Tag Archives: Italy

Europe trip–part 4

9 Oct

I’m hungry, so if I’m hungry I think food, as in what I would like to eat right now, which reminds me of awesome dishes I ate while on my trip to Romania and Italy. Let me take a moment to wipe my drooling.

Okay, I’m back.

While in Verona, Andrea (my cousin’s fiancé) made some awesome pasta dishes. Anchovies, black olives, prosciutto, or as simple as parmesan cheese or tomatoes only, somehow transformed pasta into super tasty dishes. “The secret is in the olive oil,” Andrea would say. We tried pizza at fancy restaurants and not so fancy, but no matter where we ate, it would be a sin to compare their pizza with ours. Prices were about the same as ours but portions much, much smaller but oh so filling. Refills are available at extra cost. Don’t recall seeing anywhere happy hour. IMG_4517IMG_4032IMG_4180

And then, there’s their pastry, gelato and coffee. (Drooling again). The tinniest cups, even a minion would have a tough time drinking out of one. Two sips, if you are lucky, but boy, the strength of it as much as an entire pack of coffee. I looooove coffee, and the more I drink the more I want. And yet, somehow, those two sips were enough to last me a whole day. I’m a vanilla-with-almond-ice cream kind of girl but I forced myself to try out all kinds of gelato (which is as close to ice cream as you get in Italy, only made with real stuff), and pastry. 

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Once in Romania I tried out more yummies, some homemade by my mom, some just ordered in restaurants. From ciorba de burta (sour cow stomach soup; it sounds gross but it’s de-li-cio-ous!!!), to salata de vinete (eggplant dip),  to sarmale (cabbage rolls), to mamaliga cu branza si unt (polenta bread with cheese  and butter), to papanasi (doughnuts with jam and sour cream), shaorma and so, so many more dishes, my taste buds were beyond satisfied. I was expecting to gain a lot of weight, but to my surprise I did not, in fact I lost a few pounds. I can attribute it to walking for miles every day in search for another Italian treasure or walking down the beach at the Black Sea in Romania, but I think it has mostly to do with how simple all ingredients are. Simple as in no corn syrup; sugar or salt only in moderation. Not once have I checked a label in a grocery store and saw corn syrup in anything. Is corn syrup the evil of all? I don’t know enough about it to judge or point a finger. All I know is that I ate smaller portions and felt satisfied. Food smelled and tasted better, not sweeter or saltier, but rather real. 

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I returned home, promising myself I will try cooking some of the pasta I had there. I did twice since then and, while wasn’t as good as it was there, it was close. And yes, I used authentic Italian olive oil courtesy of a friend of mine living there who has an olive orchard, but that’s another story in itself worth telling you another time.

Europe trip–part 2

4 Sep

As promised on my last post I’m continuing sharing my experience while on my trip to Europe.

I first flew to Bucharest where my parents live and I was beyond ecstatic to see them after so long (mom after a year and a half, and dad after 2 and a half years). Granted we use Skype all the time but it’s not the same.

I’m a hugger and, if I were to pick what I miss the most about my parents is hugging them. Of course the first thing I did seeing my mom (dad was too weak after his complicated surgery from which he’s recovering very slowly) among the people waiting at the airport was to drop my bags and pull her into a long, long hug. I tried not to cry but silly tears just kept rolling down my cheek. A feeling of I’m-safe along with peace and happiness blanketed over my soul and I’m sure for those of you still having your moms around you can understand my emotions. There’s nothing like a mom’s hug: tight, warm, loving, heart-to heart beat.

As we drove through the city, the first thing that caught my attention was the change in colors. A lot of the 10+ story buildings lining the roads have been renovated, transforming the city from a blah-boring gray into a lively one. Others just remain the same ugly buildings. On some of the roads the trees are so tall and rich that they bridge over the street creating shade and coolness so much needed from the hot sun.

I stayed in town only three days before my trip to Italy (crazy itinerary, I know). When I returned from Italy I had the chance to visit downtown Bucharest at night, a nightclub (don’t remember its name, but I do remember the cigarette smoke, loud music and super packed room), a restaurant where we had papanasi (a Romanian pastry that I crave all the time), walked down I. C. Bratianu Blvd at  two in the morning all the way to the Fountains taking you to Palatul Parlamentului and most importantly: I did that tagging along two of my cousins, two nephews and of course with Patrick. The rest of the time I was in Bucharest I haven’t really gone anywhere worth mentioning, but spent it with my parents, relatives and friends. Unlike other trips back to Romania, this time it was more important to me to spend it face to face with loved ones than visit places…

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Until next time, here a few photos… enjoy!

Europe Trip–Part 1

25 Aug

Memories. Some are kept in one’s soul forever, never to be shared. Others burst open our hearts and we can’t find peace until we do what we were meant to do from the moment we build them: share them with the world.

It’s been a week since I returned from my trip to Europe–Romania and Italy to be exact–and I’m still trying to recover from it. Not the sleeping pattern (which gave me grief only when I went to Romania, but not here back home), but trying to browse through memories, feelings and emotions I’ve witnessed and felt during my trip. I wish I could hold onto each image, each step I took, too afraid that time and space will dust them into oblivion until they’d end up shelved somewhere in my brain.

I’ve never journaled a trip so bear with me; I’ll try to make these sharing interesting enough for you to come back for the next one.

For today I decided to share a few  facts about this trip:

  1. Our itinerary included: Bucharest and Black Sea (Romania); Rome-Verona-Venice- Milan-Mantova (Italy).
  2. We’ve been on ten flights.
  3. We had screaming babies on all ten flights therefore I haven’t slept on any of the flights (yeah, talk about exhaustion as its best).
  4. We lost one connection in Munich so we had to buy new tickets.
  5. I watched eight movies during the longer flights (Houston to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Houston) and i can only remember one title (Crazy, Stupid Love, which was actually funny).
  6. I took over thousand pictures; I had to delete some apps from my phone to make room for more. Patrick took about the same amount on his phone. I regret not taking a real camera (Iphone takes decent photos but not as clear as a camera).
  7. I played cards and “table” (a Romanian game) with my dad 6 hours every day for 4 days while at the Black Sea.
  8. I rekindled with friends from high school, one who lives in Italy and one who became a famous actress in Romania.
  9. I went to my first soccer game, cheering for my all-time favorite team, Steaua Bucuresti. They had a great game, but weren’t able to score.
  10. I had more than one glass of wine, one night in Rome…

And now I leave you with a few photos all taken before flights… enjoy!

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Where I’ve been…

21 Aug

In my last post I promised to reveal where I was on vacation so here I am telling you all the big secret… I’ve been to Romania and Italy and soaked my soul in the goodness of my parents, hugged my relatives and laughed with my friends. I had an incredible trip I hope to never forget!

I have so many memories, some tattooed in the folds of my heart, some on my brain’s  “screen” and some in pictures. I decided to write in episodes my entire trip, but for now I leave you with a bunch of photos.

Enjoy!IMG_3691 IMG_4372 IMG_3214 IMG_3266 IMG_3291 IMG_3395 IMG_3634 IMG_3899 IMG_4224

 

Starting a new series–Mondays are for Excerpts

26 May

Hey peeps!

Here we are almost 5 years into my writing and 3 since my debut novel HIDDEN HEART saw the daylight. 4 novels later I’m still arguing with my heroes, finding new ideas in as much as a photo and continuing on this journey of writing romance.

I absolutely love it when I connect with readers from all over the globe. This site here is where anyone can find me. Recently I thought about adding a little spice to our relationship, you know, just to make it fresh again 😉

In doing so I decided to use Mondays for excerpts. Today’s excerpt is from HIDDEN HEART:

Tessa bent over the balcony’s banister and looked into the darkness below. Her feet hurt. Dancing for an entire hour on high-heels no longer seemed like a good idea.

“Nice evening. Would you care for some champagne?” asked a thickly accented Italian voice.

Tessa straightened and turned. To her surprise, a handsome stranger stopped close to her, a bottle of champagne in one hand and two glasses in the other. The same stranger from the sky gondola, the same man she’d clung to for dear life only hours ago.

“You speak English!” Her voice sounded jittery and she hated it. Oh, God, I’m in trouble, so much trouble! Telling him earlier what she’d do with him, to him was one thing; him understanding was different, totally different. Butterflies filled her stomach and her heart drummed like the staccato bass of the music. Her cheeks burned with embarrassment as she covered her face with both hands, then peeked through her fingers.

A playful spark ignited his dark eyes while he tried to conceal a grin, failing miserably. He poured champagne in one glass and offered it to her. She accepted it with shaky hands, and took a sip. Sweet, bubbly, expensive—her taste exactly.

“Yes, as a matter of fact I do.” His voice had a buttery tone sounding like a lover’s whisper. He poured champagne for himself and placed the bottle on the nearby banister. He inclined his head while sensual lips curved in a smile that revealed perfect teeth. Clinking his glass to hers, he said, “Happy birthday!”

Words had never failed Tessa.

Until now.

Would she ever regain her voice?

“I met Carlo, your friend at the bar.” He shrugged one shoulder with a sheepish grin. “We Italians tend to make friends fast. He told me about your birthday. I’m glad the scare earlier did not stop you from celebrating.”

Coming out of his mouth, English never sounded more alluring spoken with the sensual Italian accent.

“My name is Alessandro, Alessandro Santinelli.”

“Anastassia, Tessa Cosma. I’m from Romania, but here with my friends on vacation.”

He tilted his head, took her extended hand, lifted it to his lips and kissed it with infinite gentleness. His lips felt warm and smooth on her hand, a touch that made her stomach tighten. Under any other circumstance, Tessa would’ve thought the gesture old fashioned, and perhaps would’ve burst out laughing, but coming from this man, it seemed smooth, gracious and right.

“How is your shoulder?”

“Oh, much better, thank you. I kept a pack of ice on it.” Tessa rubbed her sore shoulder. The memory of her body pressed against his rushed through her mind. “So, you . . . where did you learn English so well?”

He raised one eyebrow and smiled. “As a child, my parents let me watch cartoons in English, but I didn’t understand a word. Since Batman was my favorite, I had no choice but master the language.” Alessandro looked like a child that just discovered ice cream. “How about you?”

Tessa smiled. “I had a crush on my English teacher. He looked like Alain Delon, you know, the French actor. I figured if I did all my homework and studied hard, he’d notice me.”

“Did he?”

She laughed, throwing her head back. “I doubt it.”

Alessandro chuckled. “So, you’re from Romania, one of the oldest country in Europe. It’s on my to-visit list. How is it there?”

“It’s nice, I guess. Depends on what you’re expecting from such a trip, what you’re looking for.”

“I always wanted to see the ruins of Sarmisegetuza and hike the Carpathians.” Alessandro brushed a hand  through  his hair then sampled his champagne. His eyes never left her face.

Is he hitting on me? Alessandro seemed a remarkable, intelligent man. Too bad she didn’t believe in long-distance relationships. Grateful he tried to make her comfortable and forget about her blunt outburst hours ago, Tessa knew she needed to clear her name.

“Alessandro, listen. About earlier today . . .” She drummed her nails on the champagne glass and looked inside as if a jinni would jump to her rescue. Attempting to win back her dignity she continued, “I had no idea you understood what I was saying, otherwise I would’ve never said what I did, but I . . . you have to forgive me for being so silly. I’m really sorry.”

A half-crooked, irresistible smile spread over his lips. “And I am not. Fulfilling the first part of your wish wasn’t that hard, was it?” He lifted his glass and pointed toward it. “Shall we dance?” 

HH for web

Find it at:

      gr          b&n

 

Winner Announcement for the Great Summer Reads Giveaway Hop

13 Jul

The Great Summer Reads Giveaway is over. Using random.org the lucky winners are:

HIDDEN HEART goes to Peggy Hopkins.

A WORLD APART goes to Rhonda Peña.

BORN IN VENGEANCE goes to Shelly Hammond.

BORN IN SIN goes to Ariel.

GoodReads Giveaway

6 Dec

Great giveaway over @ GoodReads  for my novel titled Hidden Heart. There are 5 copies available and over 700 people requesting it. For more details click HERE.

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