About Me

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Surprise that I figured out

Since I am going to be away from home for almost three months, my sister and BIL decided to come to Ankara and say goodbye. They wanted it to be a surprise but, I read between the lines while I spoke to my sister several times last week and figured out that they would be coming.

My sister tried too hard to hide the truth I guess. Lol!

Anyway, early this morning my uncle showed up. We took both cars to the tire place for winter tires so, I did not have to make two trips. I ran a few errands for mom. Later in the afternoon my sister and BIL showed up grinning from ear to ear. We all went out for dinner and had a good time. It has been quiet a while since the five of us have been together.

Tomorrow, we are having breakfast together and then, they will be on their way back to Izmir. On Tuesday, I am leaving for Istanbul.

Life is on the fast track.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Long Day

Today I took mom home. A friend of mine accompanied us and as we chatted all the way, the 4 hour drive was a breeze.

She insisted to make us coffee and we had a nice break after the trip. We then went to do our grocery shopping and had dinner. It took several trips to the car to take everything home.

Tomorrow we will get her prescriptions re-filled and run some errands. On Saturday, I will have the tires changed on both cars and help mom purge. On Monday, I will see my eye doctor and dine with a couple of childhood friends and will get back to Istanbul on Tuesday.

My uncle is coming to Ankara on Saturday and will be staying with mom.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

I am such an idiot!

Yes I am! I forgot my ATM/Credit combo card in the machine today. Thankfully, nobody took it and the machine swallowed it. I have spoken to the Call Center rep and he says a new card will be issued and sent to my address within 7-13 days. Yikes! That does not work for me. Thankfully my sister is a branch manager at the same bank and I know she can pull some strings to get me the new card faster.

To be on the safe side, I inquired if my other card will allow me to make payments in USD when I use it in the US. It looks like they do. In the past, I would make USD purchases and the bank would convert it to TL at a higher exchange rate than the prevailing market rate and I would end up losing money. So, I had stopped using this card. Tomorrow, I will take care of that.

The only inconvenience is that, I will have to deposit USD into an account at this bank. When I come back from Ankara, I will deal with that. Not a big deal.

I have so much going on at the same time and when I do, I sometimes act without my brain. Today was one of those days... Sigh...

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Started tracking my travel budget already!

I have been carefully planning my big vacation for weeks now. I have set aside a notebook and a notepad. The notebook is for keeping track of the places I want to visit, notes about my day and etc. The notepad is for lists and budget tracking.

Last night I made the first important purchase and entered that on my notepad. I ordered this package  from Mint Mobile. I could use my Turkish mobile phone but the roaming charges would kill me. I have actually calculated what it would cost me to use my phone and it turned out to be USD 533! Yikes!  60 bucks works for me. I use Whatsappp to call home and the 8 GB of Internet is plenty both for that and all my other needs.

I have searched for mobile phone solutions for quiet a while and this seems to be the best fit at the best price. I am bringing my old phone which is unlocked and compatible with the T-Mobile NW. I have checked the coverage and it looks very good on my route.

Since I am going to be spending quiet a bit of time in NYC, I have checked out The New York Pass and calculated whether it would be worthwhile to get it. Made a list of places that I want to visit and checked entry fees. I have decided against it. I can do better without one.

Getting the 7-day Unlimited Pass of MTA in NYC is a fantastic deal for my visit. You can use the pass on the buses and on the subway. It is also refillable after the 7 days are up. At USD 33 for 7 days, I think it is an awesome deal. Besides, I know my way around the City and as long as the weather cooperates, I will be just fine.

The contractor came today for additional work and things seem to be fine. He must paint around the window frame from the outside and the site manager will supply the required paint. He has nothing to do inside till I decide to get my room painted which is months away. Once he finished the paint job, I will pay him. I haven't paid a dime until now and I think, the payment has been motivating.

I am only praying that the fix will work.

After lunch, mom and I are going to the mall to order me prescription sunglasses. I will use one of the frames that I already have and the glasses will not be progressive. That will save me a good chunk of money.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019


I have a problem in my bedroom by the window. Unfortunately, the contractor who changed my window frames did a lousy job and the wall next to the frame has been damaged causing some humidity issue in the wall and the paint.

This year I found a contractor through a good friend. All summer long either the contractor was busy or I was traveling. Ever since we came back to Istanbul, I had been bugging the guy to come and fix the wall. He always had a reason to postpone the repairs and finally, he came on Monday. He brought some stuff and looking at them, I knew something was not quite right. When I inquired further, he seemed to have totally forgotten what he and my friend discussed. I could not call my friend right away because she has moved to the US. So, I just texted my friend hoping that she would see it early enough to intervene. Anyway, the guy and his helper started doing what they were prepared to do but I was totally bummed.

Then I thought of asking the apartment complex' site manager. I am glad I asked him to come over and look at the work. He apparently was familiar with the kind of damage and he told the contractor what type of material needs to be used. Luckily, the contractor listened to him and did the first part of the job. Then the material needed to dry before other isolation material could be applied. So, they left.

Meanwhile my friend saw my text and called me and then called the contractor to find out what he was doing. She also video called me and I showed her what was done. Later in the day, she called me again to say that what he started doing after the site manager's intervention was OK. The repairs would be finished today but alas! It has been raining non-stop. So, may be, he may come tomorrow but, I doubt it. I have to take mom to Ankara on Thursday and run errands for her before I can come back next Tuesday. That leaves me just a week to get this work finished.

At least now that he has started, I am sure he will be wanting to finish and get paid. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

25 Solo Roadtrip Tips and Precautions

I will soon be on my way to the US. I have planned a solo roadtrip all the way to Florida and back. This means, I will be on the road alone and be staying at various hotels.

To be safe, I take some precautions while I am traveling alone and below you will find them. Please feel free to contribute your ideas in the comments.

1. Never stop in badly lit areas with just a few people around. I always pull into busy stops whenever I have to. Sometimes, I exit the highway just to do that.
2. Always check the gas level, around the car and the tires before pulling out of a stop.
3. Never leave any belongings in the car within plain sight.
4. Be aware of the surroundings, the cars and people around.
5. Don't stay at places where room entrances are from the outside. This means, I spend more money but, that's OK. Safety first.
6. If asked whether I am on the road alone in a general conversation by anybody, always tell them no or meeting up with friends right after whatever I am doing.
7. Always keep my phones charged. (This is easy to do in the car)
8. Share my itinerary with my sister and my BFF.
9 Check the windows and the door one in the room. If I am on the ground level, I make sure to draw the curtains well and place some objects like my suitcase, or an armchair by the window. I also use door stoppers if there are no deadbolts. Some may argue that, it might be a safety problem if my health fails me and if the hotel staff needs to open my room but, that's what I do.
10. I have my sit down meal during lunch time rather than dinner time in order to be in my room before it is too late. It is also cheaper.
11. Consume nuts and cheese rather than carbs in order to stay awake and focused while driving.
12. Keep myself hydrated and I drink water mostly.
13. Keep some extra food and water in the trunk.
14. Do not wear fancy clothing or attention attracting bling.
15. Act confident, not lost even if lost.
16. Do not drive for more than two hours at a time. Always, stop, walk, get the circulation going and rest.
17. Don't be looking at your cell phone and not be paying attention to your surroundings.
18. Get the navigation started before pulling out of a rest area.
19. Make sure offline maps are downloaded as well.
21. Travel light and bring only the necessary items.
22. Keep the nightgown, toothpaste, toothbrush brush and meds within easy reach to hit the sack if too tired.
23. Keep USD 20-30 in small denominations in the pockets rather than fiddle with the wallet when paying for small stuff. Keep cash and credit cards out of sight.
24. Keep Emergency Info in cell phones and in wallet. This includes allergy information, who to call, the number for Turkish Embassy and meds regularly taken.
25. If not feeling well, re-arrange plans and take care of self first.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Gotta pick my readers' brains

During my upcoming vacation, I will spend Christmas with my BFF and her huge family. They draw names and each adult buys a gift for just another adult. I am prepared for that situation. However, everybody gives gifts to the 4 kids in the family. That part is a bit tricky. I have the two girls covered but there are a couple of boys 16 and 11 (I think). I have no idea as to what to give them. I intend to gift them money. However, I do not know how much is appropriate. What do you think? These kids are my BFF's niece's kids.