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?

Travel to Seychelles

When people ask me about the most interesting thing I have ever done in my life, I can’t help smiling as I answer without hesitation, “Traveling.”  I visited over hundred countries on vacation or business trips. 

One of my most memorable trips was to the Seychelles in the nineties, after my husband and colleagues sold the first Boeing 767 with GE engines to the Republic of Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa, where natives speak English, French and Creole. The spouses were invited to accompany and cheer the hardworking and successful delegation on the delivery trip, or virgin trip as the officials called it.

On the tarmac of the Boeing airport in Seattle before boarding.

The night before the actual delivery trip we arrived in Seattle, home of the Boeing Co., for a reception and the next day we headed to the Boeing hangar where we boarded the brand new airplane. After a takeoff closely monitored by the engineers, the plane flew directly to a freezing airport somewhere in Newfoundland to refuel, then crossed over the Atlantic Ocean, transited in Paris for two hours, and continued to Kenya where it had to drop boxes of medication as part of an international aid program. The Kenyan minister of tourism received us with drinks and snacks and then led us to a tower for a panoramic view of the area surrounding the airport. He kindly invited us to come back for a safari–still on my bucket list.

Map and general view of the Seychelles.

The plane landed in the largest island of Mahé, home of the capital Victoria, to the sound of music. Young girls welcomed us with flower leis. The president himself shook hands with each one of us, and toasted the arriving guests with glasses of palm wine Kalou and coconut water. 

L- Arrival at the airport. R- In downtown Victoria. In January, it’s summer in the Seychelles.

We spent our first afternoon in Mahé, and couldn’t wait to run to the Beau Vallon beach and experience the white sand and turquoise water of the Indian Ocean. The evening gathered our delegation for a dinner of local fish and seafood cooked with rice in a Creole style and the delicious octopus and palm salad. Let’s not forget the mouth-watering exotic fruits that appeared at breakfast, lunch and dinner: mango, papaya, passion fruit, guava and a few I didn’t recognize.

The next day the Minister of Tourism invited us on a submarine tour to admire the underwater life, flora, corals and colorful fish; later we swam and snorkeled in the area.

On day two, we flew to the island of Pralin in a twelve-seat plane. In Pralin we visited the rain forest called Vallée de Mai, home to famous—or infamous—Coco de Mer, a huge coconut, for the female fruit, and an… hum… extra long penis for the male fruit. Seriously, you have to see it to believe it. These fruits grow on the tallest trees in the world. We had a fantastic day, but we were eaten alive by hundreds of mosquitoes guarding the rainforest. Back in the hotel, we spent the evening rubbing our legs and arms with a soothing cream made with the oil of Coco de Mer.

In the left top picture we are standing in the Valée de Mai, home of the Coco de Mer. On the right is a picture of the male nut.

On day three, we used the same small plane to go to La Digue island. It landed on a gorgeous white-sand desert beach with black granite rock shining in the sun—in my humble opinion, it is the most beautiful beach in the world. In La Digue, we also visited a park housing giant turtles. On the way back we had a bad surprise. Our small plane sank into the sand. We had to go down and push to get it out!

Over the years, I accompanied my husband to the Seychelles three times and enjoyed the islands tremendously: the beaches, the activities, the food. A perfect place for a honeymoon.

I wrote about the Coco de Mer in my book, THE GODS OF DARK LOVE, a sensual romance based on the legend of the gods, Isis and Osiris, in the Egyptian mythology. On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076K8442S/

Chapter 15 is set in the Vallée de Mai, home of the Coco de Mer.

“This forest is Gehanna created by a devil,” Shafika grumbled. “It has the most indecent fruits I have ever seen. I want to go away from here.”

“Stop it,” Isis ordered. “It’s the wrong time and place to whine.”

The girl pouted. “But my lady, look at those fruits. They must have been created by—”

“We have already seen so many of them at sea. Stop acting like a child.”

“But my lady, I am not talking about the Sea-Cocos.” She pointed to the top of a tree. “Look at these donkeys’ things.”

Exasperated, Isis exhaled and raised her gaze to where the girl pointed. Her breath clogged her throat. “Oh, oh. Osiris, look.” She caught his arm and shook it.

Osiris stared at the long fruits, shaped like a phallus as long as his arm, as long as a donkey’s penis. He swallowed hard and counted a dozen such cones on that tree.

Come cruise with me…

It’s difficult to realize how our lives have changed in the last year. How often do you curse the CoronaVirus ? I do it more often than I can count. Probably every time I open my closet and glance at the gorgeous silver sandals I bought specifically for my April 2020 cruise on the West Coast, the cruise that we never took, the cruise that was canceled because of the pandemic.

Some people miss socializing, eating in restaurant, going to movies, shopping at the malls. I miss my cruises. I miss them like hell. Cruises are becoming the most common way to see the world and unwind in an enjoyable surrounding. My husband calculated that it was cheaper to board a ship from Fort Lauderdale and go on a week cruise than pay airfare, hotel, restaurants and entertainments.

Prior to pandemic, my life was divided into two parts, my life at home, a dutiful life spent writing, babysitting, driving the kids, cooking for the kids, inviting friends for dinner, and a carefree life on the ship, pampering myself, indulging in doing what I like, not what I was expected to do, visiting new countries, and far away cities, walking on the deck, showing up at the restaurants to eat meals cooked by the ship cooks, attending shows, writing new stories in a quiet lounge, playing cards with friends,… A useless, uneventful, selfish, boring life that I adored.

Now when I missed my cruises, I look at my pictures neatly organized in folders. I remember the special places with nostalgia and suppress a tear.

Would you like to travel with me around the world? I will take you on my wonderful ship to my favorite places.

In 2006, we started our South American cruise in Santiago, discovered a world of history and culture and reveled in the sights of Viña del Mar, known as the “Chilean Riviera.” We visited the authentic adobe homes once belonging to the Incas. We sailed to a Chilean Patagonia’s maze of fjords, crossing through rivers, steppes and mountains to the north, and observed a colony of delightful penguins, and continued to the Falkland Islands.

In 2014, we explored the East side of South America, cruising from Fort Lauderdale all the way to Brazil. We spent two days in Rio de Janeiro, ascended to the Sugar Loaf Mountain by cable car, and had a peak at the aerial view of Copacabana, the Christ statue, and Guanabara Bay.

Next our ship docked in Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina. I fell in love with this European city that reminded me of Paris, and Washington DC with its monuments, parks, statues and architecture. We visited the VIP cemetery and the mausoleum of Eva Peron. Nothing beats the tour of the old city and the lunch in restaurant offering Tango shows. Here is a picture of my husband posing with a tango dancer.

 

 

BETWEEN BABIES AND GIRLFRIENDS is a romantic comedy set in Miami, FL and Buenos Aires, the special romance of Dr. Brian Dutton, a very busy American doctor, and Carla, the sophisticated, passionate and sassy daughter of the Governor of Buenos Aires.

Tenting #101 #SummerHolidays #mgtab

Sharing Camping Woes…

Image Pixabay.com

Camping Woes by Jacquie Biggar

The Canada Day long weekend is just around the corner. It’s time to plan your holidays!

It’s the first real weekend of summer, so camping is a must for many families. On our very first camping trip, (our honeymoon) we bought ourselves a supposedly idiot proof tent and headed to the beautiful Rocky Mountains in Jasper, Alberta.

First off, I’m scared to death of bears, so why I thought I could stay in a tent, IN THE WOODS, I’ll never know.

We get to the campsite around lunchtime, and thinking the tent would take an hour at the most, decide to have lunch and do a little exploring first. If you ever get the opportunity, go see the Athabasca Falls, beautiful.

But I digress. Arriving back at camp around three, we proceed to open the box holding the tent. There were an awful lot of pieces in that box. No problem, my DH says, we can do it.

There were problems, many problems. Soon steam was rising from both our ears as ‘a’ wouldn’t quite fit into ‘b’ the way it was supposed to. So I must have read the directions wrong, right? He wasn’t listening to my clear directions, correct?

Some kind neighbouring campers, overhearing our bickering as dusk fell, took pity on us and came over. They put the tent together in two minutes flat. We must have been close.

When it turns dark in the mountains, it’s really dark. There were No street lights, why were there no lights? The tent had No solid walls to protect us from whatever was rustling those bushes at the edge of the campsite.

Then I had to use the washroom. Everything, EVERYTHING, throws a shadow when you’re using a flashlight. I swear to God, my life flashed before my eyes so many times on that trip to the outhouse, I grew a head of grey hairs.

Back in the tent, I tossed, I turned. Hubby snored. I froze. I’d never been so cold in my life.

Tenting was not all it was cracked up to be. I slept in the car. With the doors locked.

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This is more my speed

How about you? Any camping trips you’d like to share?

©Jacquie Biggar 2014

A selection of  books by Jacquie Biggar

One of the recent reviews for Skating on Thin Ice.Robbie Cheadle 5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read with lots of romantic ups and downs April 22, 2019

This book is the perfect mixture of romance with an action packed story line to keep you turning the pages. The author does a great job of drawing the reader into the world of ice hockey and the murky world of match fixing and deals with the mob. Mac Wanowski is a champion ice hockey player and, with him on board, his team looks set to win the season. This does not suit everyone and Mac is seriously injured while playing in a match two weeks before the final. He is sent away to a remote cabin in the mountains to heal. The team’s doctor delivers his niece, Sam, a physical therapist who desperately needs a break, to assist Mac with a speedy recovery. Little does he know that she has been offered the opportunity to obtain a contract as the physical therapist to Mac’s team but, in return, she must slow down his recovery.

When Sam meets Mac her soft heart quickly goes out to him, especially when she learns of the loss of his wife and unborn baby in a terrible accident a few years previously. Sam is also attracted to the taciturn hockey star and she can sense it is reciprocated. Sam makes a decision to try to help Mac and ensure that he is able to play in the final match of the season but she is unaware that there are other, much more dangerous people lurking, who are determined to keep Mac off the ice.

I enjoyed the character of smolderingly sexy Mac, with his heartbreaking past, and the sweet and big hearted, Sam, with her history of financial anxiety and determination to succeed in a male dominated profession.

An entertaining and easy read with a great twist at the end and lots of romantic ups and downs to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Jacquie-Biggar/e/B00MSIJQBG

And at Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Jacquie-Biggar/e/B00MSIJQBG/

Read more reviews and follow Jacquie Biggar on Goodreads:http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8445812.Jacquie_Biggar

About Jacquie Biggar

Jacquie Biggar is a USA TODAY bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males who know what they want. That is until they’re gob-smacked by heroines who are strong, contemporary women willing to show them what they really need is love. She is the author of the popular Wounded Hearts series and has just started a new series in paranormal suspense, Mended Souls. She has also contributed to several successful anthologies.

She has been blessed with a long, happy marriage and enjoys writing romance novels that end with happily-ever-afters.

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Jacquie lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her family and loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. She swears she can’t function without coffee, preferably at the beach with her sweetheart. 

Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her web site:http://jacqbiggar.com

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