Sunday, July 12, 2009

There's No Place I'd Rather Be

I have been home for one week today and it has been a fantastic week! To me, one of the best feelings in the world is coming home again. There are few things that can match it.

You FINALLY get through customs and walk through the automatic doors and you see the vacant expressions on the faces of your loved ones (who have been at the airport for close to two hours already due to your delayed plane). There is that moment when they see you and you witness the most beautiful thing you will ever see. Their faces completely change. They are overtaken with excitement and love. Pure, unadulterated joy. Another glimpse of God. It just oozes out of them. I am pretty sure I yelled "get out of the way" and ran over a few people to get to them. You experience one of the best hugs of your entire life...can you even call it a hug? It's just not a strong enough word. Embrace. Just holding each other so tight, making up for all the missed hugs while you were gone. There is not one thought in your mind except for the presence of the people you are holding. And when there are 6 of you in the family it becomes a strange, choreographed dance. You take turns, grabbing whoever is closest, re-hugging, adding an extra person here and there, a big group hug, then back to the singles. You are so overcome that you can't talk. So much joy that words don't come out, only laughter.

And I don't care how old you get (24!), there is nothing that makes you feel totally safe and relaxed like being in your dad or mom's arms. Maybe I am a little sentimental towards them, but when you have looked at their faces and legitimately had the thought, "I will never see them again," your outlook on everything changes. Thank you, heart surgery.

It is such a statement of love to miss someone. Such an honor. Before you leave, the people who matter would call just to hear your voice once more, then while you were gone they would facebook, email, and text you, just to let you know they missed you and were thinking about you. I was overwhelmed by the love I received. It reminded me of the hospital days. Then you come home and phone calls and visits come pouring in. Friends and family alike. Is there really a difference between the two? I am not talking about shallow, fair-weather friends here. I am talking the real thing. I appreciate you guys so much and I love you!

Travel is a beautiful thing. You have the best time abroad, but then you come home to an even better time. It truly makes you appreciate what you have. I truly feel loved and this affirmation of love that has been flowing from family and friends is exactly the strength I needed to get me through whatever trials lay ahead. The value of this life is measured in love and people and relationships (one of Jesus' main messages). I feel like one of the wealthiest girls on this Earth. I am so blessed!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

European Adventures: Part 5...Adios

Happy 4th of July! God bless America and everyone in the whole world too!

Today is my last full day in Europe. We're leaving tomorrow. It's bittersweet because we are sad to leave (there is still so much to see and do), but at the same time we are really excited to go home. I miss everyone! I can't wait to see all of you!

Tomorrow makes it 3 whole weeks of European fun. I've had the time of my life. I saw some really amazing things, met a lot of cool people, and solidified some great relationships. In the end, that's what really matters isn't it? It's not what country you are in or what things you've seen, but it's really about who you're with and the connections you make. Relationships and people and love are really the only things that matter in this world. That is why I am actually ready to go back and see the ones I love. And show them the 1000+ pictures I've taken...:)

See you soon!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Thursday, July 02, 2009

European Adventures: Part 4...The London Scene

Oh, the London Scene! You know those rainy days, they ain't so bad when you're the King.

London has been such an experience. I've made a couple of day trips there these last few weeks. It's my second time to visit London and it's even better this time around. I love the whole London scene: the craziness of the streets, the fun of the shopping, the natural beauty of the parks, the history of the ancient buildings, the contemporary shops and restaurants... It's all so much fun. I love how everything is just so aesthetically pleasing to the eye. There is a union of old and new that is just beautiful.

The English people are so friendly too! The fact that we are American makes us cool. The fact we are Armenian makes us exotic. Put them together and how can you not have the best time ever? Apparently I have a sexy accent! Who knew!?!? I surely didn't know. Ha! Yay for England!

Of course we saw all the sights: Big Ben, Parliament Building, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, River Thames, and much more. It was all so fun. The British Museum is always one of my favorite and reminds me of my time in Greece. We went through it and found all things Armenian. There were quite a few items...primarily old wine vessels and other alcoholic paraphernalia.

My new, absolute favorite is the National Gallery!!! I adore art. Albert Einstein says, "Personally, I experience the greatest degree of pleasure in having contact with works of art. They furnish me with happy feelings of such intensity such as I cannot derive from other realms." I agree for the most part. Obviously the greatest source of happiness and joy for me comes from God, but as for worldly pleasures, art is at the top for me. It connects you to humanity throughout the centuries. A glimpse into their world. They had an amazing collection including Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Renoir, Picasso, Monet, Manet, Seurat, Pissaro, Cezanne, van Eyck, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, etc...3 out of the 4 teenage mutant ninja turtles! I'm a sucker for Impressionism and they had a great wing of Impressionist paintings. I like for things to be dream-like, almost as if you are seeing a memory. The details are vague, lines are blurry. It captures a feeling more than anything else. I love it. London has been so much fun!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

European Adventures: Part 3...The French Riviera

As a graduation present, my aunt and uncle took us for a weekend in Nice, if England wasn't amazing enough. I have been to Paris for one day 5 years ago. It was really cool to see the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, but I really didn't know what to expect from Nice. I knew it was the capital of the French Riviera and a popular resort destination for the wealthy people. Maybe that's why I had always distanced myself from it...possibly because I never really saw this one coming.

I was really excited about going and had really high expectations. There is great danger when you set yourself up like that because things never seem to measure up to what you dreamed it would be. Let me just say that weekend in Nice was beyond my wildest imagination! It exceeded my expectations a million-fold. It was the most incredible vacation I have ever been on, second only to my time in Greece. TRES MAGNIFIQUE!!!

It has taken me this long just to process the whole thing. Every moment felt like some kind of fairytale dream...from the moment we got into a taxi at the airport to the moment we arrived back in England.

The hotel was amazing. It was on the Promenade de Anglais, a beautiful pedestrian walk along the pebble beaches of the Mediterranean. It had the most perfect view of the Mediterranean sea. We are talking postcard perfect. I have tons of great pictures that I will post up later (and by tons, I am not over exaggerating in the slightest). Seelva and I had a spectacular room to ourselves and felt like we had won the lottery. We spent that Friday exploring Nice, particularly the old city. Nice delivered all the things you would want and crave out of a vacation in France. The exciting, crowded streets, adorable outdoor cafes, unique shops and boutiques, the most beautiful pebble beaches, and the fiery passion of the French people (right up my alley).

I love the way they are so intense about everything. That's why they are notorious for being rude. If they don't like you, they won't spend a millisecond being nice to you. If they do like you, they turn on the charm and disarm you with their kindness and suave personalities. Lucky for us, my sister and I were well liked in France. :) Actually, most of the time, the French people thought we were native. Apparently we look French as well as Greek, Egyptian, Italian, Hispanic, Persian...the list goes on and on... You should have seen the look of disappointment when they realized I only spoke English, but then they were still nice.

You really felt you were in a foreign country because people didn't really speak much English and all the signs and menus were in French. I really don't speak French at all, save for being able to say "merci" and "si'l vous plait" and "mon cherie." I love it that way. I absolutely adore the French language...primarily the English language in a strong French accent. "Bonjour Mademoiselle" melts my heart. I know it's totally stereotypical, but I can't help myself and I am willing to bet neither could you.

The weekend was perfect. It included enjoying the city life of Nice, a day lounging at the beach and swimming in the Mediterranean, and a great tour of the Best of the French Riviera. This included visiting the neighboring country of Monaco. Monte Carlo was incredible. We got to drive along the Grand Prix track. We also visited Antibes (Picasso used to live here) and Cannes (ever heard of little old film festival they have there every year?). Cannes had the very best sandy beaches I have ever seen in my life. We also visited these old medieval villages in the mountains, one was the village of Eze and the other was St. Paul de Vence, which was now a Bohemian art village. St. Paul was known to be home to many of the Great Masters back when they weren't so great. There is a restaurant with a year long waiting list. The story goes that back then St. Paul was a place of starving artists. Because they could not pay with money, they offered little sketches and paintings to pay their rent and for food. This restaurant holds pictures that were offered up by some of the greats like Matisse and Picasso, back when they were nobody. It was such a cool little village.

There is so much beauty everywhere you look in that entire area, it is really no wonder so many creative minds and great artists, engineers, and inventors were so inspired to produce such great works. I know I felt inspired. I crave that stimulation of my creative, artistic side after spending so many years developing the logical, scientific side. I think it is good to have a balance. This vacation was like therapy. I felt more relaxed and serene than I have in a long time.

My favorite moment was when I was just sitting on the beach looking at the most beautiful clear, bright blue water you have every seen, listening to waves crash on the beach and the pebbles, sunkissed, thinking about God, full of joy and thankfulness, with not a care in the world. Pure serenity. That is a moment I know I will treasure and go back to when things get stressful in these next 4 years...a little glimpse of Heaven on this Earth.