Discover the Charms of Heybeliada Island in the Sea of Marmara
Bob Francescone poses for the camera with chef during a trip to Turkey

“The cook is eating, so maybe ten minutes.”

The waitress is sweet. And beautiful. We have all the time in the world. We’re on an island. In the Sea of Marmara. In Turkiye. What’s to hurry?

We wait for our omelet, sip cappuccino, and watch the morning unfold in front of us. The cook, wife, baby, mother and heaped plates fill the table next to us. Dad, tall and skinny under his fedora, shoo cats from the tables across the street.

“Here! Turkish food!” and two fingers carry tongue-heaven from the chef’s plate to my willing mouth. Our omelets are already a done deal, but a scan of what the chef and family are eating suggest chubby fingers of fried potatoes and thick slabs of bread oozing cheese might be good company for the eggs and veggies.

They are. The potatoes are crisp on the outside, tender inside, and perfectly free of the oil that did all that. The bread is thick, and the cheese tangy.

“I hate to cook!” Chef Iker tells us later through a heavy puff of smoke from his cigarette and a whirl of hands. “Really!!”

Maybe so, but the omelet he confects this morning is a thing of genius, soft, fluffy, part scrambled eggs oozing streams of peynir, Turkish cheese, and chunks of crisp veggies, the apotheosis of eggdom. It’s the BEST we have ever had. We tell him.

”Maybe I will go to America and make restaurant!!”. Click go the aged synapses. Turkish friend Mustafa is in Pennsylvania, looking for a business to start, “Maybe hotel, restaurant”. Right there at the small table on the sidewalk in front of Muni’s Street Flavors (it loses something in the translation from the Turkish, Muni’s Sokak Lezzetleri having a bit more rhythm, and class) a plan is born, with WhatsApp as midwife. We send Iker’s number to Mustafa, with Omelet Affidavit and Supporting Photo Proof. And Mustafa’s to Iker. Mustafa will get it when he wakes up 6 time zones westward. Who knows what could happen? Maybe good things. Inshallah.

“Now tea!” Slow sips of Turkish cai from tulip shaped glasses slow us down from the trans-oceanic doings.

Heybeliada is not a place for rushing about. The dogs certainly don’t. The cats move about only if it suits them. They’ve worked out a deal with the eagle-sized seagulls. Everybody gets a share of scraps, one hiss, one squawk, that’s it, everyone cool. There’s plenty to go around. Host Can tells us it’s tradition to feed the strays and leave water out for them. . A clinic treats them and spays them for free. A tiny notch in fuzzy ears mean ‘out of commission’, baby-wise. So, the strays are healthy and clean.

The street signs tells us “Kedi ve Köpek Çikabilir’., Google translates it as “Cats and dogs may come out”. Cats and dogs read it as “We’re here, like you.”

No noisy gas guzzlers, just spectacular scenery, great food, lots of laid back four-footed Fur People, and an island full of kind and friendly folk of the two-footed kind… Heybeliada is a winner. What could be better?

Can, our AirBnB host, that’s what makes it even better, and our digs in his grandparents’ century-old wooden house and that balcony. It’s all down to good luck, and the universe doing it’s job.
In spades.

“He called! He called!” yells Iker from across the street and through his cloud of smoke. There’s a plan linking Heybeliada and Harrisburg.

And they ask us why we travel.