Mihran Kalaydjian Introducing Breeze (zepur gi tarnam) Զեփյուռի նման I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers. When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with it fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze.
I’ll be the gentlest breeze that Descends from the mountains to rest at your door. Like a knight seared by your love I’ll surrender my sword at your garden’s gate.
And I’ll watch for you, night and day. Only hurry back to your garden So I can see your face, put my heart to rest. Drunk with your love, I would die at your door.
Disguised as Spring I’ll enter your garden to cling to your rose like the singing nightingale. I’ll kneel by your door as a sacrifice for your life. I’m your Shahen; I’ll sing you a thousand songs.
Again I’ll watch for you, night and day Only hurry back to the garden So I can see your face, get drunk with your love. Put my heart to rest so I can die at your door.
7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Settle For Someone Who Doesn’t Make An Effort
Isn’t it the best feeling to hear “It wasn’t the same without you” or “I missed you so much”?
We all want to feel desired, wanted, and needed. We all want to feel loved and cared for. We all want to be missed. When it comes to significant others, we need to feel desired. That desire drives the passion, intimacy, and love that we feel between each other.
Sometimes we feel the passion but not the desire. We receive the response to our text a day or two later without any acknowledgement that it was late. Sure, people can be busy. Of course, we’re always busy. But how busy do you have to be to not respond with a “So sorry, busy day, will respond later”? It’s the respectful thing to do.
In our society, texting is many times our primary form of communication. We get to know each other by what emojis we send, whether or not we use periods or commas, and of course, our response time. We’re never asking for much, but we do expect a response within a respectable amount of time.
It might be that you’re trying to plan a date with the person from your English class that you’ve been crushing on for the entire year. It might be an old fling that you’re trying to reconnect with. It might be someone you’ve gone on a few dates with and you’re really feeling the potential.
Whether you’re in a potential, new, current, or nonexistent relationship, there’s never a reason to settle for someone who doesn’t make it known they want you. Here are seven reasons why.
1. You deserve better.
First comes first: You deserve better. If your best friend was complaining that the guy she likes was only texting her back every three or four days, what advice would you give her? You deserve better. It doesn’t matter whether this person is the sweetest person ever when you’re together. Making plans is a crucial step to continue getting to know each other. If they’re wishy-washy, it’s not worth it to you.
2. Your time is valuable.
When this person is off “being too busy,” you’re waiting around for their text and either coming up with excuses for them or feeling sorry for yourself. Stop that! Your time is valuable and you could be doing much better things than thinking about the “what ifs.” Stop “what if-ing” and spend your time investing in someone who will also invest time in you.
3. The Golden Rule.
Treat others how you want to be treated. You know that you wouldn’t be this flaky with someone, so why let yourself be treated this way? Indirectly, it’s insulting to you. You don’t need to be insulted or played with.
4. You won’t know what other opportunities are out there.
When you’re distracted by what this person could be doing instead of texting you back, you’re wasting your own time. You could be missing out on bumping into that cute person at the coffee shop who is completely willing to spend the 30-seconds it takes to reply to a text and make plans. Who knows what else you’re missing? You don’t! Not until you start looking.
5. You’ll become dependent on someone who isn’t dependable.
Let’s say you end up waiting 3 days for the reply. Even though you’re frustrated that this person made you wait, you make plans for Saturday and you’re looking forward to it. Saturday is a blast and your optimism is restored that this person is the one for you. They end up taking another 3 days to reply when you try to make plans again. This becomes a cycle of feeling so down when you’re waiting for the reply, but so happy when you finally make plans. You don’t need this madness! There are already so many stressors in life; waiting the whole week to confirm your weekend plans shouldn’t be another one.
6. There are better things to do than wait around.
Cook a new recipe. Bake cookies. Sing. Dance. Go to the beach, for a drive, for a run. There are endless possibilities for you to do that will stimulate your mind, body, and spirit much more than waiting around for a text back.
7. You are strong!
You might be feeling like it actually is worth it to you to wait around or that there actually aren’t better opportunities for you out there. But trust me, there are. Be a little more patient—the best has yet to come.
The bottom line is that if someone wants you in their life, they’ll make an effort to keep you in it. You’ve done nothing wrong. Don’t wait for someone to “come around” and show you they want you. If they do, you’ll know.
Most people don’t realize they’re only a few key behaviors away from starting to live a truly world-class life.
You don’t need to adopt dozens of new, difficult behaviors of “successful people” — you just need a few. And if you make just a few key behavioral changes, you’ll build momentum and confidence that you can reinvest in yourself to master new and better behaviors.
Success doesn’t happen all at once — it’s a slow, gradual process that rewards those who can consistently follow the path.
You also don’t need a lot of time to develop these initial world-class behaviors, either. A couple of weeks will do. We’re not trying to transform your entire life overnight, we’re getting you to identify and adopt just a few key behaviors that will create the momentum you can use to continue the process. Because there’s no end to success, no limit or cap — you can go as high as you want.
But it starts with developing a few world-class behaviors.
Focus on Learning and Creating, Not Entertainment and Distraction
There’s a lot you’ll need to learn on this journey you’re on. When I was a no-name blogger with dreams of being a big-time writer, I foolishly thought all I needed to master was “writing.”
Now that I am a successful writer, I’m amazed at how many new skills I’ve needed to learn, like website design, email marketing, webinars, sales pitches, public speaking, relationship building, online course creation, scheduling software, and countless more.
That’s why your first world-class behavior to master is to simply focus on learning and creating, not entertainment or distraction.
You can learn a lot very quickly if you choose. If you play guitar 3 times a week, you might take a year or two to get pretty good. But play guitar 3 times a day, and you could become very skilled in a matter of weeks.
You can only find these shortcuts by intense learning and creating, making mistakes, building your abilities as well as your confidence.
But as long as you continue to focus on entertainment and distraction, you’ll always be stuck in first gear, unable to start gaining enormous momentum to break through mental barriers that you might’ve been carrying around for years.
It’s difficult to remove yourself entirely from these distractions. Major corporations have an entire department of professionals whose sole job is to make you pay attention to their products. With the enormous influence of technology, social media, smartphones, and advertisements, it can feel a bit like living in a casino, where every little detail is designed to keep you focused on spending your money.
It’s on you to say no to these distractions. The most effective response I’ve ever found to the endless tempting distractions is simply to imagine what my life will be like when I finally complete this journey — traveling the world, making more money than ever before, 100% in charge of my time and attention. That sounds much more appealing than watching another silly video online when I should be working.
Ask Yourself Direct Questions That Force You To Gain Enormous Clarity
One of the most common responses I get from my readers about all this is: I don’t know where to start!
Getting clarity on your most important goals isn’t easy. You might be afraid you’ll choose the wrong thing, and become paralyzed by analysis. Maybe you’ve never known what you want to do, and have been stumbling into whatever job, relationship, or situation seemed the most convenient at the time.
You need to ask yourself some direct, blunt questions about your life.
I read a terrific article by Zak Slayback about gaining enormous clarity on these important things that I bookmarked and go back to sometimes.
It’s a 20-minute writing exercise you can do today that will provide crystal-clear clarity on your most important goals. Here are the questions:
Here are the questions:
1. I feel most unhappy when I…
2. I dread …
3. I am good at but do not particularly enjoy…
4. I cannot imagine doing … every day for the rest of my life.
5. I don’t understand why anybody would…
6. … does not appeal to me.
Here are some of my answers that might help you with yours:
1. I feel most unhappy when I…
am forced to work with frustrating people that force me to do busy work that doesn’t accomplish anything
when I have to listen to uninformed bosses that don’t know how to lead me
can’t write and do what I want to do with my time
am forced to work long hours doing things I hate doing
am forced to follow someone else’s silly schedule
can’t do things the way I want to do them
2. I dread …
going to work at a job I hate
dealing with rude and mean people
confrontation with difficult, assertive people
having to work on things I don’t want to do
having to spend time on tasks I don’t care at all about
3. I am good at but do not particularly enjoy…
Empathizing with angry customers
Putting out fires made by other people
4. I cannot imagine doing … every day for the rest of my life.
working at a boring 9–5 job
working with people I don’t like or respect
staying in one city
a job where someone has total control over my career progression
commuting more than 30 minutes each way
5. I don’t understand why anybody would…
want to work at a boring job that crushes their spirit
work with rude, annoying, stupid people
not travel the world
not make passive income
let one person dictate their career success
be content to simply “survive” then they could thrive
let others bully and intimidate them
6. … does not appeal to me.
Anything I can’t control and create myself
Following orders from people I don’t trust
Living by someone else’s rules
If you want extraordinary results, you need to ask yourself extraordinary questions. Be precise in your speech; don’t allow yourself to sit in the vague fog of “maybe” that most people have been living in for a long time. These small questions, genuinely answered, will provide enormous clarity in your life.
Everyone Must Sacrifice Things. But You Get to Choose What You Sacrifice.
You actually don’t get to choose whether you need to sacrifice or not — you do. We all must sacrifice something.
But you do get to choose what to sacrifice. This choice will affect the rest of your life.
There was this funny-because-it’s-true joke in college that went like this: “Sleep, good grades, friends: you only get 2.” You had to sacrifice something.
Everyone must sacrifice something. Make sure what you sacrifice isn’t costing you dearly.
Sadly, most people are sacrificing the wrong thing — their potential, their relationships, their well-being, even their future. Instead of letting go of negative, toxic relationships, people cling to them. Instead of striving nobly to achieve an extraordinary career, people settle for their comfortable, mediocre jobs.
You must sacrifice something — make sure you choose wisely.
Years ago, I was working in one of the worst jobs I’d ever had — telemarketing. My boss was near-comic-book-villain level bad. I saw countless coworkers fired for not hitting sales quotas. I wanted out.
But I had been complaining for months about it, calling friends and family to vent my frustrations. I wasn’t doing much about it.
Finally, I mentioned my poor, sad situation to a friend of a friend — someone who didn’t really know me, and had the ability to be extremely blunt with me. He didn’t hold back on his feedback. “Look — it’s time to stop complaining. You need to get a new job, now. Cancel social obligations, stay in on the weekends, wake up early, whatever. But find a new job.”
It stunned me. At first, I was angry and defensive. How can he say that! He doesn’t know me! He doesn’t know how hard this has been for me! He was inviting me to sacrifice something I didn’t want to let go of.
Eventually, I saw his wisdom. I was sacrificing my happiness and emotional well-being working there — why not sacrifice some weekends and casual social hangouts for something that could change my entire career?
So that’s what I did. I chose to stop hanging out with friends (for a time) while I busted my ass finding a new job. Within a few focused months of networking and meeting more people in different departments, I was offered a job that was infinitely better than telemarketing! It was higher-paying, I got to travel, help people, and most importantly, no more telemarketing calls!
You must sacrifice something — that’s not up for debate.
But you do get to choose what you sacrifice.
Small choices have big results. Once you start making the right small choices, you’ll start seeing the results you actually want, and not the opposite. It’s time for you to start acting like people living a world-class life — in charge of their time, money, relationships, and choices.
It starts with your behaviors. Once you consistently start making world-class choices — something you can start today — you’ll start seeing these behaviors grow into lasting characteristics of your life. You’ll become a disciplined, consistent, focused positive person with power and ability.
For many people, the hardest part is just starting. Most people don’t know where to focus their time and energy, so they continue wasting time when they should’ve started long ago.
Since most people have been making many foolish and unwise small choices, they’re see big, negative results in their life.
Choose to adopt some new, world-class behaviors in life. They don’t have to be enormous — just big enough to start creating some momentum. Use that momentum. Reinvest in your life. Sacrifice the right things so you can achieve the life you want.
Ready to Level-Up?
If you want to become extraordinary and become 10x more effective than you were before, check out my checklist.
It’s now time to say goodbye to another decade. We enter the new decade with great anticipation of things becoming better. This New Year and new decade creates an atmosphere of renewal for all of us. Regardless of what mistakes have been made in the past year or what projects might remain unfinished; the New Year provides an opportunity to make things better. As with all beginnings, however, getting started can be the most challenging step. Strive to have a better understanding of yourself this year. The most important person in your life is you! The only person that can change you is you! So work on yourself this year spiritually and at the end of the year look back and see all the changes you have made.
Now, you will enter the unseen, and you can enter a New Year equipped with an arsenal of heavenly energies. It requires your taking time to be quiet and feel the energies of the angels all around you. Look for their guidance throughout this coming year and decade.
The Angels are bringing bright blessings to you and your family this coming year. They ask that you reflect on all the blessings that you have had, as well as the lessons you have learned during this past year. They ask that you reflect on the struggles you have endured throughout the year and question why these times were so hard.
By looking back, you may be able to change your perception of the way you view your life and the world around you. When you look at things differently, the things you look at change. Consciously choose to see things in a positive light in the New Year.
Soon you will see that everything around you is filled with loving energy. You create your reality. Why not choose to have a positive, loving experience this year, and in turn, your energy will add to the collective consciousness and make the earth a better place to live! Life is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.
Many of the events that have happened in 2019 have made people realize how fragile life is and how quickly things can change. Now is not a good time to be clinging to past issues and past hurts. Letting go is a good option because it frees you from heartache caused by going over and over the past.
Bob Marley once said, “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you’re riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts; put your vision to reality. Wake up and live!”
Now is the time to let down the walls that have kept you trapped. If you choose the spiritual path these walls will soon start to fade away and you will get a taste of real freedom. You can become more aware of your connection to everything as you let down your guard and remove the walls. Focus on what has changed for you and what you desire to change in the future. For some of you this will be easy to do. For others who are resistant to change pulling down those walls will be more challenging.
Allow yourself to connect with that spark within that has been glowing inside of you from the beginning of your existence. Sometimes we only get a glimpse of the eternal, but those moments are given to us so that we have the fortitude to carry on.
Happy New Year. May the New Year bring to you warmth of love, and a light to guide your path towards a positive destination.
There’s plenty to recommend Italy already: The rolling hills of Tuscany, the canals of Venice, the charm of Cinque Terre, the wine and food of…well, everywhere. After all, there’s a reason it’s consistently ranked among the most-visited countries in the world, with tourism revenue well into the twelve figures. But add the incredible number and variety of beaches to the equation, and suddenly the country becomes a mandatory item on every traveler’s to-do list.
Ready to traverse the boot? Read on to start plotting the perfect itinerary. And if beach-hopping across Italy isn’t in your future, this list is still worth a look: these places are beautiful enough to cure even the most severe cases of Monday blues, mean reds, or winter doldrums. And after a few glimpses, you may find yourself tallying up your vacation days, scoping out your savings, and planning your next Italian excursion.
1) Acquafredda di Maratea Beach, Basilicata
Six miles outside of the hamlet of Maratea, this rugged stretch of shoreline has the same blue water and dark gray sand of the Amalfi Coast, but it’s further north with none of the accompanying throngs of tourists. It’s a prime place for beachgoers in search of rustic beauty: In spite of neatly arranged sun loungers and beach umbrellas placed by local hotels, the rocky shoreline and cliffs jutting up on either side of the cove preserve the untamed feel of the area
2) Marina Grande Beach, Positano
As if the views of deep greenish-blue seas weren’t enough, the stacks of pastel houses hugging the cliffs make Positano’s main beach feel like something plucked from a midcentury postcard. With over 300 yards of dark sand—large swathes of it dedicated to tidily arranged rows of beach umbrellas and lounge chairs in Technicolor shades of orange and blue—this spot always feels open and roomy in spite of summer crowds. Start in town with a leisurely outdoor lunch overlooking the Mediterranean, then sleep off the limoncello buzz with a snooze on the sand.
3) Camogli Beach, Liguria
Northwest Italy’s coastal towns tend to live in the shadow of the neighboring French Riviera, but that means beaches like Camogli’s have all the Mediterranean beauty with a fraction of the crowds you’ll find in Nice or St. Tropez.
The beach in this little fishing village is pebbly but picturesque—the ancient Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta is perched on a promontory at the harbor’s northern end, with mountains rising up behind it. This spot has something for every traveler: swimming lessons to keep the kids busy, beachside drink service for the laid-back crowd, and rowboats, canoe rentals, and diving lessons for the adventure-seekers.
4) Scalo Maestro, Marettimo
Just off the western tip of Sicily, the island of Marettimo (population: 700) has the kind of wild beauty that gives every moment here a dreamlike quality. The tiny beach of Scalo Maestro is one of the few you can access from the shore, and its gentle slope and clear, calm waters are particularly swimmer- and snorkeler-friendly. Once you’ve had your fill of beach time, charter a boat for a tour of the island: it’s the only way to access Marettimo’s hidden sea caves. You can’t truly appreciate the magic of the Aegadian Islands until you’ve gone swimming in a sun-dappled Mediterranean grotto.
5) Porto Campana, Sardinia
Three miles of golden sand make up the Campana beachfront, and within that expanse you’ll find something to suit every type of beachgoer. Look for rental kiosks to try your hand at surfing, kiteboarding, or paddleboarding; kick back on a rented lounger with a cocktail; sign up for a scuba session with a local outfitter; or admire Campana’s dunes—some as high as 65 feet.
6) Otranto Beach, Otranto
This bay in the center of Italy’s easternmost town is all soft white sand and shallow turquoise water—a tiny sliver of the Caribbean perched on the Adriatic. And while the beach itself is as all-purpose as they come (great for swimming, sunning, snorkeling…), the best way to enjoy this place also happens to be the easiest: Stop in town to pick up a crisp white wine, a hunk of fresh bread, and a ball of Puglia’s creamy, buttery burrata, then while away a few hours sipping and snacking on this little seaside slice of heaven.
7) Poglinano a Mare Beach, Puglia
Nestled in an inlet bound by steep limestone cliffs, this spot is off the beaten path for most tourists, but it’s well worth the detour. Bring a beach chair for comfort—there’s no sand here, only smooth, salt-worn pebbles—and a pack a pair of water shoes if you’re the adventurous type. Then follow the lead of the locals: Climb a few feet up the cliffs, shimmy out until you’re over deep water, and take the leap. Toast your courage in a cliffside cove above the Adriatic at nearby Grotta Palazzese, possibly the most romantic restaurant in the world.
8) Spiaggia di Tuerredda, Sardinia
Even in the off-season, this island idyll is a must-see: The sea here is such a perfect shade of pale blue it doesn’t seem real, and since it’s sheltered from the bracing Mistral winds, the water is warm enough for swimming well into fall. There’s a scattering of casual beachfront restaurants and amenities if you’re interested in paddleboarding or kayaking, but be sure to find time for a languid stroll along the shore. Between the pristine setting, the sound of the waves, and the occasional whiff of Sardinia’s juniper trees on the breeze, your blood pressure will be dropping in no time.
9) Marina del Cantone Beach, Massa Lubrense
This beach is the place to go if you want authenticity: Despite its proximity to the Amalfi Coast’s tourist hotspots, Marina del Cantone is free of the overdevelopment (and accompanying sky-high prices) you’ll find in neighboring coastal towns, and you’re likely to be surrounded by locals. Be sure to wear sturdy sandals to shield your soles from the rocky beach, and if you’re feeling ambitious, hike the nearby footpaths for unbeatable views of the bay and the town from neighboring cliffs. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head into town for lunch with a view at Lo Scoglio. Their spaghetti con ricci di mare—pasta tossed with a sauce of sea urchin, olive oil, and garlic—is creamy, salty-sweet, and the perfect capstone to an Amalfi afternoon.
10) Rabbit Beach, Lampedusa
It takes a bit of determination to make your way to this secluded spot—the tiny island of Lampedusa is just over 100 miles off the coast of mainland Italy, closer to Tunisia than Europe—but the effort pays off. The water is shallow and perfectly clear even at the edges of the bay, and cliffs flanking the beach keep it sheltered from strong winds and waves. The visibility and abundant sea life (turtles includes) make snorkeling a must, but the remote location means you won’t find much in the way of facilities and amenities, so pack gear and provisions before you go.
11) Spiaggia di Chiaia di Luna, Ponza
This is Italy’s answer to the white cliffs of Dover. Sheer golden bluffs plummet over 300 feet down to sea level, where they’re bordered by a thin crescent of sand. It’s a must-see destination year round: If it’s too chilly for swimming, Instagram-worthy tableaux abound if you take a stroll along the beach or atop the coastal cliffs. And though the beach is the main draw, be sure to carve out enough time for inland exploring. Ponza has been settled since the Neolithic era, so the island is scattered with Roman and Etruscan ruins that archaeology buffs will love. For bonus points, pack The Odyssey for beach reading: Ponza is rumored to be Homer’s inspiration for the isle of Aeaea, where Odysseus meets the enchantress Circe.
12) La Cattedrale, Palmarola
From Ponza, charter a boat to the neighboring island of Palmarola for even more jaw-dropping scenery. The harbor beach on this uninhabited isle is beautiful enough, but for the real showstopper, head to La Cattedrale, a series of rocky arches jutting into the sea, so named for their resemblance to the vaulted naves of medieval churches. An afternoon spent swimming in the grottos, dozing in the shade of the cliffs, and spotting the dolphins that play offshore is the kind of once-in-a-lifetime experience you don’t want to miss.
13) Lido Beach, Lido di Venezia
14) Lago di Braies, South Tyrol
It may not be on the ocean, but this gem nestled in the Dolomites is guaranteed to satisfy beachgoers in search of beautiful scenery and a refreshing dip. The lake boasts clear, blue-green waters and white sand—a striking visual contrast to the dense pine forest and snow-dusted peaks that surround it. A day hike is the best way to see everything Lago di Braies has to offer: Pack your swimsuit, a towel, and a lunch, then venture out on the beginner-friendly footpath that circles the perimeter, pausing to picnic and swim at the first beach that suits your fancy. Be sure to stop at the Braies bungalow—built on stilts over the lake, it’s a cross between an alpine ski lodge and a Tahitian overwater cabana—for photo ops and rowboat rentals.
15) Scala dei Turchi, Sicily
One of the most visually striking beaches in the world, Sicily’s Turkish Steps are a must-visit for aesthetic reasons alone. The bright white marlstone has been slowly eroded, creating a sloping staircase that leads right into the sea. Go at low tide for the best views, and wear sturdy shoes for the journey—the climb is not for the faint of heart. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, pack a flashlight and stay until the sun sets. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better visual than that of the cliffs awash in gold and silhouetted against a fiery sky.
Armenia being one of the oldest countries in the world was also the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion back in 301 AD (that’s more than 1,700 years ago!). Its millennium old monasteries can usually be found situated on highlands among-st picturesque landscapes where they are less vulnerable to attacks. Armenia, also known as the “land of churches”, has around 4,000 monasteries and churches. Here’s our curated list in random order for the 10 most beautiful churches in Armenia that you must visit at least once in your life!
1. Khor Virap Monastery
It’s no wonder why Khor Virap is one of the favorite attractions of most travelers in Armenia. The majestic Mt Ararat positioned right behind the church makes a fantastic backdrop for a panorama view of the church. The locals also believed that Mt Ararat protected the monastery against a strong earthquake in the past.
It is believed that St Gregory the illuminator was imprisoned here in this dungeon was dug 7-8 meters underground for his preaching of Christianity to the people in Armenia. It was such a miracle that despite being imprisoned for 13 years, he was still alive when they found him. It turned out that throughout the years, there was this Christian lady who continued to give him some bread surreptitiously.
Tip: For those who are claustrophobic, it’s advisable to not enter the pit. It was quite challenging climbing down the vertical ladder into the pit.
2. Noravank Monastery
This monastery is most famous for its two-story church whereby you will have to climb up to the main entrance via a narrow staircase made from stones jutting out from the face of building.
3. Echimiazin Armenian Apostolic Church
This was the first cathedral that was ever built in Armenia and also the oldest cathedral in the world. Sadly the main church building has been under construction for the past few years, hence we were not able to get a nice shot of it. The photo below shows the main entrance to this Church. This place was also the headquarter for all the churches in Armenia.
And yes, this is the majestic view of the Echmiadzin church in summer when it was not under any renovation. Very beautiful right?
4. Zvartnots Ruins
Zvartnots is also known as the “temple of ruins” and it is listed as a UNESCO heritage site. This place was the first circular 3 story church built back in the 6th century which only lasted for 3 centuries before it was destroyed by an earthquake. Some of the pillars and the altar of the church were relatively well preserved and you could also still see its exterior circular architecture. The Armenians later learnt to built more stable rectangular based churches instead of circular shaped
5. Geghard Monastery
This was one of the most interesting and unique monasteries that we’ve seen during our time in Armenia and also my personal favorite. This entire cave monastery was carved inside a rock mountain, how is that even possible back then with limited tools and technology?! Its name “Geghard” means spear and this spear was actually referring to the same spear that was used to pierce Christ after he was being crucified on the cross to check if he was still alive. Many pilgrims head here to see the relic of the “spear” and hence they eventually renamed the monastery to Geghard Monastery (Spear Monastery).
Can you imagine, this entire church was carved inside a rock mountain! Look at the details on the pillars and sides of the walls. Also, the exact spot where we were standing in the photo below was said to have the best natural acoustics ever. We did try humming a tune and it immediately sent tingles up our spine! The echo was unbelievable and even the slightest whisper could be heard clearly and beautifully!
6. Sevanakvank monastery
Most people travel to this monastery situated on a hill adjacent to the beautiful Lake Sevan to get a glimpse of the unique green cross stone that was made from limestone. This place was originally built for the priests that have sinned as this monastery was isolated and far away from the city and women. Also, this was one of the only 3 churches in Armenia that has Christ illustrated on the cross stone.
7. Tatev Monastery
Another stunning fairy tale like monastery that literally took our breath away. This was in fact Daniel’s favourite out of the lot that we’ve seen! But this monastery is definitely more beautiful during summer
During winter, the road that leads up to the spot where you could capture a nice panorama shot of the monastery was too slippery and dangerous.
Useful tip: During winter, the cable car that leads up to the monastery only operates on Sat & Sun.
8. St Grigor Lusavorich
The St Grigor Lusavorich cathedral is also the symbol of the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation of Christianity as a state religion in Armenia as well as a tribute to St Gregory, the illuminator, who was responsible for introducing Christianity to Armenia. This church is one of the newest church in Armenia and was built only around 6-7 years ago.
Useful tip: Visit this church twice! Once in the day and again at night. This church is particularly beautiful at night after being illuminated by the floodlights.
9. Odzun church
This church was different because of its pink felsite stoned walls. Most of the other churches that we’ve seen were grey/dark colored, so this was indeed quite refreshing for us! Especially with its picturesque setting of the magnificent ridge as the backdrop, this church quickly became one of our favorites.
10. Sanahin monastery complex
The Sanahin Monastery was very impressive because of its remarkable archways. The Sanahin was especially rich in Khachkars (cross stones) where more than 80 of them survived till date. If you’re visiting this complex, do remember to pay more attention to the intricate details on the khachkars. Most of these khachkars depict the traditional cross growing out of a grain with branches at its sides. According to our guide, this symbolizes “life”.
Dedicated: You are the most beautiful love song, the most beautiful music ever created, the most beautiful person in this world.
I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder
No New Year’s Day to celebrate
No chocolate covered candy hearts to give away
No first of spring, no song to sing
In fact here’s just another ordinary day
No April rain
No flowers bloom
No wedding Saturday within the month of June
But what it is, is something true
Made up of these three words that I must say to you
I just called to say I love you
I just called to say how much I care
I just called to say I love you
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart
No summer’s high
No warm July
No harvest moon to light one tender August night
No autumn breeze
No falling leaves
Not even time for birds to fly to southern skies
No Libra sun
No giving thanks to all the Christmas joy you bring
But what it is, though old so new
To fill your heart like no three words could ever do
I just called to say I love you
I just called to say how much I care, I do
I just called to say I love you
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart
Can we sing it one more time please
I just called to say I love you (I just called to say, I just called to say I love you)
I just called to say how much I care, I do (I just called to say, I just called to say I do)
I just called to say I love you (I just called to say, I just called to say I love you)
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart, of my heart, I love you from the bottom of my heart
Are those sky-high rents, $10 beers, overhyped restaurants, and so-packed-you-can’t-move museums of America’s great cities starting to bring you down? It might be time to consider a trip (or even a move) to one of these eight overlooked gems, where you’ll find equally excellent food scenes, historic sites, and world-class art.
Know someone headed to Colorado? They’re probably bound for Denver—CO’s urban playground of art, culture, and food—or any one of its premiere ski towns (Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge, Telluride, Steamboat Springs). But just north of the capital is a nature-lover’s paradise. Boulder’s location at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains means world-class hiking and skiing are literally at your doorstep. (Don’t miss the trails through the Flatirons in Chautauqua Park, known for their iconic sandstone slab rock formations.)
The area’s local farms are to thank for the top-notch food scene: hit up Emmerson Restaurant, a Pearl Street newcomer, for fresh pastas and cocktails from a former LA Weekly “Best Bartender.” If you happen to be in town in the warmer months, check out Boulder’s summer music series. At day’s end, retreat to Basecamp Hotel, a stylishly affordable boutique that capitalizes on its mountain town ethos: hanging canvas tapestries take the place of headboards and Coleman coolers stand in for mini-bars in the 50 rooms, and there’s an indoor rock-climbing wall as well as an outdoor deck and fire pit for roasting s’mores.
2. Portland, ME
A charming waterfront, 19th-century brick architecture, cobbled streets, a surplus of seafood—Portland, Maine is every bit the New England stereotype, but with a true cosmopolitan edge. Stroll around the Old Port, past lauded restaurants like Eventide Oyster Co. (famous for its traditional clam bakes, brown-butter lobster rolls, and Maine oysters on the half shell) as well as less-expected gems like the vegetarian-focused Silly’s and Miyake, whose menu is influenced by washoku—the Japanese dietary practice that emphasizes vegetables and fish—and comes from a twice-James-Beard-nominated chef. For the best of both old and new, check into the Danforth Inn, a 1823 Federal mansion that contains quirky objets d’art and a Shanghai-inspired bar.
3. Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis has quietly but confidently stepped up its style game with design-forward hotels and pioneering global restaurants. In the North Loop, a logging warehouse has been transformed into the Hewing Hotel, which takes “lodge-luxe” to a new level with its original pine timber beams, vibrant local art and photography, and rooftop Social Club. From here, it’s only a six-minute walk to The Bachelor Farmer, a cozy-chic Scandinavian restaurant that’s earned accolades for its Nordic-influenced toasts and the city’s first-ever rooftop garden. For great made-in-Minneapolis souvenirs, swing by The Foundry Home Goods shop for handcrafted wares like wool blankets and porcelain dish sets.
4. Asheville, NC
Taking a drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway tops our road trip bucket list, but it’s worth extending your journey with a detour to Asheville. There’s a lot to love about this North Carolina gem. The culinary scene–an intoxicating mix of serious Southern recipes and playful global influences—is one of the best in the south. The drinking scene isn’t far behind: its 18+ craft breweries have earned Asheville the nickname “The Napa Valley of Beer.” And the live music, from impromptu street performances to the Bluegrass Festival and legendary music halls like The Orange Peel, is in a class all its own. Our perfect day in town might involve lunch at buzzy Spanish tapas joint Curate; dinner at The Admiral, a popular gastropub that churns out plates like glazed sweetbreads and shaved country ham; and a show at The Mothlight, which hosts both big-name bands and local up-and-comers.
5. St. Louis, MO
Chicago gets the lion’s share of Midwest love, but this second-tier city to the south deserves a closer look. This year marks the completion of an ambitious five-year, $380 million revitalization of St. Louis’s famed Eero Saarinen-designed Gateway Arch and surrounding parklands, which now includes a subterranean museum and a land bridge that creates a much-needed link between the grounds and the city itself (which was formerly separated by a highway). Not to be outdone, the 105-acre Laumeier Sculpture Park in Sunset Hills was one of the country’s first of its kind and makes for a perfect springtime picnic and stroll. No visit is complete without a tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery (now a National Historic Landmark) before a hearty American dinner at Olive + Oak, whose chef Jesse Mendica was a James Beard semifinalist last year. Afterwards, rest your head at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, whose highlights include dead-on arch views and a rooftop pool.
6. San Antonio, TX
Were it not for the sheer size of Texas (which lays claim to not one but three top-tier cities including Dallas, Houston, and Austin), San Antonio might have landed itself a top spot on first-time visitors’ to-do lists. The notion isn’t so far-fetched when you consider the city’s trifecta of history, culture, and food. After checking off the Alamo, head to the UNESCO-listed San Antonio Missions, which protects four other 18th-century Spanish Colonial mission churches built along the San Antonio River. For stellar barbecue, shops, and people-watching, The Pearl District is a pedestrian-friendly pocket home to the River Walk, a waterway lined with old-world taverns and riverfront restaurants that’s become known as “The American Venice.” Lately, the city has even added stylish hotels to the mix. Our favorite: Hotel Emma, a historic 1800s brewhouse turned boutique with a notable restaurant and taproom called Southerleigh.
7. Baltimore, MD
This all-American seaport has been likened to a more affordable D.C. Sure, some industrial areas are still rough around the edges (You’ve seen The Wire, right?) but you’ll hardly notice what with all that’s going on in regards to culture and food. Its past life as an immigration portal means Baltimore has built a community that prizes diversity and creativity, best seen at prized institutions like the Baltimore Museum of Art, Walters Art Museum, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. Not to mention the micro-breweries, farm-to-table restaurants, and trendy cocktail dens that have taken hold of the dining scene in just the last few years. After stopping by James Beard Award-winning Spike Gjerde’s Woodberry Kitchen for dishes that spotlight Chesapeake-sourced ingredients, check into the new Sagamore Pendry Baltimore hotel, whose pool overlooks the harbor.
8. Buffalo, NY
Some 70 years after the Great Depression delivered a mighty blow to this once wealthy industrial boomtown, Buffalo is finally on the upswing. Forward-thinking creatives are beginning to repurpose the gritty grain silos and Frank Lloyd Wright architecture that once defined the city landscape, while the arrival of younger residents seeking out Buffalo’s still-affordable housing options has reenergized the city’s social scene. You won’t go wrong at corner taverns like Arty’s Grill and Gene McCarthy’s, which keep the fun going until 4 a.m., or getting a taste of what Buffalo does best (yes, we’re talking wings!). Don’t miss the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, a bastion for 20th-century American art, or Hotel Henry, a stylish 88-room sleep built inside an abandoned 1870s asylum designed by lauded American architect Henry Hobson Richardson.
Looking to get away from it all? Science has proven that nature travel can improve almost every aspect of your wellbeing, from increasing your attention span to improving your mood. To get the most benefit, it’s worth seeking out places with minimal noise, artificial light, and air pollution.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy. Quiet places are disappearing fast, even in protected areas; nighttime light pollution covers nearly 80 percent of the planet; and there are no places left that are entirely free of air pollution.
Go to These Places to Avoid Noise, Light, and Air Pollution
But there is hope; there are several well-organized resources for finding the darkest, quietest, and cleanest places left on Earth, including dark skies associations, noise experts, and the World Health Organization’s survey of air conditions worldwide. I combined them all to pick 10 of the best places to find clear skies, bright stars, fresh air, and the purest sounds of nature.
Flagstaff was the first city named an International Dark Sky City by the International Dark Sky Association, and was in the top five for cleanest air in a recent State of the Air survey by the American Lung Association. This small city isn’t particularly quiet, but active civic measures to keep down noise pollution mean that it’s easy enough to find peace in the surrounding areas at places like Meteor Crater and Walnut Canyon.
Roisey, located in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region of France, has been determined by the World Health Organization to have the cleanest air in the country. Thanks in part to its location in a national park as well as altitude over 4,200 feet in some places, skies are also often very clear. Add to that an official population of just 909 people, and you have a great choice for getting away from it all right in the middle of Europe.
Te Anau, New Zealand
Global testing by the World Health Organization has found Te Anau to have some of the cleanest air worldwide. Its location at the entrance to Fiordland National Park makes it a basecamp for hikers and “trampers” who can see night skies so clear that there’s a small cottage industry offering night sky tours in the area. The presence of helicopter touring companies means it might not always be the quietest spot, but if you are hiking into the fjords or along the Kepler or Milford Tracks, you can escape the noise as soon as the heliports shut down each evening.
The Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve in Mt. Cook National Park is another superb New Zealand option, free of most air pollution and attracting stargazers from around the world.
Located about 100 miles north of Madrid, Campisabalos is another city that sits high on WHO’s list of the best air in the world. Dark sky maps put it solidly away from most light pollution; if you want even darker, travel a bit southeast to the Parque Natural de la Serrania to the west of Cuenca, which also includes the Enchanted City, a geological wonder created by natural erosion approximately 90 million years ago.
Mojave Desert, California
Trevor Cox, a professor of acoustic engineering at the University of Salford and author of a book on natural sound phenomena, recommends the Kelso Dune area in the Mojave Desert. Cox visited the spot specifically because there are interesting sounds—the dunes make a growling or bellowing sound when you move the sand around that gives them the name “singing sands”—but Cox notes that the area is extremely quiet.
“Kelso Dune in the Mojave Desert … has no flights and no cars, and actually no sound at times because there is very little wildlife,” he says. “It is a special place.”
The dunes are also located in a formidable area of dark skies, and the National Park Service’s “half the park is after dark” motto definitely applies here.
Lapland Region, Finland
Way up in the northern Lapland region of Finland, the municipality of Muonio topped WHO’s most recent clean air list. While you pull in the fresh air, you can take in some superb views of the northern lights; Finns often ski or snowshoe into the countryside to see the lights, but VisitFinland.com has put together a list of more comfortable options, including heated tents and glass igloos.
Muonio has the longest snow season in all of Finland, so if you don’t get clear skies right away, strap on some skis while you wait for a good night to see the lights.
San Pedro de Atacama Region, Chile
Clean air, high altitude, and the driest desert in the world combine to put the San Pedro de Atacama region at the top of the list of the darkest, clearest places on Earth. Don’t believe me? Check out this timelapse video. In addition to being free of light and air pollution, the desert environment also offers minimal sound from wildlife.
Grasslands National Park, Canada
Gordon Hempton, founder of One Square Inch of Silence, did an acoustic survey at Saskatchewan’s Grasslands National Park and found that it has “the quietest, purest sounds,” he said. And much of the park is nearly absent of light pollution, according to Dark Site Finder. You won’t find much air pollution here either; the air in Canada is some of the best in the world, according to WHO.
Canary Islands, Spain
Mountainous geography and a location in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean make La Palma and Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands among the purest destinations on the planet. Teide National Park on Tenerife includes the highest peak in the Atlantic Ocean for peak baggers, not to mention stargazers.
Haleakala Summit, Hawaii
Hawaii has some of the most consistently clean air on Earth—even bustling Honolulu gets good marks from WHO—and the ability to get up above the clouds into thinner, cleaner air on top of Haleakala, in Maui, means there is even better stargazing here than at sea level. Visitors can stay overnight to see the stars and take in the sunrise, giving you the best of both worlds. The Mauna Kea observatory on the Big Island is another superb option, although staying overnight is not possible there.
Mo’orea is a volcanically formed island in the French Polynesia, reachable from nearby Tahiti by high-speed Cataraman. Expect pristine white powder sanded beaches, bright turquoise waters, staggering emerald green cliffs and luxury hotels with over-water bungalows. Mo’orea is ideal for honeymooners who want a lesser known destination. Recommended hotels include Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort (pictured) & Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora.