Mihran Kalaydjian Introducing Breeze (zepur gi tarnam) Զեփյուռի նման

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.

LIKE A BREEZE

Lyrics:

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.

How to Reap the Benefits of Meditation Without Meditating

Thought-clouds

 

The benefits of meditation are far reaching and have been well known for centuries. However, the idea of formal meditation doesn’t sit well with some of us.

The idea of sitting cross-legged for extended periods and delving inward puts many of us off before we’ve even got started. Even the word “meditation” can be a very real barrier to entry for some. What a shame, as the many benefits of meditation can be good for us all.

Those benefits can include:

  • reduction in the stress we feel
  • A deeper sense of calm and relaxation in our lives
  • Reduced feelings of anxiety
  • A better understanding of what we truly think/feel/want
  • Less feelings of anger, hurt, or disquiet
  • Being more present
  • Being more content
  • A better understanding of who we really are

This little list is just starting to scratch the surface. Meditating can be that powerful.

If meditating in a more traditional way for extended periods feels right for you, all power to you— please continue with your journey. If that isn’t you, don’t worry, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be.

If you recoil a little when meditation is mentioned but still want to reap some of the rewards, I hope to offer several ideas that might work for you. But first, a bit of personal reflection.

I Confess I Do Not Have a Formal Meditation Practice

As someone that writes books and a blog all under the broad umbrella of simplicity and that can often be found leafing through books and words by Thich Nhat Hanh, Bruce Lee, Sun Tzu, and Lao Tzu, it may surprise you to know I do not consider myself to have a formal meditation practice.

Perhaps somewhat out of step with the trend of our time, my morning routine (if I even have one) does not have time carved out for sitting cross-legged in a quiet room, reflecting on the universe at large.

Don’t get me wrong, I admire that others do this, but it never really felt like a fit for me. I’ve tried to make it a habit, at a few points in my life, but it just hasn’t stuck.

If I’m honest, I think the word “meditation” itself intimidates many of us. We perceive it to mean we need some special point of entry, or skillset, to reap the rewards.

All this said, perhaps paradoxically, I am also totally sold on the benefits of meditation and I want them to be a part of my life. I just happen to believe you can get those benefits in other ways. Your formal practice doesn’t have to be formal, and you don’t even have to call it a “practice.”

This is where the art of meditating without meditation comes in.

Meditation without Meditating in Action: My Top 6

Here are some of my favorite ways to achieve some of meditation’s powerful benefits without actually feeling like I am meditating.

1. Walking

Walking is my ultimate reset. It blows away the mental cobwebs that can accumulate. It provides new stimulus and re-energises a tired mind. Complex problems I’ve been struggling with can suddenly feel like they fall into place on a good, long walk. A fresh perspective can somewhat magically drift into view.

I like to walk early, before the rush and before the noise of human traffic drowns out the birds singing. Depending on where I am, I like to walk as close to nature as possible (a nice park, a beach, a hike over rolling hills). This is as close as I consider I get to a formal meditative practice.

2. Being at one with the outdoors and nature

The natural world is a passion for me. Something that breathes life and color into any day, if I just make time to stop and notice what is going on around me. I find it grounding and uplifting all at once.

Nature presents us with a constant wonderland. It’s easy to take this for granted. We can fix this by spending some time just being at one with nature and reconnecting with the great outdoors, and we’ll feel so much better for it.

Be amazed by that spider’s web glistening with the morning’s dew.

Take in the sun rising and setting.

Make time to watch the clouds moving overhead, soak up the inspiration that comes from the view.

Be endlessly in awe at nature’s ability to evolve, adapt, and deal with challenges.

Enjoy the offerings of new life and renewal each and every spring, by making deliberate time to stop and notice.

3. Losing myself in music (art)

Some would say this is cheating, as you are using outside stimulus to get a response; I say call it what you will. The benefits that people claim to get from meditation, I have and feel from losing myself in music.

Music is transformative. It can lift our mood on our darkest days, it can ease anxiety when we feel on edge about something, it can shift our mindset.

We can leverage different music at different times to support our state of well-being. Music is one of life’s true pleasures for me, one of the very last things I would want to give up.

However, if music isn’t quite as powerful a force in your own life, perhaps there is something else that is. Literature can, and does, serve the same end. Or a beautiful painting or sculpture that really moves us, or even a really great movie. All of the above can be transformative, life-affirming, and even life-changing ways we can apply ourselves.

4. Seeking stillness

Seeking stillness may sound like a total contrast to the earlier suggestion to listen to music; maybe it is or isn’t, but this time is necessary for me. This is time to let my mind just drift without expecting too much of anything from it. Letting it wander where it wanders. In a results-orientated culture, we can spend too little time here.

Cut to the core, this is actually what meditation is all about. For me, all it really means is taking the time to get in touch with our own thoughts and finding a point of reflection. It’s cutting out the external world for a while and tuning into frequency us. It’s about reconnecting with the signal, amongst the noise.

This is time to turn off the phone, unplug from the internet, and make space for some calm in our day.

Disconnecting a little from the busy world around us, to reconnect with ourselves.

No special cushion necessary, unless you want one, no special seating position necessary unless it helps trigger the state. Just make a commitment to be mindful and find some stillness in your own way.

5. Creating

For me this means writing and playing guitar.

Writing, in particular, is something I spend much time on. I feel better on days and weeks that I have made time to write creatively. Ideas flow freely and come out on the page. I make sense of thoughts and words and try to communicate as effectively as I can, then I refine (edit). When I am truly in a writing flow, this creative process can definitely feel meditative.

6. Exercise (calisthenics, yoga, and breathwork)

I am a fan and practitioner of calisthenics (working with one’s bodyweight as the weight). I find this form of training both physically demanding and endlessly interesting. I enjoy the raw simplicity.

Learning new moves or practicing well-worn moves, trying to perfect them, also has a meditative effect. I’m totally in the practice, and often have to be if the move in question is getting hard or has a balancing element. Trying to create whole body tension for some moves also means I need to be aware of where my breath is (am I holding it somewhere or letting it flow?).

Yoga is relatively new to me and I have been slow to embrace it, perhaps somewhat surprisingly as my wife is a yoga practitioner and teacher and has encouraged me to give it a proper go for years.  Knucklehead that I am, I finally took note and I’ve come to really enjoy this time. I now make time for working on the mat through my week, amongst other exercise I do.

As I am new to the yoga poses themselves, and how different teachers teach, I find I have to be totally present for yoga. No time to think about what comes after or what has just happened; to keep up with the class I have to listen. This has a calming effect on body and soul on the best days.

The breathwork, and constant queues to focus on breath, have also made me aware of where I tend to keep tension (physically and mentally).

Reframing Meditation

What’s great about this list is that you can use these practices interchangeably, and they can happily co-exist at the same time.

I think the “meditation” label puts as many off as it attracts. In busy and distracted times, this is a missed opportunity for us all to feel the benefits.

When we forget the labels, all we’re doing with the practices above is resetting a little. The art of meditating without meditating if you like.

Give it a go. String these resets together on a regular basis and feel the benefits for yourself. Who knows, maybe you’ll even be open to further experiments in formal meditative practice after doing so. If not, just find your own way. Keep what works for you, discard what doesn’t, and call it what you want, or call it nothing at all.

The Best Beaches in Italy

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

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

 

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

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

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.

14) Lago di Braies, South Tyrol
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
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.

10 Most Beautiful Churches in Armenia That You Must Visit

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.

khor-Virap
                               The absolutely stunning Khor Virap against the majestic Mt. Ararat.

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.

Image result for The pit where St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years
The pit where St. Gregory the Illiminator was imprisoned for 13 years

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.

Image result for Noravank Monastery

Image result for Noravank Monastery Image result for Noravank Monastery

 

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.

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And yes, this is the majestic view of the Echmiadzin church in summer when it was not under any renovation. Very beautiful right?

Image result for Echimiazin Armenian Apostolic Church

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

Image result for Zvartnots Ruins sunriseodyssey.com

Image result for Zvartnots Ruins sunriseodyssey.com

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).

Image result for Zvartnots Ruins sunriseodyssey.com

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!

 

Image result for Zvartnots Ruins sunriseodyssey.com
Remember to try singing a tune at this exact spot if you ever get a chance to be here!

 

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.

 

Image result for Zvartnots Ruins sunriseodyssey.com

Image result for Zvartnots Ruins sunriseodyssey.com
The maze on the right of the photo used to be the dormitory for the monks

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

Image result for Zvartnots Ruins sunriseodyssey.com

Image result for Zvartnots Ruins sunriseodyssey.com

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.

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This is the breathtaking panorama view that you can get when you travel here during summer. Super amazing right?! Photo not taken by us obviously since we were there during winter.

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.

Image result for St Grigor Lusavorich sunriseodyssey.com

Image result for St Grigor Lusavorich sunriseodyssey.com

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.

Image result for St Grigor Lusavorich sunriseodyssey.com

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”.

Image result for St Grigor Lusavorich sunriseodyssey.com

Image result for St Grigor Lusavorich sunriseodyssey.com Image result for St Grigor Lusavorich sunriseodyssey.com

 

I Just Called To Say I Love You – Piano cover

I have a love song in my heart and its lyrics are a serenade dedicated to you.  

” I Just Called To Say I Love You” 

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

Title: I Just Called To Say I Love You

DedicatedYou are the most beautiful love song, the most beautiful music ever created, the most beautiful person in this world.

Lyrics:

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 Halloween
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

 

 

 

The 8 Most Underrated Cities in America

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.

 

Trip Ideas Town urban area tree City street pedestrian Downtown neighbourhood recreation

Trip Ideas Weekend Getaways sky grassland vegetation cloud wilderness ecosystem mountainous landforms meadow grass mountain field prairie mount scenery shrubland hill highland tree leaf landscape daytime rural area pasture wildflower meteorological phenomenon mountain range biome plain national park ecoregion grass family plateau plant community steppe escarpment ridge savanna     Trip Ideas grassland ecosystem wilderness mountainous landforms nature reserve mountain mount scenery pasture ridge national park highland meadow grass hill shrubland sky plateau mountain range prairie escarpment biome batholith massif ecoregion geology hill station plant community mountain pass steppe tree landscape Ranch fell depression valley continental divide plain elevation rock formation national trust for places of historic interest or natural beauty outcrop

  1. Boulder, CO

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.

 

Trip Ideas marina Harbor City skyline urban area cityscape water water transportation sky waterway port metropolitan area Downtown daytime Boat reflection dock Sea metropolis tower block channel ferry skyscraper evening ship

Food + Drink Hotels Trip Ideas oyster food clams oysters mussels and scallops Seafood clam animal source foods dish recipe breakfast   Food + Drink Trip Ideas person food indoor window meal brunch lunch cuisine dish snack food dining table

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.

Trip Ideas indoor floor interior design restaurant café window furniture cluttered  Trip Ideas table indoor floor tableware meal brunch food wooden breakfast dining table restaurant

Trip Ideas indoor bed room wall floor Bedroom ceiling property hotel Suite cottage interior design real estate estate furniture decorated Trip Ideas Living floor room indoor chair window property living room furniture building house home hardwood interior design wood estate cottage real estate loft Design condominium window covering apartment area Trip Ideas floor table indoor billiard room recreation room room building estate ceiling cue sports interior design Bar billiard table games wood furniture

Trip Ideas reflection water skyline Nature City daytime cityscape tree urban area leaf metropolitan area sky Lake skyscraper pond River metropolis bayou real estate Downtown tower block plant landscape bank evening suburb lacustrine plain grass wetland recreation

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.

Trip Ideas food dish cuisine meat produce asian food fish cooking grilled food vegetable teriyaki grilling meal satay eaten cookedTrip Ideas person indoor floristry retail Bar preparing ShopTrip Ideas person indoor man Kitchen meal lunch sense preparing restaurant cooking kitchen appliance

Fall Travel Mountains + Skiing National Parks Outdoors + Adventure Trip Ideas outdoor sky tree Nature mountain mountainous landforms leaf wilderness path ridge autumn hill mountain range trail Adventure cycling mountain biking terrain rock shrubland mount scenery landscape escarpment mountain pass plant fell soil plant community cloud mountain bike Forest hiking national park alps valley woodland deciduous tourism canyon hillside Trip Ideas wildflower wilderness vegetation ecosystem yellow flower field nature reserve meadow sky prairie grassland mountain shrubland landscape tree mount scenery biome national park hill grass mustard plant plant community spring plant rapeseed cloud ecoregion crop agriculture Forest canola

 

Trip Ideas metropolitan area City cityscape skyline urban area sky landmark metropolis daytime tower block skyscraper Downtown Town bird's eye view residential area dusk suburb morning evening dawn horizon neighbourhood Sunset tree real estate tourist attraction mountain panorama aerial photography tourism mount scenery landscape

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.

Trip Ideas sky outdoor Architecture house real estate facade building pavilion estate roofTrip Ideas indoor floor wall ceiling tourist attraction Architecture structure daylighting interior design Lobby estate glass window hall

 

Bedroom City Classic Living Modern Scenic views Trip Ideas bed indoor wall hotel floor window room ceiling property scene Suite estate interior design home hardwood cottage real estate living room apartment decoratedCity Classic Living Lounge Modern Monuments Scenic views Suite Trip Ideas floor indoor table room wall living room property window condominium home ceiling real estate interior design estate hardwood furniture Villa cottage apartment window covering severalTrip Ideas water outdoor Sea landmark Ocean skyline vehicle bay Coast cityscape dock Harbor skyscraper

Trip Ideas Weekend Getaways outdoor sky water cityscape City skyline metropolitan area daytime landmark urban area metropolis River skyscraper reflection Architecture Downtown background cloud arch tower block fixed link horizon bridge evening dusk meteorological phenomenon building

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.

Trip Ideas grass outdoor building sky historic site Church stone medieval architecture place of worship ancient history history wall Ruins old facade stately home cathedral tree abbey spanish missions in california brick castle middle ages archaeological site estate chapel national trust for places of historic interest or natural beauty bell tower steeple fortification arch basilica château parish monastery monumentTrip Ideas building sky outdoor historic site medieval architecture property archaeological site Ruins history stone ancient history wall tall old brick facade hacienda estate window fortification Village abbey arch tourism middle ages monastery unesco world heritage site roof

Hotels Trip Ideas indoor wall room bed floor property living room house building home estate interior design cottage farmhouse Villa Suite Bedroom real estate apartmentTrip Ideas indoor room bathroom property interior design home toilet plumbing fixture estate public toilet tile tiledTrip Ideas Lobby indoor Living room building ceiling estate lighting interior design living room furniture area

Trip Ideas tree waterway outdoor water Canal water transportation Rowing plant leisure Boat boating watercourse River watercraft rowing vehicle recreation tourism vegetable landscape City pond several

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.

 

Budget Trip Ideas Weekend Getaways outdoor tree grass building house Architecture estate neighbourhood Courtyard home facade residential area real estate tourist attraction professional campus plaza signTrip Ideas indoor property room Lobby ceiling floor estate home living room interior design tourist attraction wood art galleryTrip Ideas floor indoor wall art gallery museum art tourist attraction ceiling exhibition modern art art exhibition interior design wood Design gallery room several

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.

Trip Ideas Winter Town landmark building City snow medieval architecture sky château facade stately home tree listed building window estate house universityTrip Ideas indoor floor room wall window chair hotel interior design Living Suite bed frame ceiling furniture Bedroom interior designer living room bed flooring decoratedTrip Ideas indoor sofa Living table room floor interior design living room Lobby furniture Suite couch decorated seat leather several

Trip Ideas metropolitan area City urban area metropolis building skyscraper landmark neighbourhood Downtown infrastructure car daytime street Town road sky cityscape Architecture mixed use plaza lane condominium town square tower block skyline facade window tree pedestrian

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.

The 10 Best Places to Avoid Noise, Light, and Air Pollution

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, Arizona

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, France

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.

Campisabalos, Spain

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.

“Angels We Have Heard On High – The Best Christmas Song I’ve Ever Heard

“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans–and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.”

 

Angels We Have Heard On High

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.”

“Angels We Have Heard On High”

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains

Angels we have heard on high
Singing sweetly through the night
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their brave delight

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria in excelsis Deo

Oh shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria in excelsis Deo

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord the newborn King

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria in excelsis Deo

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Angels we have heard
Angels we have heard on high
Angels we have heard

Angels we have heard on high
Angels we have heard on high
Angels we have heard on high
Oh in excelsis Deo

 

Autumn Serenade

Autumn Serenade – song by a beautiful Armenian voice and her name is SONA RUBENYAN. “Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”

Sona Rubenyan / Autumn Serenade – SONA RUBENYAN / Ashnan serenad

Elita Harutyunyan, Author of the speeches

Author of music, Vazgen Koloyan

Lyrics in English:

The day dusk slowly, when you were away from me,

Life became futile, lost the dung, became one-on-one.

She was dumb, relaxed, faded, and brought her autumn.

 

And that autumn bloomed me in colors, bewildered me,

My heart took him.

And that autumn serenade played me,

And the mild bridge took my wind …

 

In the rain, I will tell the story to my ears,

And I will ask him to leave you lost my dream,

The slow, thin whispers came autumn.

 

And that autumn bloomed me in colors, bewildered me,

My heart took him.

And that autumn serenade played me,

And the mild bridge took my wind …

 

Return to my sun in the autumn,

Bring me colors, bring a dream.

 

The autumn yellow colors barked me, bewitched me,

My heart took him.

And that autumn did not care for you anymore,

My love took away …

My love took away …

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

The Lyrics in Armenian Language:

Խոսքերի հեղինակ՝ Էլիտա Հարությունյան

Երաժշտության հեղինակ՝ Վազգեն Քոլոյան

 

Օրը մթնեց դանդաղ, երբ ինձնից դու հեռացար անհետ,

Կյանքն անիմաստ դարձավ, կորցրեց խինդը, միագույն դարձավ:

Խամրեց, հանգչեց, մարեց, իր հետ աշուն բերեց:

 

Ու այդ աշունը գույներով ինձ կախարդեց, կախարդեց ինձ,

Սիրտս իրեն վերցրեց:

Ու այդ աշունը սերենադ ինձ նվագեց,

Ու քամին մեղմ սերս տարավ…

 

Հորդ անձրևին կամաց կպատմեմ ես պատմությունը իմ,

Ու կխնդրեմ նրան քեզ թողնել կորած երազը իմ,

Դանդաղ, մեղմ շշուկով եկավ աշունը թով:

 

Ու այդ աշունը գույներով ինձ կախարդեց, կախարդեց ինձ,

Սիրտս իրեն վերցրեց:

Ու այդ աշունը սերենադ ինձ նվագեց,

Ու քամին մեղմ սերս տարավ…

 

Վերադարձի՛ր իմ արև դու աշնան,

Բե՛ր ինձ գույներ, բե՛ր երազանք:

 

Աշունը դեղին գույներով ինձ կախարդեց, կախարդեց ինձ,

Սիրտս իրեն վերցրեց:

Ու այդ աշունը չնայեց այլևս քեզ,

Սերս տարավ անհետ…

Սերս տարավ անհետ…

 

Thank you for being my Dad

Life is more beautiful when you are with me, my Dad. All fathers are invisible in daytime; daytime is ruled by mothers and fathers come out at night. Darkness brings home fathers, with their real, unspeakable power. There is more to fathers than meets the eye.

This song to you all – Thank you for being my Dad

 

Music & Lyrics by Jon Barker.

A son rarely tells his Father How he really feels,
A handshake or a pat on the back Is all that he reveals,
I’d like to right that wrong,
Here in this little song.

Thank you for shaping my life,
Thank you for teaching me all you can,
You are no ordinary man,
You make me everything I am.

Thank you for taking the time,
Thank you for showing me the way,
And thank you for being thereWhen I need you,
Thank you for every single day.

Now I’ve been blessed with a son of my own,
Got my own bedtime stories to tell,
If I can raise him half as wellAs you raised me,
Guess I’ll be doing pretty well.

Thank you for your guiding hand,
Thank you for making my dreams come true,
You’re an extraordinary man,
And I hope you’re as proud of me
As I am proud of you.

Thank you for giving me life,
Thank you for showing me good from bad
.I guess I’m only really trying to say,
Thank you for being my Dad.

Even though the years drift away, I
never took the time just to say,
‘I love you, and I always have,
And thank you for being my Dad.’

‘Thank you for being my Dad.’