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.

A Character Study- #NewRelease #NARomance @jacqbiggar

Character Study- Renée

A blogging friend of mine likes to do an introduction to her characters before the release of her books, so I thought I’d do one today.

Image by Shahid Shafiq from Pixabay

Renée Thomas is the most serious and oldest at twenty-one. Her sister, Izzy- Elizabeth Mae Thomas- is two and a half years younger. She’s the moody, intense one of the family. Last, but not least, is their brother Benjamin. At nearly twelve years younger than Renée, Ben is the baby they love to spoil.

As children, Renée and Izzy did everything together, climbing trees, biking, sharing clothes, and secrets. But the night of Renée’s high school graduation and Izzy’s sixteenth birthday, that changed.

Renée is betrayed by her long-time boyfriend, Simon, her sister suddenly hates her guts, and she witnesses her father’s suicide.

Unable to handle the terrible chain of events, Renée leaves town, heading to California and her accepted application to UC Berkeley.

Two years later it’s Renée’s mom who is gone and she is forced to return to face her demons.

Two years later

The town looks the same as when I left for college. The Welcome to Smuggler’s Cove, pop. 7562, sign bows with the weight of the old town’s worries on its aged wooden frame. God, I’m glad I escaped.

My second-hand SUV chugs up the hill and over the bridge. Chinook, the river named after the salmon who travel hundreds of miles to spawn in its muddy brown water, gurgles over the rocks far below. Giant rubber tubes in a rainbow of colors filled with laughing teens dot the surface. I’d joined them many times to get away from the oppression at home.

Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

Home.

It’s been nearly two years since I left and would’ve been longer if I had my choice. Hard on the heels of guilt come the ever-ready tears. Fact is, while I soaked up the west coast sunshine and campus life, my little sister had taken over the reins of the house, getting my brother to school, paying the bills, and caring for Mom.

This is the story of two sisters torn apart by unspeakable horror and brought together by tragedy. Can family ties overcome the pain of betrayal?

Letting Go: The Defiant Sisters- Book 1

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B3R41NWF

International: https://books2read.com/Letting-Go-Defiant-Sisters

TBR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61269995-letting-go–the-defiant-sisters-book-1

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/letting-go-the-defiant-sisters-book1-the-defiant-sisters-duet-by-jacquie-biggar

A coming-of-age novel about the pain of misconceptions and learning from them.

 When life gives you lemons…

Izzy

Mom is barely in the grave and the prodigal child is here to pick the bones clean.

I don’t want her here. My sister’s defection is a wound that won’t heal and her return simply rubs at the scabs covering my heart.

I’ve managed just fine without her. She can go back to her fancy college and forget about us- that’s what she does best anyway.

If only I didn’t need her help. Or miss her so much.

Renée

The day my dad committed suicide I ran. I’ve been running ever since.

Going home is supposed to be the answer. Instead, it makes me question every thoughtless decision I’ve made.

My sister hates me. My little brother barely knows me. And Simon… is engaged.

None of it matters- or so I tell myself. I’m here to make amends and face a past haunted by regret.

As long as I can convince myself to stay.

Letting Go is a young adult romance dealing with tragedy, restitution, and love in all its aspects. The story relates to sensitive topics that may be triggering for some readers.

Hugging

We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need  twelve hugs a day for growth. ~ Virginia Satir

Hugging is healthy  It helps the immune system, cures depression, reduces stress and induces sleep. It’s invigorating, rejuvenating, and has no unpleasant side effects. Hugging is nothing less than a miracle drug.

Hugging is all natural. It is organic, naturally sweet, no artificial ingredients, non-polluting, environmentally friendly,  and 100% wholesome.

Hugging is the ideal gift. Great for any occasion, fun to give and receive, shows you care, comes with its own wrapping and, of course, fully returnable.

Hugging is practically perfect. No batteries to wear out, inflation-proof, non-fattening, no monthly payment, theft-proof and non-taxable.

Hugging is an underutilized resource with magical powers. When we open our hearts and arms we encourage others to do the same.

 Think of the people in your life. Are there any hugs you want to share? Are you waiting for someone else to ask first? Don’t wait. Initiate. ~ Charles Faraone

After hugging, reading a good book is also an ideal gift, healthy, great for any occasion, fun to give and receive. May I suggest two new boxes of books just released.

HOLIDAY BABIES SERIES #2 Just released

MODERN PRINCES SERIES Just released

Fellow Floridians, Beware of toilet lizard and iguana aggression

From Dave Barry– Miami Herald

Here in South Florida we’re accustomed to lizards, of course; they’re everywhere. When I moved here decades ago, the lizards were one of the things I had to adjust to, along with the hurricanes, the 250 percent humidity, and the fact that Miami drivers actually speed up for stop signs. But the lizards didn’t bother me, because even though there were a lot of them, they were small and cute and non-threatening. They seemed to spend most of their time just standing around doing nothing, like members of a miniature highway-repair crew.

The most aggressive lizard behavior I’d see was the occasional male lizard trying to attract a sex partner by displaying the skin flap under his chin, which is called a “dewlap.” Apparently it is a strongly held belief among male lizards that the chicks really go for a guy with a big dewlap. It’s kind of like weight-lifter human males who believe human females are attracted to large biceps and consequently wear tank tops everywhere, including funerals. But I was not threatened — nor, for the record, attracted — by the dewlap displays. I left the lizards alone, and the lizards left me alone. If I encountered lizards, say, on a sidewalk, they always respectfully skittered out of the way, in recognition of the fact that I was, compared to them, Godzilla.

But lately the lizards are different. I don’t know what’s causing it. Maybe it’s global climate change. But what’s really disturbing is that many of these appear to be a new kind of lizard: They’re bigger, and they’re uglier. They’re not the cute li’l Geico Gecko types. They’re
more along the lines of junior-varsity velociraptors. And they have an attitude. More and more, when I encounter sidewalk lizards, they do not skitter away. At best they casually saunter off in an insolent manner. Sometimes these lizards don’t move at all: They just stand there defiantly, giving me that beady lizard eyeball, clearly conveying, by their body language, the
message: “Why should I fear YOU? You have a small dewlap!” Which, much as it pains me to admit it, is true.

Perhaps you think I’m overreacting. Perhaps you’re thinking, “OK, maybe the lizards are getting bigger and more aggressive. But why should I care? I spend most of my time indoors anyway, so this issue doesn’t really affect ME.”
Oh really? Let me ask you a question: While you’re indoors, do you ever have occasion to use a toilet? I ask because of an alarming report I saw July 8 on NBC6 TV news. The report begins with a camera shot looking down into a toilet bowl, which contains a large iguana. This exchange introduces a report concerning retirees Janet and Bruce Bleier, who, since moving to Hollywood, FL. from Long Island, have encountered not one, but TWO commode iguanas. The first time was in October, when Bruce went to use the bathroom late one night.

Janet discovered the second iguana. She offers this advice to NBC6 viewers: “Look before you sit.” In both cases, the Bleiers called Harold Rondan, proprietor of a company called Iguana Lifestyles, who came and took the iguana away. (Iguana removal is a major industry in South Florida.) Perhaps at this point you’re thinking, “OK, so this one couple had two iguanas show up in their toilet. It’s probably just a fluke. It’s not like it’s an epidemic.”

Oh really? Well perhaps you would be interested to know that on July 10, just two days after the NBC6 report about the Bleiers, another local station, WSVN 7News, carried a report about another Hollywood resident, Michelle Reynolds, who came downstairs one evening and looked into her toilet. Guess what she found? She found an iguana. A LARGE iguana. “He took up most of the toilet bowl,” she tells 7News. There’s video of the iguana being removed, again by Harold Rondan of Iguana Lifestyles, who identifies it as a Mexican spiny-tailed iguana. Even by iguana standards, this is an ugly animal, and it does not look happy. You can tell by its facial expression that its goal in life is to grow much bigger so that one day it can come back and eat Harold Rondan of Iguana Lifestyles.

And that’s not the end of our story. On July 11, one day later, the Bleiers were once again on the local TV news. It turns out they had yet another toilet iguana. This was their THIRD.
So please don’t try to tell me this isn’t an epidemic.
I spoke by phone with Janet Bleier, who said she and her husband are trying, with the help of Hollywood authorities, to figure out how the iguanas are getting in, but so far they’ve had no luck. “We never, ever, walk into one of our bathrooms any more without checking. Even if we’re not going to use the toilet, we look.”

In case you think this epidemic is confined to Hollywood, I urge you to Google “toilet lizards.” You’ll discover that this has been going on for a while now, and not just in Florida; it’s happening in warmer climates all over the world.
So I repeat: The lizards are up to something. But what? Are they planning some
kind of coordinated attack?
I don’t have the answers. But for now we all need to do our part. This means keeping our toilet lids down, of course, but it also means standing up to the lizards and letting them know we’re not afraid of them, even though we actually are. The next time you encounter a lizard, either on the sidewalk or, God forbid, in your bathroom, look it straight in whichever eyeball is closest to you and tell it, in a firm, clear voice:
“We know what you’re up to.“ If it’s a Mexican spiny-tailed iguana, you should say this in Spanish.
Also, if you have a dewlap, you should display it. They respect that.

I was lounging peacefully on my chair, admiring the ocean, but something was rubbing right under my …
Try to imagine my scream when I saw that big iguana
coming from under my lounge chair.

I hope you enjoyed Dave Barry’s article, especially if you don’t live in South Florida!!!

I have two gifts for you–a free book BABY PLANS and a new book, published yesterday, HEALING PLANS.

HEALING PLANS
He’s a widowed surgeon, with two adopted minority children. She’s a lovely surgeon dedicated to her career, and she can bring him love, passion, and… a miracle.
FREE TodayBABY PLANS
Competing colleagues and past lovers, they meet at the artificial insemination clinic. Zach is researching the procedure for his article. Audrey is secretly getting a baby. When her secret explodes, all hell breaks loose,
but artificial insemination works in many ways…