice in Kabul that night. Nonetheless, there were, at one point, three people on cell phones! They could have been talking to anyone in the world, yet no power in Kabul. lol! We just thought it was noteworthy. Good sailing.....


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