Monday, July 15, 2013

Author #6: Insatiable Reads Book Tour & Giveaway: A World Away by Lila Lacroix...

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A World AwayA World AwayA World Away

Five Tips to Making Your Overseas Trip a Memorable One

If you’re planning a trip overseas, whether it be to Paris or to another part of the world, there are some things you can do before and during your trip to make sure it becomes the trip of a lifetime.
  1. Don’t forget your travel insurance! I know, I know. Trips are already expensive, why pay an extra $50 for something that’s probably going to be completely useless? Well, because if you do happen to need it, you’re going to be so thankful for it. There are a ton of things that can happen when you’re overseas. What if an airline loses your luggage? What if your expensive camera gets stolen? Don’t you want to have the peace of mind of knowing you’re covered? I was travelling overseas once, and I had travel insurance. I didn’t really think of myself as needing it that much. After all, I’m a young woman in perfect health. Until I got kidney stones in the middle of the trip. I was in so much pain, I went to the hospital where they did a CT scan, a blood test and more! If it wasn’t for the fact that I had travel insurance, I would have been out of pocket on all those costs. Budget the cost of insurance into your trip. It’s worth it.

  2. Learn a bit of the language. Obviously you don’t need to be fluent in French to visit France, or speak the language of wherever you want to go. But a little goes a long way. Learn to say “hello”, “please” and “thank you”, as well as “do you speak English?” in the language of the places you’re going. It shouldn’t take you more than ten minutes to have them down pat. The locals will appreciate that you’ve made an effort to learn even these simple phrases. Of course, the more you know, the better. Always remember to have a card with your hotel’s address printed on it as well, as many cab drivers in all parts of the world only speak their native language.

  3. Eat where the locals eat. Wander away from the tourist spots to eat. Not only is the food generally more expensive, but it’s also often less good. If it’s a weekday, follow the suits to their favourite restaurants. Wander a few blocks away from the popular tourist hot spots. Not only will the food you find be more authentic and more delicious, but you’ll save a ton of cash. When I was in Rome, for example, there were a ton of places advertising gelato in the area with the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. Yet, by walking five minutes, I found a beautiful little restaurant with gelato that cost the same as all the other places, except that it was absolutely divine! Hands down the best gelato I’ve had in my life. I walked past all the tourists with their generic, overpriced stuff knowing that I tasted the real Italy.

  4. Don’t try to fit too much in one trip. I know, I know. You’re going to Europe for two weeks, so you want to see everything. Paris, London, Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam, Prague, maybe even Athens. But believe me, you’ll enjoy yourself way more if you pick a couple places and spend a decent amount of time in each. You’ll find yourself less stressed, you’ll really get to know the cities you visit and you’ll enjoy yourself much more than if you spend half your trip travelling between cities rather than experiencing them. The world’s not going anywhere anytime soon. You can always go back and discover more of it another time.

  5. Remember to stay safe! You shouldn’t be afraid to go out and travel, but you also shouldn’t be super casual about it. Some places are safer than others, but just keep an eye out. Don’t leave your wallet or passport in your back pocket, make sure you’ve always got a firm grip on your purse, don’t carry around large amounts of cash and remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. You should also have photocopies of your important documents that you keep in a safe place, just in case your originals get stolen.
And of course, don’t forget to have fun! Don’t stress too much about being in a foreign land. Enjoy yourself and don’t take anything too seriously. Chances are everything isn’t going to be perfect, but if you follow these tips and have a good attitude going into your trip, you can absolutely have the trip of your life.
A World Away
College sophomore Sophie Burnette has just been dumped by her boyfriend, is losing touch with her high school friends and is generally tired of her life in her small Midwestern city. When she sees an ad for doing a semester abroad, she jumps on the opportunity. 

Philippe Vaillancourt is a graduate student with a turbulent past who can’t help but immediately fall for Sophie when she walks past him in the park one day. 

Sophie’s heart, however, has already been captured by local photographer Jacques Lafleur who shows her a Paris Sophie couldn’t have dreamed existed. But when circumstances throw Sophie and Philippe together, and she begins to realize she’s heading down a dark and dangerous path, will Philippe be able to bring her back, or is Sophie already in too deep?

Versailles was unlike anything I had ever seen in my life. For one thing, the palace itself was enormous. It was at least hundreds of feet long in every direction, and looked like three stories high. It had to be hundreds of thousands of square feet, and that wasn’t even including the grounds we entered. Us tourists were only allowed access to certain parts of the palace, and the parts we saw were incredible, to think that we only saw but a fraction of the full building was unbelievable.

Everything was gilded with gold. I hadn’t seen so much gold in my entire life. The ceilings were painted with the most exquisite paintings, the walls covered in wallpaper that would be considered beautiful nowadays, let alone four hundred years ago.

Every time I stepped into a new room I found myself even more amazed than before. Sparkling chandeliers hung from the ceilings, and the enormous, elaborate windows gave me a view onto the gardens, which spread as far as the eye could see.

Jacques had been right: this building was unlike anything else I had ever seen. There could be no building on the planet that compared to the pure eloquence, the richness of this building. It was built by the King Louis XIV of France, the Sun King, built as a gigantic display of the wealth and power of the French monarch. The palace was so immense, so extravagant that I could only imagine the pure awe foreign dignitaries must have experienced upon arrival to this place hundreds of years ago. Hell, I walked around with my jaw on the floor now, over three hundred years after the palace was originally built.

The opulence, the pure amount of gold and money that must have been involved was mind boggling to me. Giant statues representing the ancestors of the French monarchy lined a hallway, one room was filled with portraits of Napoleon’s generals, rooms were kept as they would have been back when the palace was lived in, with luxurious beds and waiting rooms for the King and the Queen. I couldn’t believe it.

When we finally stepped outside, I felt like I was in a foreign land compared to the palace. Never had I been somewhere which had blown me away like the palace.

“Shall we walk through the park?” Jacques asked, and I nodded. We walked along together in silence. It was winter, so there were no flowers in bloom, but still I could tell that the garden was exquisite. We spent a while in the Orangerie, with a giant fountain as the centrepiece. But as I looked at the gushing water at the center, imagining what life must have been like here for Marie Antoinette, something caught my eye.

It was a man, on the other side of the fountain. He was watching me, and the instant I noticed him my breath caught in my throat. I had never seen a man like him before in my life. His hair was black, jet black, short and scruffy. He had that “just got out of bed in the morning” look, but his hair was still short enough that he could pull it off without looking like a hobo. His eyes were black, and as he stared at me, although he was at least twenty feet away from me, it felt like he was looking directly into my soul. When he noticed me looking at him, he smiled. Dimples formed in his cheeks, dimples that made my heart melt.

Why the hell was I reacting like this? This was the second time since coming to France that I’d felt attracted to a man. But this one, this man, this was different. I had never felt like this before about anyone. Electricity coursed through my veins as I looked at him, my blood felt like it was on fire. I didn’t want to look away. I tried to smile back at him, but I was frozen to the spot, entranced by the man’s absolutely perfect face.

Suddenly, I heard Jacque’s voice behind me, and I jumped.

“Oh, I am sorry Sophie, I did not mean to interrupt your dreaming, I simply thought we should visit Marie Antoinette’s Trianon.”

Lila Lacroix is a young writer who loves to write steamy new adult romance novels. As an English major also who waits tables to minimize the damage to her finances by student loans, Lila loves to relax by dreaming up love stories by young people learning to find themselves.
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