A MATCH MADE IN SPAIN by Rochelle Merrill – Featured New Release

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A MATCH MADE IN SPAIN

by 

R.L. Merrill


BLURB

A Match Made in Spain_3D solo

A small-town ASL teacher is reluctantly captivated by the Catalonian vintner determined to woo her across the Spanish countryside. Can a match made on a tour of Spain be a fairytale second chance for this grumpy/sunshine pair?

The ink on Cecilia’s divorce papers might be dry, but she’s in no hurry to connect with another traveling businessman, especially the spatially challenged one seated beside her on a crack-of-dawn flight from San Francisco to Madrid.

Felip should be on top of the world running his family’s cava empire, however life has left him feeling unfulfilled as of late. Good conversation and a hard-won smile from his seatmate—a grumpy but lovely American hearing-impaired teacher—have him wondering if maybe fairytales are possible—or if he’s lost his mind, especially when a series of mishaps lands him in the role of the substitute tour guide for her group.

Over the course of twelve days, Felip’s irresistible charm and lust for life break down Cecilia’s carefully constructed walls as he competes with needy teenagers and pulls off a daring rescue to show her they are a good match. Will Cecilia see that their worlds are closer together than she thinks, and that faith and compromise can give them a real happily ever after?

Perfect for fans of Shipped by Angie Hockman and People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry. And those who miss the excitement of exploring a new place with a special someone by your side will appreciate the journey.

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EXCERPT

“You were going to tell me about playing guitar,” she reminded him.

            “Sí, claro. I was a young boy, I do not remember how old, but my father played. I wanted to have special time with him, and since I was too small to be of much use to him in other ways, I thought if we could play together, we’d always have that. He agreed, and he began to teach me. It is quite a stereotypical Spanish thing to do, play guitar and sing.”

            “You sing, too?”

            He shrugged. “Sometimes.”

            “Sometimes,” she repeated. “I’d like to hear you,” she said, feeling brave. They were nearing the hotel, and she could see the kids entering the building ahead of her.

            “I’m happy to sing for you, cariño.” He pulled her closer and kissed the top of her hair. She couldn’t help how much she loved being this close to him, could she? Was it so wrong that she felt a bit like a princess, even though she didn’t believe in fairy tales?

            Cecilia felt her phone buzzing in the pocket of her dress. She stopped walking to pull it out. Greg. Awesome.

            “Do you need to answer that?”

            “No.”

            “No?”

            She exhaled and hit the accept button. “You know I’m in Spain, Greg.”

            “Uh, Cecilia? Is that you?”

            “Who else would be answering my phone?”

            Felip’s dramatic eyebrows raised and his eyes widened. She gave him the sign for ex-husband, but he probably didn’t know what that meant.  

            “I’m sorry. Is this a good time?”

            Cecilia smiled and wished she could say, “Yeah, I’m walking down a dark street in Madrid, one of the most beautiful places in the world, with a gorgeous man who just serenaded me in front of a whole roomful of people. No, it’s not a good time,” but years of practice attempting to be a good communicator kept her from shoving that in his face.

            “What do you want?”

            Felip gestured that he could walk away from her if she needed privacy, and she shook her head. She grabbed the front of his shirt so he would completely understand that she wanted him near. He looked down at her hand and chuckled, removing it from his shirt and pressing a kiss to her palm.

            “Well, we got an offer on the house.”

            The news startled Cecilia. She moved out of the middle of the sidewalk, dragging Felip with her. “That was fast,” she answered him finally.

            “It’s ten thousand over our asking price. I think it’s a good one.”

            They’d been unsure how quickly their house would sell. She’d done so much to fix it up over the years that the realtor had been pleasantly surprised by its condition and felt they could sell it as-is. But Grass Valley wasn’t exactly a booming real estate market, part of the reason Greg had left in the first place.

            “What does Nicki say?” Their realtor was an old friend of theirs from high school. It had been a bit awkward working with her since they were now a divorced couple, and everyone had assumed she and Greg would stay together forever.

            “She thinks it’s good. She said we might could get more, but seeing as we’re in a hurry—”

            “You mean you’re in a hurry. You and Carol.”

            Felip leaned closer, and she assumed he could hear both sides of the conversation since she wasn’t using the Bluetooth function on her hearing aide. She didn’t much care if he heard.

            “Well, yeah, honey. We talked about this. Carol and I need to find a place as soon as possible.”

            “And, honey, that isn’t really my problem. You could always move back in with your parents. That’s what I did.”

            Felip covered his mouth to smother a laugh. Cecilia winked at him. It was so nice to be free of Greg after two years of feeling like everything was her fault. She truly didn’t wish him any ill will, but his pushiness about this house business had bugged the shit out of her, especially because she knew it had more to do with Carol than with him.

            She heard Greg exhale on the other end. “Cecilia, I’ve waited a long time to make this move permanent. I’m ready to get on with my life.”

            His words chipped away at her buoyant mood but couldn’t demolish it. Having Felip beside her reminded her that she deserved better, and her brief stint with a therapist when they’d first agreed to get divorced had convinced her that she had every right to do what was best for her. She had gone just to make sure she wasn’t crazy for not feeling guilty or sad. It had been very much like dinner with a close girlfriend, and since her therapist happened to also know ASL, she’d been able to express herself in a way that had made those brief sessions a huge affirmation.

            “Greg, you did move on with your life, and that’s fine. We’ve been over this. I’m not trying to hold you back. I had no choice about taking this trip, you know that. The paperwork will need to wait until I get back so I can look at everything.”

            “I know,” Greg said, sounding defeated. “I’m sorry, honey. I didn’t mean to interfere with you having a good time. You deserve to have a good trip. Has it been good?”

            Cecilia’s cheeks hurt, she smiled so wide. She gazed up into Felip’s handsome face and wished they were alone somewhere so they could kiss each other silly again. Feeling brave, she slid her hand around his back and pressed up against him, his smile matching hers in intensity.

            “I’m having a wonderful time.” She ran the fingers of her other hand through the sliver of chest hair visible where his shirt was unbuttoned. “Spain is quite beautiful.” She smiled up at Felip, loving his lusty expression. His eyelids fluttered and he bent down to brush his lips against her forehead.

            He suddenly turned his head toward the hotel, and she looked to see Gabrielle gesturing for them to come inside.

            “I’ll see what she wants,” he said. “You take your time. I’ll be right back.”

            He kissed her hair before trotting up the street. Cecilia watched him run with appreciation. He moved like a soccer player, as though running was effortless. She’d never understood that ability. She felt like a total clod when she tried to run.

            “Are you still there? Who was that?”

            “Hmm? Oh that? That was Felip.”

            “Felip? Cecilia…?”

            “He’s our tour guide, sort of.”

            “Sort of? You sound funny. Are you alright?”

            “I’m great, actually. Sorry. Just distracted. We were at a flamenco show. It was amazing! The dancers, the singers… The club was really cool, too, and—”

            “A club? Didn’t the noise bother you?”

            “It did, a little, until they started performing. I couldn’t tear my eyes away. They were so passionate, so full of emotion when they danced.”

            Greg laughed, and she asked what was so funny.

            “Nothing, you just sound so, I don’t know… Different. Happy. I haven’t heard you sound like this in a long time.”

            “I haven’t felt like this in a long time.” She watched Gabrielle and Felip having a conversation outside the doors of the hotel and wasn’t even perturbed at the number of hair flicks Gabrielle made. They had no effect on Felip, and he likely didn’t notice them because he kept looking in her direction.

            “Cecilia…I’m—”

            “Greg, if you think the offer is a good one, I’m okay with it. I don’t want to hold you back.”

            He exhaled into the phone, sounding quite relieved. “Thank you, Cecilia. That means a lot. I’m sorry—”

            “It’s fine. You and Carol go start your life.” Maybe I’m about to do the same.

            “Thank you. I’ll have Nicki contact you by email for the official signature stuff if she needs it before you get back.”

            “Sure. When I get back. I’m not signing anything until I return.” Felip returned and gave her a look to see if she was okay. She signed to him that she was fine, and he shook his head. He tried to mime something to her, and it looked so ridiculous she held up a finger to him.

            “I gotta go, Greg. Take care.”

            He said something else but she was done with her past. Cecilia clicked the end button and slid the phone back into the pocket of her dress. She held out her hand and Felip took it, allowing her to pull him close.

            “You’re going to have to teach me sign language,” he said, slipping his arms around her waist.

            “Mmmm, you do fine without words.”

            She pushed up onto her toes, determined to take the lead this time, and the moment her lips touched his, he moaned softly and opened for her. His hands gripped her tightly, pulling her body flush with his, and the contact shut out the rest of the world. He whispered something against her lips she couldn’t quite make out, but then he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her so tight she forgot to breathe. All that mattered was this man standing before her, his kiss a promise of more passion and fun to come, if she simply took his hand.

He was right, she was silly to think they wouldn’t see each other. This wasn’t the dark ages. There were planes and FaceTime and Skype…

Oh, Lord she was in trouble. She’d scold herself, but then she knew it was too late. She was already involved.


ABOUT ROCHELLE 

roIf R.L. Merrill is your local hard rock/metal radio station, Rochelle is her Adult Contemporary alter ego. Spinning feel-good stories to make you laugh and swoon, Ro writes romance for grown-ups who use their words (mostly) and take care of business. She’s a mom and wife who’s on hiatus from a career in education while she explores the new terrain of mid-life adventures. You can catch her walking and gardening in her neighborhood by the Bay, spoiling her rescue pets, and dreaming of attending concerts and theaters again someday. Stay Tuned for more hits coming your way

Connect with Ro at rlmerrillauthor.comtwitter.com/rlmerrillauthor, instagram.com/rlmerrillauthor, or facebook.com/rowritesrocknromance. 

ALL THE COWBOYS AIN’T GONE by John J. Jacobson – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

ALL THE COWBOYS AIN’T GONE

BY JOHN J. JACOBSON
 
Pages: 352
Pub Date: February 23, 2021
Categories: Historical Fiction / Action Adventure / Western
 
 

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All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone is the rollicking adventure story of Lincoln Smith, a young Texan living at the beginning of the twentieth century, who thinks of himself as the last true cowboy. He longs for the days of the Old West, when men like his father, a famous Texas Ranger, lived by the chivalric code. Lincoln finds himself hopelessly out of time and place in the fast-changing United States of the new century. When he gets his heart broken by a sweetheart who doesn’t appreciate his anachronistic tendencies, he does what any sensible young romantic would do: he joins the French Foreign Legion. 
On his way to an ancient and exotic country at the edge of the Sahara, Lincoln encounters a number of curious characters and strange adventures, from a desert hermit who can slow up time to a battle with a crocodile cult that worships the god of death. He meets them all with his own charming brand of courage and resourcefulness.
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Utterly entertaining, All The Cowboys Ain’t Gone had me laughing out loud with the characters’ antics and catching my breath with the non-stop action from beginning to end. I can see this made into a movie in the same vein as Indiana Jones and The Mummy.
Having a twelve-year-old son, I found myself taking to Lincoln right away. The opening scenes with his mother admonishing him for his language and supervising his lessons really resonated with me. The great start hooked me into this book that’s in a genre I don’t normally read.
Mr. Jacobson certainly has a flair for storytelling that’s playful and engaging. While I thought the events that happen to Lincoln from Texas to New Hampshire, Florida to New York, France to Algeria, and finally to the fictional Mur highly improbable, I still found myself engrossed in his adventures and delighted with his narrow escapes. It’s a tall tale befitting its Texas origins and I had absolutely no problem with that.
I enjoyed meeting the new characters Lincoln encountered, especially Jake and Johnny, Amanda, the Three from Camarón Legionnaires named after Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, and Omar. I even enjoyed the villains even though they’re campy and absolutely ridiculous. It’s all part of the charm of the book.
Lincoln is easy to root for. At times naïve, he nevertheless has a core of honor and loyalty which makes him perfect for the French Foreign Legion. By the end of the book, he has absolutely learned the lesson his mother taught him when he was a boy:
… though things aren’t the way you’d prefer, there are still going to be plenty of adventures; they’re just going to be different. You’re just going to have to use your imagination to find them.”
Thanks to Lone Star Lit and Blackstone Publishing for providing me with a copy of this absolute romp of a book to review.
4 Four-half-stars

Though John J. Jacobson didn’t join the French Foreign Legion after being jilted by a girlfriend, or over his displeasure of missing the last great cattle drive, he has, borrowing Churchill’s phrase, lived a rather variegated life. He was born in Nevada, grew up in the West, surfed big waves in Hawaii, circled the world thrice, survived the sixties and seventies, corporate America, and grad school. Among other degrees he has an MA in Renaissance literature from Claremont Graduate University.

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BOOK A MAGICAL TRIP

Book a Magical Trip

“A book is a magical thing that lets you travel to far-away places without ever leaving your chair.” ~ Katrina Mayer

I grew up in the Philippines and, coming from a poor family, I did not have the resources to travel out of my birth country until I was already a working adult. Thankfully, I had a bookworm for a father and a teacher for a mother who both encouraged me from a young age to read books that took me all over the world before I was able to actually travel to the locations in which they were set.

Judith Krantz’s I’ll Take Manhattan familiarized me with New York City landmarks prior to my first visit there in 1994 and gave me the confidence to set my novella New York Engagement there. I had seen the grandeur of the Sydney Opera House through Emma Darcy’s Harlequin romances set in Australia before I beheld it for the first time in 1998. Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence had me enthralled with the South of France years before I toured Europe in 1999. Imagine how often I’ve been to England from reading books by Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Barbara Cartland, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood, and Johanna Lindsey. Truly, if there’s a special passport that gets stamped every time I travel in books, I would have to renew it every year.

I want to believe that this is the same for millions of readers all over the world. In reality, however, the US-centric world of Romancelandia has limited book travel options to Asia. There’s Sonali Dev’s angsty A Distant Heart which transported me to India and Hong Kong, Sherry Thomas’s epic The Hidden Blade and My Beautiful Enemy duology set in Imperial China, and Mina V. Esguerra and her Romance Class cohorts’ works which always bring me home to the Philippines.

There are a few others but I feel strongly about the need for many more books to take readers to the biggest continent on Earth without leaving their homes. That’s why, when I started writing, I’ve chosen to conjure the magic of traveling through books by setting my first series in my home region of Southeast Asia. I’d like readers of Carpe Diem Chronicles to not only visit the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand when they read Boracay Vows, Singapore Fling, Samui Heat, and Palawan Promises, but also to experience the cultures through the languages, customs, and food I feature in them.

People fall in love all around the world. The magic is in witnessing that love blossom within the pages of a book.

 

*This article was first posted at Read-A-Romance-Month https://www.readaromancemonth.com/2019/08/rarm19-maida-malby-book-a-magical-trip/

It was also featured in the All the Ups and Downs blog during the Singapore Fling Book Blog Tour with Lone Star Lit.

PARANORMAL TEXAS by Tui Snider – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

Paranormal Texas tour cover

PARANORMAL TEXAS

Your Travel Guide
to Haunted Places
Near Dallas & Fort Worth
2ND EDITION

by

TUI SNIDER

Genre: Travel / Haunted Places / Texas History
Publisher: Castle Azle Press
Date of Publication: September 19, 2019
Number of Pages: 210 with 100+ black & white images

 

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Synopsis

Paranormal Texas cover

More Haunted Places and True Ghost Stories!
Tui Snider’s popular travel guide to haunted places in North Texas is back with a fully updated 2nd Edition featuring more haunted places and true ghost stories!

What’s new in Paranormal Texas, 2nd Edition?
Just like the original travel guide, Paranormal Texas 2nd Edition gives readers haunted history and directions to sites where paranormal activity is reported in the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex.

The 2nd edition now includes:
• Photos: Readers asked for photos of haunted places. Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition has over 50 photos of haunted towns, haunted hotels, and more.
• Ghost hunting tips: Tui Snider explains what she has learned since she began attending paranormal investigations with Texas ghost hunters.
• More haunted places: Several new venues (including a haunted doll museum!) with fascinating haunted history were added to Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition.
• Firsthand accounts: Readers asked for more true ghost stories and hauntings. (She even shares personal experiences with paranormal activity, including a strange encounter with her doppelganger at a haunted hotel!)

All the above, PLUS a paranormal activity evidence database:
See the paranormal activity for yourself: Readers can access an online database with links to EVPs, ghost photos, videos, and other evidence gathered by paranormal investigators who have visited the haunted sites in her book.
Continually updated: This database will be continually updated with EVPs, anomalous photos, videos, and other data gathered at haunted places featured in Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition.
Add your paranormal activity: Readers can contact the author if they have paranormal evidence to add!

Is Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition for YOU?
1. Ghost Hunters – If you want to plan a fun road trip to haunted places (with or without ghost hunting equipment) Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition can help.

2. Armchair Travelers – If you prefer reading about haunted history, Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition can take you on an exciting armchair tour through haunted towns of North Texas.

 

“Tui’s 2nd edition is spot on fun and thrilling for everyone to read as only Tui can tell it!” – Greg Stephens, Paranormal Investigator (RIP)

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Author Video

 

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Pack your bags, fill up the tank, and go on a road trip to places recommended in this book. This was the message I received from Tui Snider’s Paranormal Texas right after I read it. Written in a casually chatty, engaging, and knowledgeable manner, this book both informs and entertains. It’s unlike any travel guide I’ve ever read. Whether she’s recounting her own investigations, debunking urban legends, sharing other people’s personal experiences, or stating factual history, Ms. Snider proves her professional expertise and immense talent as a story-teller.

I can see the depth of her research and her enthusiasm for the subject of paranormal activity in North Texas in every location she mentions. I like the variety of places that were included: hotels, bookstores, concert halls, and restaurants in addition to the usual cemeteries, bridges, and houses. I dog-eared a few of my favorites, usually the ones with the lengthy stories – Hotel Lawrence in Dallas, Emily Fowler Central Library,  and Granbury Opera House.

Haunted places organized alphabetically by city, with addresses, websites, and photographs, Paranormal Texas delivers on the travel guide part of its description. What elevates it from other books of its kind is the lively personality of its author which shines through despite the creepy, scary, and sometimes tragic tales she wrote. I’ll definitely read more of Ms. Snider’s work.

5 stars

. AboutTheAuthor

Tui Snider

Tui Snider is an award-winning writer, speaker, photographer, and musician specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cemetery symbolism, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction, but then I moved to Texas!”

Tui lectures frequently at universities, libraries, conferences, and bookstores. This fall, she will speak about the Great Airship Mystery of 1897 at this year’s UFO Congress and teach a course on Understanding Cemetery Symbols at Texas Christian University. She also shares weekly info-videos based on her research on her YouTube channel.

Snider’s writing and photography have been featured in a variety of media outlets, including WFAA TV, Coast to Coast AM, LifeHack, Langdon Review, the City of Plano, Wild Woman Waking, Shades of Angels and many more. She has several more books in progress.

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AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE
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GRAND PRIZE (US only):
Signed Paperback + Handmade Cemetery Angel Pendant
+$10 Amazon Gift Card
2ND PRIZE (US only): Signed Copy
3RD PRIZE (International): Kindle eBook
(US ONLY)

October 1-October 11, 2019

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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

10/1/19 	Reading by Moonlight 
10/2/19 	Bibliotica 
10/2/19 	Book Fidelity 
10/3/19 	StoreyBook Reviews 
10/4/19 	Nerd Narration 
10/4/19 	Hall Ways Blog 
10/5/19 	Carpe Diem Chronicles 
10/6/19 	Forgotten Winds 
10/6/19 	Books and Broomsticks 
10/7/19 	The Page Unbound 
10/8/19 	The Book Review 
10/8/19 	Chapter Break Book Blog 
10/9/19 	Missus Gonzo 
10/10/19 	All the Ups and Downs 
10/11/19 	That's What She's Reading 

 

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NEW YORK ENGAGEMENT – Cover Story

Carpe Diem Chronicles 1 and 1.5

Krista Lopez, with her American boyfriend Blake Ryan, goes from the white sands and blue waters of Boracay Island to the bright lights and majestic skyscrapers of New York City.

From white bikini to red winter coat.

From sun to snow.

It’s important for me to show that NEW YORK ENGAGEMENT is a continuation of Krista and Blake’s romance and I believe the cover delivers completely. It certainly looks like the same girl on the cover. The hat, and the way she holds, it is an excellent identifier. The fonts, the colors, and the composition are all in sync with my Carpe Diem Chronicles brand.

Like the grotto in Boracay, The Empire State building is easily recognizable as a symbol of New York City. There was never any question that it would be on the cover of any book I write that is set in The Big Apple.

Many thanks to Render Compose for finding Krista once again and for being so easy to work with. This cover was done in only a couple of days – another quick turnaround considering my designer is in Australia and I’m in the USA. Thanks, Lucy.

I hope y’all like the cover of NEW YORK ENGAGEMENT as much as I do and grab a copy for yourself. .

Buy link here: https://books2read.com/NewYorkEngagement

 

Adopt, Adapt

Adopt a positive attitude. Adapt to changes.

These are truisms we try to keep in mind whenever we travel. Heaven knows we needed every bit of flexibility and patience we could muster during our trip to and from Scotland and Ireland. Again, it wasn’t the being there that was the problem, it was the getting there and back here to the US that were stressful.

We had a wonderful time in both countries. All of us enjoyed the rich history, the breathtaking scenery, the refreshing weather, and the fascinating attractions in all the places we visited. The hotels we stayed in–Doubletree in Edinburgh and Fitzwilliam in Belfast–provided our needs well and were conveniently located. We hope to go back someday, especially to the Highlands, which we didn’t see during this visit. I just wish we could just teleport there and won’t have to go through London’s horrible Heathrow or Chicago’s O’Hell, I mean O’Hare.

It started well enough with the flight from Belfast actually leaving on time. Terminal 5 at Heathrow was so poorly constructed, it was a mad dash again to get to our gate for our flight to Chicago. We didn’t have time to get our tax refund at all. And, naturally we arrived late in the States, thereby missing our connection to San Antonio. It is virtually impossible to go through the immigration and security processes for entering the US within two hours, much less the lone hour we had.

Thanks to British Airways, we had an unplanned extended vacation in Chicago. They sponsored our hotel and meals for the night we had to stay until our morning make-up flight to Texas. We actually appreciated the night’s rest for we were simply exhausted. In hindsight, arriving home at daytime instead of midnight turned out to be a better choice for us.

So, if there are lessons I’d always remember from this adventure, they are:

  1. Have a sense of humor. Murphy’s Laws are forever at work, there’s no use flipping out when things go wrong.
  2. It is okay to over-pack. Always keep a fresh set of clothes, especially underwear, in your carry-on bag. Flights will get delayed, luggage will get lost or left behind.
  3. Carry an extra tote/sack in your bag in case you go over the weight limit. Remember: dirty clothes are heavy.
  4. Buy an adapter.

CE_approved_universal_plug_adapter

Last, smile. And the world will smile with you. Truth.

 

Photo credits: Confucius quote – quotesvalley.com, universal adapter – Bing search

 

I Love Traveling, I Hate The Trip

My boys and I are traveling right now. We just left Scotland after 3 days there. Stayed mainly in Edinburgh and took a bus tour to the Kingdom of Fife – Anstruther, St. Andrew’s, and Falkland.

We’re now in Belfast for the Irish leg of our journey. We’re taking the Game of Thrones tour tomorrow and then plan to go to Dublin on Friday.

MapGB

The best part of this vacation had been arriving in our destination. The getting there were some of the worst experiences we’ve had. Our flight from San Antonio to Dallas was delayed twice and we were on the line for over an hour just to get our bag checked in–we already had our boarding passes. We got to our gate in Dallas just in time to make the flight to London. It was an eight-hour flight, but there was no way to sleep with crying babies, the crew serving drinks/food, and occasional turbulence. The flight to Scotland wasn’t too bad, until we waited and waited for our luggage which did not arrive. It was left at Heathrow. Thankfully, it was delivered the same night.

Today was another nightmare.  We arrived at the Edinburgh airport early only to find out that the power was out and all systems were down. They needed almost one hour to restore the computers, because heaven forbid they had to write the boarding passes manually, etcetera, etcetera. Flight to London was again delayed and we barely had time to make our flight to Belfast because we had to tour the whole airport before getting to our terminal. Once we arrived in Belfast, we were not even surprised to find out that our luggage was once again left in Heathrow. This time, the bag is not going to be delivered until tomorrow morning. Yep, they’re two for two in losing our bag.

It’s a good thing I was once a Girl Scout and had a change of clothes for the three of us in our hand-carry. At the end of the day, we got here, we’re all together and safe, so we’re not letting this anger us too much. As for American Airlines and British Airways, they won’t be getting a good review from me anytime soon. I really miss Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Thai Airways, and Changi Airport. In my opinion, the Asian airlines are the best in the world. No one can convince me otherwise, especially after today.

 

Photo credits:  featured image – transom.com; map – Bing search

 

Boracay and Me, Our 20th Anniversary

Twenty years ago today, I went to Boracay for the first time and fell in love…with the island. I experienced that indefinable, magical feeling of coming home even though I wasn’t born there, had never been there until March of 1997. It wasn’t as if I had not seen the beach before then. I grew up with the sea only a few steps away from our house. No, Boracay was different. Special. More.

It was a combination of things – the white, fine sand; clear blue waters; fragrant sea air; sweet, delicious mango shake; and best of all, the company of my best friends. I can only recall the beauty and deep contentment of being there, my friend had to remind me about the masses of people who, like us, were spending their Holy Week in the island and the turbulent waters during our boat tour. I didn’t mind those things. I was happy. I was home.

Boracay Krista Quote

We only stayed three days that first time. They weren’t nearly enough. I had to go back three months later with a different set of friends. From then on until I left the Philippines to migrate to the US, I kept going back to Boracay. It became an annual pilgrimage for me. Even when I was working in Indonesia and Singapore and had gone to the famous beaches in Bali, Phuket, Sydney, and Brisbane, I still wouldn’t miss a trip to Boracay. That’s how much I love that island. I don’t need any travel magazine to tell me it’s the Best Island in the World. I already know. I have known for 20 years now.

So when I decided to write my first novel, there was never any doubt where I was going to set it–yep, you guessed it–Boracay. In my book One Week in Boracay, I created a fictional exclusive resort named Perlas, which is supposed to be located on the Northeast part of the island where Yapak, Punta-Ina, and Ilig-Iligan beaches are. Perlas has its own airstrip (instead of the golf course that’s there now), a dream scenario that may or may not be possible given the topography. The Boracay in my book is my ideal, the one I first fell in love with in 1997 – a clean, quiet, less commercialized place that’s a balm to a person’s soul.  It’s the one I’d like to go back to again and again even if only in my books.

Happy 20th Anniversary to us, Boracay! I will be with you again, soon.