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Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Island of Delos by Margot Justes Redux

I wanted to be the first one to visit Europe with my grandchildren. Sydney will be twelve by the time we leave, and Anthony will be nine. Right now he’s more interested in the fact that the cruise ship will have a basketball court, and a swimming pool, and the gelato bar won’t hurt either.  He’ll go along with anything that is selected. So it’s up to Sydney to select the excursions, and pick what she wants to see.

Both kiddies are avid readers, but Sydney gets to choose. I loaned her a few of my travel books. One of our stops this summer will be Mykonos, Greece. For Valentine’s day I bought them a journal so that they could write about their  experiences. Anthony was excited, and actually picked his own journal.

I asked Sydney what she wanted to see in Mykonos. She looked through the guide book, and said ‘I’d like to see Delos.’ I explained that it is a live dig, not a touristy place, and that the only thing she’ll see were  ruins. Unbelievable ruins, but still ruins. I wanted to make sure she wouldn’t be disappointed.  Her reply was simple, ‘I like ruins

I’m looking forward to seeing it through their eyes. Delos is by no means a touristy visit. Below is a blog I wrote right after my first visit there three years ago.

About a thirty minute ferry ride from Mykonos is the island of Delos. And what an island  it is. There are approximately 25 people there, all either archeologists or security personnel.

The island is bare, there are no snack shops, no hotels, no restaurants, the only bathroom is on the museum, and the wind can whip up in a quick frenzy. The island is in fact quite desolate.  And absolutely stunning. 
There is a museum, that is the only modern accommodation for the tourist. Books and other Delos souvenirs can be bought there, but that is the extent of the touristy trade. The rest of the island is in ruins. Magnificent ruins. It is an immense site and one not easily forgotten.

Delos is said to be the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Archeological traces indicate the island was inhabited as early as 3000 B.C. Some of the ruins are so well preserved that you can actually imagine what the structures looked like and how they were utilized.

From the Doric Temple of Isis to the Archaic Lions to the mosaic floors that are to this day in great shape. Truly inspiring, when you think about the age of those mosaics and remnants of ancient buildings.

Off the beaten path, I observed an archeologist crouched on a low portable chair, a pad and pencil in hand as he meticulously measured something on the ground and then put it on paper. I snuck up on him and watched as he quietly continued his research. Time stood still and the serenity on the island was disturbed only by the fierce whipping wind.

If you ever find yourself in Mykonos, do take the time to visit Delos. I promise, you will not be disappointed, you will in fact be enthralled. The terrain is rough, wear comfortable shoes, you will be walking in worn and uneven footsteps that are three thousand years old . It doesn't get better than that.

Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Day at Sea by Margot Justes Redux

It has been a harsh winter this year, and I’m ready for a bit of warmth and sun. Cruising at this stage in my life is a perfect get away. I get to see new places every day, and I don’t have to worry about anything else. It is a stress free vacation.

As the time nears for my cruise, I check daily to see if the prices change to my benefit. So far, it's going in the other direction.  However, it reminds me why at this stage in my life why I really love cruising.
Surrounded by water on all sides, the giant ship glides along the waves, the water lapping steadily as the ship moves forward. Mesmerizing. Relaxing. Blissful. All cares are swept away.

If the first day of the cruise is spent at sea, is a perfect time to relax and take that deep cleansing breath, as your cares glide away . The early morning is best, before the multitudes wake. That first cup of coffee and that first gaze at the ocean.  There is nothing better than the gentle breeze and sometimes not so gentle, and that fresh waft of the ocean air. Fresh and invigorating.

The coffee itch is always satisfied. I'm addicted to the brew, and fortunately it's served piping hot early every morning. It's not the best coffee by far, but considering how many people are on board and that it's continuously flowing, the ambiance makes it more than palatable. By the way, good coffee is available later in the day for an extra charge.

If your wishes tend toward walking there is a path on the highest deck, where it's just you, water and the sky. Early in the early morning twilight is just perfection, and there are fewer people. That is not a bad way to begin a vacation.

The delightful part of being at sea, is that you can do as much or as little as you want. There are plenty of planned activities, from belly dancing, belly flops and I'm sure other belly things, there is ballroom dancing, and...well, you get the drift. You can be as busy or as relaxed as you like. It's all up to you.  

The staff always on hand to bring fresh coffee, milk, whatever you need; they are continuously working. By the end of the first day, the steward will know your name, what you like, if you want coffee delivered to your cabin, and at what time. It's all part of the training to make each guest feel at home and welcome. You know what, it works.

The elevators have a plaque on the floor, changed daily to make sure you know the days of the week; a gentle reminder that you're on vacation.

Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Blood Art
A Fire Within
Hot Crimes, Cool Chicks
and coming soon A Hotel in Bath

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Fire Within by Margot Justes

A Fire Within, set in Chicago during Valentine's Day will be out on Kindle February, 10th.

Art is her world…

Gallery owner Rebecca Standish’s life has finally returned to the calm and orderly existence that she prefers… until a charred body threatens her hard earned sense of well-being once again.

Protecting is his M-O…

Chicago Firefighter Kirk Adams has made plenty of mistakes, but he regrets losing Rebecca most. When he learns her life is in danger, he’ll do anything to protect her—including facing the fires of a woman scorned head-on.

Flames of revenge burn hottest…

After the victim’s identity is revealed, Rebecca is under attack. Kirk has little time to discover the identity of the murderer before he strikes again. And the love of his life is the next victim.

Can Kirk defend Rebecca from a killer bent on fiery revenge?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Wonder of Travel by Margot Justes

I have chosen a few pictures from Paris and Bath; both cities are close to my heart. Age worn, magnificent and romantic, they were an excellent setting for a romantic story. The Winged Victory is my favorite piece at the Louvre. For me the whole town of Bath is a museum. 

My roots go back to Europe, and I've always been kiddingly (I hope) told that for me it's not a vacation unless I cross the pond, aka the Atlantic, or any other ocean for that matter. I've been blessed in being able to travel. I seek out the best deals in hotels, air fare and anything else needed to keep the price down and affordable; of course that is all relative. We have to plan according to our budgetary constraints. The idea is to be able to go somewhere and see something new and have an adventure, and still be able to afford it.  

That adventure can happen right in your own backyard, all it takes is a bit of research and voila, there are things to do. Everyplace offers something new to discover. I'm not at all interested in beaches, not my choice, but I have made an effort and have seen a few. Okay, I'll admit to the old adage if you've seen one beach you've seen them all. Well except the beaches in Santorini, Greece, it is black sand because of volcanic activity. That was unique. Here is my point, it was different and I learned a bit about Santorini's history because of that beach. 

The same can happen right here at home. A beautiful building, an enticing restaurant with a terrific view, an age old bookstore filled to capacity with history and books, local history museum and yes, bars and beaches. No matter your interest, there is always something new to see. It doesn't have to cost a lot, just a bit of your time.

Not everyone likes museums. I've heard a great deal of disdain in my life from people who do not want to waste their time in a museum. Sad to say I’ve heard the same about reading. But I digress, my philosophy is, if you don't try you'll never know. Stretch the imagination a bit. Many museums charge a fee, some nominal and others not so nominal, but there are discounts available. Just a bit of research is needed to find them.  If you're in the DC area, the Smithsonian is free, and the museums are unbelievable, you hop from the National Gallery to the American History Museum , and so many others in between-and they are all amazingly free.

As the proverbial saying goes, I cut my teeth in museums, but my palate was severely limited to Polish food. That is what I grew up on, and to this still love it. There was no other exposure until I was on my own, timid and afraid slowly I ventured out, now there is not a cuisine in this world that I would not try. I'm grateful that I took that first step. I apply that same process to a vacation, whether it's in other parts of the world or right here at home.

Happy travels, wherever they may take you.

Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Blood Art