Indiana Jones in Petra

I visited Petra almost ten years ago as part of a cruise that took us from Italy all the way to Singapore, sailing the Mediterranean, crossing the Suez Canal, and continuing through the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

The blockbuster film Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade was partly filmed in the ancient city of Petra, a place unknown to much of the world before 1989. Indiana Jones was reviewed as “One of the best action-adventure films of all time,” and “One of the all-time greats. Harrison Ford is perfection-plus as Indiana Jones, so iconic a character that the AFI cited him as the second greatest movie hero of all time.”

“Archeology has never been so cool.”

Located between rugged desert canyons and mountains– in what is now the southwestern corner of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan– Petra was once a thriving trading center and the capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106. The city sat empty and in near ruin for centuries. In the early 1800s, a European traveler disguised himself in Bedouin costume and infiltrated the mysterious site. In 1985, the Petra Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and in 2007 it was named one of the new seven wonders of the world.

Bab Al Siq’ is Arabic for gateway to the ‘siq’. Here we discovered squared monuments, the massive Djinn blocks, and the Obelisk Tomb, carved in the 1st century AD. Above the tomb are four pyramids as well as a niche with a statue in bas-relief that is a symbolic representation of the five people buried there. An inscription indicated that the tomb was used for Abdomanchos and his family, probably in 40- 70 AD.

The Siq, the main road that leads to the city, is a rock canal that measures 3 to 12 meters in width and reaches up to 80 meters in height. The main part of the Siq is created by natural rock formation and the rest was carved by the Nabataeans.

The siq opens up onto Petra’s most magnificent façade; the Treasury, or Al Khazna (in Arabic). It is almost 40 meters high and intricately decorated with Corinthian capitals, friezes, figures and more. The Treasury consists of two floors with a width of 25.30 meters and a height of 39.1 meters, and comprises three chambers. The most recent excavation has unearthed a graveyard beneath the Treasury. 

Almost three decades ago, George Lucas decided to use the monumental Treasury, the centerpiece of Jordan’s ancient city of Petra, as the exterior of The Temple of the Sun in his movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Cast and crew had to travel all the way to Jordan for just one day of shooting, because that’s all it took to make those scenes work.

The Treasury is crowned by a funerary urn, which according to local legend conceals a pharaoh’s treasure. Although the original function is still a mystery, The Treasury was probably constructed in the 1st century BC. However, in reality the urn represented a memorial for royalty.

While the filmmakers were allowed to have free access to the main entrance chamber, access is prohibited to most mortal visitors. The good news is that the most spectacular part of the location is its exterior – as well as the path you need to take to get there in the first place.

The 1.2 kilometer-long walk through a cleft called The Siq is the only way to access the Treasury and come back to the entrance.

Carved directly into vibrant red, white, pink, and sandstone cliff faces, the prehistoric Jordanian city of Petra was “lost” to the Western world for hundreds of years.

Unfortunately with the pandemic going on for almost two years, I have stopped traveling. Instead I write non-stop and have finished writing a series of eight romance novels, LOVE PLANS. The five first books are on pre-order, and SAILING AWAY PLANS will be released tomorrow.

Love Plans Series:

Sailing Away Plans: The successful surgeon quits work to start a new life in the Caribbean, on his new boat and in a new clinic, but love strikes at the wrong time. [RELEASE DAY 9/2]

Dating Plans: Attraction sizzles between a divorced surgeon and a psychologist with a challenging daughter. Things get more difficult when the teenager’s father returns.

Rescue Plans: Arianna fought hard to escape the slums and become a flight nurse. Captain Lopez taught her to conquer fear. Can he help her forget the scum from the past and win her trust?

Wedding Plans: Will the doctor make the right decision between an angry fiancée and a medical emergency?

Baby Plans: They meet at the artificial insemination clinic. Zach is doing research for an article. Audrey is secretly getting a baby. But artificial insemination works in many ways…

A Visit to Istanbul and Ephesus

My first trip to Turkey took place in the nineties. We stayed at the Hilton on the Bosphorus, also known as the Strait of Istanbul. This narrow, natural waterway located in northwestern Turkey forms a continental boundary between Europe and Asia.

Breakfast and lunch in Istanbul consisted of baklava, kadaifi, loukoumi, and other delicious sweet pastry, accompanied by a bitter Turkish coffee.

This first picture shows a panoramic view of Istanbul with the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia– a Byzantine Basilica that was transformed into a mosque.

We spent three days discovering the huge city on our own and took two guided tours to visit the palaces. Our first guide welcomed us on the modern tourist bus and casually asked if our room had a balcony. When I said, “Yes,” he replied, “Have you heard strange noises coming from the Strait at night? They are the late concubines’ sighs and moans.”

As we looked at him, confused, he explained that the Ottoman Empire was ruled by a Sultan. The Sultan’s mother, the Vadim Sultana was the most powerful woman in the empire and the only one not wearing a veil. She was in charge of his harem. The Sultan’s first wife was the kadin and her first son the heir to the throne. Having accomplished his royal duty, the Sultan indulged in as many concubines as he wanted — often more than a hundred. Most were foreign beauties captured as slaves. When a Sultan died, the new ruler made space for his own harem by getting rid of the former group of concubines. The women were shoved into sacks weighed down with heavy stones and tied with ropes, and then thrown into the Bosphorus, screaming and crying. I couldn’t sleep well that night.

Here are pictures from the Topkapi Palace.

The Topkapi Walls

One of my favorite memories of Istanbul was my two-day visit to the Grand Bazar where I bought several souvenirs: a hand-made bedside rug with the tree of life, a copper pitcher, and small Turkish coffee pot called kanaka, and others…

I never went back to Istanbul, although we booked a cruise in 2016 that included this unique city, the ship canceled the stop because of unrest at the time. Instead we docked in Kusadasi that we have already visited.

The highlight of Kusadasi included a guided tour to the historical city of Ephesus where we saw the ruins of the Library of Celsus, the temples of Domitian and Hadrian, the Great Theater, and the temple of Artemis, the multi-breasted goddess of fertility. St. Paul preached against her shrine, and wrote his Letters to the Ephesians there.

St. John the Evangelist wrote his Gospel in Ephesus. Tradition says that the Virgin Mary and John lived in Ephesus during their final years.

The day in Kusadasi ended with shopping and a break at a café for coffee and pastries.

I didn’t write any book set in Turkey yet. Maybe some day… But I would like to offer you two romance novels I particularly love:

LOVE in the ER In the past, her work in the ER brought her pain and frustration. Can it bring her love and a needed closure now?
LOVE on the SLOPES: Gabriella hides her pain and limp. Dr. Nathan saves her from a ski accident and dates her. Can he win her love and rebuild her knee?
IRRESISTIBLE – SPRING INTO LOVE
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08SWFH93Y
International: https://books2read.com/IrresistibleSpring
Love at First Sight… Your eyes meet, and just like that, you know that you might have met THE ONE.
SPRING INTO LOVE with STEAMY STORIES From New York Times & USA Today Bestselling, Award-Winning Authors.
UNFORGETTABLE LOVERS
Nine incredible tales – from Sweet to Spicy – for your pleasure. Read about the UNFORGETTABLE LOVERS you want & need in your own life. http://mybook.to/unforgettableloverz

A Romantic Cruise: The Greek Islands

Welcome aboard. Today we are sailing to Corfou, next we will stop in Santorini, and then continue to Rhodes, an island close to Turkey, before turning north to Mykonos and Delos. Have a drink at the bar, relax in a lounge chair, listen to the music, and enjoy our cruise to the Greek Islands.

Corfou: A relaxing island

Corfu is one of the most beautiful and romantic islands of the Ionian island group. From lush green hills to noble mansions and from idyllic Corfu beaches, to interesting museums, this island has everything it takes to please any type of traveler.

Strongly influenced by the Venetians, the French and the English, Corfu Town is a brilliant base for exploration. The top places to visit in Corfu are Achillion Palace, the former retreat of princess Sissi of Austria, Mon Repos palace, where Prince Phillip, the late husband of Queen Elizabeth II, was born.

Don’t forget to stop by a Fish Spa as I did. Hundreds of well trained small fish will nibble on your feet. At first it hurts, then it tickles, and then you really relax and enjoy the exceptional massage.

 

Santorini: Island of Love


Today Santorini is a rock shaped like a fishhook, a cone formed by a volcano that erupted before 1600 BC. The current name of the island comes from its patroness, Saint Irene of Thessalonika, who died in 304. The Venetians called her, Sant’Irini and the name stuck. Sant-irini became Santorini.
The highest point of the island is marked by the monastery of the Prophet Elijah. On the eastern shore of the island there are beaches of black sand from previous volcanic activity.
In addition to a temple dedicated to Apollo, there is a shrine cut out of rocks to honor the Egyptian gods Isis, Serapis and Anubis, a reminder of the Egyptian presence during the Ptolemaic period.
The present capital of Santorini is the town of Thera built on top of the cliff. Excavations began in 1967 and scientists wondered if Thera was not part of the lost continent of Atlantis described in Greek literature. Views from this picturesque town are especially beautiful.


You can reach the top of the island riding on a donkey, or by cables. We used the cable. Since I am terrified of height I held my husband’s hand and closed my eyes, then opened one eye when he insisted the view was terrific and I was missing half of my life by not looking.
Once up on the cliff top, I agreed it was worth the scare. Look at the gorgeous pictures and be the judge. Santorini is an ideal place for honeymooners. I used my time walking and admiring the view, and shopping for souvenirs.

 

Our next stop was in RHODES: a strong island


According to Homer, the first colonists were Greek. They founded the city of Rhodes at the northern tip of the island and built a powerful citadel to protect it.
In its day of greatest power, Rhodes became famous for its impressive sculptures, like the huge bronze Colossus which stood at the entrance of the harbor. Created to honor, the sun god Helios, it was at least 110 feet high and considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Unfortunately, the Colossus only stood for 56 years before an earthquake toppled it in 224B.C. but the enormous fragments remained half-submerged for another nine centuries. A scrap dealer carried the pieces away on 900 camels.

The most glorious episode in Rhodes history began in 1309 when the Knights of St. John took control after being expelled from the Holy Land following the Crusades. They built St. John’s Chapel and St. Mary’s Church.

You can see here a picture of one of the tunnels that allowed the Knights to secretly escape. They settled in Rhodes and increased the fortifications. The ramparts are impressive, several feet high. A moat circled and protected the city when the drawbridge was raised. After Constantinople was captured by the Turks, repeated sieges of Rhodes by the Turks weakened the city. At the end only 180 Knights remained to defend Rhodes. They were expelled to Malta and Rhodes became Turkish property. The Italian navy seized Rhodes in 1912 and it was turned over to Greece in 1948.

The famous movie of Guns of Navarone was filmed in Rhodes.


Mykonos: a cosmopolitan island

Our next stop was in Mykonos, probably the most cosmopolitan of the Aegean Islands. I visited four times in the last twenty years, the first time when my children were teenagers.

We fell in love with the picturesque island and returned the year after. The streets are a maze of narrow, winding alleyways – many only two or four feet wide, overhung with dazzling pink and purple blossoms.

All the houses, shops, churches, restaurants and windmills are immaculately whitewashed, with door frames and window shutters highlighted with splashes of sky blue and jade green.

On every second doorstep sits a cat, gazing down serenely at passers-by.

From HER GREEK TYCOON, here is a description of Mykonos as the heroine Ashley sees it from Stefano’s yacht: “See, we are passing Chora, the capital of Mykonos.”

Mountainous landscape and long sandy beaches faded away. Square whitewashed houses with flat roofs, flowered balconies, blue doors and window shutters lined the cluttered narrow paved streets of the picturesque villages. Beautiful churches, chapels and windmills lent a magical atmosphere to the quaint town.  

“Now, keep your hands on the helm and steer to the left.”

The Athena glided through the water and gained speed. Stefano opened the side windshield and let the breeze invade the pilot station. “What’s your pleasure?”
With a toss of her head, Ashley flung her hair back and took a deep breath. “Can we stay close enough to the shore to discover the beaches?”

“Absolutely. This little cruise is all yours.”

Exhilaration filled her heart. She steered a superb ship and the captain was determined to please her. “Thank you, Stefano. I really appreciate you taking the time to show me your beautiful island.”

“We’re passing Korfos. Keep straight. The main island is looping into a cape. Now you can see Agios Ioannis—St. Jeanne Beach there. It’s small but picturesque.” He handed her a pair of binoculars and she scanned the beach.

Blood rushed to her cheeks at the sight of the topless bathers lying on towels or relaxing on lounge chairs. A couple hours ago, she’d been soaking up the sun on a similar chair—in a similar pose. 

Lowering the binoculars, she glanced at him. His face expressionless, he stared at the horizon and hadn’t noticed her embarrassment. “We are crossing a strait between Mykonos and the ancient island of Delos. I’ll handle the helm while you enjoy the view. The rocky islet offers an impressive exhibit of columns, temple remains, and statues of lions.” Ashley shifted to the other side of the pilot station and adjusted the binoculars to her eyes while Stefano took back the control of his boat.

“Delos is the birthplace of Apollo. His mother, the nymph Leto, was seduced by the god of gods, Zeus,” Stefano explained while Ashley admired the sculptural ruins of sanctuaries. “When his wife, the goddess Hera, learned of his treachery she banished the pregnant young nymph from earth.”

“What happened to Leto?” she asked, genuinely interested in the sad love story. Had all the Greek maids been destined to suffer because of love? She had Greek blood in her veins and wanted to hear of a happy ending.

“Poseidon, Zeus’s brother, rescued the nymph and had her deliver her baby on the island of Delos which wasn’t considered as part of the earth.” Stefano told her more about the history of Delos, a necropolis with too many burials for her taste.

HER GREEK TYCOON:
A sexy and humorous Romeo and Juliette Greek style, set in Mykonos Island.

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with heat. Meet the spirited heroines and the alpha heroes who share irresistible chemistry.

 

 

 

A Cross-Atlantic Cruise

Two weeks ago we heard on TV that the Iceland volcanoes erupted for the first time in 6,000 years. I saw these volcanoes in 2013, during a Cross-Atlantic Cruise!

I live in Florida and have always been fascinated by the ocean. My bucket list included a Cross-Atlantic Cruise —Yes, crossing the Atlantic and other oceans, the way buccaneers  and pirates had braved the high winds and raging waves. Think of Christopher Columbus on his way to India, crossing the Atlantic and ending up on the Caribbean’s shores.

We started our Cross-Atlantic Cruise from Southampton, England and ended in New York. From Southampton, we sailed north to Bergen, in Norway, a thriving North Sea Port where we visited King Haakon’s Hall and the Old Bergen Museum, an open-air museum featuring a collection of 18th and 19th-century houses.

Next our ship headed to Iceland, Land of Fire and Ice. We docked in a modern, spotlessly clean small city, Akureryl. The weather was warm for early September and flowers bloomed everywhere. One-third of the world’s volcanoes are in Iceland. Bubbling geothermal springs and richly colored mineral deposits reminded us that the center of the earth was closer than we would think. Some of the craters we saw were not true volcanoes but rocky basins formed when the hot lava bubbled onto water logged ground. We spent hours admiring the Godafoss or Falls of the Gods.

We continued to the West Fjords, nature splendor. We saw glaciers and springs, and winding arms of the sea, and reach Isafjordur –don’t ask me to pronounce it– where volcanic soil is fertile and productive.

Reykjavik  is the capital of Iceland, a gorgeous city, and a unique place where you find ice fields, boiling thermal unit, geyser, waterfall.

People swim in the Blue Lagoon pool all year round.

The Icelanders use their geothermal energy to heat swimming pools and generate electricity. Geothermal water is used to heat around 90% of Iceland’s homes, and keeps pavements and car parks snow-free in the winter. Hot water from the springs is cooled and pumped from boreholes that vary between 200 and 2,000m straight into the taps of nearby homes, negating the need for hot water heating.

On our last day in Reykjavik we visited a real Viking boat.

Leaving Iceland where the weather was far from icy, we sailed to Greenland through the Arctic Ocean and crossed the Arctic Circle. We met with freezing weather and real glaciers floating in the water. In winter, you can’t navigate through this area. Greenland is part of the North Pole inhabited by Eskimos. The people were friendly and hospitable, laughing with us and entertaining us with songs as if they were trying to make amends for the glaciers with their own warmth. For transportation, they use sleds in winter, and kayaks in summer.

At the end of a two-week cruise, the captain gave us a special certificate and the Statue of Liberty welcomed us in New York. Although the Cross-Atlantic was very different from my expectations, we had a wonderful time and discovered uncharted territories.

A BODYGUARD FOR THE PRINCESS

A princess incognito at Harvard. A roommate killed in a residence of 18 students.

Can Chloe trust her neighbors? Some of them are not who they claim to be. But they all have one thing in common. They’re terrified of being the next victim and strive to discover the killer while going around their daily business—attending classes, lunching together and dating, and even lying to or cooperating with the detective in charge of the case. Danger looms in every corner. Fear sizzles in the building.

Who is the murderer? Who will be the next victim?