Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else’s. Billy Wilder
Mihran Kalaydjian On a personal note, I love the outdoors, comedy, bbq, reading and traveling. I worked in the beer industry in college so I love talking about good beer. I used to be a competitive runner so (like all runners) if you make the mistake of asking me, I'll tell you about my entire career and PRs. I also spent my youth working in restaurants, so if you've done the same, we can swap stories.
The five items I can't live without:
Everything, infinity, wanton boredom, limitless limits, change.
Mihran Kalaydjian, A proven ability to articulate a company's brand culture as well as key strategic initiatives and delivery of desired results. Outstanding leadership, communications and project management skills. A committed individual with strong organizational skills that believes leading by example is key to building a strong team to achieve high guest satisfaction results and cost control measures.
Mihran Kalaydjian provides visionary leadership and management oversight of the sales, marketing and revenue strategies for Classic Hotels and Resorts.
Mihran Kalaydjian suggest: Your energy should be focused on finding a solution, quickly and effectively. I am at my best when I have a tight deadline, but every aspect of the project is planned, organized and working in excellence.
Your next vacation might not be as expensive as you think. In some of the destinations below, the U.S. dollar will go further in 2019, with unexpectedly reasonable rates for lodging, activities, and dining; in others, I’ve unearthed hidden gems that are actually affordable. And while the cost of flights is never as low as most travelers want it to be, I’ve even found budget-friendly flights to many of these spots. Plan your next escape to one of these surprisingly cheap places to travel.
Affordable airfare is making the everyman’s bucket list trip a reality for 2019 (and we’re not just talking about flights from the West Coast). According to Airfarewatchdog, SmarterTravel’s sister site, some flights to Hawaii actually cost less than $500 from East Coast and Midwest cities in 2018. The reason? Multiple major airlines announced new routes to Hawaii, creating fierce competition for the best fares—a trend that’s expected to continue in 2019.
Where to stay:Enjoy affordable accommodations at the Aston Waikiki Circle Hotel, located across the street from world-famous Waikiki Beach in Honolulu.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur and other parts of Malaysia offer an exotic vacation destination with a not-so-exotic price tag. “Although the country is relatively more well developed than its neighbors around Southeast Asia, the Malaysian capital has some of the world’s cheapest rates for five-star hotels,” says travel blogger Bino Chua of I Wander. You can stay at luxe hotels for under $200 a night—and at three- or four-stars for even less.
Currently, one Malaysian ringgit is equal to 24 US cents, which means your dollar will go a long way when it comes to meals and activities, too. And in many cases, you won’t even need to pull out your wallet—admission-free museums, walking tours, religious sites, and parks make it easy to save. As for transportation, “a 10- to 15-minute car ride within Kuala Lumpur will cost around $3 USD (or even less),” says Chua. If you hop on one of the purple GO KL buses, you’ll pay nothing.
Where to stay: You can regularly find rates under $100 per night at the newly opened Hyatt House Kuala Lumpur, which offers accommodations with kitchens and complimentary breakfast.
London is calling in 2019. “The fall in the value of the British pound means foreign visitors get more bang for their buck when visiting the U.K., with competitive prices on hotels, attractions, and shopping,” says Freddie Julius of Tourist England. “The U.K.’s political instability, the result of a lack of clarity in the Brexit negotiations, means this situation is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.”
Airfarewatchdog predicts more flight deals to the U.K., too, noting that airfares have been decreasing with competition from low-cost carriers and the introduction of basic economy pricing. London also offers a wealth of free museums and parks that have always made a trip across the pond a decent deal.
“Israel—which had its best year ever thanks to more than four million visiting tourists in 2018—meets the needs of every type of traveler, including the budget-conscious visitor, because of its delicious yet inexpensive food options, wide range of hotel choices, many free historical sites, and wonderful outdoor activities,” says Ellen Shapiro, North America PR Director for the Israel Ministry of Tourism.
Explore the ancient biblical sites and colorful flea markets of Jerusalem; stroll Tel Aviv’s vibrant neighborhoods; go for a hike and sample wine in the north; or float in the Dead Sea (the lowest point on earth) and Red Sea in the south—all of it can be done on a budget. Another way you’ll save? Many of the Holy Land’s hotels offer lavish, complimentary buffet breakfasts so you can eat shakshuka to your heart’s content (and, of course, you can fill up on cheap and delicious hummus and falafel everywhere you go).
Where to stay:Tal by the Beach Hotel Tel Aviv is a boutique hotel that won’t break the bank. Complimentary amenities include happy hours with hors d’oeuvres and bike rentals to explore the city.
Curacao is seriously underrated, and not just because of its beautiful beaches and candy-colored capital of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Dutch-Caribbean island is also affordable, especially during the summer, when you can score round-trip flights in the $300 range from many major U.S. cities. Luxurious beachfront resorts are surprisingly affordable, too—think less than $200 per night. The food is surprisingly cheap as well, considering the island has one of the best culinary reputations in the Caribbean.
Where to stay: The Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort has a Four Diamond rating from AAA, yet it offers rates under $200 per night almost year-round. It also offers an all-inclusive option.
You don’t need to bring home John Legend’s and Chrissy Tiegen’s paychecks to vacation in Lake Como. Save by staying in the historic city of Como, which offers reasonably priced lodging and is the area’s transportation hub. “The Romans first identified Como as a holiday destination,” explains Shelley Clark, spokesperson for Como-based Lario Hotels. “Today, in addition to being the gateway to what many consider the world’s most beautiful lake, Como remains a world-class destination loaded with quaint charm and an impressive array of historical, cultural, retail, and dining options.”
Free and low-cost activities include exploring the nearby nature trails and fairy-tale villages that surround the lake and riding the inexpensive Como-Brunate funicular to the Brunate, the “balcony of the Alps.” You can even enjoy a bit of luxury for less at the Lido di Cernobbio, which offers a glamorous poolside experience for less than $25 per person.
Where to stay: You can find reasonable nightly rates at the hip Posta Design Hotel, located in Como’s medieval old town just a short stroll from the waterfront promenade.
Did you know the official currency of El Salvador is the U.S. dollar? Not only does this take the guesswork out of budgeting for a vacation, but everything is also very affordable in El Salvador, Central America’s smallest country. Admission to two of the country’s most famous sites—Joya de Cerén, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (known as the “Pompeii of the Americas”), and San Andrés, a pre-Colombian site—costs less than $5.
You can also hike the country’s highest volcano, take an inexpensive surf lesson at Playa del Tunco, and learn about the country’s coffee culture at El Carmen Estate. Bonus: More than a dozen U.S. airports offer direct flights to El Salvador; from New York, it’s only five hours.
Where to stay: The luxe Sal & Luz Hotel comes at a reasonable price, with a quiet location and fabulous on-site restaurant.
While Iceland is a relatively short flight from the East Coast, its pricey reputation has also kept many travelers at a distance. But that should change in 2019. “Right now, the U.S. dollar is worth 20 percent more than it was in early 2018,” says Mero Geesey of Carpe Mundo, a travel agency that specializes in Iceland. “There have also been a lot of new hotels and guesthouses that have opened up within the last year, and several new tour operators offering glacier hikes, snorkel tours, and more.”
Hidden Iceland, for example, provides travelers with intimate alternatives to overcrowded and overpriced experiences. “Instead of the Blue Lagoon, you can explore an ice cave as part of a two-day trip to a glacier lagoon that also includes searching for the northern lights,” says Ryan Connolly, cofounder and marketing manager of Hidden Iceland. “In the spring, travelers can play with newly birthed lambs at an authentic farm guesthouse.”
Where to stay: About an hour outside of Reykjavik, Lambastadir Guesthouse is located on a farm and features an outdoor hot tub and sauna.
This piano instrumental of A Million Scarlet Roses is a journey “Your heart is the compass, Your soul is the journey…”
Eyes Of The Scarlet Rose – “Should you see the light of your future, within the shadows of your present, The resilience of life dancing over vast deserts of death, Witness if you so shall, the majesty of Creation. The contentedness of All was and always will be.
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.