Cats_of_Ephesus_Turkey

The Mysterious Cats of Ephesus, Turkey

 

I have a love/hate relationship with cats. I love them for their independent spirits, their mischievously playful nature, and the rumbling motor sounds they make in moments of bliss.

 

Unfortunately I’m also crazy allergic to them, getting itchy, watery eyes and sneezing uncontrollably when they climb and rub on me (which they inevitably do). That part, I hate.

 

But the mysterious Cats of Ephesus–  the Greek city built in the 10th century BC, which was among the seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation– ultimately proved to be a quirky attraction that made this ancient archaeological site all the more interesting.

 

There are literally hundreds of cats roaming Ephesus. You’ll see them sitting like statues at the base of columns lining the ancient streets, dozing atop intricately carved marble sculptures and seemingly guarding the impressive Library of Celsus.

 

One peeked out playfully, as if he might swat us just for fun, as we strolled through public baths built by Emperor Constantine I. Another sat atop an ancient row of toilets, looking like some sort of feline bathroom attendant waiting to offer us a paper towel and a mint on our way out.

 

Nobody really knows for sure how the Cats of Ephesus got here, or how they’re fed. But they all appear well cared-for, and locals seem to have a laissez-faire attitude about their presence.

 

It’s a well-known fact that Cleopatra once brought cats as a gift to Caesar Augustus in Rome.  Some local legends suggest that the cats who populate Ephesus today may be the descendants of felines the Egyptian queen introduced during her visits to the city.

 

But these ruins remained largely buried by the sands of time until 1895, when German archaeologist Otto Benndorf began the first significant excavation of the site. Benndorf later founded the Austrian Archaeological Institute, which still plays a leading role in the excavation of Ephesus today (around 85% of the massive city is still waiting to be uncovered). Our tour guide suggested that archeologists brought the cats to help keep the rodent population in check.

 

For me, this photo of an orange tabby sitting amongst intricately designed mosaic tile work dating back to the Byzantine era perfectly encapsulates the mysterious beauty of Ephesus. Looking at his regal pose, it’s easy to understand why cats were held sacred by the ancient Egyptians (whose goddess Bastet was depicted in cat form), and domesticated by the Romans (who are credited with introducing the domestic cat to Europe).

 

Regardless of how they got there or how they manage to survive, the Cats of Ephesus add a sense of mystery and magic to this archaeological site, serving as a living embodiment of its ancient history. –Bret Love; photo by Mary Gabbett

 

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St_George_Town_Hall_Kings_Square_Bermuda

Town Hall in King’s Square, St George Bermuda

St George Bermuda

The Oldest Town in the New World

 

Bermuda is a group of tiny islands located about 580 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

 

The nation is renowned for its picturesque pink sand beaches; its brilliant blue waters; and its temperate climate, with winter days averaging around 68º and temperatures rarely spiking above 86º in the dog days of mid-August.

 

Considerably less well known is the fact that it’s also home to the oldest continuously inhabited English settlement in the western hemisphere.

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Kayaking in Mountains

45 Going Green Tips

for Travelers This Earth Day

 

April 22 is Earth Day, an initiative originally conceived in 1970 to raise global awareness about environmental issues worldwide.

 

Calling for “a billion acts of green” in 2015, this annual day of support has grown rapidly over the years.  Gradually, awareness about our collective responsibility to live sustainably seems to be taking hold. This year Earth Day events will take place all over the world to promote the idea that we should be protecting the environment in every way we can, and the responsible travel movement in particular has been gaining speed in recent years.

 

But we shouldn’t wait for Earth Day to start being conscious of our impact on the planet. There are a huge range of little things that everyone can implement into their daily lives and travel routines to start making a positive difference. For the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, here are 45 simple going green tips for travelers wanting to make a difference, both at home and abroad.

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Charles Darwin Foundation Executive Director Swen Lorenz

Interview With Charles Darwin Foundation

Executive Director Swen Lorenz

 

We’ve always felt a special connection with the Galapagos Islands. Not only because it’s an incredibly unique haven for nature/wildlife enthusiasts and an impressive model for responsible ecotourism management, but also because our trip there in 2011 really helped launched this site.

 

One of our favorite memories is our visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz island. It was there that we learned about the important scientific research the Charles Darwin Foundation has done since 1959 in an effort to conserve this unique ecological treasure, including bringing the Galapagos Tortoise back from the brink of extinction, eradicating invasive species and advising the government of Ecuador on how to manage Galapagos National Park sustainably.

 

So we were shocked to learn that the Foundation was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy a few months ago after the local mayor shut down their gift shop, which brings in an average of $32,000 a month. The problem came when the gift shop began selling items such as swimsuits, chocolates and artwork, and local vendors groused that the CDF’s shop was impacting their revenue. This was part of a larger issue in which locals complain that international tourism (which is largely based on small island-hopping cruises) doesn’t benefit them directly.

 

As we prepare for a return trip to the Galapagos Islands in June, we decided to reach out to Charles Darwin Foundation Executive Director Swen Lorenz to discuss the Foundation’s history, mission, problems and potential solutions, as well as why its scientific research is essential to conservation of the Galapagos Islands.

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UNESCO_Intangible_Cultural_Heritage_Traditions

12 Odd Intangible Cultural Heritage

Practices UNESCO Protects

 

If you were enraged when ISIS extremists bulldozed the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in Iraq, or in 2001 when they dynamited the 6th-century Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, you were probably feeling equal doses of anger and helplessness. These were both physical marvels, and we watched them senselessly annihilated by ignorance and hatred.

 

But traditional customs and culture can die, too. That’s why UNESCO created an Intangible Cultural Heritage List, which covers cultural traditions in dire need of protection. This list contains plenty of the things you would expect– song, dance, festivals, crafts and arts. But it also contains many more unusual, protection-worthy practices which are on the brink of destruction.

 

The Intangible Cultural Heritage traditions covered below all caught my eye because I’m either personally familiar with them or they made me pause as I read through the list. They’re listed here in no particular order, other than whimsy:

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Co-Founded by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel is an ecotourism, nature / wildlife conservation & cultural preservation magazine. More about us.

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Destinations We’ve Covered:

• AFRICA
Egypt- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Morocco- A Journey into the Atlas Mountains
South Africa- Londolozi Game Reserve Safari
South Africa- Kruger National Park
South Africa- South Africa- Zulu Memories
Tanzania- Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

 
• ANTARCTICA
How To Get To Antarctica w/out Doing the Drake
The Haunting Beauty of Icebergs
Penguins of Antarctica
Taking the Polar Plunge
Top 5 Eco Attractions in Antarctica
Whales of Antarctica
 
• ASIA
India- Ranthambhore National Park
Laos- The Pastoral Paradise of Muang Ngoi
Malaysia- Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Malaysia- Orangutan Conservation at Sepilok
Nepal- Hiking The Annapurna Circuit
Taiwan- Top 5 Eco Activities in Taipei
Thailand- Top 5 National Parks
 
• AUSTRALIA/OCEANIA
Australia- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Australia-Kangaroo Island
New Zealand- Kapiti Island
New Zealand- Tongariro National Park
New Zealand- Top 5 Ecotourism Attractions
Tahiti- First Impressions
Tahiti- Photo Gallery
Tahiti- Moorea 4x4 Safari Tour
Tahiti- Moorea, Tiki Village Theater
Tahiti- Pearl Diving in Bora Bora
Tahiti- Ruahatu Marine Sanctuary, Bora Bora
Tahiti- Swimming With Sharks in Bora Bora
Tonga- Eua Island Eco Activities

 

• NORTH AMERICA
CANADA
Churchill- Into the Wild of Manitoba
Churchill- Polar Bear Fight
Churchill- Polar Bear Photo Gallery
Churchill- Tundra Wildlife

UNITED STATES
America’s Best Volcanoes
AK- Denali National Park
CA- Hiking The John Muir Trail
FL- Sanibel Island Eco Activities
FL- Crystal River, Swimming with Manatees
GA- Barnsley Gardens
GA- Top 5 Autumn Activities Around Atlanta
GA- Best Christmas Light Displays
GA- Top 20 Atlanta Christmas Events
GA- Jekyll Island Eco Activities
GA- Weekend in North GA Mountains
GA- Top 5 Eco Attractions in North GA
HI- Hawaii’s Big Island
HI- Hawaiian Mythology
HI - Top 5 Kauai Nature Attractions
LA- Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday
MT- Hiking Glacier National Park
NC- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
NC- Asheville's Green Restaurants Scene
NC- Greensboro Travel Guide
NC- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NC- Outer Banks Wild Horses
NM- Top 5 Eco Attractions
NY- Going Green in NYC
WV- Outdoor Adventures
Yellowstone- Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone- Lamar Valley
Yellowstone- Grand Canyon & Hayden Valley
Yellowstone- Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone- Lower Geyser Basin

MEXICO
Cancun- Cancun Underwater Museum
Cancun- Mayan Museum of Archaeology
Cancun- Swimming with Whale Sharks
Riviera Maya- Monkeys, Pyramids & Pottery
Riviera Maya- Rio Secreto
Riviera Maya- Tulum & Coba
 
• CARIBBEAN