Is a million trips to the Eminyet.
Ok, maybe not a million, but in our cases, it took four trips to the Eminyet. I'm not sure what the exact translation of "Eminyet" is, so how about "Residence permit place"? Anyhow, it all started a couple of months ago when we got an appointment for November 9th to go to the Eminyet and apply for our ikamets (residence permits). On November the 9th we got up super early in order to make sure we all got there on time, and since we'd never been there before and Istanbul is a typical big city of, oh, 18 million people, we figured we'd need lots of time.
Side note: a trip to the Eminyet is not a short trip, nor is it a piece of cake. First, we have to walk five minutes to the bus stop and catch a minibus. "What's a minibus?" you might be wondering. A minibus is a little blue bus. They have insane drivers, and the drivers are contracted out (or something like that), so they either fly like bats out of hell or they stop at a stop and wait forever in order to load up on passengers.
A minibus, pulling out of "minibus row."
Anyways. We take a minibus to end of the line and then walk to the ferry port, which altogether takes about 30 minutes. Next we have to board a ferry, wait for it to leave, and sail across the Bosphorus. This also takes about 30 minutes.
Chillin' on the ferry.
After departing the ferry, we walk to the tram stop (about 5-8 minutes) and wait for a tram. When a tram comes, we cram inside and ride it about 20 minutes. We get out of the tram, cross a pedestrian overpass, and walk another 10 or so minutes to the metro station. We then wait a few minutes on the metro, take it 1 stop, and come up from underground. We walk another few minutes and then we're finally there.
So, about 2 hours after leaving our front door on November 9th, we finally make it to the Eminyet. We apply for our residence permits and are told to come back on Friday and that they'll be ready for us. So we make the trek home: walk, metro, walk, tram, walk, ferry, walk, minibus, walk, home.
Riding on a minibus. No seat belts. No car seats. Pray fervently.
Friday we went back to the Eminyet, but this time we caught a ride with some friends who were hoping to pick up their residence permits too. So, we walked to this guy's office, waited a few minutes on him, drove with him to pick up his wife, and then drove to the Eminyet. Total time: about two hours. And we arrived to this:
An insane amount of people crammed into the waiting room.
Can you see the tiny door in the back right of the photo? You shove your way through the crowd, turn in a piece of paper, and wait for them to call your name. Yes, that's right. They call your name. From that office. And then they wait for you to come in and pick up your permit. So, after waiting nearly an hour we lucked out and they called our names and Shannon was close enough to hear. I was in the back trying to get some breathing room with Lane, so I shoved and pushed my way through the crowd and finally made it to the front. Things are looking great, we sign for our ikamets, and then they tell us that Lane's isn't ready yet and we need to come back in 10 days (after the week-long holiday) to get hers. "Do we both need to come?" we asked. "No, just one of you." Well, that was a relief, because each time we go to the Eminyet Lane misses at least one of her naps and is just a grouch. So we started the trek home, since it was rush hour and we didn't want to be stuck in a car at rush hour with our friends. Walk, metro, walk, tram, walk, ferry, minibus, walk, home. (And we made it home before our friends did.)
That night at least we got views like this on our ferry ride.
"Well," we're thinking. " Two out of three isn't bad. And at least we don't both have to go to get Lane's."
Waiting on a tram to take us to the ferry. Or to within a 10-minute walk, at any rate.
Wednesday the 24th, Shannon went back to the Eminyet with our same friend from before, who hadn't gotten his that previous day either. And guess what? We both did need to be there to get Lane's ikamet. Sigh.
Lane's first metro ride ever, and my first ride in Turkey.
So on Thanksgiving Day we all got up and left the apartment at 7 a.m. Walk, minibus, walk, ferry, walk, tram, walk, metro, walk, Eminyet. Fortunately this time we only had to wait about 15 minutes. We signed some paperwork. The lady thoroughly examined Shannon's passport photo against Shannon himself. And we got Lane's ikamet and began the trek home. Walk, metro, walk, tram, walk, ferry, walk, minibus, walk, home.
4 trips to Europe. 3 missed naps. 1 car ride each for Michelle and Lane, 3 car rides for Shannon. 5 ferry rides, 5 minibus rides, 5 tram rides, and 5 metro rides each. Approximately $60 in transportation costs. And approximately 19 hours of traveling or waiting at the Eminyet.
And we're legal to stay in Turkey until next October.