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Book Review: The Seventh Treasure

August 24, 2013 by · Comments Off on Book Review: The Seventh Treasure 

The Seventh Treasure

The Seventh Treasure

I am passionate about travel, along with my family and photography, and when I’m not traveling, I enjoy reading. I especially enjoy reading books that take place in locations I’ve visited. They allow me to relive the adventures I encountered in those destinations, and such was the case with Len Camarda’s The Seventh Treasure set in Spain.

 

The Seventh Treasure follows the story of Secret Service agent Gene Cerone, who travels to Granada, Spain to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding his sister’s death. Turns out her death was no accident and Cerone, with help from Lieutenant Mercedes Garcia, uncovers a hidden conspiracy that dates back to the time of the Moors.

 

Alhambra Gardens

Alhambra Gardens @ Debi Lander 2003

Although I recently toured Spain’s Balearic Islands, I visited Granada back in 2003. Still, I vividly remember the Alhambra as a massive palace complex,  home Spanish Muslims as well as Isabel and Ferdinand. The buildings were unassuming from the outside, yet ornately geometric and beautiful on the inside. The gardens and fountains were particularly unusual and lovely, plus a cooling respite from the summer heat. Anyway, Camarda’s book spends a lot of time in and around the Alhambra.

 

Looking up at the Alhambra from a hotel in Granada.

Looking up at the Alhambra from a hotel in Granada.

Laura in the Court of Lions, 2003

My daughter Laura in the Court of Lions, 2003

I’ve  read Dan Browne’s books because I enjoy  the way he entwines mystery with historical facts.  Len Camarda’s follows a similar path in this, his first novel, using the storyline from the Tales of the Arabian Nights. His writing is descriptive, he keeps the plot moving, and involves politics (in a similar fashion to Tom Clancy) and uses plausible methods to uncover the mystery.

 

If you like historical thrillers or are just looking for a good read, I suggest Len Camarda’s The Seventh Treasure — and, of course, a trip to Spain!

 

Disclosure: The Seventh Treasure was sent to me for review, but if I’d come across it in the bookstore I would have purchased it. I can honestly recommend it.

My Day in Delft, Holland

August 19, 2013 by · Comments Off on My Day in Delft, Holland 

I had one free day between the end of my Holland photo workshop and the arrival of my friend, Carol, to start a week of touring in Belgium. I chose to go to Delft– an easy train ride about an hour southwest of Amsterdam.

 

A canal in Delft

A canal in Delft

The station lies just a short distance from the pretty little town. I passed Renaissance and Gothic houses, massive churches, and shops with their beautiful reflections in the canals. My visit happened on a Saturday, market day, so tents and displays were scattered throughout the main streets.

 

Shops in Delft

Shops in Delft

 

New Church in Delft

New Church in Delft-1346!

 

I meandered along until I reached the Old Town Square and the bold facade of the  gigantic Nieuwe Kerk  (New Church) built from 1396-1496. The tower stands nearly 360 feet tall.  Talk about feeling dwarfed, I entered the santuary and the huge columns and high ceiling made me feel miniscule. Toward the altar I found  the magnificent tomb of William I, known as William the Silent. The ornate work includes not one, but two representations of the King of Orange, one in a corpse pose (with an adorable dog by his feet)  made out of  white marble, and the other, a seated bronze statue. The church crypts, not open to the public, hold the royal House of Orange tombs starting with William and succeeding to present day.

 

Tomb of William I with his dog.

Tomb of William I with his dog.

Delft-3

Tomb of William I of Orange

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visitors can climb the church tower to get spectacular views of the city and so, I started up. Let me say, the climbing wasn’t easy. I was laden with a backpack containing  all the photography equipment I own, which is to say, way too heavy. The 376 steps became an aerobic challenge and my pack and I could barely squeeze through the tiny circular stairway. I had to take it off when I reached the viewing platform in order to make my way around the narrow passage.

 

Delft's Market Square

Delft’s Market Square

But, as usual with these towers, the climb was worth the effort. I could see all the way over to The Hague.

 

Looking down on Delft

Looking down on Delft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also stopped into the Vermeer Center, Old Master Jan Vermeer was born in Delft, and here I learned about his use of natural light.  While none of his original works are not on display, I had seen four masterpieces in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and am a fan. The Vermeer Center presents interesting, informative exhibits and a fine introductory movie in the basement. Did you know the painter had 14 children?

 

Vermeer Center Display

Vermeer Center Display

On my explorations I passed by this restaurant with a clever Delft painted bicycle. Had I not eaten in an outdoor cafe, I would have stopped in.

 

Delft Blue and White Bike

Delft Blue and White Bike

Of course, the main reason for choosing to visit Delft is my love of the famous blue and white earthenware. Factories here still produce the pottery using old-fashioned  methods. Every piece of true Delftware (check for authentic markings on the bottom) is hand-painted by skilled craftsmen. Unfortunately the Delftware factories are located somewhat out of town, so  I did not have time for a visit them. Nonetheless, I totally basked in the gorgeous array of items for sale in the many shops: vases, plates, tiles, pitchers and teapots. I turned a bit blue myself, not being able to afford anything special.

 

Delftware

Beautiful Blue and white Delftware

But, even my small budget permitted a miniature tea set to place within the printers tray that hangs in my office. Now, the little cups and saucers remind me of my delightful day in Delft.

Debi in Delft

Debi in Delft

 

Disclosure:  My day in Delft was totally self-funded.

The Most Important Checklist Before You Travel

August 12, 2013 by · Comments Off on The Most Important Checklist Before You Travel 

Best Way to Book Your Flight Online

You’ve heard of the beautiful beaches in Koh Samui and the gastronomical experience you are sure to savor from flavor bombs such as Tom Yam and Pad Thai in Bangkok. That’s why you booked your next flight to Thailand right?

Koh-Samui palm tree hammock

Koh-Samui palm tree hammock

But before you do anything else, here’s a helpful and most useful checklist I think you should review. It will reassure you of the most enjoyable experience on the other side of the world. First things first, put all your valuable documents and papers in one place – I like to use a thin loose-leaf binder. Photocopy or scan every single one of them. This includes making a copy of your passport- take it with you, sending yourself (and friends) an e-mail copy of the planned itinerary and electronic tickets, travel insurance and what not. Let your family know where you’re going and give them information about where you’re staying with contact numbers as well.

When it comes to booking your flight, a travel agent can most definitely help you book the best deals out there, but if you’re like me, you can do it online. Online booking may be tricky and of course you want the fastest process and best value for money. For example, you wouldn’t want to discover your “five star” hotel is actually a flimsy hut from a backpacker’s dream by the beach. Would you? It actually gives you some peace of mind as well knowing you’ve booked your flight via dialaflight.com so don’t risk trying out other questionable booking services.

When it comes to carrying cash, bring some and other forms of electronic currency like credit cards and debit cards. I put them in various places throughout my carry-on or hidden within my luggage just in case I lose my wallet. Finally, when it comes to packing, if you’re traveling for more than six months it’s better to bring a backpack. It’s easier to carry and you know you will be doing your own laundry there. Lastly, don’t forget to bring universal power adapters, handy wipes, medicine, water, an extra change of clothes in your carry on, an inflatable neck pillow and a great sleeping mask such as the Good Night Sleeping Mask from Magellan’s.

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