As we rejoice and celebrate this wonderful season of Christmas, let us not forget to thank baby Jesus for coming into our lives. Let us together prepare ourselves to welcome him into the homes of our hearts. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.
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”.
Though we always know it’s coming, the end of the calendar year never ceases to be a dizzying whirlwind of business obligations, social engagements, and stress-inducing holiday travel. But busy as December promises to be, there’s good reason to burn a few vacation days in November, when you’re still looking for great things to do in fall, the weather hasn’t yet taken a turn for the worse, and the shoulder season in most desirable destinations is in full swing. Here are eight best places to visit in November.
The Iberian Peninsula
Places like Lisbon, Portugal, and Andalucía, Spain, are often overrun with tourists during the summer months thanks to their temperate climate and easy accessibility to the sea. But November is an ideal time to visit the southern reaches of the Iberian Peninsula: the scene is more laid back, the weather is generally pleasant (hovering around 70 degrees during the day), and the area’s UNESCO World Heritage sites (Sintra, La Alhambra) shimmer like jewels in the autumn sun. If you’re staying in Spain, the Costa del Sol towns of Málaga and Marbella offer plenty of alternatives to the beach, from world-class museums to championship golf courses.
Whether you’re an adventure seeker or an urban wanderer, November is a prime time to visit Argentina. In Buenos Aires, spring brings with it a profusion of jacaranda blossoms along the tree-lined boulevards, as well as an uptick in the city’s social engagements, from polo matches to ballet performances, but hotel rates remain reasonable. Meanwhile, the grapes peak during November’s harvest season in Mendoza, and the weather is perfect for exploring the breathtaking natural wonders and quaint villages of Argentina’s Lake Region, in the heart of Patagonia.
3. The Caribbean
December is the start of the high season at Caribbean resorts: snowbirds fly south for the winter, and the holidays mean vacation time for parents with school-age children. If you’re looking for a quiet beach holiday, plan for November. Although it’s the tail end of hurricane season (opt in for travel insurance) the weather is picture-perfect and hotels and airfare are available at discounted rates. And unlike other off-peak destinations, most island activities remain open and plentiful throughout the low season.
There’s never a bad time to visit the Holy City, but if you’re looking to beat the heat head there in November, when temperatures remain in the high 60s and low 70s—ideal for walks to the Battery and bike rides to view Charleston’s antebellum mansions and row houses. The city’s celebrated food scene also comes alive in the autumn, when the harvest makes some of the region’s best ingredients available. Sample them at iconic restaurants like Husk and FIG, or inventive newcomers like The Grocery and Xiao Bao Biscuit.
5. Hong Kong
Hong Kong is famous for its dismal weather—rain and humidity are the biggest complaints—but go in November, when typhoon season has passed and blue skies are a regular occurrence, and you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about. Camp out on a golden stretch of sand on nearby Lamma Island, hike the wilds of Lantau Island (the sunrise from Lantau Peak is legendary), or wend your way through the street-food stalls in Wan Chai—activities that seem all but impossible at other times of the year.
The Rocky Mountain State is typically regarded as a wonderland for winter enthusiasts, but Colorado shows a softer side in November, when ski runs are fringed with colorful foliage and double as hiking and biking trails before the big snows come. Fly-fishing is another autumn favorite, but if retail therapy is more your thing, the cooler days make shopping the Victorian streets of Telluride or the tony boutiques of Aspen a pleasant afternoon idyll. Of course, ski season is just getting underway in places like Vail and Beaver Creek, but seek and you may just find an early bird special.
7. New Zealand
The adventure sports capital of the world becomes even more of an adrenaline-junkie’s playground in November, when the warm spring season lets you have your pick of all the country has to offer, from white-water rafting and glacier hikes to horseback riding and swimming in primordial lakes and untouched bays. Head to North Island if soaking in hot springs and sunbathing on pristine beaches is more your speed.
From whale watching off the coast of Oahu to sunbathing in Maui, November is one of the best times to visit the Hawaiian islands. And shoulder season on the Big Island means more affordable hotel rates before tourists descend in full force for the winter holidays. And though there’s an uptick in rainfall, there is still plenty of temperate, sunny weather for snorkeling, ziplining, or hiking.
Stuck on you
I’ve got this feeling down
Deep in my soul
That I just can’t lose
Guess, I’m on my way
Needed a friend
And the way I feel now I guess
I’ll be with you till the end
Guess I’m on my way
Mighty glad you stayed
I’m stuck on you
Been a fool too long I guess
It’s time for me to come on home
Guess I’m on my way
So hard to see
That a woman like you could wait
Around for a man like me
Guess I’m on my way
Mighty glad you stayed
Oh, I’m leaving on that midnight train tomorrow
And I know just where I’m going
I’ve packed up my troubles
And I’ve thrown them all away
Because this time little darling
I’m coming home to stay
I’m stuck on you
I’ve got this feeling down
Deep in my soul
That I just can’t lose
Guess, I’m on my way
Needed a friend
And the way I feel now I guess
I’ll be with you till the end
Guess I’m on my way
I’m mighty glad you stayed
If I knew it would be the last time that I’d see you fall asleep, I would tuck you in more tightly, and pray the Lord your soul to keep. If I knew it would be the last time that I’d see you walk out the door, I would give you a hug and kiss, and call you back for just one more.
Back to school is seriously cool in these scholarly destinations. With food, nightlife, and art scenes that are anything but elementary, these 13 spots are the best college towns in the U.S. to visit this fall.
Nike gives Eugene serious athletic cache—just look at the fashion-statement uniforms the Oregon Ducks unveil every season or the state-of-the-art sporting facilities on campus. It’s also where frat-bro favorite Animal House was filmed and home to New Max’s Tavern, the inspiration for Homer’s famed hangout Moe’s Tavern on The Simpsons. Willamette Street is lined with art galleries like White Lotus, which showcases Asian works, and Sattva Gallery, where local artists display handcrafted ceramics and jewelry. Bonus: Portland is only a two-hour drive away.
2. Athens, Georgia
Athens is an incubator for artists and rock musicians—R.E.M and the B-52’s got their start here—and it oozes southern charm with its historic Georgian mansions in the Five Points neighborhood. Two music venues are the heart of the nightlife scene: 40 Watts Club, the legendary spot for big-name acts; and Georgia Theatre, which reopened in 2011 after a fire (the Grammy Award-winning and local group Zach Brown Band donated $250,000 to bring it back to life). Fun fact: Sanford Stadium at the University of Georgia doubles as a pet cemetery; every English bulldog mascot since 1956 is entombed in wall mausoleum near Gate 9.
3. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis may not have the distinct curb appeal of LA, NYC, or Boston, but the major city does have a pretty sick Frank Gehry-designed landmark that earns them major bragging rights. The Weisman Art Museum, a monolithic stainless steel page out of the famed architect’s book, sits on a bluff over the Mississippi, sprawling out on the U of M campus. Follow the college crowd and at some point or another, you’ll wind up in Dinkytown (yes, that’s its actual name) – a tiny neighborhood overflowing with restaurants (look past the chains for eclectic indies like the Kitty Cat Klub), bars, specialty stores and theaters.
4. Santa Cruz, California
Massive swells, redwood-filled forests, an abundant haze of “medical” marijuana—it’s easy to see the appeal of Santa Cruz. Along with miles of misty beaches and endless bike trails that run through the nearby mountains, the city has killer microbrew and coffee scenes. Two standouts: the organic suds at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, in the Swift Street Courtyard, and single-origin promoter Verve Coffee Roasters, which has locations scattered around town.
5. Madison, Wisconsin
Madison’s historic downtown is perfectly situated on an isthmus flanked by the Mendota and Monona lakes, with the 1,200-acre Arboretum and various biking trails nearby. But make no mistake, Madtown is a tailgaters paradise (game day favorite: fried cheese curds). Ask a Wisconsin grad about his alma matter and he’ll tell you the following: the Kollege Klubon Saturdays, Dotty’s for the Melting Pot burger, and the Terrace at Memorial Union for snapshot-worthy water views.
6. Bozeman, Montana
Who would have guessed that one of America’s coolest college towns is the middle of cow-country Montana? Bozeman, home to Montana State University, has been drawing more and more visitors north. In summer, there’s world-class fishing at the nearby Madison and Yellowstone rivers; come winter, snow junkies flock to Bridger and Big Sky resorts. The town itself has a laid-back college vibe, with bistros, galleries and watering holes like Molly Brown bar, a note-perfect dive in the “bar-muda triangle.”
7. Ithaca, NY
Ithaca may weed out a few (hundred) prospective students each year with the promise of a brutal winter and somewhat middle-of-nowhere locale (it’s 4+ hours from NYC), but the picturesque city is a hell of a lot more than blizzard country. First and foremost, Ithaca topples the scenic scale with rolling hillsides, more than 150 cascading waterfalls (hence all the “Ithaca is GORGES!” merch) and winding trails. Extremely walkable, and home to a generous handful of breweries and wineries, the town also maintains a young crowd, with a population that’s more than 50 percent college kiddos thanks to Ithaca College and a place you probably haven’t heard of–Cornell.
8. Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Chapel Hill might have the strongest foodie cred of any college town in the country. Here, sports bar nachos and divey burger joints take a back seat to James Beard-nominated chefs like Andrea Reusing, whose Asian-inflected Lantern sources from local farms; and the Pig, a nose-to-tail Carolina-style barbecue joint that’s perennially packed. Beyond food, there are plenty more diversions, from the Carolina Basketball Museum to the North Carolina Botanical Garden.
9. Charlottesville, Virginia
Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819 and his legacy lives on, from the grand 18th-century buildings to the secret societies like Seven and Z. In addition to a surprisingly cool art scene ⎯ check out art collective C’ville Arts⎯ lively restaurants (we love the rustic-chic C and O ) and the open-air pavilion on the Downtown Mall, one of the country’s emerging wine regions is right outside of town, shadowed by the Blue Ridge Mountains.
10. Burlington, Vermont
Burlington’s granola roots run deep. This is the place Ben and Jerry bestowed their psychedelic flavors on the world, and where a generation of LSD-charged roadies discovered Phish. These days an organic food movement and highly acclaimed craft beer scene have taken hold in and around UVM. See it firsthand at the City Market, where local purveyors hawk everything from freshly brewed kombucha to high-point ciders to pasture-raised pork.
11. Oxford, Mississippi
Home to William Faulkner’s 19th-century estate Rowan Oak, the storied paperback palace Square Books, and chef John Currence’s destination Cajun spot City Grocery, Oxford is the quintessential Southern small town. The magnolia-lined streets have added luxury boutiques and new-wave restaurants in recent years, but original treasures remain ⎯ Neilson’s, for instance, is the oldest department store in the South. The hotel of choice: the Z, a classic B&B run by two twenty-something Ole Miss-alum sisters. Don’t miss their breakfast cheddar biscuits.
12. Williamsburg, Virginia
Cheesy historical reenactments have long defined Williamsburg, but a growing arts district is giving the town of William & Mary College a polished new edge. Don’t miss the Sculpture Gallery, a public art initiative that features 21 pieces from East Coast artists, including terra cotta works by Barbara Kobylinska, and Century Art Gallery, a showcase for contemporary paintings inside a 1920 Sears Roebuck house. And if you do happen to enjoy colonial history, visit the Jamestown Settlement, eat at one of the many 18th-century-style taverns, or take a tour of the Berkeley Plantation.
13. Ann Arbor, Michigan
Football season in Ann Arbor is no joke—just ask the University of Michigan team, who basically acquire star status every September. For non-collegiates and non-sportifs, life is still pretty swell with post-grad job prospects at big name companies like Google AdWords and Toyota making the town a comfy locale for former co-eds. Plus, pair all that with a bustling downtown–say hello to a multitude of late-night bites and plenty of beer at local faves like Ashley’s—and residential charm courtesy of tree-lined streets and Ann Arbor just about has it all.
1 .”In business, the only thing that is more important than the number is the person.”
2. “The reality is there’s an element of risk and luck in anything that you do. But I find that with disciplined risk, you’re either winning and succeeding or you’re learning. And that’s really the foundation to evolving and growing as a business.”
3. “Being an entrepreneur means one word: freedom. I have the ability to chart my own course and pursue what I’m passionate about.”
4. “I know that I’ve got to do my job better and harder than anyone in that building so that everyone there can take care of their families. And that’s one of the coolest feelings for me.”
5. “The word to me is synonymous with ‘hustler.’ As an entrepreneur, you cannot be afraid to put yourself and your ideas out there and figure out how to give them life.”
6. “I do not have a staff of hundreds. I have a very tiny staff trained as artists and architects, and I only take on one building at any given time. I’m very protective of staying small.”
7. “Most successful people reflect daily. It gives our brain a chance to pause the chaos with conscious thought of our previous actions and to hopefully derive meaning/learning from those moments! But only if you’re honest with yourself!
8. “‘Fear of failure’ is something that shouldn’t be in your vocabulary in the military, or entrepreneurship. You need to take calculated risks and not be afraid of setbacks. And in both cases, you need the mindset that I will do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission.”
9. “Entrepreneurs cross the fine line between crazy and genius.”
10. “I want to improve the world and spend my life doing something meaningful.”
11. “Being an entrepreneur is following your passion and finding a profit in it. You spend 70% of your life at work, you better love what you do.”
12. “An entrepreneur is someone who sees a need in the market and does something about it, rather than just sitting on the sidelines.”
13. It is about having a vision and mission that is bigger than me.”
14.”Being in the military taught me to risk it all early and to risk it all often.
15. “We have to slow down, particularly women who have been taught to overachieve in every single endeavor. They believe they have to be outstanding every single day at being a parent, spouse, and contributor at work. If you are trying to do that, you are going to crash and burn, and very likely not be outstanding at any of it.”
16. “You need to get to a place where you can prosper at your passion. Like I have a couple of artist friends that have a real job and do their art on the side. If their art gets big, they’ll do that full-time, but there’s no reason to go broke in the meantime.”
17. “An entrepreneur is someone who gets shit done.”
18. “Being an entrepreneur means to be an artist of life. To be willing to take big risks, because of the deep belief in creating things that matter.”
19. “Unwavering belief in yourself and enthusiasm for what you’re doing. Those traits naturally create a sense of ownership that you can’t buy anywhere — not even Jeff Bezos can sell it!”
20. “Bringing your entrepreneurial vision to fruition takes a team of smart and experienced people. Find them, trust them and empower them to help you make decisions.”
21. “You gotta succeed. If you’re not succeeding, you’re not recruiting anybody.”
22. “An entrepreneur is someone who has the passion and courage to try something that’s never been done before.”
23. “Entrepreneurship is about solving problems, not getting fixated on them.”
24. “Being an entrepreneur is different than starting and quickly exiting a startup. I think entrepreneurs create long-term companies and jobs.”
24. “When you’re an entrepreneur, you have to understand that no one is going to swoop in and save the day. You have to enjoy solving problems for your customers and for your business.”
26. “To me, an entrepreneur is someone who has a goal of impacting other people by helping them solve a problem, and through that help, aims to grow and scale to help even more people.”
27. “As an entrepreneurs, you have a fire burning inside your belly, a vision and a dream that you will do anything and everything in your power to bring to life.
28. “Entrepreneurship is about the fight — the process of getting your product and service in the hands of consumers and building a company along the way.”
29. “You have to do more than just your role. You have put on a lot of different hats and do a lot of different jobs that are outside of your daily tasks.”
30. “I think the best entrepreneurs are able to create win-wins that lead to sustainable business growth and economics.”
Aretha Franklin, the great American singer who became a defining voice of the 20th century and the acclaimed Queen of Soul, died at her home in Detroit on Thursday from pancreatic cancer, her publicist said. She was 76.
“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on,” Franklin’s family said in a statement.
A preacher’s daughter, Franklin began her career as a teenager in the 1950s, and her inimitable voice allowed her to hop between gospel, R&B, classical and jazz genres with grace. She went on to win 18 Grammy Awards, sell more than 75 million records in her life, and become one of the best-selling selling artists of all time. But out of all the songs she recorded, “Respect,” her demand for dignity, became her signature song that is still played in living rooms and at political protests today. The story of how Franklin took a song originally written and released by Otis Redding and made it her own can be career inspiration for us all.
How Franklin made “Respect” her own
In Redding’s version, “Respect” is about a man pleading with a woman to give him respect in exchange for what he can provide for her. Redding sang: “Hey little girl, you’re sweeter than honey / And I’m about to give you all of my money / But all I want you to do / Is just give it, give it / Respect when I come home … ”
When Franklin recorded “Respect” on Valentine’s Day in 1967, she kept most of the original lyrics but transformed the meaning of the song with the addition of a bridge and the call-and-response of her sisters. Under Franklin’s version, “Respect” became more than a domestic dispute. It became an empowering feminist anthem for women to be treated equally at home and at work.
“Oooh, your kisses,” Franklin sang, “Sweeter than honey / And guess what? / So is my money.” In her most memorable addition, Franklin spelled out her demand for parity for emphasis in the bridge: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T/ Find out what it means to me /R-E-S-P-E-C-T / Take care, TCB [take of business].”
When Franklin’s version hit the airwaves, it became a massive hit, spending two weeks as the No. 1 song in America in 1967. It became a rallying cry for women’s rights and the civil rights movement. Today, it has been referenced and sampled in dozens of feature films. We all want R-E-S-P-E-C-T. “I think that hook line is something we all relate to,” Franklin told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s something we all appreciate and expect.”
It ranks No. 4 on “Songs of the Century,” a 1999 project by the National Endowment for the Arts. “Respect” is now remembered for being Franklin’s more than Redding’s. Even Redding acknowledges this. When he played it himself at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, he said, “This next song is a song that a girl took away from me!”