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Let’s face it, summer is here.

I passed “Reading Calendars” in the 1st grade, but more than that I know that summer is here because of 3 bold indicators:

  • Brandy, my cat, gets antsy. Since there’s more daylight and it’s hotter in our tiny apartment, her midnight crazies are crazier and her morning “FEED ME” yowlings are more demanding. I’ve had a neighbor complain about how loud she gets in the morning.

  • The traffic on my way to work gets lighter because school is out.

  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the store — everywhere you look people are talking about VACATION.

If you’re like me, and through the narcissism of blogging I assume you are, whenever I go on a vacation, I look for the best animal lover attractions in the area.

I don’t mean zoos, and I won’t go too far into it here, but as many of us know, not all zoos are created equal. I usually look for places in which I can encounter animals either in their natural environment or where they are being cared for in a responsible and/or exceptional manner.

So I’d like to share with you three of my favorite animal-oriented vacation spots, one I’ve been to, and two I’d like to go to.

Here they are in no particular order:

The Beach Cows of Goa India

Beach town? Super spicy vindaloo masala (it’s a big deal in Goa)? BEACH COWS? Yes please!

Long story short, cows are considered sacred in India and Goan cows get to wander the lovely streets and beaches at their leisure. These cows, unlike other cows in India left to negotiate the congested streets of other Indian states, munch on tourist cast offs and “fresh” garbage. Then they lounge on the beach until someone feeds them. Sure, garbage isn’t the best diet for cows, but in comparison to their city cousins, these cows have a relatively stress free life where food is plentiful, traffic accidents are few, and they are protected. It’s a cow’s life in Goa, and it ain’t too shabby.

Speaking of sacred animals…

The Deer of Nara, Japan

Now I’ve actually been here, and if anything the above photo is an understatement. From the moment you walk out of the train station in Nara, you start seeing deer. Walking through the streets, napping under a street lamp, begging for food at a store front — they are everywhere.

Once you get the park and temple, which is Nara’s main tourist attraction (aside from the deer), it’s deer central. The park is thick with them. They are tame but pushy when it comes to food — deer crackers that you can buy packets of from street vendors. Basically if you respect the deer (and don’t keep deer crackers in your pocket!) the deer will respect you, and you’ll have a blast petting and feeding them.

Like the cows of Goa, these deer are protected and are taken care of by the Japanese government. So FYI, if you get into an altercation with a Nara deer, the deer will win. It’s my kind of town!

Hemingway’s House in Key West, FL

Calling all cat people! This is the place for you!

Not only is Key West a beautiful artsy beach town, full of history and charm, but it is the location of Ernest Hemingway’s House…now with more cats!

Ernest Hemingway, aside from being one of America’s most brilliant and tragic authors, loved cats. The “Gypsy Cats” (their words not mine), are all descendents of the first cats that invaded the Hemingway house after the author’s death. What makes these “Gypsy Cats” special? They all have six toes. Look at this literary little kitty below, see his “thumbs”?

According to the Hemingway House Museum, the house is home to 40-50 cats at any given time. They walk freely about the property, and are allowed everywhere — including the roped off parts of the house. Apparently, the only one who sleeps in Hemingway’s bed these days, is an orange cat who has claimed it!

There are so many cats on the property that there is a vet employed by the estate and a staff whose job it is to ensure the well- being of the Hemingway cats. If you’re a Key West resident and your cat runs away from home, you know the first place to look!

I don’t know about the cats, but this is definitely on my “to go” list!

So that’s where I’m dreaming of visiting, as well as one of my favorite vacation spots. Have you been to any of these places? What are your favorite animal-friendly vacation spots?

Happy Summer!

~Your Loyal Calvin & Susie Blogger

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