For Christmas Day: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

 

Hark! the herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King,
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinner reconcil’d.
Hark! the herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.
Joyful all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies,
With the angelic host proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Hark! the herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.
Christ by highest Heaven ador’d,
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Hark! the herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail, the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as Man with man to dwell,
Jesus our Immanuel!
Hark! the herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.
Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
Hark! the herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.

(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life

Now I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt like this before
Yes I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life
And I owe it all to you
romance
I’ve been waiting for so long
Now I’ve finally found someone
To stand by me
We saw the writing on the wall
As we felt this magical fantasy
Now with passion in our eyes
There’s no way we could disguise it secretly
So we take each other’s hand
‘Cause we seem to understand
The urgency
Just remember
You’re the one thing
I can’t get enough of
So I’ll tell you something
This could be love because
I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
Yes, I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
Hey, baby
With my body and soul
I want you more than you’ll ever know
So we’ll just let it go
Don’t be afraid to lose control, no
Yes, I know what’s on your mind
When you say, “Stay with me tonight” (stay with me)
Just remember
You’re the one thing
I can’t get enough of
So I’ll tell you something
This could be love because
I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
Yes, I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life
And I’ve searched though every open door
‘Til I found the truth
And I owe it all to you
Now I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
Yes, I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before
Yes, I swear, it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
.
‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life (the time of my life)
And I’ve searched though every open door
‘Til I found the truth
And I owe it all to yo

Epic 7-day Itinerary To Visit Malta On Holiday

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (9)

Malta is an incredible island to explore. Nestled right in the Med, it’s is filled with thousands of years of history, stunning bays and the most incredible cities that are just too beautiful to miss. So, to help you get the most out of your trip, we wanted to share our bumper itinerary to visit Malta on your next holiday.

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (21)  Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (13)

Now, you might be wondering if Malta is for you?

Well, let me give you a little snippet of why it should be on every traveller hit list!

First up, Malta (and neighbouring Gozo) is basked in that incredible Mediterranean sunshine that’s just so good. Not only that, Malta is totally chilled and a great place to visit if you fancy a bout of downtime on your trip.

That being said, Malta is also a jewel in the Mediterranean if you fancy a gander around historic cities and ancient sights. It’s an island that can (and totally does) fit with the kind of trip you’d like.  This is why we keep going back, over and over again!

So, as the island starts to safely open up, we wanted to share some places in Malta that you can’t miss.

And, as always, be sure to travel safely. Check your government’s guidance on travel and official information from the Maltese Government on any restrictions that might be relaxed or in place.

 

Itinerary To Visit Malta On Holiday

Take a look, below, at our bumper itinerary to visit Malta on holiday. Oh, and with all our itineraries, feel free to add, take out or follow exactly the places we’ve mentioned – it’s your holiday after all!

Have an amazing time.

Day one: Valletta

 

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (8)

As far as Mediterranean cities go, Valletta is a gem to visit!

Unlike other large capital cities in Europe, Valletta is not too big to get overwhelmed and not small enough to get bored. In fact, I’d say it’s perfect for a few days exploring.

After arriving, be sure to take a wander to see the Grandmaster’s Palace and the gorgeous Upper (and Lower) Barrakka Gardens. These are stunning first thing in the morning and a great way to stretch your legs before a day head.

For a sugary pick-me-up, head to Amorino (on Republic Street). Here, you’ll get to sample some of the best gelatos in all of Malta. Trust me, you’ll go back for seconds.

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (21) Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (16)

In the afternoon, take a gander around the centuries-old Casa Rocca Piccola in the heart of Valletta. Throughout the day, you can join a guide and take a peek into a classic (and affluent) palace that’s too gorgeous to miss.

Before sundown, pop into St. John’s Co-Cathedral which’s stood pride of place in Valletta since the 1500s. It’s so beautiful and a great way to see some of Girolamo Cassar works. After all, he’s one of the islands most famed architects.

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (19)

Feeling peckish? Head into the gorgeous cobbled streets and pop into Noni (on Republic Street) that fuses Maltese dishes with a modern flare. Their tasting menu is so delicious for an evening treat.

Day two: Valletta

 

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (26)

One thing I would say is that you should give Valletta at least one full day to explore (though, we prefer a more chilled two-day trip). That being said, if you’re short on time, you can easily pack in the main sights in Valletta in one day; especially if there are other spots on our itinerary to visit Malta that you just don’t want to miss.

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (17)

For a morning galavant, head for a stroll around the Grand Harbour area where you’ll get some fantastic views across the bay. Plus, you’ll be easily able to partner up a trip to Fort St. Angelo that has historically protected the city. You’ll need to factor in around 2-hours to fully explore the fort; so plan ahead and arrive nice and early.

For dinner, book a table at Rampila; you won’t be disappointed, especially on their terrace. We had the traditional Maltese Aljotta broth for the first course and loved it! 

Day three: Mdina

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (12)

Nowhere is ever really that far in Malta, which means it’s a great island to traverse and stay at all the Maltese gems. That being said, don’t feel the pressure to keep moving hotels or accommodation each night, you can easily do day trips to all the spots in Malta and stay anchored in one hotel for the whole trip. It’s entirely up to you.

Anyway, where was I… Mdina!

Okay, so Mdina is probably my favourite city in all of Malta and one spot you can’t miss for a day trip. It’s around a 25-minute drive from Valletta and totally easy to visit by car, taxi or tour depending on what you’d like.

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (11)

Once you’ve headed through the iconic Mdina Gate, be sure to visit the iconic cathedral that overlooks the whole city. It’s stunning and the Baroque architecture dates back years!

That being said, if you fancy going back further in history, get yourself over to Domus Romana; a Roman house that was built around two thousand years ago! It’s a relatively small museum which means it’s a perfect 30-minute visit.

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (7)

Oh, and don’t forget to grab some of the world-renowned Mdina Glass. It’s so beautiful and you’ll find it all over the city.

Getting hungry? Get yourself over to Grotto Tavern, their gnocchi is so delicious and the restaurant is so unique within a grotto itself.

Day four: Western coastline and beaches

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (10)

After three days of city-living, it’s time to take in some more of that gorgeous coastline of Malta. So, pack your swimming gear, slap on that sunblock and get ready for a snooze on the sand.

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (59)

But first, head over to the Blue Grotto, which’s around a 25-minute drive from Valletta (and 15-minutes from Mdina). Once here, you’ll need to get yourself on one of the small boats that’ll whisk you right within the Blue Grotto itself. That being said, if you’re not fancying the boat ride, head to the ‘panorama’ viewing area that’s perfect at sunset.

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (60)

The views are stunning.

Afterwards, for a little time in the surf, head over to Golden Bay that’s north of the Blue Grotto. It’s a popular spot for sun-seekers and the kind of place that’s great for a morning dip (or evening stroll).

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (61)

The views are stunning.

Afterwards, for a little time in the surf, head over to Golden Bay that’s north of the Blue Grotto. It’s a popular spot for sun-seekers and the kind of place that’s great for a morning dip (or evening stroll).

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (61) Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (62)

If it’s a dip you’re after, pop over to St. Peter’s Pool that’s on the coastline near Marsaxlokk. Here, you’ll get to have a little paddle in the gorgeous Mediterranean waters and bask in those views across southern Malta. Just be sure to watch out for choppy waters and only go for a swim if it’s safe to do so.

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (58)

Now, we found it best to rent a car for coastal days. Though, if you don’t drive, fret not; there are oodles of different touring companies that you can book and include on your itinerary to visit Malta. 

 

Day five: Hiking around near Popeye Village

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (29)

 

It’s not every day that you can say you’ve rambled across an island, but it’s quite achievable in Malta, especially from Għadira Bay to Popeye Village.

After a morning dip at Għadira, pop on your hiking shoes and head off for a ramble around the area.

The walk itself won’t take you long at all (though, you can take in some detours). We checked out the Red Tower that’s just shy of the bay itself (around a 40-minute hike).  It dates back to 1649 and is lovely to see, especially for views.

After heading to the west coast, get yourself over to the totally quaint and picturesque Popeye Village. It’s the historic film set for Popeye’s film that was shot back in the 1980s.

It’s well worth a gander for an hour or so and totally worth including on your itinerary to visit Malta; even if you haven’t seen the film.

Finally, for a great view of Popeye Village, head along the coastline road opposite the bay. The views across the cove is gorgeous from here and you’ll get a great view of Popeye Village itself. 

 

Day 6: Gozo

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (3)

Just shy of the northern shores of Malta, Gozo is a smaller island that’s totally worth the short ferry ride to explore! In fact, it’s a perfect day trip when visiting Malta.

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (4)

 

Departing from Cirkewwa, you’ll get across to Mgarr Harbour in no time at all. From here, you’ll get to explore all across Gozo and take in some key spots along the way!

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (38)

One spot you have to visit is Il-Madonna ta’ Pinu, a basilica and shrine that’s as beautiful as they come. Although the basilica isn’t as old as some other sites across Malta and Gozo, it’s still just as iconic.

 

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (33) Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (35)

Afterwards, pull out your swimming gear and drive over to the Blue Hole for a dip! It’s a natural swimming pool that sits just shy of the collapsed Azure Window and is well worth seeing as you follow our itinerary to visit Malta.

 

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (31)

Oh, and don’t forget to grab a bite at The Boathouse in Xlendi Bay.

 

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (6)

This is the kinda spot that’ll satisfy any seafood craving; especially with their mouth-watering fresh lobster!!!

 

Day 7: Mosta

 

Best Things To Do In Malta & Gozo (20)

Before departing Malta, there’s one final (and totally lovely) spot to visit. Mosta!

Only around 20-minutes from central Valletta, Mosta is perfect to see on your final day along your itinerary to visit Malta. Even if you’ve only got a few hours before your flight, be sure to take a gander.

Now, one of the things that make this city so special is the Rotunda of Mosta; a massive basilica that’s actually based on the Pantheon in Italy.

Once you arrive, you’ll soon see why it’s such a special spot, especially with it housing one of the largest, unsupported domes in the whole world!

If you’ve still got time, take a wander over to the Ta’ Bistra Catacombs that’s just shy of the city centre. You’ll get to see a heap of historic catacombs that are pretty unique to visit.

 

 

 

 

 

When I feel you love me

When I feel you love me

The stars are calling, the night passes
the day I’ll live won’t fade away
I’ll change the world just for you
It’s impossible, but not for me
I wanna hold you close
Under the rain
I wanna kiss your smile
And feel the pain
I know what’s beautiful
Looking at you
In a world of lies
You are the truth
My love! When you love me
I feel strong
I’ll save you wherever you’ll be
I’ll bring you everything you ask for
Nothing is above me
I’m shining like a candle in the dark
When I feel you love me
I wanna make you see
Just what I was
Show you the loneliness
And what it does
And my tears are already far away
everything is easier if you’re here
Oh baby
Every time you touch me
I become a hero
I’ll make you safe
No matter where you are
I’ll bring you everything you ask for
nothing seems too much
I glow even in the dark
When you tell me that you love me
Without you, the world can’t turn around anymore
Only your love can save me
My love! When you love me
I feel strong
I’ll save you wherever you’ll be
I’ll bring you everything you ask for
nothing seems too much
I glow even in the dark
when I feel you love me
You love me
When I feel you love me

 

 

15 Best Places In The North Of England To Visit

Exploring Ancient England - Robin Hood's Bay And Whitby Abbey (36)

England is an incredible country to explore. We’ve got some stunning history, beautiful villages and gorgeous national parks that dotted all across the lands. That being said, sometimes, the best places in the north of England are forgotten in lieu of amazing cities like London or the pretty spots in the south of England.

The Perfect 4 Day Itinerary For Visiting England's Beautiful Lake District (108)Here's A Surprising Spot For Afternoon Tea In York (27)

That being said, the north of England is pretty vast, with a whole heap of beautiful places to explore. This is exactly why I wanted to share some of my favorite and best places in the north of England to visit on your next trip.

Now, for clarity, there’s no real defining line of what constitutes, north and south England, it seems like everyone has their own cutoffs of where this border exists. To make things simpler, I’m going on the notion that anything lower than the Peak District National Park is south.

Best Things To Do In Edinburgh, Scotland (15)

With that in mind, take a look below at the best places in the north of England to see. Have the best trip around England, we really have a beautiful country.

1.) The Lake District

The Perfect 4 Day Itinerary For Visiting England's Beautiful Lake District (19)

One of the UNESCO protected national parks, the Lake District is one of the best places in the north of England to visit if you love the countryside. Consisting of around sixteen lakes, the Lake District is filled with stunning mountains, rolling hills and a heap of lakes that are nestled within the countryside.

The Perfect 4 Day Itinerary For Visiting England's Beautiful Lake District (13)

 

14 Best Things To Do In Jerusalem

An Introduction To The Ancient City Of Jerusalem (45)

Depending on who you speak to, you’ll get lots of different explanations as to why Jerusalem is so important, who the city belongs to and even what the most important place in the city is. One thing everyone can agree on though is that Jerusalem is one of the oldest and most important religious cities in the world.

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (12)An Introduction To The Ancient City Of Jerusalem (31)An Introduction To The Ancient City Of Jerusalem (33)

Jerusalem has a history that spans across millennia, a lot of which is there to explore and experience in the city, making it not just an important spot if you’re religious but also if you have even the slightest interest in history.

One of the biggest surprises of visiting though was definitely seeing how the city’s varied history brought together three distinctly different religions and how the city is important to each one. Typically religious sites in most other places across the world tend to be more important to just one religion, not several all at once and especially so not with how important and highly revered the city is to each religion.

 

An Introduction To The Ancient City Of Jerusalem (26) Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (76)

Then there’s how beautiful it is too! In some ways, it feels like walking back in time with buildings here that are thousands of years old – except, of course, updated and preserved for modern times.

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (44)

Suffice to say, a visit to the city is one that you absolutely have to add to your travel plans. Oh, and while you’re here, I’d recommend getting a guide.  You can easily explore without one but there’s so much detail to the city (for instance, the Via Dolorosa below) that you might perhaps otherwise miss if you just wanted around for the first time without know where you’re going to.

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (78)Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (46)

Rather than carrying on about how amazing the Jerusalem is, let me show you exactly what I mean, as well as the very best things to do in Jerusalem when you visit.

1.) Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (57)

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is considered to be the holiest site in the world for Christians and is reported to be built on the place that Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is considered to be the holiest site in the world for Christians and is reported to be built on the place that Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected.

The building as it stands was built and destroyed several times over thousands of years with what exists now being a rather huge and impressive church.

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (56)

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (63)

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (62)

Given its huge significance, be prepared to queue here if you want to see most of the main sights in the church with some queues lasting hours – especially so the queue to see Jesus’s tomb where he resurrected from.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is also the most important and final spot on from the Via Dolorosa pilgrimage (which I’ll explain further below).

2.) The Western Wall or The Wailing Wall

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (21)

The Western Wall is actually what’s left of an ancient temple of Jerusalem and is a hugely hallowed site for people of the Jewish faith, Christians and Muslims. The wall was first constructed around 19BCE and is easily one of the oldest places to visit in Jerusalem.

When you visit, there are separate sections for men and women – with men having to cover their heads; women don’t have the same requirement though they need to cover their shoulders and legs.

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (17)Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (15)

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (18)

There’s a whole etiquette to visiting which, while not enforced (e.g. taking a few steps away from the wall, walking backwards so you don’t turn your back to it) is greatly appreciated as this is an important and much-revered site in Jerusalem (having a guide here was invaluable because the knowledge and details provided here really helps you understand why the Western Wall is so important to so many people).

3.) The Temple Mount or Haram esh-Sharif

14 Best Things To Do In Jerusalem (1)

Haram esh-Sharif is considered to be one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem – revered by Jews, Christians, and Muslims for multiple reasons. I’d attempt to go into each one but I feel like Wikipedia might best serve this purpose as it’s far too long and too detailed to get into here.

It is worth noting that this is one of the harder places to visit in Jerusalem due to its huge importance, making it reserved more for prayer than anything else.

14 Best Things To Do In Jerusalem (2)

In modern times (i.e. these days), the stunning Dome of the Rock stands proudly on this site and is the most iconic landmark in the city. The central dome of this church glitters with gold and the colorful tiled exterior walls are absolutely beautiful. 

4.) Dome of the Rock

An Introduction To The Ancient City Of Jerusalem (35)

As mentioned before, the Dome of the Rock is actually on the Temple Mount and is an intricately designed Islamic shrine, which – in addition to the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

If you want to visit, be prepared to queue as admission is only allowed in at certain times (it’s used otherwise for religious purposes) and as such, be prepared to set aside a fair bit of time to explore it properly.

5.) Armenian Quarter

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (1)

Jerusalem has played host to a large Armenian community for many years and this quarter is packed full of charming ancient architecture and historical buildings.

Armenians also know quite a thing or two about pottery and ceramic works so this is a great spot to visit to grab yourself a souvenir. (By the way, there are 4 quarters in total in Jerusalem – the Armenian quarter, the Christian quarter, The Jewish quarter and the Muslim quarter).

The center of the Armenian Quarter is located on the Armenian Patriarchate Road and spreads outwards to include the churches of St. James and St. Mark. This is a fantastic part of the city that is often explored less than the more well-known sites.

6.) Via Dolorosa

 

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (39)

Another hugely important site for those of the Christians the world over, the Via Dolorosa, or the Way of Sorrow is reported to follow the route that Jesus Christ took when carrying the cross to Golgotha. It follows all the 14 stations of the Cross and when you’re here, you can follow this same route, ergo why this is a hugely important site for Christian pilgrims.

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (36)

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (41)

On Fridays, you can actually follow a procession that is led by Franciscan monks through the Via Dolorosa. If you’re there on any other day (or to make the most of this route), it is worth having a guide who can point out each station as you go along.

7.) Christian Quarter

An Introduction To The Ancient City Of Jerusalem (34)

Situated north of the Jaffa Gate and centered around the impressive Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Christian Quarter is an absolute must.

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (54)

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (50)

Within the confines of this quarter is a swath of beautiful architecture from various ages, and a myriad of bustling Souks, markets, and pleasant cafes. Notable sites include the Ethiopian Monastery, the Church of St. John the Baptist and the Protestant Christ Church.

8.) The Tower of David

An Introduction To The Ancient City Of Jerusalem (40)

An Introduction To The Ancient City Of Jerusalem (45)

This complex actually has no connection to King David and is also known as the Citadel. Built in 24 BC, this ancient structure has stood proudly for thousands of years and was erected by the notorious King Herod.

Within this structure is the interesting Tower of David Museum that displays the history of the city and its evolution.

An Introduction To The Ancient City Of Jerusalem (32)

An Introduction To The Ancient City Of Jerusalem (44)

An Introduction To The Ancient City Of Jerusalem (25)

It is also possible to climb to the rooftop of the citadel for fantastic views of Jerusalem across to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. (Highly recommend it, it’s one of the best views of the city and really helps you get a sense of where everything is.)

9.) Muslim Quarter

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (28)

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (24)

If you are looking for a place to shop and experience local life, the Muslim quarter is one of the best places to visit. It’s perhaps the busiest of all the quarters with its bustling markets, busy restaurants and refreshing juice spots to cool off in the heat (it was sooooooo hot when we visited).

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (26)

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (23)

Starting at Damascus gate, the Muslim quarter is bursting with activity and is a fantastic place to find a bargain, haggle with the locals or visit the historic Pool of Bethesda.

10.) The Cardo

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (7)

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (8)

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (9)

I was so fascinated and excited about this one as I’d just a few months before, seen the oldest mosaic map in the world (in Jordan) which referred to this spot.

The Cardo essentially was like this long as grand walkway with Roman columns adorning the path and a market bustling all around. The map in Jordan (the Madaba map) even showed the Cardo with the columns it would have had back then.

While you’re there, to get a sense of what this once bustling part of the city looked like, keep an eye out for the mural depicting the old city of Jerusalem.

11.) Jewish Quarter

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (2)

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (4)

The Jewish quarter is where you’ll find some of the most important spots to visit in the city e.g. Western Wall and the Cardo, amongst others.

Now while you might not necessarily notice when you switch from one quarter to another here, you do notice a big difference in how the quarters are organized. The Jewish quarter being, perhaps with the exception of the Armenian quarter (and the main sight in it – the Western Wall) being fairly quiet compared to say the busier Muslim and Christian quarters.

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (5)

Where To Visit In The Old City Of Jerusalem (6)

If you’re looking for a break from the crowds, this is easily one of the best parts of the city to explore.

12.) Mount Zion

14 Best Things To Do In Jerusalem (3)

Another hugely significant religious site, Mount Zion is the place where Christ held the Last Supper and where the Virgin Mary lived during the later years of her life. For the Jewish community, this is also the place of King David’s Tomb.

14 Best Things To Do In Jerusalem (4)

Located on this hill today is a variety of stunning shrines and churches; furthermore, you can also see the expanse of the city on a clear day.

13.) Kidron Valley

14 Best Things To Do In Jerusalem (5)

Located between Mount Zion and Mount of Olives; this is one of the most ancient parts of Jerusalem. This is the area that both Muslims and Jews believe that the Last Judgment will take place.

14 Best Things To Do In Jerusalem (6)

Archaeological excavations have found structures dating back as far as 4000 years old and various tunnels and temples are open to exploring such as Warren’s Shaft, Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Pool of Siloam.

14.) Jaffa Gate

An Introduction To The Ancient City Of Jerusalem (22)

This ancient gate used to be one of the 7 gates into Jerusalem and is quite the architectural masterpiece to behold. It was built in the 1500s and was done in an L-shape as a defensive measure to help slow down attackers.

It’s easily one of the best things to do in Jerusalem you want to get a sense of what it looked like centuries ago and can be done either as you enter Jerusalem or indeed, as you leave.

Mihran & Hasmik signing Duet Nostalgia Melody

You all enjoy the melody of Nostalgia and Natalie song…Singing duet with Hasmik from Boston was a wonderful surprise. Hope you all will enjoy the remix and duet. I miss the good old days, here are no words to express this song!!

 

Nostalgia, we’re just like one another

You’re gentle and so am I

Nostalgia, I think about her

I call to her in the night

 

She lived over there

In the land of the cold

Where the untamed wind

Gives me a look

 

It snowed in the winter

It rained in the blue

She was lovely, nostalgia

Nostalgia, we’re just like one another

 

It’s December on your lands

Nostalgia, you play the gypsy

On the range of forgetting

She wanted to…

 

To burn her life up

Under a real spring

She was twenty years old

She went out to the sea

 

Towards a clearer sky

Leaving me in the grey, nostalgia

 

A winter love

The backwards sky

It was madness, nostalgia

Sometimes on the sea

When the night is clear

Her name comes back to me

Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia…

 

Taking In The Sunrise On The Top of Masada & Dead Sea

The Sunrise On The Top of Masada & Dead Sea

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF MASADA

 

I love a historical destination with a great story, and that’s exactly what Masada provides. Masada’s legacy is shared primarily through details  provided by Jewish historian Josephus Flavius, the commander of the Jewish forces during the First Jewish-Roman War from 66-73 AD who made it his mission to share Masada’s tragic ending.

Visiting Masada, the ancient fortress built atop a mountain plateau in modern day Israel, is a life-changing experience. No caveats necessary.

There’s simply nothing like visiting an ancient mountaintop fortress that overlooks the Dead Sea. It doesn’t feel real. But because of its isolation and the arid desert climate, the fortress once occupied by King Herod is a remarkably well-preserved relic of humanity’s ancient past, one you can climb to on the same paths used by visiting dignitaries and invading Roman troops.

Masada was most likely built between 37 and 31 BC by Herod the Great. While Josephus’ writings claim Hasmonean king Alexander Janeus built the site decades earlier, there is no architectural evidence that any type of construction was built earlier than Herod’s fortress. Herod ordered the development of the fortress because its geographical position made it a terrific strategic location for him. Masada sits on a plateau that is part of a cliff jetting more than 1,300 feet into the air. Around Masada are smaller but difficult to navigate cliffs with only three narrow paths leading to its gates. From the fortress Herod would be able to see enemies approaching from long distances, and the limited access served as an additional level of protection.

 

Two events defined Masada between 66 and 74 AD: the Great Revolt and the Siege of Masada. Prior to 66 AD Masada was controlled by the Romans, as it had been since Herod the Great ruled there. The Great Revolt of the Jews against the Romans was led by Eleazar Ben Yair and the Sicarii. The Sicarii were a group of Jewish extremists who fled from Jerusalem and ultimately settled at Masada after taking possession of it following the Great Revolt. More and more of the Sicarii relocated to Masada in the years after the revolt as they were run out of Jerusalem due to ongoing conflicts with other Jewish groups.

 

By 72 AD, Masada had become the last Sicarii stronghold in the region and home to almost 1,000 people. With plans to take the fortress back, the Romans constructed a wall and built camps around Masada; they also built a ramp and a tower with a battering ram to breach the walls. As it became clear that the Romans siege would succeed and the Sicarii would be either enslaved or killed, Eleazar Ben Yair delivered speeches to his people and convinced them it would be better to die in honor than it would be to surrender and live in shame and humiliation. Judaism prohibits suicide, and so a small number of people were selected to murder almost the entire community, ensuring only one final volunteer would have to commit suicide. When the Romans arrived, they found the Sicarii destroyed everything except for food, which presumably they intentionally saved to prove they died not of starvation but because they chose to sacrifice themselves. According to Josephus in The War of the Jews, VII:

“[The Romans] were at a loss to conjecture what had happened here, encountering the mass of slain. Instead of exulting as over enemies, they admired the nobility of their resolve and the contempt of death display by so many carrying it, unwavering, into execution.”

Not all stories have a happy ending.

Masada’s history since the Siege has been far quieter with significantly less bloodshed. The Romans stayed there only through the 2nd century AD, after which time a Byzantine monastery was founded in the 5th century and abandoned just two centuries later. Masada was rediscovered in the 19th century, with explorations and excavations marking much of the last 100 years. Today, Masada is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

==========================================================

THE DEAD SEA

The Dead Sea, known in Hebrew as Yam Ha-Melakh (the Sea of Salt) is the lowest point on earth, surrounded by the stunning landscape of the Negev Desert. The shores of the Dead Sea are the lowest point on the surface of the earth, and the saline water of the lake give lead to the name because no fish can survive in the salty waters. The other result of the salty water is their renowned health and healing properties and the unique feature that one can float naturally in them.

The Dead Sea represents the lowest elevation  on Earth; it stands more than 1,400 feet below sea level. Herod the Great once used it as a health destination, as the salt and minerals from the water carry some solid health benefits. To this day many people flock to its shores to float, cover themselves in mud, or simply admire it. Those shores are a little harder to reach each year; they have been receding for decades, which is causing an environmental impact on the surrounding region. This is in part due to large sinkholes that have formed in its vicinity, which impacts the rate at which groundwater is replaced by freshwater—freshwater is a primary factor in the receding shorelines. While plans are in place to restore the balance, success is not guaranteed. Not far from the Dead Sea are the Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found; although you likely won’t stop and won’t have the chance to visit them, most tours will point them out as you drive past them.

Experiencing the Dead Sea is pretty straightforward. In some ways it’s a lot like visiting a beach; you can pick a spot with a chair or two, unload your belongings, and head into the water. From there, it’s a swim unlike any other you may have taken before. As soon as I waded into the water I could feel the salt water pushing my body up, and it took some effort to keep my feet on the sea floor. Once Adam and I were waist-deep, we submerged a bit and really felt the water’s efforts to force us into a floating position. I love to swim; I have dived into the warm waters off the coast of Bermuda and Florida’s Tarpon Springs, and I have cannonballed into the icy Southern Ocean in Antarctica. Floating in the Dead Sea was nothing like those experiences. The water was exceptionally hot—almost uncomfortable as we stood ankle-deep and started our walk out to deeper sections—and it’s not really designed for swimming. Given how it pushes you up to the surface, it’s best to just let the water do what it does best and force you into a relaxing floating position. We were happy to enjoy the sensation for a little while, smiling as we heard similar exclamations and observations from fellow travelers around us. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is a great way to end a day trip in Israel!

 

8 painfully obvious signs you hate Mondays (and feel unfulfilled)

article-image

If you aren’t jumping out of bed Monday morning, there is a problem.

“Living for the weekend” is not a long-term strategy

You cannot go through life accepting that 5 out of every 7 days are going to be spent doing some undesirable to you.

If you are reading this right now in an environment that is not stimulating you, why are you even there to begin with? Because it’s easy? Because it’s comfortable? Because it pays well? If your answer is Yes, then you aren’t just doing a disservice to the company you’re working for (simply along for the ride), but you are doing a disservice to yourself.

And there is no clearer answer to that than how you feel first thing Monday morning.

If you feel any of the following, you need to question whether you’re in the right place or not.

1. You got a full night’s sleep and yet you still feel tired

This is a very clear indicator that sleep is not the problem.

The problem is you’re not emotionally invested in what you’re doing. Have you ever gone on a vacation or a trip where you’re doing stuff all day, going to bed late, and still waking up early with tons of energy because you’re excited to do more exploring?

That’s how you should feel every day, in some way, shape, or form.

2. You did not prepare yesterday for today

People despise feeling overwhelmed, and yet so many fail to realize they do it to themselves.

Failing to prepare means you are preparing to fail.

Mondays are only overwhelming if you did not take Sunday to get all your ducks in a row. And the reason why most people choose not to do this is because whatever it is they’re doing isn’t enjoyable to them.

3. Everyone else hates Mondays too

It’s easy to hate things other people hate too.

“Misery loves company.”

It’s impossible (or very, very difficult) to stay positive when your company culture is, “Hey Bob, how was your weekend?” / “Too short. Can’t believe it’s Monday. I hate Mondays.”

4. You aren’t doing something you love

Obviously.

You are not going to wake up feeling excited to go to a job you don’t genuinely enjoy.

It’s astounding how many people choose things out of comfort, or fear of the unknown, and bite the bullet on years upon years of dissatisfaction.

5. Social media either hates Mondays or crushes Mondays

Browse through Instagram on a Monday morning and you’ll see half a dozen coffee cup quote graphics either sharing the pains of waking up on a Monday, or the relentless ambition one must possess in order to crush Mondays goals.

What’s more important is, what do YOU want?

How do YOU want to be spending your Monday?

And then what can you do in order to bring that to fruition?

6. You don’t enjoy the people you work with

Most of the time, it’s the people around you that define how long you stay in any given situation.

Regardless of how you feel about the work, it can be very difficult to take satisfaction in doing something with people who don’t bring you positive energy — and vice versa.

7. Mondays mark the end of one life and the beginning of the next

When you “live for the weekend,” a Monday is the door shutting on your 48 hours of freedom — and that’s a pretty strong indicator you are living double lives.

One life is how you “pay the bills,” and the other life is what you do for personal enjoyment. In some capacity, you want to find a way to merge the two.

Otherwise, you will never find your work all that fulfilling.

8. Because Monday means doing it “all over again”

This speaks directly to our culture of chasing rewards as “means to an end.”

If you see every week as a sprint, and you endure it with the hopes that one day you’ll be “done” and you can finally “enjoy it and relax,” you’re doing it wrong. You’re missing the entire journey. You are aiming for something that doesn’t actually exist.

Fulfillment is found along the way, not in a treasure chest at the end of the rainbow.

 

How to Let Go of the Stress and Pressure That Weigh You Down

“Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response to what happens, and response is something we can choose.” ~Maureen Killoran

 

I don’t know about you, but I often find advice to release stress and pressure to be great on paper but incredibly difficult to apply.

Just say no more often! Sounds good, but my twenty-month-old son still needs constant care and I need to earn money, so there’s a lot I can’t just not do.

Get out in nature! I do try, but it’s been cold and grey, and often I don’t get time to myself until night—when it’s even more frigid.

Exercise more! I have the best of intentions, but I’m pregnant, frequently exhausted, and there’s that whole time thing again. I just can’t seem to create more of it, try as I may.

I suppose this is true of most good advice: It’s far easier to make a list of great ideas than it is to actually apply them. And it’s hard not to resist all those well-intentioned suggestions as overly simplified and maybe even unrealistic.

That, I’ve realized, is my biggest problem—one that you can perhaps relate to as well: While my circumstances can be challenging and limiting, most of the stress and pressure I feel originates with some form of internal resistance. Resistance to what was, what is, what might be, what I’m doing, what I could be doing, who I am… the list goes on.

And it might look like this:

  • Rehashing the past (and pressuring myself to somehow fix my mistakes)
  • Dwelling on worst-case scenarios (and pressuring myself to find ways to avoid them)
  • Fighting my current reality (and pressuring myself to change it)
  • Worrying about what I have to do (and pressuring myself to do it perfectly)
  • Obsessing about what I should be doing (and pressuring myself to figure it out)
  • Fixating on what I can’t do right now (and pressuring myself to get around my limitations)
  • Wishing I had more time for myself (and pressuring myself to somehow create it)
  • Judging myself in comparison to others (and pressuring myself to be better than I am)
  • Agonizing about what people think of me (and pressuring myself to meet their expectations)

If you’ve done any of these things yourself, I’m sure you know they’re exhausting.

That’s not say we are the sole cause of our stress. Sometimes life demands that we do more and deal with external challenges beyond our control—job loss, health issues, financial troubles, divorce…

And it’s true that there are lots of little things we can do to relieve some of the tension. But the first thing we need to do is relieve the pressure where it’s generally the most intense: within our own minds.

How to Relieve the Mental Pressure

There are two things I’ve found to be highly effective in quieting my inner voice of resistance.

1. Allow yourself to feel the feelings under your thoughts so that you can calm and release them.

All too often we get caught in a thought loop as a way to avoid feeling our feelings, because stressful as it may be, thinking about our circumstances allows us to avoid facing our deepest wounds. But we have to face them to heal them. As they say, the only way out is through.

I’ve found that underneath my varying forms of internal resistance, there’s usually:

Shame/guilt:

About things I think I’ve done wrong, about who I am (when I mistakenly assume my poor choices define me), about expectations I failed to meet or might fail to meet (my own and other people’s). And this triggers my core childhood wounds that led me to believe I’m fundamentally bad.

When I feel it:

When I’m rehashing the past, judging myself in comparison to others, and agonizing about what people think of me.

Fear:

Of the unknown, failing, succeeding then somehow ruining it, losing control, not doing enough with my life/making the most of my time, not living up to my potential, hurting or disappointing other people. Once again, this triggers my childhood wounds that led me to believe I’m not good enough, and never will be.

When I feel it:

When I’m dwelling on worst-case scenarios, worrying about what I have to do, and obsessing about what I should be doing.

Anger:

Toward myself for what I think I did wrong, toward other people for how I think they did me wrong, toward for myself for maybe causing them to do me wrong (because I often find a way to blame myself), toward life for being unfair. This triggers my core belief that life should be fair, formed, you guessed it, in childhood, when life felt very unfair.

When I feel it:

When I’m rehashing the past and fighting my current reality.

Emptiness:

Because I’m not connecting with myself, others, my passions, the world at large, or anything that would fulfill me.

When I feel it:

When I’m fixating on what I can’t do right now and wishing I had more time for myself.

When I can get below the thoughts and identify one of these feelings, I can sit with it. I can cry it out—the ultimate release!

I can empathize with myself and tell myself what I need to hear—that I’m a good person who’s always done her best, that I will do my best in the future and can handle what’s coming, that everyone else is doing their best, and we all deserve understanding and forgiveness.

And I can also do what I really need to do to feel better:

Maybe take a warm bath if I’m feeling ashamed to remind myself that I deserve comfort even when I think I’ve messed up.

Maybe do something fun and childlike if I’m feeling afraid of the future to help me find joy in the present moment.

Maybe write a forgiveness letter if I’m feeling angry to help me empathize, accept, and let go.

Maybe call someone I love, journal, or do something creative if I’m feeling empty, to meet my need for connection.

The point is, after we feel our feelings, we can do something to address the specific root cause of our stress in a moment instead of arbitrarily choosing an activity from a one-size-fits-all list of stress-relievers.

So ask yourself: What am I thinking that’s stressing me out? What’s the feeling underneath it? What does that feeling have to teach me? What does it need to hear? And what can I do to help ease that pain?

2. Get out of your head (and perhaps into your body or a state of flow).

It’s ironic but true that two pieces of seemingly contradictory advice can be equally helpful and powerful, and such is the case when it comes to relieving stress. Or at least it has been for me.

On the one hand, it can benefit us to look closely at what’s going in our minds so we can understand it, challenge it if necessary, and calm the feelings underneath our thoughts.

On the other hand, sometimes we simply need to disengage from our mind’s stories—about our unfulfilling work, our mounting bills, our insensitive relatives, and so on. To recognize we’re getting caught up in a mental maze from which we may never escape unless we consciously choose to get out—and then make that choice.

Our brain’s default mode network (DMN), which is designed to protect us, tends toward negativity, often focused on the past, the future, and the intentions behind others’ behavior. Research has shown a link between a disproportionately active DMN and depression and anxiety—and has also shown that meditation can help influence the default network.

That’s why it’s so important that we learn to get out of our heads, either through traditional meditation or by getting into our bodies or a state of flow (when you’re so consumed in a task that you forget about everything else and lose track of time).

It’s not just about temporarily quieting our thoughts. Mindfulness can actually change patterns of brain activity over time, enabling us to more frequently get out of the default mode network—where we inevitably feel stressed!

How do we get out of our heads and into our bodies or a state of flow?

Here are a few ways to practice mindfulness through movement:

Yoga

As you sync your breathing with your movements and focus your attention on the subtle muscle shifts required to get into and hold each pose, you’ll find your mind naturally quieting. There are lots of different styles of yoga. My favorites are vinyasa and Bikram, since I find the heat particularly soothing.

You can find all kinds of yoga videos on YouTube, and odds are, when life gets closer to normal again, you can find a free or donation-based class near you. I personally find it easier to practice in a class than on my own, since the presence of other people holds me accountable, and there are fewer cookies and TVs nearby to distract me!

Tai Chi

I have less experience with Tai Chi, but I did practice for a while in college, as part of an acting class. Acting requires you to get out of your judging mind, and Tai Chi is a perfect practice to facilitate that, since it’s all about integrating mind and body through slow, low-impact, controlled movements and breathing.

Tai chi is less physically taxing than most yoga practices (aside from restorative yoga, which is incredibly relaxing), which makes it perfect for anyone who’s more physically limited. It’s particularly popular among the senior crowd, since it’s easy on the joints, but it’s a powerful and effective mindfulness practice for anyone, of any age!

Mindful hiking or walking

Any form of movement can be meditative if you focus your attention on the sensations in your body, and hiking and walking outside bring the added benefit of immersing you in nature—a natural stress-reliever!

Studies have shown that just twenty minutes in nature can significantly lower your stress hormones. And it can also stimulate all the body’s senses, as we tune in to the sound of running water trickling nearby, the scent of pine (known to lower depression and anxiety), the colors in a picturesque sunrise, the feeling of leaves crunching beneath our feet, and the taste of a freshly picked piece of fruit.

Here are a few ways to get into a mindful state of flow (suggested by flow researcher Steven Kolter):

Through social triggers

We often think of flow as something we achieve individually, but group activities bring the added benefit of facilitating deep connection as we move in sync or work toward team goals. This might mean getting into a collective state of flow as part of a sports team, dance troupe, or through synchronized swimming.

I remember one particular piece of choreography from a community theater show I did as a kid. There were at least twenty of us, seated, doing clapping motions with each other’s hands, tapping our own and each other’s legs. We all needed to move perfectly in sync to get it just right, which required intense focus, and I have to say it was deeply gratifying to move as part of a whole—to lose myself in the group and become immersed in something bigger than myself.

Through creative triggers

Any creative activity can get us into a state of flow if we enjoy it and lose ourselves in the task. Painting, playing an instrument, dancing, jewelry making, even doodling—pick whatever calls to you so deeply you can’t help but concentrate on the present, losing your sense of self-consciousness because the act itself is so fun and rewarding.

Through environmental triggers

Rock climbing is a perfect example, since you need to be fully absorbed in the moment to safely navigate the rock formation. As you push yourself to your physical limit, balancing and adapting to the changing terrain, you’ll find yourself going deeper and deeper into a state of flow.

Though I’ve never done outdoor rock climbing—which I imagine is all the more thrilling, since it’s riskier and you’re totally immersed in nature—I participated in a climbing course as an experiential therapy treatment for bulimia in my early twenties. I remember all my worries falling away as I focused on not falling off the beam, and I recall appreciating my body for what it could do instead of judging myself for everything I thought I was doing wrong.

The beauty of most of these practices is that we can adapt them to our needs and available time. You can take an hour class or just practice for ten minutes. You can work on a painting for two hours or sketch for a brief window before bed.

Easier said than done? Of course! It’s far easier to watch Netflix in our one free hour of time or mindlessly scroll in that brief window before bed. (Guilty as charged.) When I do that, all my heavy unfelt feelings fester, settling deep into my brain and my bones and suffocating me like an invisible straitjacket.

But I know when I do something that’s good for me, I feel it—and I want more of it. And my resistance to doing it naturally fades away, along with my stress.

So really, we just need to show up once—really show up. Be so present that we allow ourselves to fully live that moment so we can love that moment, and that love will bring us back. Back to the practice, back to our bodies, back to ourselves. Our deepest selves, underneath the stress and pressure. The true self who knows we don’t need to be more, we don’t have to do more, we just have to let ourselves enjoy more. Because within that enjoyment there’s peace and healing. And no matter what our negatively biased brains tell us, we absolutely deserve it.