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.

With Passion

Today someone asked me, “What are the things you like best? The things you like doing with passion? What would you do for hours without complaining?”

Can you answer any of these questions spontaneously–the first thing that crosses your mind, without deeply thinking about it?

My answers came right away:

1-Writing a story: I can sit at my computer for hours–my record was 12 hours–writing non-stop, ignoring the world around me

2-Taking care of my grandchildren, playing with them, chatting with them, cooking or baking for them. That was true until two years ago. Now they are teenagers and drive themselves around, and certainly don’t need babysitting.

3-Swimming in the pool.  A few years ago I would have added, walking on the beach. Unfortunately, my knee hurts now if I walk on the sand.

4- Reading. If I start reading a book I like, I have to finish the story in one sitting.

So how about you? Share your answers.

Here are two newly released boxes of books you won’t be able to put down.

The Senator’s Family Series #1

The Senator’s Family Series #2

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.

Always elegant and generous, Nancy is the perfect senator’s wife, involved in many charitable events, in addition to her career as lawyer. 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…

Dear Readers,

To thank and help the wonderful members of the Authors’ Billboard and the authors who work hard to provide you with hours of entertainment, please read the following post prepared by Joshua Loyd Fox and apply it.

Thank you and Happy Reading

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

Too Busy To Take a Vacation? Think Again by Taylor Lee

Can you buy a ticket to a better mood? Hop a flight to a healthier heart? The travel industry would say yes—and increasingly, so does science. And so do I. My guy and I just returned from four weeks in Grand Junction, Colorado. If you haven’t been there, add it to your must-visit list. Breathtaking mountain cliffs, red rock canyons, the hub of  Colorado’s wine country, beautiful golf courses nestled in canyons (check out my photo below)… and peaches!  I promise you once you eat a Palisade peach, you’ll never be satisfied with grocery store peaches again.

Vacation

Back to the benefits of vacations. For decades, researchers have been probing the benefits of vacations. Almost across the board, they’ve found evidence that vacations can positively impact everything from blood pressure to energy levels. But you do need to take those days off, a challenge for many Americans. “We’re one of the only advanced economies that does not guarantee paid leave,” says Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, and director of the Better Life Lab at the think tank New America. One in four Americans has no access to paid vacation, and those who do often don’t use it, she says. See her reasons below confirming why and how vacations positively affect our health.

Seven health benefits of taking a vacation

Studies have shown that taking time away from the job can have physical and mental health benefits. People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals. If you still need a little convincing, here is a list of some of the additional benefits of taking time away from work.

  1. Improved physical health Stress can contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure. For both men and women, the New York Times reported, taking a vacation every two years compared to every six will lessen the risk of coronary heart disease or heart attacks.
  2. Improved mental health Neuroscientists have found that chronic exposure to stress can alter your brain structure and bring on anxiety and depression. When you take a vacation, feelings of calm arise and relieve stress, which allows the body and mind to heal in ways that it couldn’t if it were still under pressure.
  3. Greater well-being According to a Gallup study, people who “always make time for regular trips” had a 68.4 score on the Gallup-Heathway’s Well-Being Index, in comparison to a 51.4 Well-Being score for less frequent travelers. One study found that three days after vacation, subjects’ physical complaints, quality of sleep, and mood had improved compared to before vacation. These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacation.
  4. Increased mental motivation Many who return from vacation are more focused and productive. Studies have found that chronic stress can make it difficult to achieve certain tasks and cause memory problems. Taking time off can be like getting a tune-up for the brain, improving your mental health and cognition.
  5. Improved family relationships Spending time enjoying life with loved ones can keep relationships strong. A study by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services found that women who took vacations were more satisfied with their marriages.
  6. Decreased burnout Employees who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts. Another way to manage burnout is through the Oxygen Mask Rule: “Secure your masks before assisting others.” In other words, address your mental, physical and spiritual needs before committing to responsibilities benefitting others outside of your immediate family.
  7. Boosted happiness Research shows planning a vacation can boost your happiness. Some people experience an elevated mood up to eight weeks before the trip. The bottom line is, take a vacation if you can. When you take time away from the stresses of work and daily life, it can improve our physical and mental health, motivation, relationships, job performance and perspective. A vacation can help you feel refreshed and more prepared to handle whatever comes when you return.

As you plan your next vacation, be sure and add these great books to your “must take-along”.

EXPOSED

Exposed

FREE September 26-27

  • A renegade police officer infiltrates a dangerous cartel intending to take down its leader.•Little does she know that the handsome Drug Lord is a special operative hotshot heading up a mission two years in the making.

    •Learning who the outrageous woman is, the undercover commander does the only thing he can to protect the mission, and her. He claims her for his own.

And add to your must-read list our Author’s Billboard sensation:
Unforgettable Loyalty: Craving and Devotion

Unforgettable Loyalty

Is there anything more important in a relationship than loyalty from the one you love…

My book in the set is:

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Knockin On Heaven's Door

She’s a go-it-alone detective. He’s a psychiatrist and FBI profiler. A serial killer brings them together. In more ways than one.

Deacon Walsh has more degrees than any one man should. A former Special Ops physician, psychiatrist, and now FBI profiler, the stunning black agent has spent a year tracking the serial killer of four Colorado girls. When the trail goes cold, a brutal murder of an Albuquerque girl with all the marks of his victims convinces Deacon his killer is responsible.

Unfortunately, in addition to being brilliant, Deacon is also charming. And to Tyra’s dismay, as accomplished a lover as he is an agent.