Tales From The Balcony

Gülsüm Balcony 2001 by Di Jennings

Mustapha’s Tale 

   The sundowner drink is one that we take at the Hera bar at the end of the day. It gives people a chance to reflect on the day and talk leisurely about everything and nothing.  It’s also a chance for visitors to chat to local people who have ventured to the bar for a quiet drink.

It was on one such evening I found myself talking to Mustapha who runs a local business; he and his family have lived in and around Gumusluk  all their lives.  He told me a story his father had told him, this is Mustapha’s Tale.......

    A wealthy American visited Gumusluk in the 1960’s. He moored his boat in the harbour and wandered along the bay. On his walk he came across an old man sitting on a rock, sipping a Raki and lazily staring at the sun setting into the sea. The American noticed that there were olive trees growing in a field behind the old man but they were untended, with olives dropping here and there onto the ground. He asked the old man who the trees belonged to.
‘They’re mine’ the old man replied
‘Don’t you gather the olives?’ the American asked
‘I just pick one when I want one’ the old man replied.
‘Don’t you realise if you pruned the trees and picked the olives at their peak you could sell them?  In America everyone is crazy about virgin olive oil, and they would pay a damned good price for it.’
‘What would I do with the money?’ the old man asked.
‘Why you could buy yourself a big house and hire servants to do everything for you.’
‘And then what would I do?’
‘You could do anything you want’
‘You mean, like sit outside and sip Raki at sunset?’
 To see a typical Gümüşlük sunset at ‘sundowner drinking time’ please go to:

Hera Music

One balmy Gumusluk evening during late September 2016.  Customers and residents of the Hera Restaurant, were treated to a Jam session, courtesy of visiting musicians Toygun Soyzen and Bora Duran.

A sample of their talent to entertain can be found at:


They say that whilst you might not seek fame, fame sometimes finds you. As so it is with Dave and me. Never ones to push ourselves forward to be in a photo, to us “selfie” is a dirty word.

So when a film making friend of ours (without our consent, I might add) decided to include our image in an advertisement, you might ask why we are promoting it… let’s just say if the product involved becomes successful and made freely available to us in recompense for our appearance, it might be worth putting up with the publicity.

To see the advertisment :

Beach Music

Gümüşlük over the years has been party to all forms of musical evenings:
Çesel restaurant  in the mid 90’s had  an impromptu Turkish dance band formed using up-turned buckets and other assorted metal objects, in order that Raki fuelled tourists could sample Turkish dancing, not, I remember of the highest standard, but certainly a great party atmosphere.

Also at Çesel a friend of ours serenaded his wife on her Birthday singing a Saw Doctors song ‘Only one girl’ With the two Turkish brothers who owned Çesel, singing in close harmony with the rest of us the Chorus line ‘Only one girl for me’, in retrospect a rather surreal moment.

At the same restaurant in 2006 (the owners had changed, it had undergone a complete refurb and was called Amavi) on its opening night the World renowned Turkish jazz pianist Kerem Gorsev and his trio played a memorable set to a packed restaurant and beach.

It must be pointed out that Çesel resembled a working man’s club. In comparison Amavi was Claridge’s.

Late one night, on the beach outside the Hera restaurant in the mid to late 90’s. Yilmos the Turkish waiter had, after one or three Rakis, persuaded an English visitor who had a guitar, to play the only English song Yilmos said he knew the words to, ‘Hotel California’. As the song was played it became very clear that the only lyric Yilmos knew was ‘Hotel California’. Which, he proceeded to sing at the correct moment in the song, each time louder with added Raki.

During the later part of 2000, more Turkish people from Istanbul have made Gümüşlük their summer destination. Quite a few of the Istanbulian musicians and acting fraternity come for holidays, with some musicians working at the restaurants and clubs on the beach front.

The Jazz Cafe just down from the Hera  hold regular sets by different artists , sometimes including  guest performances by visiting musicians.  One such session in September 2014, had, as a guest musician, someone we had got to know over the past few years as he had been staying at Hera, a session musician by the name of Toygun Sözen. He normally plays saxophone, but on this particular evening he played the clarinet.  A little flavour of the performance that evening can be seen on:

Yilmos’s Birthday

Over the years we have seen many waiters come and go at Hera restaurant. All have been memorable in many ways, but one stands out, Yilmos.
If someone had a stills camera, he was anxious to be in the shot, if someone produced a video camera, it was as if someone had turned on the lights and shouted action. He was a natural performer with impromptu dialogue that could have been scripted by the wackiest writers.
When you are a waiter in a sleepy fishing village in a small Turkish tourist resort, as Yilmos was. Talking to people who vary in nationality by the hour certainly increases your knowledge of other languages, but how do you use it? Well that’s where Yilmos was unique. To try and describe him a little more, let me take you back to the late 90’s when our stay at the Hera coincided with his Birthday.........

Word had got around that it was Yilmos’s Birthday, no doubt fuelled by Yilmos. I met him on the way to my early morning swim.
‘Good morning Yilmos, happy birthday.
‘Why good morning good buddy, and remember günaydin is good morning in Turkish if you should want to speak as me fluent in other lingo. Don’t forget, have a slice of my cake tonight you and your good lady wife’
‘Sure Yilmos thank you’
‘No problem, and please, thank you in Turkish is teşekkür ederim, but please is lutven, not German but sounds same.
My body is already hitting the water as he finishes. Being spoken to by Yilmos in his staccato style is like having words fired at you from a machine gun, and not always in the right order.
My wife and I were the first to arrive in the restaurant on the evening.  A couple of drinks and a cigar for Yilmos.
‘How old is the Birthday boy then? My wife asks.
‘Is still nineteen my lovely Diane’
‘I bet we could double that’ we retort. Just then a family of four from the rear apartments arrive. A boy and a girl run round Yilmos saying in broken English happy birthday.  From Norway I thought.
‘Where are they from?’ my wife asks Yilmos.
‘Why Sweden’ he replied.  I am wrong.  The couple introduce themselves’
‘I am Theo from Norway and this is my wife Anna from Sweden.’ Half right Yilmos.
Then what looks like a retired couple from the same apartments enter, he has a head of white hair and very striking white moustache. They sit at the table next to us and he introduces himself.
‘Good evening my name is Eric.’ It is the perceived voice of every retired English Colonel heard on stage and screen.
‘This is my wife Elaine, but they call us Eric and Ernie, she’s the one with the fat hairy legs’ he chortled.  I look down at her legs like a fool before returning the introduction.  Eric then moves to the Norway Sweden amalgamation and introduces himself as before.  As he gets to the fat hairy legs bit I notice Theo looks down.  Yilmos who has been taking all this information in, turns to Eric and asks.
‘What would Mr and Mrs Ernie like to drink?’ and I swear he looked at her legs.
An American party arrives, three girls and a married couple. Across the restaurant Sweden and Norway have made Yilmos a crown of flowers. My wife thinks he looks like the queen of the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The family then sing to Yilmos Happy Birthday in their own Language. Yilmos is taken by surprise, but by swiftly looking at all of them in turn he manages to sing along using their words.
The couple in the American party introduce themselves as Nancy and Matt. The rest of the evening, for some unknown reason Yilmos refers to them as Mercy and Max.

Gulum Ken

If you would like to see some snippets of the evening on film, please go to the following:

Yilmos was also always keen to send a message to anyone he knew who hadn’t turned up that particular summer. Two of these messages can also be savoured by going to the following:

One Enchanted Evening

          It started out as the type of evening Gümüşlük delivers on a regular basis. Hardly a breeze was blowing from the sea, which was bathed in moonlight. The only sounds that could be heard were the soft lap of the waves landing on the beach just a few steps from Hera restaurant, soft music wafting from the jazz cafe down the beach, and the murmur of people talking while enjoying their meals and drinks. After visiting for nearly 20 years we try very hard not to take these evenings for granted.

Hera regularly set tables on the beach next to the sea, which makes for a more secluded meal and for some people it’s very romantic.
We had just finished our meals in Hera when Güven the waiter came past carrying a menu for a couple who had been seated at a table by the sea.
‘I am bringing romantic news with a meal tonight’ said Güven
‘What’s the news?’ we asked.
‘It is a secret, please do not tell’ Güven said. ‘After their meal he will ask her to marry him, I shall take him their drinks with a box that contains a ring’
Discretely, my wife and I, along with Dave who had joined us sat waiting for the romantic news.
The couple’s meal was coming to its romantic conclusion, dishes had been taken away and Güven passed us carrying a tray of drinks and a small box. The box was opened and, as the question was being asked, Güven pointed overhead, we all looked up into the night sky.
A fireball of immense size had suddenly appeared, streaming behind it a fan like tail. It made its way across the sky toward the horizon before disappearing as if into the sea. Those who saw it that night had never seen anything so huge and so clear. Some of us wondered if it was a disaster involving an aeroplane.
During that night, and the next day we enquired if anyone else other than those at Hera had seen it, no one had. We looked into all the local and national media, nothing. To this day we have never been able to find out what it was we had seen that night. All we know is that some couple had the most marvellous romantic evening, and I would guess, that no woman since has had such a cosmic display of light appearing in the night sky as she was being proposed to.

Gulsum Ken

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