Travelling in Turkey, Alacati and Ilica on the Aegean

Alacati (pronounced Alachati) is a very pretty village on the Cesme (pronounced Cheshme) peninsula, which is very close to the city of Izmir, on the Aegean coast of Turkey. All the homes are stone structures and the streets, narrow and cobblestone.

During the day it is a relaxing place to walk around and shop. There are many authentic stores with items you will not see anywhere else. There are also many antique stores, some galleries and lots of tea house, coffee shops and open air restaurants. At night it fills with thousands of visitors from nearby or from very far away. There are many interesting little boutique hotels as well as many night clubs.

But I prefer to stroll around and enjoy the old houses. Their doors are very interesting and picturesque. Most of the houses date back to the time when the Greeks lived here, before WWI. Actually, if you take away the many fine restaurants and fancy shops all around Alacati and imagine it with only the old stone houses, it looks exactly like the Greek towns in the nearby islands, like Xios.

In and around the narrow streets there are artists studios working on ceramics, glass and textile pieces that are genuine works of art. The bougainvilleas adorn the facade of most of the houses, mixing and blending with the colours of their doors, the little streets of Alacati become a very pleasant place to spend some time.

It is a very nice place to visit, especially if you stay in nearby Ilica (pronounced Iliya) where you can enjoy the beach. Ilica is just about six kilometers away and there are many taxis and micro-buses that take you back and forth. Personally, I prefer to walk the 6k.

The Cesme peninsula, where you can visit Ilica and Alacati and the town of Cesme itself, has an international airport very close by, (about 1,5 hours away by car or bus) and an international port. From the port of Cesme you can book passage to many of the nearby Greek islands as well as to Athens. I highly recommend a visit, and perhaps you too would like to explore places like these and imagine who lives there and how life can be in an old stone Alacati home.

I am an artist from Valencia, Spain but I usually spend my summers in the Aegean coast of Turkey and Greece. If you liked what you read, please hit that like button, share and follow. If you would like to see my drawings and paintings, please visit my Instagram @Francisco_Bravo_Cabrera and for my 2019 new works of the series “JaZzArt en Valencia” go to http://www.ArtPal.com/rfbravo1155

THANKS!

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SEVILLA! The Heart of Andalucia!

Sevilla is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalucia. Some may say it is the third city in Spain in population. I believe it is Valencia but it’s not important, it’s a great city with lots of history, culture and great food. And of course, Sevilla is a very artistic city. You will find many galleries, artists studios, exhibitions, expos, book fairs, art fairs and above it all, like a smiling Buddha, is Flamenco. If you love Flamenco, Sevilla offers some great performers that specialise and perform all the diverse rhythms and styles of that ancient musical form.

Por Bulerias, Bailaora Flamenca

The city is on the shores of the Guadalquivir River. This river, whose basin is in the Cazorla Sierra, extends 657 kilometers and ends in the Golf of Cadiz on the Atlantic Ocean.

Mapa de Río Guadalquivir

Sevilla is modern and ancient. From Sevilla, five hundred years ago, sailed Magallanes en route to circumnavigate the earth. From the top of the Giralda, the bell tower of the Cathedral of Sevilla, you can see how the city extends and the many swimming pools to keep away the heat of the Andalusian summers!

We arrived by fast train, the AVE from Valencia. It was a very pleasant four hour train ride crossing through La Mancha, (the plains where Don Quijote rode and fought the windmills), then into Cordova and down to Sevilla.

There was something special about being in Sevilla. I could feel it. From the big, modern train station, Santa Justa, to the energy you feel as soon as you step outside to wait for your Uber. The streets were glimmering in the midday sun when we arrived and the heat was just getting started. It was the end of June. (A quick note: Uber works very well in Sevilla I should say, we used them several times in the city and we were well pleased)

The center of Sevilla is very close to the train station but it takes a while to get there as you have to maneuver through very narrow streets, most of them one way and traffic is always heavy in that part of town. Also, Sevilla has one of the largest historical districts in Spain, so the Old City is pretty huge.

We stayed at the Alameda de Hercules, in the Old City. Not directly in what is considered the center but just a short walk away. This area of the Alameda does not seem like much during the day but it really becomes an interesting place after six in the afternoon and long into the night, when all the tapas bars are open. There are restaurants, jazz bars, sushi restaurants and lots and lots of people about. There are also art exhibitions, book stores and several galleries in and around the plaza. You will encounter street musicians playing anything from opera to flamenco jazz. Of course, at both ends of the Alameda are the pillars of Hercules.

Resultado de imagen de sevilla alameda de hercules

We found walking around the city to be quite easy and pleasant, in spite of the heat. Actually, if you went out early, say around 0900 hours, the weather was quite pleasant. The heat really began to set in after 1500 hours.

Close by to the Alameda is the Macarena district with many restaurants, bars and book stores, yes! In Spain we still read lots and lots of books. There are many poetry readings which are quite common and very popular with everybody, in Sevilla, Valencia and all of Spain. In the Macarena district I suggest you visit the Basilica de Santa Maria de la Esperanza Macarena, (Saint Mary of Hope Macarena). The Basilica houses a much venerated image of Our Lady of Hope, commonly called La Macarena.

Continuing a route south and east, we can walk to the Guadalquivir River. This wide and deep river runs southeast opening to the Atlantic Ocean in the city of Cadiz. There is a very nice riverwalk promenade where you can stroll, get some fresh cool air or just sit and read a book.

On the other side of the river is Triana. It is a very nice neighbourhood of Sevilla with many tablaos (Flamenco bars), many nice restaurants, on the river and on Calle Betis, which borders the Guadalquivir. Triana also has a very nice market, el Mercado de Triana. You can find it just as you cross the Puente de Isabel II from the Sevilla side.

Triana Market on the “other” side of the Guadalquivir in the Triana neighbourhood

And of course, on the river you cannot miss the Torre de Oro, the Gold Tower.

Torre de Oro, River Boat and watersports on the Guadalquivir

I truly recommend a few days stay in Sevilla. The people are genuine and lovely. They have that southern, Andalusian charm and even their accent is friendly and pleasant to the ear. The old city is full of tapas bars, restaurants and lots and lots of shops. Most of the places feature outdoor eating and even in Sevilla’s summer heat, it is a wonderful experience. And don’t worry, these places outside are made to take advantage of the breeze and they all have mists to cool you off.

There’s the Cathedral, one of the largest in the world.

Then the Real Alcazar, which still functions as a Royal Palace.

Finally, Sevilla has magic, especially at night. The little stone streets, the old houses, the medieval architecture housing modern tapas bars and restaurants. You have to experience Sevilla.

If you like my work, please hit that like button, share and follow. I write about many things but basically, I am an artist living and working in Valencia, my home. My artwork can be seen in Instagram @Francisco_Bravo_Cabrera and Twitter, @Euskadi_Bakero and my 2019 new work, called “JaZzArt en Valencia” is at http://www.ArtPal.com/rfbravo1155

THANKS!

What’s Our World, Flat? Round? A planet? A plane?

Graphite on paper 50 x 30 cm 2015, in private collection, United States

Very well, I understand this may not be something that you wonder about. I am aware that science has “proved” that we live on a planet. That science has educated us so that we are certain that our planet spins at a high rate of speed and velocity, for it also orbits around another celestial body that we call the sun. All this has been “proven” and the “proof” accepted as undisputed “fact.” Anyone who does not believe and accept this is as mad as a goat.

Well, you might be, but I am not governed by scientific proofs or theories. I live because I breathe and because I’ve a spirit, a body and a soul that owes its existence to God. I am an artist. I live in a world that is not ruled by the scientific method. I live in a wold where there is magic. I live in a world where there are dreams. I live in a world where there is mystery, fascination, fantasy, ghosts, spirits, gods, virgins, saints and wise men…

I don’t really know if the world is flat or round. Frankly it does not make a difference to me. I know I live in a world that is now suffering the abuse of mankind. Suffering the abuse of science and technology that has raped the earth of minerals like coltran so that they can further develop smart articles, i.e. mobile phones et cetera. While doing so, they are sponsoring slave labour in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where most coltran is mined. I live in a world where science and technology has developed other needs that require extreme mining procedures that destroy mountains, pollute rivers and poison wildlife. I live in a world where science and technology has built and developed weapons that can easily be used to wipe us all back to the neolithic age.

So I don’t really put my faith in science. I am grateful for the advances of the medical sciences. Now we live longer lives. But I am furious with governments that do not allow these beneficiaries of a long life to enjoy their old age with money and dignity. I don’t like the fact that those who develop technology tell us that they are doing it for the better good of all while they become the richest men in the world. And we don’t even know if things like 5G can actually harm us.

But those who control the economy control progress. That is why I don’t believe in progress because progress seems to be only for the upper one percent. The ninety nine remaining must pay for progress and never profit and never progress.

So I believe in life. I believe in quality of life. I believe in peace. I believe in unity. And I thoroughly believe what the Beatles said a long, long, time ago:

“ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED.” (Lennon/McCartney from the song “All You Need is Love” Yellow Submarine album, 1967)

The Beatles represented Britain in the “Our World” project, playing and recording live, “All You Need is Love.” Our World was the first worldwide televised special and broadcast to 24 countries on 25 June, 1967. The Beatles began writing this song in May, 1967, wanting to create a song that could be understood by people of all nations. It was mostly written by John Lennon.

During the 1960’s “All you Need is Love” was a popular saying, especially within the many opposed to the Vietnam war. The song was a big part of the 1967 “Summer of Love.” It began with a clip from “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem, composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in Strasbourg, on 25 April, 1792. The anthem, of course, is a rallying call to war that was first sung by the French troops coming to Paris from Marseilles, which gave the name that the anthem now has.

In 1981, George Harrison wrote a song to remember John Lennon, who was assasinated on the 8th of December, 1980, called “All Those Years Ago.” The song has a line which says to John that you, “…point the way to the truth when you say ‘All you need is love.'” John was killed in front of his flat in the Dakota building in New York. He was shot five times by an entity I will not even mention. All I can add here is that I abhor the violence of North American cities. I don’t believe people should carry guns.

I leave you, hoping that you nourish thoughts about such things as our world and other important things, with these words John Lennon wrote for “All You Need is Love:”

There’s nothing you can known that isn’t known/Nothing you can see that isn’t shown/Nowhere you can go that isn’t where you’re meant to be/It’s easy/All you need is love.”

Thank you for liking, sharing and following…if you like what I post. I am an artist living and working in Valencia, Spain and if you want to get to know a little more about my paintings and drawings, please visit my Instagram @Francisco_Bravo_Cabrera and you can see my 2019 collection of “JaZzArt en Valencia” by going to http://www.ArtPal.com/rfbravo1155

THANKS!

EXISTENCE…

“A Bit LIke You and Me” Graphite on paper
(private collection, United States)

” Doesn’t have a point of view 
Knows not where he’s going to 
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?”

The Beatles said that in the 1966 single “Nowhere Man,” from the Rubber Soul album, (my favourite Bealtes album by the way). I know there are many theories about the song, but I prefer to stick to the simplest one. I think the song is about existence. Within our reality…let’s call it that for now…of “existence” we, as the human element, can either function in a positive way, or “exist,” as a “somewhere” person, or in the negative, the “nowhere man,” and “non-exist.” It all occurs in the same plane of “existence.” Is that the only way to “exist?”

But existence is something real, right? I know I exist because I can see my reflection in a mirror. I hear myself speak. I breathe. I’ve a heartbeat. I can communicate with my cat. I eat, I drink, I swim in the sea…

So, is this is evidence that I exist? But what about you? What about things we do that can be considered concrete evidence? We write things down, we publish books and articles, we blog, we photograph ourselves, others and the things around us and we post on the internet. This leaves a somewhat solid trail behind. Can they hold up in a metaphysical evidentiary hearing? Does it ultimately prove that we exist?

I’ve heard said that seeing is believing but what about the things we do not see? Paul McCartney wrote: “I’m looking through you, where did you go…” (song “I’m Looking Through You” 1965, from the Rubber Soul album). Of course, the song, again, is about something else, in this case about a relationship fading away. But I like to think a line like this one was written thinking about the mystery of existence, which we mostly take for granted.

Existence is relative. Existence is real. Existence is a paranormal condition. Existence is happiness, sadness, nostalgic and futile. Existence can be as different as we are one from each other but as similar as the fact that we all share the same DNA. Like so many other topics, like time, reality and dreams, existence is a question and the answer is within you.

As an artist I would like to invite you to visit my Instagram galleries @Francisco_Bravo_Cabrera and my online 2019 “JaZzArt en Valencia” galleries at http://www.ArtPal.com/rfbravo1155

THANKS!

Time…

I was looking at a picture I took of the rising sun over my little bay in the Aegean Sea, where I spend most of my summers, and thinking about an article I read by a fellow blogger and WordPress colleague, Rashidul. huda. The article…a very good one which I recommend…was about time, the passage of time, the philosophy and the science of time and the first thing that came to my mind was the song “Time is on my side,” by the Rolling Stones.

Sunrise over the Aegean Sea

The day I took this photograph I got up…early…and sat on my balcony. At first there was just a brilliant glow over the mountains in the distance. The sun was not visible. Then centimeter by centimeter a little sliver of bright orange began to peer over the tops of the mountains, until that brilliant ball arose majestically in the distant sky.

Is this the passage of time? The movement of things in our world? Nature? Growing old? Growing wise? Looking at how the sun creates an orange pathway over the waters. It disappears after time has passed. Is this time?

“Time is on My Side” was not the only song that came to my mind. I remembered an old song from back in the seventies by a band called The Marmalade, called “Reflections of My Life.” In this song, which I think is a sad song about the end of a relationship, or the passage of time, the singer says: “The changing of sunlight to moonlight…” then he says, “all my sorrow, sad tomorrow, take me back to my old home.”

Can we go back? Thoughts take us back to wherever we fancy. Is the changing of sunlight to moonlight the same as two ships passing in the night? Can a “sad tomorrow” resulting from a bad experience be collateral damage caused by the passage of time?

I’ve concluded that time can be many things, at the same time. It’s poetry, romance, beauty, a memory or memories. The song “As Time Goes By” which also came to mind, suggests that time is love. Time is also personal. We live in the time of our pleasing, the time of our happiness or the time of our sorrow. This is my time. No, you’re on company time. “No time left for this,” said the Guess Who…

Can time take us back to where we were if while there we were vanishing with the passage of time? Is there a place back there at all? Is there time? Was time the thief that stole my mother’s memories? Or are memories only a fantasy? Do memories exist only in our collection of photographs? Or are memories in our mind? And is there time withing the vaulty chambers of our mind? Is it passing in there or just biding its time? Is time passing, or are we the ones running from reality and rotting away in our own ideas, in our own thoughts and in our own self-indulgence?

I may or may not have answers but it doesn’t matter because all I can think of are questions. As I get older time seems to become less and less important. It’s a consolation. And there are other things that can wipe away the confusion about time. Like one of the wisest men on American television, Homer Simpson said, “Here’s to alcohol, the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.”

CHEERS!

VALENCIA, My Blood-Red Orange, it’s Magic!

On the Spanish Mediterranean coast…la Costa de Valencia has the sea to the east and mountains to the west. There are many blue flag beaches in the vicinity and beautiful beaches as well in the capital itself, like Patacona and Malvarrosa. But I want to show you some of the magic that you will find in the city of Valencia, not just in the summertime but in the other fantastic season of the year, the festival of the Fallas.

This year it was a grand spectacle, as usual and I would invite you to plan for next March to come and see it for yourself. If you’ve never been to Valencia during the Fallas, you have never witnessed something so unique. Instead of trying to describe it to you with facts (that you can easily look up), I’ll show you some of the wonderful works of art that were on display all around Valencia.

These sculptures of wood and plaster are worked on all year long by artists, carpenters and artisans in an area of the city of Valencia known as “Ciudad Fallera.” The grand finale of the Fallas is on the night of the 19th of March, the Feast day of St. Joseph, the Patron Saint of carpenters. That night all the fallas…there were 800 this year all around the city of Valencia…burn!

But there is no need for alarm as not a single incident of damage due to fire was reported. The Fire Department of Valencia is very skilled and prepared to safely allow for the torching of the fallas. And F.Y.I. “fallas” comes from the latin and means “torches.” So all these beautiful sculptures you see below, burned last March 19th, now all there is of these magnificent works of art are pictures and many memories.

I did not want to leave out that summer is most certainly a fabulous time here in Valencia. Naturally, it has to be, for we have the Mediterranean Sea and many great beaches. Not just in the city of Valencia. The Comunitat Valenciana has three provinces: Castellon, to the north, Valencia in the centre and Alicante to the south. Alicante has the Costa Blanca, with famous places like Benidorm. Castellon has the Costa Azahar, with historic, beautiful towns like Peniscola and Benicasim. And in my Valencia…the Costa Valenciana…we have the nearby Port de Sagunt, with an increduble blue flag beach famous all over Europe. And right here in the capital there is La Malvarrosa, Patacona and Cabanyal.

Mare Nostrum kisses the sands of Port de Sagunt

And in the city of Valencia…

Playa de la Malvarrosa, Valencia

Valencia has everything other more popular Spanish cities have, (and by the by, we are the third city in Spain in population and importance). But let’s keep Valencia our secret, because life here…as well as tourism…is much cheaper! I definitely think it is worth a visit. And although in this piece I am concentrating only showing pictures of the more historic and ancient sites, structures and places, there is a modern Valencia, which in the next episode you will see.

If you have enjoyed and have liked this piece, please hit that “like” button, share and follow for more. And please send me your comments, your experiences in Valencia or any questions about the destination.

I am an artist living and working in Valencia. If you would like to see some of my drawings and paintings, please visit my 2019 online galleries of my collection “JaZzArt en Valencia” at http://www.ArtPal.com/rfbravo1155 and as well you can see many more of my artwork visiting my Instagram @Francisco_Bravo_Cabrera

THANKS!

I am in Turkey in a town called Cesme…

The town of Cesme is only an hour and a half away…by bus or car…from the Aegean city of Izmir. Cesme is located on a peninsula that juts out so far into the Aegean Sea that the nearest Greek island…Xios…is just a short twenty minute boat ride away. (pronounced Cheshme).

During the summer Cesme comes alive with thousands of tourists. There are many shops with beautiful ceramics, fabrics and all sorts of interesting souvenirs. There is an old Ottoman castle and a lovely marina. And as well, Cesme offers very good food in street cafes and fish restaurants called “mayhane.” In these eating places you can have your fried fish together with your Raki, which you drink with ice and water. (Raki is the Turkish version of Ouzo and typically accompanies fish dinners instead of white wine, which is also available).

At the end of the main street, called the Bazaar Street, you find the Aegean Sea. All along the sea there is a large and breezy promenade with many more restaurants and bars with live music as well as small street markets and many, many tour boats. It makes for a lovely day trip or for a weekend stay as very close by there are many sandy beaches and many comfortable beach clubs as well where you can actually enjoy swimming in the cool, clean, blue waters of the marvelous Aegean. Here are a few shots of my trip to Cesme.

In part two I will feature some of the beaches in the area as well as other places in the Cesme peninsula to discover and enjoy. Then I will take that twenty minute fast boat to Xios to see the Aegean from the other side, you may say.

If you liked what you saw and read, please hit that like button, follow and share. Comments welcome too. Let’s start a pleasant discussion on travel through the Aegean.

I am an artist…at at times poet and writer…from Valencia, Spain. If you would like to see my artwork, please visit my Instagram @Francisco_Bravo_Cabrera and my online galleries at http://www.ArtPal.com/rfbravo1155

THANKS!