Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Biking through Algarve

First off, this post is ABSOLUTELY dedicated to my dad. If I ever had the money to make this happen, I absolutely would do this with him!

I was reading up on Portugal on the Lonely Planet website and I came across an itinerary for a bike tour through Portugal's famed Algarve region. Located on the southwestern coast of Portugal, this area is a mecca for tourists, but much can be said for the quaint way of life continuing in some of the towns outside the tourist areas. I looked up some images to coincide with the bike tour itinerary. Read on and drool....

Day 1 - arrive in Algarve and transfer to the rustic town of Monchique, known for its historic buildings like the ruins of a 17th century monastery, Nossa Senhora do Desterro. The town is quaint, with narrow cobblestoned streets and shops selling ceramics and their famous local apertif "medronho".

Cafe scene in Monchique
The convent of Nossa Senhora do Desterro
A cocktail made with the famous "medronho"
Day 2 - Go on a ride through the foothills of Picota and Foia along with the old spa town of Caldas de Monchique. The waters of Caldas de Monchique have been lauded as having healing powers since antiquity, and the small town features some hotels and spas where you can have treatments that feature the town's claim to fame. Also, the town has a few restaurants that feature beautiful views of the surrounding hills.

La capilla de São José in Picota
Wow...what a view....
Some of the scenery in Caldas de Monchique

Day 3 - Cycle west to the small coastal town of Odeceixe, a sleepy little coastal town, nestled amongst hills (one of which topped with an iconic windmill), that is known for its laidback charm and popular surf breaks. here the itinerary provides two possible routes - cycling along the Riviera de Seixe valley, or across the serra to the Alentejo border.


Day 4 - choice of riding through the countryside to Rogil to visit the Esteveira nature preserve, or to ride to the beautiful beach village of Zambujeira and the cliffs of Cabo Sardo.....tough decision, but I think I'm leaning toward Zambujeira:)

A church in Zambujeira

Zambujeira cafe

Zambujeira nature

Zambujeira beach

The cliffs of Cabo Sardo
 Day 5 - Transfer south, and cycle to Carrapateira, a small village popular with surfers, to make a circular tour of the Pontal headland. Continue along to Vila do Bispo, a small town with typical Algarvean houses clustered around a 16th century church and a reputation for great seafood restaurants.  Then the ride continues along the Sagres peninsula to Cape St. Vincent and the fishing port of Sagres, the most western point of Europe.

Carrapateira Beach - what a nice walkway!
Pontal headland
O Tiago restaurant in Vila do Bispo
Vila do Bispo
The interior of the church in Vila do Bispo
local seafood feast!



Lighthouse of St. Cape Vincent in Sagres

Day 6 - Head east from Sagres toward Montes des Amantes, which the itinerary states is famous for its "standing stones," but I could not find any pictures of them online! Then head on to the beaches of Ingrina and Zavial (where I would want to take a break to enjoy their snorkelling!)before passing through the quiet countryside to the fishing village of Salema. 

beach at Ingrina


Oh man. I want to go on this trip!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to add in an extra day in each place to not be on my bike and instead walk around, eat and do some sunbathing!!! One day......

If you are interested in the Lonely Planet itinerary, check out

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Off to Portugal!

Well, my longtime readers may have noticed that my posts have been dwindling a bit. My new years resolution 2011 was to learn about cultures from around the world, and as such, I was really dedicated to the blog that year. I'm not willing to give up on my blog, but I do have a new set of goals for this year that are taking some of my attention. I do plan to keep up this blog, but won't be updating quite as much, and will probably spend longer than a month on each country so I have ample opportunity to learn about each region before moving on.

Speaking of moving on, time to pack up from Turkey, and head toward Portugal! Here's some pix to whet your appetite:

Port produced in the Douro Valley was once shipped downriver to the city of Porto in sailboats called barcos rabelos, anchored here along the Douro River.
The facades of buildings reveal Porto's faded grandeur. 
A night view of the city of Porto shows the Igreja dos Grilos, a church built in the 17th century. 
At the Barrigodos bakery in the village of Favaois, "huge bundles of pine needles are used as kindling," says writer Rachel Howard, "giving their bread a delicious smoky flavor."
Ponta de Piedade, located near Lagos, Algarve. It is a fantasy landscape of caves, grottoes and sea arches. The best way to appreciate the beauty of Ponta de Piedade is from the boat.
This is a view from one of the famous squares in the historic center of Guimarães , The S. Tiago Square.
The beach of Melides is situated in the municipality of Grândola, the District of Setúbal is a very extensive undulating sand beach, surrounded by dunes, pine forests and a pond.
A Portuguese fisherman.
Some street art by Vhils,  one of my favorite artists who happens to be from Portugal.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Contemporary Turkish Artists

Turkish contemporary art has gained more notices in the last few decades as Istanbul began a biennial art exhibition, showcasing local artists as well as featuring some of the top names in international contemporary art. Here are some current Turkish artists to keep an eye on!
Serkan Özkaya

Portait of the artist in his gallery

"I sometimes think that ideas are like butterflies, as Feyerabend calls them. They circle around in the air and anyone with a seeing eye can see them and it’s just a matter of choice to decide to take the responsibility to execute and go for them. And then the artist is mostly an exhibitionist who wants to share or actually show them to others." - Serkan Özkaya

Baker's Apprentice (2006)

A Sudden Gust of Wind
Halil Altındere

portrait of the artists

My Mother Likes Pop Art Because Pop Art is Colorful (1998)
I had a hard time finding much out about this artists besides his work as a curator.  I know he often explores particular subcultures and also manipulates official Turkish insignia like the bank note below. Much of what is written related to him is in Turkish....

Super Turk (2002)
Cengiz Tekin
Natürmort (Still Life), 2007

"Unsurprisingly, this spirit and humor spills into Tekin’s art, where seemingly typical, unremarkable people, locations, and situations are staged and tweaked by the artist to reveal the underlying violence, trauma, instability, and uncertainty that remains the reality for the Kurds of southeastern Turkey. Often they capture moments just before or after a violent act has taken place, but it is never clear what exactly happened (or is about to happen), why the act took place, or the identity of the victim or perpetrator. For example, in Tekin’s 2007 photograph, Natürmort (Still Life), a man lies splayed in a field of wheat, his face obscured by the stalks. Dressed in blue, his attire mirrors the fiery sky that looms above the field, making him seem like a piece of the heavens dropped to the earth. The gun in his limp hand implies that a shoot-out or stand-off of some kind has just transpired–or could it be a suicide? Is the angle of the gun, still cocked and pointed up, a coincidence of the way he fell? Or is he still alive and playing dead in order to ambush his foe, or escape further fighting?" -

Potlatch (2009)

"Similarly in the 2009 series of three photographs, Potlatch, a flow of bank notes streams from an unidentified man’s hands into the sky (again, that fiercely blue sky of southern Turkey!), into (or out of?) the gleeful hands of a group of young boys holding bags of toys, and the residential area that hugs the exterior of the ancient city walls of Diyarbakır, where many families, displaced by the fighting in the countryside during the 1980s and 1990s, resettled. In the manner of Tekin’s other works, these photographs present more questions than answers: from whose hands are these funds flowing? To what purposes is it being used? Are the children of Diyarbakir benefiting from this influx of funds in a way that is lasting and meaningful, or is it just providing fleeting distraction? Is it really going to those who are most in need, who suffered the most from the violence, or is it just passing them by?" -