Travel with Mona to Florida

Why would you go anywhere else on New Year Day? Since I moved to Florida I have often wondered how I coped with living in the north for so many years. And Fort Lauderdale is the best of Florida. So what would you expect to find in Fort Lauderdale? A glorious sunshine, wonderfully warm temperatures, sandy beaches, the turquoise ocean, … Should I continue?

Sunrise on the ocean in Fort Lauderdale

If you are a snowbird escaping from the cold, you will love sunbathing on the sand, walking along the coastline, or swimming in the ocean.

Sunset on the city and the canals in Fort Lauderdale

Sunbathing on the beach: With over 23 miles of smooth sand, Greater Fort Lauderdale provides plenty of space to soak up the sun in one of Broward County’s beaches.

A picture from the ocean: The high-rises lining the coast

Swimming in the ocean: Average annual water temperature on the coast in Fort Lauderdale is 79°F, by the seasons: in winter 73°F, in spring 77°F, in summer 84°F, in autumn 81°F. With minimal current, exceptional water quality, typically calm sea conditions, shy marine life inhabiting the nearby coral reefs, and professional lifeguards stationed above, visitors find safe swimming conditions at the beautiful beaches of Fort Lauderdale.

My favorite beach Fort Lauderdale Beach

Walking along the coastline: The paved beachfront promenade highlights Fort Lauderdale’s world-famous coastline and stretches the 7-mile length of the beach, and is lined by an array of shops, restaurants, sidewalk cafes and entertainment venues.

The famous Fort Lauderdale promenade

Bicycling in a park: Fort Lauderdale’s “Central Park” was gifted to the city by Hugh Taylor Birch. The park is named after him. Hugh Taylor Birch Park is complete with gopher tortoises and boat access from the intracoastal waterway. The park is a vibrant center for the community of Fort Lauderdale, and residents take pleasure in activities from inline skating to reading under the shade of palms and oaks. Visitors can access the beach via the pedestrian tunnel under A1A.

Seen while walking on the promenade

Seen while walking on the promenade

To visit Fort Lauderdale—a city of canals—we hoped on a Water Taxi and experienced the multi-million-dollar mansions, hotels, and seafood restaurants lining the canals. In addition to sightseeing, the water taxi stops at boutiques and eateries along Las Olas Boulevard.

Boating along the intercoastal

Some of the mansions along the main canal

Las Olas Blvd is the main strip in Fort Lauderdale – Stretching from the heart of downtown, through the business, shopping and dining districts all the way to Fort Lauderdale Beach. Las Olas Boulevard is at the forefront of everything from fashion boutiques and art galleries, to memorable restaurants, sidewalk cafes and bars…The oldest and most famous bar in Fort Lauderdale is the Elbo Bar. It was featured in the movie ” Where the Boys Are” with Connie Frances and George Hamilton in 1961. It’s always crowded.

If you have time you can visit the Everglades Holiday Park where you can take a boat ride and watch an alligator show.

If you come to Fort Lauderdale, I’ll be happy to take you around and give you a
tour of Fort Lauderdale–my Paradise on Earth, especially at Christmas time.

LAST CHANCE PLANS on Preorder

Available at Amazon

At twenty, Rick Lambert ran away from the US to escape the accusations hurled at him. Fifteen years later, he returns to settle in Fort Lauderdale. His mother agrees to live with him and take care of his two sons who have been raised by nannies and boarding schools.
Flight attendant, Madison Howell loves nothing more than her job. During a flight from Dubai to Miami, she meets the authoritative businessman and his mother. The sweet old lady befriends her, and Rick doesn’t hide his attraction. When his children come home, Madison finds herself entangled with the Lamberts way too often. As she helps the young boys adapt to their new life, she falls in love with their gorgeous father, but she’s not sure she really knows Rick, her charming lover. A loving son and dedicated father but also a womanizer and tough businessman with a hidden past.
When people from long-ago cross his path, secrets are revealed, threatening to ruin their romance. Now mature and powerful, Rick confronts his enemies to clear his name, but will it cost him the woman he loves?

Be Prepared

It pays to be prepared. Little things can make a big difference in how you handle an emergency.

I remember when Seattle had some pretty deep snowfalls. The weight of the snow and ice brought down tree limbs, resulting in power outages for two weeks or longer. The snow took our electricity, but because it wasn’t a city-wide outage, we got our power restored in six hours. As I lit my candles and made sure my natural gas stove was burning, I wondered how people with only electric appliances were doing.

Be Prepared

The first step to being prepared is to check the weather history of your area and see what weather emergencies are the most common. In Seattle, we don’t worry about hurricanes, but we do have high winds in the spring and fall that topples trees, sometimes an entire forest area at a time. In my area, the trees fall to the north, so I took down large Douglas Fir trees on my south side and planted some “people friendly” trees that won’t destroy my home or cars when they fall.

Prepare alternate sources of heat, light, water, and money.
  • Heat: have a pellet stove, wood burning, or natural gas stove that will keep your house warm. Avoid what happened a few years ago in Texas where the windmills froze, killing some people without electricity.
  • Light: flashlights are nice, but batteries don’t last forever, so keep some candles in a box, along with some matches or a lighter.
  • Water: in case of flooding, clean drinking water is a must.
  • Money: when the cash registers won’t take your credit cards for lack of electricity, cash is always accepted. Keep a reasonable amount on hand, to buy food or medicines.

Forest fires are on the rampage because the federal forests are not being managed like they used to. If the underbrush is not cut (making tinder) and mature trees not harvested like we used to do, then it sets up a situation where the forests burn so hot it is almost impossible to put them out. If you live in an area where this might happen, make sure you have fireproof shingles and siding and cut away trees from the house. Hot fires send sparks airborne, so that a strong wind carries the fire miles ahead of the actual burn. Also fix a “bug-out bag” so that you can leave instantly if you have to. Know your escape routes before you have to drive.

Think ahead.

Don’t be like the man who prepared for a hurricane by buying a large amount of steaks to put in his freezer so that he’d have enough to eat. After he got them home, he realized he wouldn’t have any electricity to keep the freezer going. So, he set up his barbecue and invited all his neighbors over for a steak dinner.

One of my books, Stolen Secrets, is set during an unexpected pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm that we had some years ago in Seattle. Another book, Turnagain Love, is set on a small island, where the heroine discovers she doesn’t have any water or electricity or a way to get off the island. Another survival book, The Toughest Man in the Territory, is set in Wyoming near Yellowstone Park.

Nancy Radke Christmas

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Travel to Vienna with Mona

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Vienna, the capital of Austria, is known as the City of Music due to its musical legacy. Many famous classical musicians such as Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Johann Strauss (father and son), Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler called it home. Vienna is also said to be the City of Dreams because it was home to the world’s first psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud.

I visited Vienna in the nineties and was impressed by the elegance of people in the streets. The picture of an older couple relaxing in a public park is forever etched in my memory. Dressed in suit and fur coat, they were sitting on a bench, their haughty dignity contrasting with the simplicity of the children playing and running around.

When I returned in 2011 and 2014, I was struck by the diversity of the population and costumes. Vienna had become more cosmopolitan and less European. But the monuments and landmarks haven’t changed and attract interest even more than in the past. Vienna has so much to offer to the tourist.

The Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna is where the two houses of the Austrian Parliament conduct their sessions. The foundation stone was laid in 1874; the building was completed in 1883. 
The Austrian Parliament Building: Theophil Hansen, the architect responsible for its Greek Revival style, designed the building in a comprehensive way, aiming to have each element in harmony with all the others. 
St. Stephen Cathedral is the most important religious building in Vienna and has borne witness to many important events in Habsburg and Austrian history. With its multi-colored tile roof, it has become one of the city’s most
recognizable symbols. 
The Maria Theresien Platz is located directly at the Ringstrasse, embedded in an imperial scenery between the Museum of Natural History and the one for Art History. Directly across the Ringstrasse you can find the Hofburg Palace.
The monument of Empress Maria-Theresa
One of the Museums at the Maria Theresien Platz.
My husband and I in front of the Maria-Theresa monument
Heldenplatz is a public space in front of the Hofburg Palace. The President of Austria resides in the adjoining Hofburg wing, while the Federal Chancellery is on the adjacent Ballhausplatz. Many important actions and events took place here, most notably Adolf Hitler’s ceremonial announcement of the Austrian Anschluss to Nazi Germany on 15 March 1938. 
The Spanish Riding School is the only institution in the world that has existed for 450 years and continues to cultivate classical horsemanship in the Renaissance tradition– It can also be found on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.

The Spanish Riding School is dedicated to the training of Lipizzaner horses. The performances taking place in the Hofburg are also a tourist attraction.
St. Peter Church
St. Stephen Platz (plaza) with the Plague Memorial Monument
Art History Museum at Maria-Theresia Platz
Mozart
Goethe

There are so many palaces in Vienna. Some are now museums, some are still used as official sites for the government. We never had time to visit the Vienna Opera House, but we attended a fabulous Strauss concert with a performance of waltz presented by professional dancers.

The Music Palace and garden during the day
Strauss Concert and performance of waltz.

A visit to Vienna is not complete without a visit to Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Hasburg emperors.

Schönbrunn Palace: Front view
Schönbrunn Palace: Back view

 

Baroque Sculpture that intrigued me in the fabulous gardens of Schönbrunn Palace. It represents the abduction of Helen of Troy by Paris.

Vienna is one of the most romantic capitals of the world.

Four books in each box– Eight romance novels, romantic comedy or romantic suspense set at Christmas time.

If there is one thing Senator Howard Dutton hates, it’s scandal, and all that it entails, juicy gossip, paparazzi, tabloid magazines, and the likes that could negatively affect his career. A family man with political ambitions, he’s happily married to a beautiful woman and he adores his four sons, David, Joshua, Ethan, and Brian, and his only daughter, Julia. Fiercely protecting his stellar reputation, he taught his children at an early age to work hard and avoid disreputable people. While in college, the children made him proud, until things turned rotten … just before a re-election campaign.

His sweet Julia, the apple of his eye and a gorgeous fashion designer, breaks her engagement a week before her wedding—the wedding of the century with seven hundred guests, all loyal supporters of Senator Dutton.

Joshua, a successful lawyer and his father’s right hand, now feeds the tabloids by flaunting a new beauty every week. David, a dedicated doctor, has marital problems and is going through a messy divorce. Senator Dutton would rather not talk about Ethan, the black sheep of the family who dropped out of college after a noisy argument with his dad. And what could he say about the relatives who add their share of problems. Thank God, young Brian discreetly restricts his amorous pursuits to his medical school and hospital.

Senator Dutton is ready to issue a warning. They should reform, at least during his campaign season, or else…

The Senator’s Family Series #1

The Senator’s Family Series #2

Travel with Mona to Hungary

We visited Hungary twice, the first time while on a cruise along the Danube River and the second time as part of a land tour through Eastern Europe. I enjoyed both visits and can’t wait to return.

The capital, Budapest also called the ‘Queen of the Danube’ is bisected by the Danube. A 19th-century Chain Bridge connects the hilly Buda district with flat Pest. Buda was the kernel of settlement in the Middle Ages, and the cobbled streets and Gothic houses of the castle town have preserved their old layout. Until the late 18th century, Pest remained a tiny enclave, but then its population exploded, leaving Buda far behind. In the latter half of the 20th century, growth has been more evenly distributed between the two parts. There are so many landmarks to visit.

As we cruised toward Budapest, we encountered a steep limestone escarpment overlooking the Danube. It provided a panoramic view of the whole city. At the top stood the Citadella—built by the Austrian army in the mid-19th century in order to keep watch over the town. Today it serves as a hotel and restaurant and doubles as the stage for a splendid fireworks display on St. Stephen’s Day (August 20). 

Sights include the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, the Buda Castle hilltop complex, and the stately Hungarian Parliament Building.

Heroes’ Square: We walked through the statue complex of Hősök tere. Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square) stands out for its iconic, towering pillar and Millenium Monument complex that dates back to 1896. The complex honors Hungary’s 7 founding figures, together with a few other important national leaders. The square serves as a convenient central point for exploring the city.

Tombs of the Heroes

The Hungarian Parliament Building is the grand icon of Hungary’s democratic government. The majestic, neo-Gothic Hungarian Parliament Building dates back to 1904 and looms over the Pest side of the Danube River. It’s the largest building in the country. Viewed from aboard river cruises or the western bank of the Danube, the structure’s reflection on the calm river surface adds to the breathtaking panorama. Its turrets and arches make up most of its façade and with Renaissance and Baroque interiors. Group tours are available at the visitor center.

The picture I took on a cloudy, rainy day from the river cruise ship.
Picture from the web

The Royal Palace in Buda: It now houses the National Széchényi Library, Budapest History Museum, and the Hungarian National Gallery. 

We had a tour of the palace

St. Stephen’s Basilica is a Roman Catholic basilica named after the first King of Hungary, King Stephen I. With its impressive architecture and decorations, it is a popular tourist destination and place of worship and also holds regular concerts. We visited the interior during the day and admired the illuminated façade during our night tour of the city.

The Fisherman’s Bastion, world-famous for its turrets and for spires is one of the most well-known attractions of the Buda Castle area and provides perhaps the most beautiful panorama of the city from the Buda side over the river Danube.

The Liberty Statue or Freedom Statue is a monument on the Gellért Hill in Budapest.

The Freedom Statue by night.
A view of the Danube, bridge, and Parliament by night.

There are so many statues in Budapest. I enjoyed two that were not famous!

Although we traveled twice to Hungary, we couldn’t see everything in Budapest. If I ever return, I would like to swim in Széchenyi Thermal Baths, the largest mineral bath in Europe, shop in the Great Market Hall, and listen to a Liszt symphony.

Love You Doc Series – New Release

Dr. Robert Olson was a well-known cardiac surgeon and heart transplant specialist who lived in Florida. His wife Janice was a nurse. Robert and Janice deeply cared for their close-knit family and encouraged their children to follow in their footsteps. At home, all they talked about was hospital, patients, surgery, recovery, etcetera…

Sure enough, their four kids studied medicine. The oldest brother, Nathan, became an orthopedic surgeon and worked in Boston. His brother Aidan finished a residency in neurosurgery and accepted a position in Cincinnati. Their sister, Sophia, was an ER doc, and the youngest sibling, Liam, was still in med school when their dad died.

In the four novels of this box, these successful doctors faced their share of problems before finding their HEA.