Travel with Mona to Estonia

We visited Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, during a cruise on the Baltic Sea. I was particularly interested in this country that is quite similar to Latvia, my daughter-in-law’s country of origin.

I took this picture from the top of a hill. We can see the red tile roofs of old buildings and the tower — with its dark bell chamber– of the oldest intact gothic Town Hall in Northern Europe. Dating from the late 13th century, it is used now for festive ceremonies and public concerts.

After centuries of Danish, Swedish, German, and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in 1918. Forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1940, it regained its freedom in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Estonia is located in Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland, between Latvia and Russia.

A cobbled street in the Old Town
The oldest parts of the walls of Tallinn were actually built in the 13th century,
Toompea Castle is no longer a castle but it’s used as the Estonia Parliament. It was under renovation and we couldn’t visit the interior.

Estonia shares a similar geography and history with Latvia and Lithuania, but is culturally different. Its closest ethnic and linguistic buddy is Finland.

For 50 years, Soviet ruled Estonia and many people moved in from Russia or Belarus. Around a quarter of Estonians are native Russian speakers such as my son’s in-laws. Apparently, almost everyone is comfortable speaking Russian as a second language.

I think it’s the statue of a famous artist or philosopher– Not sure!
Russalka: a monument celebrating Estonia’s independence
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is an orthodox cathedral in central Tallinn. It was built in a typical Russian Revival style in 1894–1900, when the country was part of the Russian Empire. 
A wedding taking place in the cathedral while we were visiting. The bride wore a red dress–she was gorgeous!!!

A market area in Tallinn
The Viking Age was part of Estonia’s history.

If you have a chance to visit Estonia do not hesitate to go. You’ll enjoy it.

MESSY PLANS (Love Plans, book 11) was just released two days ago,

Dr. Matt Lopez is perfectly happy with his medical career until the new nurse practitioner turns his life upside down with her lovely smile and crazy ideas. When Cathy takes Tommy, a young patient under her wing, gets involved in his home situation, and discovers the truth, trouble follows. Life will never be the same for Cathy, her boss, or Tommy as they try to repair the mistakes of their pasts.

Two books on pre-order We’re All Heroes (Love Pans, book 12) We’re No Saints (Love Pans, book 12)
They’re all heroes who pay a big price for freedom—The Ukrainian mom who spies for her country; her three small kids who struggle to survive; the wounded major who gets them out of a war-zone; Lauren, the flight attendant who brings them to the U.S.A. ; her parents who receive them in their home; and her ex-fiancé, Dr. Jake, who operates on the injured. And let’s not forget the two German shepherd puppies that dive in a pool to save a two-year old. Will the many crises they face head-on strengthen or destroy Lauren and Jake’s relationship?
She’s a young widow with difficult teenagers and a company to manage. He’s a charming lawyer hiding secrets that could hurt her. He claims he loves her, but can she trust him?

The Student and the Dog

Lilly is a sophomore student, smart, hardworking, and determined to achieve her goal. Packing her car to the rim, she drove to college three weeks earlier than her first day of class for orientation on the first week and sorority rush on the second week. The apartment Lilly would share with three roommates wouldn’t be available for the next two weeks. A friend gave her the keys to her apartment, and Lilly settled there on her own.

Soon she discovered that with without her friends, the campus was too boring. To kill the time, she browsed her social media and discovered a picture that melted her heart and a post she couldn’t ignore. A five-year-old German Shepherd in the Animal Shelter needed a foster home until it could be adopted. With nothing else to do, our generous student went to visit the shelter and met Jane. It was love at first sight, and Lilly offered to foster the German Shepherd for a couple of weeks. She never expected Jane to be such a sweetheart, so loving, so obedient. Boredom disappeared but a new problem arose.

Lilly couldn’t imagine abandoning her new companion to shelter life. But she couldn’t adopt her either. The rented apartment where she would move into soon had a strict no-pets policy. Desperate but determined to save Jane from a miserable future, Lilly called her parents, asked and begged for a special favor. But… Her family has a lovable cockapoo, Bosty, a hypoallergenic dog, that doesn’t shed. Mom has asthma and can’t live with a dog that sheds. Could they find a solution?

Grandma studied the Internet for hours and found out that if Mom brushed the German Shepherd every morning with a bristle brush, got rid of loose hair with a hair dryer at high speed, and then rubbed the dog’s coat with olive oil, the shedding would be controlled. Mom should also wear a mask while brushing the dog, and give him a bath three times a week.

Mom agreed to give it a try for two months. If everything went well, the family would keep the new dog for a year, and Lilly will take her back when she moves to a new apartment next year. Grandma also researched the food that would help minimize the shedding.

Lilly is my granddaughter! Yesterday, she drove Jane to her parents’. I hope and pray her new dog doesn’t send my daughter to the ER!

Here’s the first meeting between Jane and Bosty. Bosty was petrified by the big monster and couldn’t stop shaking. The family improved things by going on a walk together and giving both dogs treats and new toys.

Pre-Order MESSY PLANS

Contemporary Romance with emotion and a touch of humor.

Pre-Order We’re All Heroes

Contemporary Romance with emotion, passion, action, and humor.

Travel with Mona

Visit Prague

When my daughter was at university she took a year off and spent it in Paris. Before flying, she booked a train-pass for $200 that allowed her to hop on a train and travel anywhere in Europe. One of the places where she went with a friend was Prague. Do I need to mention that during that year, half of my hair turned gray! When she returned home safe and sound, she had a lot of stories to tell us. Two of them practically gave me a heart attack.

The first one was that she saved a lot of money by not staying in a hotel in Prague. “So where did you stay?” I asked a bit worried. “There were people at the train station showing us cards with pictures of their apartments and a room we could rent for $10 per night.” Try to imagine my gasp of terror. “You stayed with people you didn’t know???” “They were very nice and had two adorable little girls. Besides, we were two. So I only paid $5.”

The other story was even worse. She and her friend were eating dinner at a café. They lost track of time and suddenly realized the place was closing. They were walking toward the train station when they noticed a car following them. The girls panicked and started running in the deserted dark street. The car followed them slowly. Finally they found a lit pizzeria, and banged on the closed doors. For their good luck, the owner spoke a little bit of English. The girls explained that they were afraid and wanted to call the police. The two men in the car came behind them to the store. It turned out that they were secret police and thought that the two girls were gypsies trying to attract men!!! No need to write here my reaction and my response.

My husband and I visited Prague twice, in more classy ways, staying in hotels. We loved Prague. So let me tell you about this beautiful city.

Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, is bisected by the Vltava River. Nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” it’s known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings and Gothic churches. My favorite sites were the medieval Astronomical Clock, which gives an animated hourly show, and the pedestrian Charles Bridge which is lined with statues of Catholic saints. 

Charles Bridge is a medieval stone arch bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the early 15th century. 

The first statue to be erected on the Charles Bridge is made of bronze. This is the statue of St. John of Nepomuk, the patron saint of Bohemia. According to legend John of Nepomuk refused to reveal the confessions of the wife of King Wenceslas IV, and was thrown off the side of the bridge to his death.

Charles Bridge is an icon of Prague and the Czech Republic. For many centuries until 1870, it was the only way for people to cross the Vltava. It is also one of the few Medieval bridges still standing and in use today.

The Prague astronomical clock or Prague Orloj is a medieval astronomical clock attached to the Old Town Hall in Prague. The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest clock still in operation. It shows the relative positions of the Sun, Moon, Earth, and Zodiac constellations. It also tells the time, provides the date, and, best of all, provides entertainment for the tourists on the hour, every hour.

Old Town Square in Prague.

I bought a gorgeous crystal vase and a wooden old-fashioned clock hanging on my kitchen wall.

New Release– On Pre-Order MESSY PLANS, Love Plans Series, book 11

Fully dedicated to his patients, Dr. Matt Lopez, Chief of the ER at St. Lucia Hospital spends his free time on his boat and dates nurses from the hospital—but not from his own unit. Rule number one in his ER: never mix work with pleasure, thereby avoiding a conflict of interest. When the lovely Cathy Cooper joins the ER staff, every doctor, including Matt, is ready to break the rules. The new nurse practitioner is too gorgeous for her own good and too independent for Matt’s peace of mind.

Cathy Cooper goes an extra mile for her patients, especially for the children of the public school where she subs. When Cathy takes Tommy, a young patient under her wing, gets involved in his home situation, and discovers the truth, trouble follows.

Life will never be the same for Cathy, her boss, or Tommy as they try to repair the mistakes of their pasts. Can they reconcile their personal feelings and work obligations?

Messy Plans is book 11 of the Love Plans Series.

An Unforgettable Vacation in Egypt.

If you are looking for a different and memorable vacation, at an incredibly low price, I suggest you carefully read this blog. My kids have just returned from a one-week vacation in Egypt.

Riding a camel wasn’t easy, but we made it

Using the highly recommended Memphis Tours, they organized the whole trip from the US by email and paid 25% of the whole amount when they made their reservations. The rest was paid when they arrived in Cairo. The price included hotels in Cairo and Luxor with breakfast and lunch, car transportation, flight to Luxor, and visits to all the monuments. Before traveling they got their visas and recommended vaccines. My daughter and son, and their families flew to London and boarded the same British Airways flight to Cairo.

Lunch at the 9 Pyramids Restaurant. We came by camel!

At Cairo International Airport, they were met at the gate by a Memphis Tours Representative who took their passports and asked them to follow her. Bypassing the long lines, she took care of all the formalities, passport control, and customs, and led them out of the airport to their van in no time. The Rep introduced them to their driver, English-speaking guide, and bodyguard who would accompany them for the whole week. This completely reassured my daughter.

The van drove them to the Kempinski Hotel (German chain of hotels) in downtown Cairo, right on the Nile. That first night they had dinner on the terrace of the hotel and enjoyed the magnificent view of Cairo by night.

At the step pyramid of Saqqara with Emad, our tour guide, an M.S. in History and a well of information.

On Day One, they went to the Pyramids, rode camels to tour the area, visited the Sphynx, and reached the restaurant where they enjoyed a delicious lunch of grilled lamb and chicken kabab. In the afternoon they visited the step pyramid of Saqqara, and went inside one of the pyramids.

The famous Khan El Khalili Bazaar where we shop to our heart’s content.

On Day Two, they visited the Citadel, (an old fortress) and the old museum and saw the King Tut exhibit. (The new Big Museum is still not open yet). After lunch they spent time in the Khan El Khalili Bazaar and enjoyed the inexpensive shopping.

The Temple of Karnak

On Day Three, they flew to Luxor, visited the Temples of Luxor and Karnak, sailed in a felucca and enjoyed a sunset on the Nile.

Going down a tomb in the Valley of the Kings. We saw King Tut’s mummy!

On Day Four, they left the Sofitel hotel at 8 am, (the renovated old Windsor Palace where many celebrities stayed). Right after breakfast, they went to the Valley of the Kings where they visited 5 Tombs out of 63, then they drove to the Colossi of Memnon, and later to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Back at the hotel, they spent their afternoon in the pool, and after dinner attended a Sound and Light show at the temple.

In front of Queen Hatshepsut Temple. Her son had her head removed from all statues and paintings and replaced with his own head!!!

On Day Five, they flew back to Cairo, and on Day Six, they visited the Old Cairo churches that dated from the second century A.C. and the Ben Ezra Synagogue, sometimes referred to as the El-Geniza Synagogue or the Synagogue of the Levantines. According to local folklore, it is located on the site where baby Moses was found.

Sound and Light at the Temple of Luxor

The six-day trip to Egypt cost them less than any cruise or local vacation. The dads were happy to have a driver, the moms enjoyed the inexpensive shopping, and the girls were delighted to have Internet in both hotels. They were able to post their pictures on Instagram from day one. They are already planning another fabulous trip for next year to discover more wonderful monuments in Egypt.    

The Gods of Dark Love

The book is based on the Legend of Isis and Osiris. This is a sensual dark romance, with explicit love scenes, but not erotic in frequency or type.)

According to the legend, the evil Egyptian god of storm, Seth, killed his brother Osiris, chopped him into fourteen pieces and flung them all over Egypt. Isis, goddess of family, reassembled thirteen of his body parts. Since she couldn’t find his supernatural male member, where his godly power was stored, she reattached a human one. Isis has always loved Osiris, the charming god of labor. While dreaming of marriage, family and a son, she helps him fight Seth. Together they struggle to survive iniquities and perils.

His trip to the Afterlife has changed Osiris. He regrets his past womanizing. Guided by oracles she utters when they make love, they search lands and seas for his missing organ so he can recover his godly attributes. Osiris has fallen in love with Isis but the sins of his past and their unexpected consequences threaten to separate them more painfully than Seth’s mayhem and curses.

SECRET KISSES

The story is set in Ohio, and includes a visit to Egypt and a cruise on the Nile River. For love and friendship, three best friends will defy families and society.

Katy Mahoney, Hoda Seif, and Sarah Kohn. Three girls from different backgrounds and religions pledged to maintain their friendship forever.

For five years, the three friends meet and exchange confidences and advice. Life is so confusing for a woman in love with a man from a different religion. Sarah is concerned about Omar’s narrow-mindedness and decides he has to change. Katy knows she’ll have a battle royal on her hands with her pious Catholic mother. And Hoda is in a worse shape. Her family’s religion forbids her to marry an infidel.

Will the three friends manage to convince their families to let them marry for love or will tradition tear the lovers apart?

This book is part of UNFORGETTABLE LOVE, Unforgettable Wonder