Portion size, soaps, Michael Bloomberg, and VAT

I published that last post forgetting these items:
I bought the kids ice cream from a street (mall) vendor this afternoon and thought what he gave them was some kind of joke. It was the smallest scoops of ice cream I’d ever seen. Then I realized those are appropriate sizes, I’m just accustomed to enormous servings in the US and have a very skewed sense of what’s normal.
As I was rooting through my backpack in the hotel room today, I felt something in the bottom of one of the sections and wondered what it was. Then I pulled out four bars of homemade soap I’d bought from a farmers market in Montreal. Laurel said I’d probably buy more soap in Turkey and would die before using all the soap despite my usual soap-buying comment, “We’ll use it. It’s not going to go to waste.” She said she’d have my tombstone engraved to say, “Kathryn Kruger – a woman who never did use all that soap.”
When I was looking up the Turkish smoking rate, I found a recent New York Times article about former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg who’s worth $33 billion and has a charitable foundation to give away his fortune to a variety of causes. One of his causes is smoking cessation which brought him to Turkey for a recent meeting. I started to read the article to the kids, “On a sweltering Saturday in June in Istanbul’s old city, Michael R. Bloomberg, power-dressed in a dark blue suit, monogrammed white shirt and cuff links, sat down to a late-morning breakfast with local antismoking activists on a rooftop overlooking the glittering Sea of Marmara.” Laurel interrupted saying, “Michael Bloomberg realized he was crazy to wear a dark blue suit to eat breakfast on a rooftop in summer in Istanbul and took all his clothes off and ran around the city saying, ‘It’s so hot! It’s soooo hot!'” (It was quite warm here today. Despite sitting under an umbrella while Charlie was swimming, I could hardly tolerate the heat. It’s 10 degrees – Fahrenheit – warmer in Cappadocia where we’re going Thursday, so we’re not looking forward to that part of it. But that’s what Laurel was thinking of when I read her the article.)
After taking Charlie swimming today where the ground was so hot he had to wear his socks right until he stepped in the pool, I decided he was due for a pair of sandals. I bought him a pair of lady’s Merrell’s. (The male sales clerk who showed me that the children’s sizes don’t go big enough for him, said “Kadin” (woman) when I showed him what I wanted for Charlie. “Evet,” (yes) I said. They’re simple grey sandals. People get too hung up on gendered clothing, I think.) He and his coworker pointed to a sign in both Turkish and English about getting my VAT back. I didn’t know anything about it, so I just shook my head. When I looked it up later, I found Rick Steves’ European VAT information as well as Turkey’s VAT information. Turkey has 8% and 18% sales/VAT tax, depending on what you’re buying. You can get your money back at the airport if you spend at least 100 Turkish Lira (TL) – about $46 – at one store and have the sales clerk fill out a form. You then find the appropriate office at the airport and show the merchandise and tax form to get the money back. Rick Steves said, and I don’t know if this is true for Turkey, that you can’t start using the item in Europe. You have to present it in its packaging to the airport official. So anyway, it sounds like kind of a pain which I guess is intentional so the government can keep a good chunk of the money.

3 thoughts on “Portion size, soaps, Michael Bloomberg, and VAT

  1. Funny comments about soap!… I love soap and am known for buying it regularly. I am certain I will use all I have bought, as you do always need it 🙂

  2. Dave Saj here. Interesting post. Thanks! You guys are in my prayers as you travel this strange but interesting world God has put us all in for now. Be well and be careful. Please do not go east to Syria or Iraq these days!! Yikes.

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