Cruising the Danube with Mona: The Iron Gate and Serbia

As mentioned in my September 1st post, we spent the first days of our river cruise visiting Romania and Bulgaria, and Day 5 all on deck, cruising the Danube, admiring the scenery, and snapping pictures.

The most spectacular scenery was the dramatic gorge of the IRON GATE, a narrow and formerly very dangerous passage on the Danube. The Iron Gate divides the Carpathian and Balkan mountains, forming part of the boundary between Serbia and Romania. It is about 2 miles (3 km) long and 530 feet (162 meters) wide, with towering rock cliffs that make it one of the most dramatic natural wonders of Europe. 

Our cruise ship approaching the Iron Gate dam,
and going through the Iron Gate dam.

In the 1960’s, a massive lock and dam were built to help control the speed of the river and make navigation safer. The joint development project of Romania and Yugoslavia on the Danube River (including a dam and hydroelectric power plant) was completed in 1972, providing equal amounts of energy to each country and quadrupling the annual tonnage of shipping. The name Iron Gate is commonly applied to the whole 90-mile- (145-kilometre-) long gorge system.

Our cruise ship going through the locks.
The crew member changing the flag as we entered Serbian territory.
Our cruise ship cruising in the open again.

On our way to Serbia we passed the rock sculpture of Decebalus, a colossal carving of the face of Decebalus (r. AD 87–106), the last king of Dacia, who fought against the Roman emperors Domitian and Trajan to preserve the independence of his country, which corresponds to present-day Romania.

It was commissioned by Romanian businessman Iosif Drăgan and it took 10 years for twelve sculptors to complete it. The lead artist sculptor’s name was Florin Cotarcea. According to Drăgan’s website, the businessman purchased the rock in 1992, after which the Italian sculptor Mario Galeotti assessed the location and made an initial model. The first six years involved dynamiting the rock into the basic shape, and the remaining four years were devoted to completing the details.

Under the face of Decebalus there is a Latin inscription which reads “DECEBALUS REX—DRAGAN FECIT” (“King Decebalus—Made by Drăgan”).

The carving was placed opposite an ancient memorial plaque, carved in the rock on the Serbian side of the river facing Romania. The plaque, known as the Tabula Traiana, records the completion of Trajan’s military road along the Danube and thus commemorates the final defeat of Decebalus by Trajan in 105, and the absorption of the Dacian kingdom into the Roman Empire. 

The Tabula Traiana marker laid by the Roman emperor Trajan over 2000 years ago can be seen on the left bank of the Danube.
You will also pass a beautiful Orthodox Church built on what appears to be a pier.

On Day 6 we arrived in Belgrade, capital of Serbia, and previously capital of Yugoslavia, situated at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers.

Overlooking the city of Novi Sad with a spectacular view of the Danube and surroundings is
Marshal Vauban’s unconquerable Petrovaradin Fortress. Dramatic events in the recent past
have shaped both the present and the future of this region, resplendent with natural beauty and
a proud history. Located high on the right bank of the Danube River in the city of Novi Sad, the Petrovaradin Fortress (Petrovaradinska Tvrdjava) has played a significant role in Serbia’s history. Over the centuries, the site of the fortress has been used by the Romans, Byzantines, Celts, Turks, Hungarians and Austrians. Starting in the 17th century, the Austrians spent nearly a century building new fortifications, including new walls, water moats and channels with movable bridges and control gates. A 16-kilometer long system of underground tunnels was completed in 1776.

 Pobednik (in Serbian Cyrillic ‘The Victor’) is a monument in the Upper Town of the Belgrade Fortress, built to commemorate Serbia’s victory over the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires during the Balkan Wars and the First World War. Cast in 1913, erected in 1928, and standing at 14 metres (46 ft) high, it is one of the most famous works of Ivan Meštrović. The park is also one of the most visited tourist attractions in Belgrade and the city’s most recognizable landmark, a good place to watch the sunset over the city.

The Temple of Saint Sava  is the largest Orthodox church in Serbia, one of the largest Eastern Orthodox churches and it ranks among the largest churches in the world. It is the most recognizable building in Belgrade and a landmark, as its dominating dome resembles that of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul that has been converted to a mosque, after which it had been modelled. Every day, its grandiose bell towers with almost 50 bells announce noon. The interior is famous for its exquisite mosaic work. It was under remodeling when we visited.

The city center has a lively pedestrian area and charming outdoor cafes. There were colorful cows statues everywhere.

Tennis champion Novak Đoković is the big hero of Belgrade–and a generous one. We heard of Restaurant Novak 1, Tennis Center Novak, Nova Vita hospital…

We were treated to a special performance of local folkloric dances before the river ship sailed away from Belgrade.

When going on any cruise you shouldn’t forget your books. Here are two newly released novels for your entertainment.

Available on Amazon
He adopted two minority children but lost his wife. Finally things settle for him, until the lovely surgeon he hires turns his life upside down.

Released September 22

Available on Amazon
A biracial lawyer and jack of all trades, he fights discrimination to win the heart of the pretty blonde travel agent.

Release Day October 5

How to keep a guy interested?

Years ago I collected articles I found interesting, amusing, or useful for my writing. Here is one of them. I don’t know who the author is, and I don’t agree with everything he/she wrote. Many points are outdated, and many are still true.

Want to know how to keep a guy interested in you no matter what? Here are some sexy ways to make yourself dreamy and desirable in your man’s eyes.

Many girls may assume that guys are fickle and have a low interest span. But in reality, guys are no different from girls when it comes to staying happy in a relationship. Guys, just like girls, love novelty. And they always want to be with a girl who’s desirable, and one that’s envied by other girls and desired by other guys. Do you want to be that girl?

To keep a guy interested in you, you just need to remember a few ways to keep his interest aroused and his desire in you peaked.

Use these tips on how to keep a guy interested in you, and you’d see how easy it can be to make him want you all the time.

#1 Be spontaneous. Shock him, awe him, make plans for the evening or plan an entire elaborate date by yourself. Surprise him and never be too predictable.

#2 Don’t change yourself. Stay true to the real person that you are. Don’t change yourself constantly assuming he doesn’t like your personality. Be creative, but stick to your comfort zone.

#3 Take initiatives in bed. Your guy may like taking control in bed, but when you dominate him and show off your confidence, he can’t help but be awed by your confidence and sexiness in bed.

#4 Smell great all the time. Always smell great around him but don’t overpower subtle fragrances with sickly sweet perfumes though. Always smell good, and pay special attention to your personal hygiene and body odor.

#5 Awe his friends. Men are competitive. As long as he thinks he has the best girl in his social circle, he’ll always cling to you and want to be with you. Awe his friends and make them think you’re a great girl, and you’ve done a great job.

#6 Learn to seduce him. Seduction doesn’t stop in bed. Be sexy around him and be creative wherever you go.

#7 Show interest in his hobbies. A guy would absolutely love a girl who shows interest in his special hobbies, be it playing on his Xbox or climbing a mountain. Men want to spend their lives with a woman who truly understands them and connects to them.

#8  Be his shoulder to lean on. Give him your strength and support when he’s low on morale. Reassure him and help him confide his problems to you. Be his confidant and his warm pillow when he’s in the dumps and he’ll treat you like a goddess.

#9 Be his arm candy. Look good in his arms when both of you are together.

#10 Be financially secure. Be in control of your finances and have a well settled job. Guys love a girl with a steady head on her shoulders. At the same time, they stay a mile away from careless spendthrifts!

#11 Have intelligent conversations. A guy may want an arm candy when he’s on the streets, but he also wants a lover who can communicate with him and have intelligent conversations at the end of the day.

#12 Help him deal with life. Men may behave like the saviors of the world. But inside, they’re still little boys who need a cuddle and a hug now and then. Help your man deal with the issues life throws at him.

#13 Public display of affection. Your man may shy away from a bit of PDA, but he still loves it when you cling to his arms like a damsel in distress. It makes him feel more powerful and sexy!

#14 Stroke his ego. If you want to keep your guy interested and happy, learn to stroke his ego. Compliment his achievements and give him a pat on his back when he’s proud of something. Make him feel like a man and he’ll stay your man.

#15 Be interesting. Be interesting and creative with your life. See the happy side in everything, even in the most mundane of days. When you’re an optimist, your infectious happiness will definitely rub on to him.

#16 Don’t make him feel insecure. Flirt with others and talk to men, but never at the cost of his insecurity. When he’s around, hug him close and he’ll swell with affection for you.

#17 Don’t be easily available. Spend time with him, but don’t be ready for him at his beck and call. Be there for him, but make him miss you when you aren’t around.

#18 Don’t be clingy and needy. Guys like a damsel who needs their help. But that stops once the infatuation period is over. Show him that you’re self-reliant and he’ll always look for ways to help you and please you.

#19 Be sexually innovative. Know your moves in bed and everywhere else. Have sex in different places, role play with him, wear an apron and nothing else while cooking something special, tie his hands to the bedpost… You get the drift, don’t you?

#20 Be a good cook. No matter what people say, the adage, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach still holds good.

#21 Don’t ever be a pushover. Don’t be the submissive wife. You don’t need to sit at his feet to earn his respect and love. Instead, be opinionated and throw him around when he throws his weight around you.

#22 Whip him when he can’t behave. Treat him like a spoilt child when he doesn’t behave. Ignore his childish behavior. Be unpredictable and rude when he misbehaves, and he’ll fear you and respect you at the same time.

#23 Make him proud of you. Guys may be shallow at first sight, but they still want a girl they can respect and admire.

#24 Respect yourself. You’re not a doormat. Let him know that you have the strength to move on if he does something stupid or treats you badly. Be an achiever and a girl he can look up to in awe. Always make it look like you’re the biggest prize he’s won.

#30 Make him dependent on you. As long as he thinks he can’t live without you or if he feels helpless without you, he’ll always stay interested in you.

Pick the traits you can use and you’ll see how easy it can be to keep a guy interested in you. But never let him use you or treat you like a pushover. And don’t think twice about punishing him or putting him in his place when he doesn’t treat you right. Earn his respect and love. And let him earn yours. Treat him with love and affection, but only if he deserves it. After all, as long as he fears losing a catch like yourself, he’ll never put a toe out of line, would he?

Here are threw new releases, a book and two new boxes with novels where the heroines know how to keep a man interested!!!

Available at Amazon

HEALING PLANS, Love Plans Series, book 8, On preorder Publication Date: September 22, 2022 He thought he couldn’t have children and adopted two minority children, but he lost his wife. Finally things settle for him, until the lovely surgeon he hires turns his life upside down and love accomplishes miracles.

Unforgettable Loyalty: Available on Amazon
Is there anything more important in a relationship than loyalty from the one you love…
knowing that person will always be there for you? And then they aren’t. What happens then?
Sweet & Sassy: Small Town Romances Available on Amazon
Trusted friends and family will be at their sides as they learn difficult and surprising news. A few might search for the truth or attempt to contain a secret they have carried for years.

Awards and a Fun Trip Planned!

On September 1st, I was super excited to hear that the third book in the Rise Again Warrior Series, Mission: Repair had won a GOLD award with the Readers’ Favorite Awards! The first book in the series, Mission: Believe, won a bronze in 2020, and the second book, Mission: Accept won a Gold in 2021.

Because of the pandemic, Readers’ Favorite couldn’t have their standard yearly award ceremony, but this year they are. I’ll be traveling down to Miami, Florida, to receive my award, not just for Mission: Repair, but all three books! Which is super exciting!

My husband will be joining me, as, at the end of this month, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary, and we aren’t doing anything special. We will take the time to enjoy the awards ceremony and two days together in Miami to celebrate it. We are both super excited to not only get away together but to be present for this award ceremony and visit the Miami Book Fair.

The Rise Again Warrior Series is very near and dear to my heart. It’s not just military fiction or romance, but in-depth emotional stories that share the brutalities of recovery after the war is over. These characters are all trying to find new places in society, dealing with demons daily as they attempt to find their way. The series is raw, realistic, and heartfelt, dealing with trauma injuries, PTSD, suicide, addiction, depression, and many other issues our current real-life warriors are battling to overcome.

This series is available on your favorite book retailer: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Apple, and more!

Cruise with Mona on the Blue Danube: Romania and Bulgaria

Our itinerary from Bucharest to Vienna, sailing along the Danube River for thirteen days.

We flew from New York to Bucharest, capital of Romania for a two-week cruise along the Danube River on Avalon Waterways River Cruises, but first we spent two days in Bucharest. On our first evening, we walked through the wide avenues of the city center and discovered the new place on our own.

The massive statue, cast in bronze, represents Carol I of Romania, the first King of Romania and founder of the Romanian Dynasty. During his reign, Romania conquered its independence from the Ottoman Empire, in 1877, in the course the Russo-Turkish War, known in Romania as the War of Independence.
Posing in the downtown area for a first picture in Bucharest.
Created in bronze in honor of the former Romanian politician, Iuliu Maniu, who served three terms as prime minister of Romania. The statue is located in Revolution Square in central Bucharest.
Kretzulescu Church is an Orthodox Church built
between 1720 – 1722. It is located on Calea Victoriei, at one of the corners of Revolution Square,
next to the former Royal Palace.
We were lucky to attend a wedding while visiting the old church. I was impressed by the elegance of the guests.
The Romanian Athenaeum is a concert hall in the center of Bucharest and a landmark of the Romanian capital city.

On Day 2, our first morning in Bucharest, Avalon Cruises took us on a tour of the city and a visit of the impressive Parliament Building. The former Royal Palace now houses the National Art Museum.

Parliament Building is the world second-largest
government building after the Pentagon.
The Royal Palace Square was the scene of riots in 1989 which led to the collapse of the communist dictatorship. I took this picture from the balcony of the Parliament Building.
Inside the Parliament Building,
the grand marble staircase
Inside the Parliament Building, one of the formal rooms

 

In the afternoon a short moto coach ride took us to Oltenita where our cruise vessel was docked. Before dinner the crew welcomed us with a reception and then we sailed to Silistra, a port city in Bulgaria. By the way, the blue Danube is far from blue, more like dark greenish black. We were told you see it blue only when you’re young and in love.

On Day 3, after breakfast, we travelled by bus to Varna, a naval base and sea resort on the Black Sea.

Varna is one of Bulgaria’s most popular destinations. While just over 335,000 people call the city home, during the summertime, its pristine Black Sea beaches fill up with over 1 million people, drawn to the sunny weather and fun nightlife.

It was a gorgeous day. Many sunbathers were topless. By the way, the Black Sea was blue, not black, rough with whitecaps and strong currents.

A most enjoyable lunch on the Pirate ship.

We had lunch on a pirate ship in the Black Sea.

The Dormition of the Mother of God Cathedral in Varna: we didn’t visit.
Lunch with the pirates!

On Day 4, we continued our bus trip to Veliko-Tarnovo. Often referred as the “City of the Tsars“, Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famously known as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, attracting many tourists with its unique architecture.

The Patriarchal Cathedral on top of the Tsarevets Hill
Standing at a café on top of a hill.

The old part of the town is situated on three hills, rising amidst the meanders of the Yantra. The city was a natural fortress with ancient stone houses clinging to the steep stones. Tsarevets Hill is home of the Royal Fortress, palaces of the Bulgarian emperors and the Patriarchate, the Patriarchal Cathedral, and also a number of administrative and residential edifices surrounded by thick walls.

Entering the gate to the fortress
The Royal Fortress
A view of the city from the top of the hill.
A view of the fortress from the top of the hill.

We spent Day 5 on the ship sailing through the Iron Gates–A story for another day.

(The Danube cruise blog will be continued on October 1st)

May I offer you my newly released book FAMILY PLANS, (Love Plans Series, book 7) just released on August 25. It’s on sale at 99 cents for a few days.

The plane crash devastated two families and revealed painful secrets. Can a brighter future arise from those ashes at Christmas time?

Family Plans on Amazon

 

Left inconsolable by his wife’s death in a plane crash, Tim Kent dedicates himself to his daughter, Brianna. He allows her to get closer to her best friend Debbie whose father died in the same plane crash. When Tim meets Erin Perkins, Debbie’s mother, he’s impressed by the beautiful, young woman struggling to raise six children on her own while working at an exhausting job. He does his best to help her. Attraction develops between them. While Brianna practically lives with her friend Debbie and shares Erin’s motherly attention, Tim acts as a surrogate father for the six fatherless children. But the sorrowful plane crash that brought them together threatens to separate them when shocking secrets are revealed.