Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘travel

Caravaca de la Cruz

I love horses and enjoy equestrian events. I was delighted to spend a day in the town of Caravaca de la Cruz during the annual Caballos del Vino Fiesta. The horses were proudly paraded around town in all their splendour, the streets teamed with local families wearing black, white and red outfits, Knights Templar, Moors and Christians mingled and various bands played. The air was filled with excitement.

Moors
Christians
Knights Templar
All ages take part in the festivities. This little caballero is so cute.
One of the many bands

At one point I became stuck in the middle of a parade on a narrow side street. I had no choice but to join in and dance along with everyone else as we followed the band. So much fun.

The main event is held later in the day when the wine horses race up the side of the mountain accompanied by four horsemen on foot. The horse with horsemen that arrives at the top in the fastest time, is declared the winner. Should one of the horsemen let go before reaching the top, the horse is disqualified.

Why do they do this? Like most things in Spain, it is based on a legend. Legend has it that during the time the Castle of Caravaca was besieged by Muslim troops, the Knights Templar went in search of water for the starving citizens. They only found wine. Dodging the enemy, they raced up the mountain beside their horses loaded with filled wineskins. They were considered heroes and their horses were decorated in appreciation. This tradition is now carried on as a competition once a year at the beginning of May.

The horses and their elaborate silk mantles, embroidered with fine gold thread, are the central focus of the festival. Each mantle can take a whole year to make and cost thousands of euros. There are prizes for the best-decorated horses as well. It was hard to pick which one was my favourite.

Decorated from head to tail
Pretty in pink
Interesting mantle with pictures of famous people.
The castle that had been under siege
The path the horses have to run up. There are many more spectators at the time of the race.

We did not stay to watch the race as it can be dangerous for spectators, but I did watch part of it on a big screen TV at the restaurant where we enjoyed a paella lunch.

What an amazing event. One I was glad to have attended and will not forget.

There are some great YouTube videos of the event. Here’s one:

On April 13th, 2010, my first book, Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask, was published by Central Avenue Publishing. An auspicious day for me and a dream come true! That was twelve years ago, and what a fabulous twelve years it has been.

On my visit to the UAE where I fell in love with the desert.

The story is loosely based on a trip I took to the United Arab Emirates to visit a friend. I was so amazed at this part of the world, I felt compelled to write about it. After a few failed attempts, a twelve-year-old girl entered my mind and wanted to tell the story from her point of view. I named her Amanda and, well, the rest is history.

The book has had three different covers over the years.

Cover #1
Cover #2
Cover #3

Although Amanda in Arabia is twelve years old, I am happy to say it is still being read. Recently, I was delighted to read a review by James Cudney.

Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask is the first middle-grade book in Darlene Foster’s Amanda Travels series, and I very much enjoyed reading it. Amanda yearns to travel the world, and first up is the United Arab Emirates, but call it UAE or the Emirates as one of her new local friends wisely cautions her upon arrival. One of Amanda’s birthday wishes, this smart young girl finds herself visiting an aunt and uncle who live in the far-away country. Whether she’s magically or realistically transported is a question you’ll have to find out for yourself!

Readers will learn all about camels, the Persian Gulf, a princess who was almost forced to marry an older man, and many more culturally significant items of relevance. Both an educational and charming tale, the book offers a variety of themes and good old-fashioned fairy tale fun. Amanda makes several more international trips in future books (there are 8 to date in the series) and I’m keen to find out what she’s going to explore. You’ll enjoy her witty intelligence, and I’m sure if the shenanigans in this book are a sense of things to come, it will be a delightful collection of books that will appeal to a wide variety of personalities. Great job! – James J Cudney

James is a prolific reader and a great writer himself. Check out his blog where he writes honest reviews of a variety of books. He especially enjoys books in a series. https://thisismytruthnow.com/category/general-blog/

His own entertaining books can be found on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/James-J-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

A huge thank you to everyone who, over the years, has assisted and encouraged me, bought my books, told others about them and written reviews. You have made these past twelve years an incredible part of my life!

Amanda in Arabia is available on all Amazon sites as well as at other booksellers.

A few years ago I visited Valencia and loved it. I realized I hadn’t written a blog post about this marvellous city located halfway between Alicante and Barcelona. It is often overlooked in favour of places like Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Toledo and Granada. All great cities, but I would also highly recommend a visit to this, the third-largest city in Spain. It’s a wonderful example of the old and the new blended together perfectly. Valencia is rich in history, amazing architecture, an oasis of art, culture and leisure, and the home of paella! It’s also one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.

After a few devasting floods, the city planners diverted the river Turia three kilometres south of downtown and turned the former river bed into a pleasant ten-kilometre green space enjoyed by all. Parks, gardens, sports facilities, children’s play areas and walking paths fill this fifteen-hectare space.

Turia Gardens in the old riverbed
Turia Gardens
Sporting events held in the former riverbed

I took a hop-on hop-off bus tour which enabled me to see most of the city. The architecture is amazing. Here are a few samples. Some of my pictures were taken from the bus so are not as good as could be, but you’ll get the idea.

At each end of the bridge called, Puente del Real, stand religious statues.
The Tower of Santa Catalina
The Bank of Valencia building
The Micalet belltower, part of the Valencia Cathedral built on the site of a former mosque, and before that a Roman temple.
The Serranos Towers once guarded an important entrance to the city.

I remember enjoying the 1961 film, El Cid, starring Charlton Heston and Sophie Loren. (Yes, I loved historic movies way back then already) I was excited to find a statue of the popular 11th-century warrior who fought to free Spain from invaders. He is a popular Spanish folk hero and has been called The Prince of Valencia.

The famous Spanish warrior, El Cid
Plaza de la Virgin with a fountain representing the river Turia
Front of the Church of Los Santos Juanes

There are so many wonderful museums to visit, but I didn’t have much time so chose the Ceramics Museum housed in the Palace of Marquis de Don Aguas. The splendid facade of the building is worth the visit alone. Inside are fabulous pieces of ceramics dating from pre-historic times to the present day as well as tapestries, jewellery and furniture. This visit requires a post of its own.

Palace of the Marquis de Don Aguas, home of the Ceramics Museum

In my previous post, I mentioned the troupe of traditional dancers I came across. I love when this happens! They were so delighted with my interest in them, that they gave me a front-row seat to watch their performance. The children were adorable.

The men’s traditional Valencian costume
The dancing was terrific. It made my day!

Valencia also has Art Nouveau buildings as well as modern structures including a world-class music hall, an art centre, a group of buildings that make up the futuristic City of Arts and Science and a Science Museum. Something to check out on another visit.

I had such a wonderful time and certainly plan to return to this incredible city.

An emotional bond is more binding than any chain could ever be.

by Pamela from https://butterflysand.com/

York, England January 22

45 years ago in York, England, a girl from the Canadian prairies married her handsome Yorkshireman. And there has never been a dull moment since! We´ve taken risks, travelled much of the world and had lots of laughs. We´ve lived through happy and turbulent times, collected amazing friends and have some wonderful memories. Not willing to be conventional, we even had a Dougal the Dog wedding cake. A few snaps of our wild and crazy life.

Paris. France 2018
Liverpool, England 2017
Spain with Dot, 2017
Spain, 2017
Mediterranean Cruise 2015
Orihuela Costa, Spain 2014
Budapest, Hungary 2012
Germany, 2012
Cozumel, Mexico 2010
Covent Garden, England 1998

May the adventure continue!

Everyone loves a beautiful bride! I know I do. I´m always excited when I stumble upon a bride while travelling. Here are a few of them.

Barcelona, Spain

Outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, also known as Barcelona Cathedral, the Gothic cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, I came upon a bride getting ready for a photo shoot.

Getting the gown just right
Don´t they just look adorable?

Aix-en-Provence, France

In Aix-en-Provence, we came upon a bride in the courtyard outside the town hall, waiting for a civil ceremony. One of the flower girls was having a rest.

Almost time.

Genoa, Italy

As we left a cathedral in Genoa, the bride had just arrived.

Notice how enthralled the little girls are.

I know I have more, but these are a few I was able to find in my thousands of pictures.

Have you encountered brides or weddings on your journeys?

After two long years, I finally made it back to Alberta, Canada. As I landed in Calgary and saw the prairies unfold below me, I burst into tears. It was so good to see my family and friends again. I was given comfy beds to sleep in, yummy meals, pets to snuggle and great conversations. Four generations of women spent valuable time together at my granddaughter´s place. We celebrated mom’s life at a local park by talking about her life and how much she meant to each of us, and by sharing food, conversation and laughter. She would have liked that. Here´s just a few photos of the trip.

Mom’s sister and brother along with my brother and I celebrating mom´s life
Three generations of amazing women, all mine!
Grandkids and grand dog. Love them to bits.
With number one daughter
With number one son
My excellent chauffeur in Medicine Hat, the youngest grandson with his first car.

And I woke up to goats outside my window!!

Goats on the prairie. Wiener, Pickle and Bean
With my grand goats

I did a book signing event at a wonderful bookstore in Medicine Hat, called Unlimited Characters.

A book signing at Unlimited Characters in Medicine Hat, Alberta. A great turn out.
It was so great to see the prairies

A good friend took me to Banff for a day trip. What a treat. I had forgotten how amazing those Rocky Mountains are. I will do another post just about Banff soon.

The road to Banff
With a good friend at Bow Falls, she treated me to a fabulous day in Banff.
Those Rocky Mountains make a great backdrop.

And I got to see cousins I hadn´t seen for a long time.

Cousins are the best!
A dear cousin in her lovely back yard. She gave me a place to sleep and drove me around Calgary.
And I found the most amazing outhouse! I need to put this in a story somewhere.

It was time well spent and I have all these wonderful memories to keep me going.

More to come…

I finally got away for a few days! I was fortunate to visit the Isle of Arran, in Scotland. The island is a magical place with lovely beaches, manor houses, castles, old churches, standing stones, charming coffee shops, art galleries and lots of sheep. There is a story around every corner. I went to meet writer friends, do some writing and chill. I did all of that and more. I expected rain and got sunshine. Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of how wonderful Arran Island is.

The fabulous view every morning
The two hundred year old manor house I stayed in.
With many perfect places to write
Early morning beach walk
Castle Lochranza. Note the heather on the hills.
So many sheep. I love them!
So cuddly. I just wanted to hug them.
Old farm house on the moor
Machrie stone circle, the site of an ancient burial
You can’t be in Scotland and not search out some standing stones.
I was astounded when I came across these ancient standing stones
You know I had to touch them. Alas, I did not find myself in another century being rescued by a dashing Scot in a kilt.
Holy Isle in the background. An ancient spiritual heritage as far back as the 6th century. It is now a Buddist retreat.
There was cake, lots of cake!
And a very special dog. ❤

It was a wonderful getaway, just what I needed. I returned home inspired.

Now I’m getting ready to go back to Canada, to see my family after two long years.

Note: Most of the pictures are mine but a couple may or may not have been taken by a writer friend who knows I like sheep.

How great to see this fabulous review of Amanda’s first adventure by Carol Balawyder. Carol and her sweet dog, Bau have a wonderful blog.

Carol Balawyder

I have been following Darlene Foster’s blogfor sometime now and had often told myself that I would want to read one of her books.

Lately, I’d been emersed in a lot of adult literary fiction and so this past weekend, I was looking for something to read which wouldn’t be too demanding on my exhausted brain cells. A book that a middle school child could handle.

So far, Darlene has eight Amanda adventure books, each one set in different countries: Spain, Holland, England, Arabia and Malta or in different states or provinces: Alberta, New Mexico or The Danube.

I had debated whether I wanted to read one of the adventures set in a place I had already visited but finally settled on the exotic, the foreign, somewhere I will likely never visit: The United Arab Emirates or as the locals refer to it as either the UAE or simply…

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Today is the last official day of the blog tour and I wish to thank everyone for your amazing support. I hope you have all found new and interesting blogs to follow and made new friends and followers. Thank you to everyone who offered to be part of the tour and a huge thanks to all of you who read, liked, commented and shared the posts. You are all amazing. Today I am being featured on Lisa Day’s blog, Book Time, where she asks me some great questions. Say hi to Lisa, a fellow Canadian who loves words – editing, writing and reading them. She reviews many great books!

Book Time

I am the last stop of the Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady blog tour.

Sadly, my copy of Amanda in Malta hasn’t yet arrived, however, I have been following along with the other 11 bloggers on this blog tour so I got a sense of both Amanda, the main character, and the questions I wanted to ask its creator – Canadian author Darlene Foster.

Foster said growing up on a ranch in Alberta inspired her love of reading and seeing the world. Now retired, she has house in Spain where she spends time with her husband and rescue dogs, Dot and Lia, while writing full time. She also travels, meeting interesting people and getting inspirations for her series about Amanda, a 12-year-old girl who travels the world, learning about the people and culture while solving a mystery. Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady is the eighth book in…

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The love keeps pouring in for Amanda in Malta. Here is a fabulous review by Patricia Tilton from Children´s Books Heal. Patricia writes well thought out reviews of children´s books and I am so pleased she enjoyed this adventure. I often make book buying decisions for the youngsters in my life by reading her blog. Please check it out.

Children's Books Heal

Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady (The Amanda Travels Series 8)

Darlene Foster, Author

Central Avenue Publishing, May 11, 2011

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes: Malta, Travel, Adventure, Mystery, Theft, Friendship

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Amanda receives a postcard from her best friend, Leah, and is surprised to learn that she is in Malta with her Aunt Jenny. Reading between the lines, she senses Leah is in trouble. Desperate to help her, Amanda strikes the lottery when she’s invited to travel to Malta with her classmate Caleb Sorenson and his parents.

Amanda is intrigued by this exotic island in the middle of the Mediterranean, full of colourful history, sun-drenched limestone fortresses, stunning beaches and fascinating birds. But…who is killing the protected birds? Who stole a priceless artifact from the museum? And why is Leah acting so strange? She couldn’t possibly be involved in these illegal activities, or could she?

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