Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Myth of Athens

By Esha Bajaj

Athens, the first stop on the Philo trip of Ancient Greece, is the subject of a rich mythical backstory. The tale goes that the ancient Greek gods of Olympus saw the beautiful portion of land that today is Athens and began to fight over who would be its patron god. Two gods headed the battle, Poseidon, god of the sea, and his niece Athena, goddess of wisdom and war. The other gods decided to host a contest between the two gods to determine who would rule over the land and give it its name. Each god was to give the people of that land a gift, and based on these gifts, the people would decide which of the two gods they wished to be their city's patron. 

The first gift was bestowed by Poseidon, who swung his great trident against a bolder and brought forth a spring of water to the city, to protect its inhabitants from drought. However, the spring, like the waters of the oceans Poseidon commanded, were salty and undrinkable. Following Poseidon, Athena gifted the city with an olive tree, from which the people were able to eat the fruit, extract oil, and gain firewood. The people found the goddess Athena's gift to be superior to Poseidon's and named her their patron, thus naming the city Athens. 

The city is filled with monuments to the goddess to this day, and in ancient times great festivals were held in her honor. The owl, Athena's sacred bird and the symbol for wisdom, could be found on both sides of their coins. And if you walk through the less populous areas of Athens today, you will find endless groves of olive trees. 

Come experience it for yourself with Philomobile's trip to Ancient Greece! 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Famagusta: The History of Cyprus's Coastal Paradise

By Esha Bajaj

 By A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) - Own workFALLink

The city of Famagusta is located on the eastern cost of Cyprus. The city is known for the fact that it houses the deepest harbor in all of Cyprus. Back in Medieval times, the city was crucial to Cyprus, as it was their portal to the outside world and all the economic benefits that came with foreign trade. It was especially crucial in order to access the ports of the Levant, which was from where Silk Road traders took their wares to Western Europe.

Famagusta, being a port city, is also very well known for its beaches. The Greek name for the city is Ammochostos, which literally translates to "hidden in sand".  The city also bears the nickname, "the city of 365 churches" due to stories that at one point, the city of Famagusta had a church to match every day of the year.

Come explore all the rich history and wondrous sights Famagusta has to offer with Philomobile's Yoga Retreat in Cyprus! For more information, click here.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

First Stop: Karpas

By Esha Bajaj

The Golden Beach
By Franco Pecchio - originally posted to Flickr as 200709_Cyprus_7, CC BY 2.0

The Karaps Peninsula, the first stop on Philomobile's Yoga retreat in Cyprus, is a long sliver of land home to 46 beaches. Because of its geographical orientation, it has been left relatively untouched by humans, and as a result, the peninsula is home to many different species of wildlife. 

Many small farms can be found throughout the Peninsula, which are mainly used for personal consumption, although some crops are still sold commercially throughout the island. These farms are most well known for their watermelon harvests. 

The Peninsula's town of Rizokarpaso mainly caters to micro-tourism, and these watermelons, along with authentic Turkish-Cypriot Cuisine can be found throughout it. 

Join Philomobile's yoga retreat in Cyprus to get a taste for yourself!

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Treasure of Bellapais

By Esha Bajaj
Bellapais Abbey
Ballapais, a small village in the Kyrenia District of Northern Cyprus, is best known for the Bellapais Abbey, also known as the Abbey of Peace. It was built in the 13th century by the canons regular of the Premonstratensian order, and although it is in ruins today, its beauty remains immortalized in both the magnificent, adorned arches which line it, as well as the view from the top, which canvases the Kyrenia district and the Mediterranean sea. Monastic buildings surround the monument on the north side, an extremely significant feature, for in Britain, these buildings would have appeared on the south side. This anomaly illustrates the impact Cyprus had on its conquerors, for instead of following convention and erecting the Monastic buildings on the south side, the climate of the island nation demanded they be placed on the north in order to allow the residents of the buildings access to the cool breezes of the north in the midst of the hot Mediterranean climate of Cyprus.

Join Philomobile to see Bellapais with your own eyes! Click here for more information.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Our Mission: Revamped

Philomobile is a travel organization designed for those who want more from their vacations than bland resorts, overcrowded museum tours, and a beach tan. World travel is first and foremost a sensual experience, but at Philomobile we also deliver intellectual pleasure. Instead of cheap trinkets, your souvenirs will be a satisfied mind and body.
Philomobile, literally means “moving philosophy” so think of us as a modern day peripatetic school, that offers a unique blend of academic tourism and cultural education. We emphasize learning on site, and our trips are designed for those interested in culture. All Philomobile projects have an instructional component led by experienced professors from accredited universities and colleges, combined with sightseeing led by regional tour guides. In addition, every trip explores the literature, fine art, science, religions, and historical context within which philosophy flourished.
At Philomobile we welcome curious adventurers from educational and cultural institutions, retirees, and the general public. From the golden age of philosophy in ancient Greece to existentialism in France, and from the Islamic conquest of Spain to Nietzsche scholarship in Germany, we offer an array of diverse travel packages at competitive prices. While our current travel courses are all on the European continent, we hope to expand to more corners of the globe in the future.
If you want more out of travel than being just another tourist lost in the anonymous crowd, we encourage Socratic dialogue between our travelers. So if you are a free spirit who craves stimulating discussions and exposure to new cultures, please join us on one of our journeys.
Philomobile projects are designed for those who are interested in the adventure of studying philosophy on the road. For specific trips, please see our schedule.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Salamis: The Ancient Hub of Cyprus

By Esha Bajaj

Although it rests in ruins today, the Ancient city of Salamis used to be a commercial and cultural hub of the island nation of Cyprus. Due to Cyprus's history as a conquest of numerous great world powers over the centuries, the city is referenced in the great Homeric epics of Greece, in which it is stated that the city was founded by the archer Teucer soon after the Trojan War. 

The Greeks were not the only peoples who brought Salamis into their writings. The Egyptians too wrote of the city's former majesty, and it is believed that the character Tjekker from the Egyptian records was meant to be none other than Teucer, the Greek hero and supposed founder of Salamis. 

It is no wonder different empires fought over the claim of Salamis's creation, for the city was a monument to the mercantile roots of the ancient world. The city boomed due to its harbor, which was the main conduit for trade for Cyprus, linking the nation to Phoenicia, Egypt, and Cilicia. 

Unfortunately, as Salamis was the portal to the riches of Cyprus, it became prey to endure a war torn history. After being snatched from the Persians by an Egyptian naval victory, Salamis was destroyed by a Jewish revolt against the Egyptians in 115 CE. Soon after, it was ravaged by a series of devastating earthquakes. The city was not completely rebuilt until the  reign of the Christian emperor Constantius II (337-361 CE). After finishing the reconstruction, Constantius II renamed the city after himself, and Salamis became Constantia. The city spent three centuries enjoying a golden age of trade and economic prosperity until the city was once again destroyed by the Arabs under the rule of Muʿāwiyah in 648 CE. The city was abandoned soon after, and today what remains of Salamis is in ruins, a ghost of its former glory. However, the city's beauty persists. To experience the history for yourself, join Pilomobile for a Yoga adventure through the island nation next summer! Click here for more information. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Cyprus: The Crossroads

By Esha Bajaj

The Mediterranean island of Cyprus is home to a rich history compromised by the merging of countless cultures over the centuries. Ancient powers such as the Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Venetians, Genoese, and Turks all fought over the island at various points in history, each power leaving their distinct mark on the island. 

The story begins with the first written sources of Cyprus's history depicting the rule of the Assyrians, an ancient stela narrating the tale of King Sargon II's heroic conquest of the small island kingdom and its seven kings in 709 BCE. The Assyrians ruled over what they called the land of la' for many years, but in 669 BCE, the kingdom wrenched its independence free from the Assyrians. 

Freedom, however, was a short-lived spoil. The island barely had tasted a breath of sovereignty before it was seized by Amasis II, Pharaoh of Egypt, in 570 BCE. This rein too was short lived, for the island fell to new hands not fifty years later. The Persian Empire took control of Cyprus in 545 BCE, erecting the great palace on the north shore of the island, near Soli. The Persians ruled with a heavy hand, quelling two uprisings by the island's inhabitants, but eventually their rule came to an end as well.

The island slipped from empire to empire throughout the centuries, from the Persians to the Ptolemaic dynasty of Greece to the Egyptians once again. Then, in 58 BCE, Cyprus became inducted as a colony of the Holy Roman Empire, thus concluding the ancient side of the island's tale.

Cyprus as we know it today began under the control of the United Kingdom, which took over the island's government in order to protect it from the Ottoman empire in 1878 CE. However, it was annexed from the UK in 1914, right at the start of WWI. The possibility of the island joining Greece bounced back and forth between the two governments for several decades, but in 1960, Cyprus instead chose to solidify its position as an independent state, the Republic of Cyprus.

This is but a taste for the vast, enthralling history of the island nation of Cyprus. Join Philomobile in June 2018 for and incredible 10 day trip to experience the adventure for yourself. More information here.