8/21/2018

Discovering Croatia's Dalmatian Coast

Join us on
And we're off! Join our 2018 bespoke journey across six nations, kicking off in handsome Amsterdam, affectionally referred to as the Venice of the North, where we will step into  the world of Vincent van Gogh's art and cruise on  400-year-old historical canals, once again.

Amsterdam 2017
Travel  along with J.Christina by plane, tram,  foot,  private transport, and by European river cruise ship, all-the-while discovering postcard perfect destinations that will linger in your memory forever.
As our adventures unfold, wing on with us, as we  hopscotch  down to Croatia's Dalmatian Coast,
including stops in Montenegro and Slovenia where we will explore the length of this majestic Adriatic Sea coastline. 
Old Town Dubrovnik
Following the mid-segment of this sojourn as we overland along the Pearl of the Adriatic, traveling south to north, where we will cross the finish line into Venice, Italy.  It's a quick stop to regroup, reminisce about Croatia's sights and sounds, while admiring the glories of Venetian architecture while strolling along the Grand Canal.  Sadly, we will say arrivederci to Venice all too soon - pushing-on, making our segue on to Bordeaux, France. 

Join the finale! Come on along and explore with J.Christina in  Bordeaux, France, a city with a 2000-year-old history, often referred to as the "Port of the Moon."  We will celebrate our birthdays and toast our 25th wedding anniversary, while plying the waters of the Dordogne and Garonne rivers, onboard a European river ship.

Arm-in-arm let's complete this final bookend of our month-long journey immersing ourselves in southwest France - one ancient wine village at-a-time. Here we will stroll through picturesque hamlets, admire beautiful medieval villages, taste the terroir, and lunch in historic châteaux. Come on along, travel vicariously  from the luxury of your armchair to places some only glimpse on a postcard.   


Together we will create, capture and record countless shareable moments to last a lifetime. 

About J. Christina:
J. Christina is founder at Scribbles and Smiles, travel writer, hobbyist photographer and often a digital nomad.  Writing a personal travel blog sharing adventures from Europe and beyond. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right onboard with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of  editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. All-the-while, sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a  perched medieval village. J. Christina’s work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and Perfectly Provence.






 








































6/18/2018

Gorbio: A Perched Medieval Village in the Alpes-Maritimes


Scribbles and Smiles JChristina
JChristina Team                    image credits: JillyBennettPhotograpy
Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
                                                         Gorbio, France                                         Photo Credits: Jacques Dufrenoy

Gorbio, France is a perched medieval village, high-up above Menton, in the southeastern corner of the Côte d’Azur. This picturesque village seems to be perched atop a quiet little secret, hence it seems to be forgotten by tourists. As with other historic perched villages, Gorbio has an impressive view, 354 meters high above the Mediterranean Sea. 

On arriving in Gorbio you will see the main square, the Place de la République. It’s a traditional French village square, where people congregate to chat and exchange pleasantries over a café; this is a village where everyone knows everyone else. In this square, history is rich and runs deep, here we find a celebrated 300-year-old elm tree. It was planted in 1713, to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, returning the County of Nice back to the sovereignty of the Duke of Savoy.

With only 300 residents in the village of Gorbio, and 1000 total in the commune, it is an astonishing community of religious fêtes, festivals and celebrations. One is the Procession aux Limaces (Procession of Slugs), where after the olive harvest, snail shells are filled with olive oil and lit to illuminate the entire village on this night of festivities. It is where villagers celebrate the abundant olive harvest and await the processional through the village, led by the local Priest, all-the-while giving thanks to the Virgin Mary.

Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
Streets of Gorbio, France                          Photo  Credits: J. Christina


Gorbio tugs at your heart strings with its stunning views and medieval vaulted passageways that seem to lure you forward, for a closer peek inside. It’s a little storybook village with a beautiful history, lovely people, and the most charming maze of cobblestone lanes, and houses built from iconic stone, all festooned with flowers. Strolling the steep, winding stone paths of Gorbio is an authentic experience. It’s a lived-in village, seemingly unchanged from ancient times, where centuries old buildings and antiquities cascade throughout, i.e., the exotic fountain in the Place de la Mairie, built in 1882, and the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs de la Sainte Croix, built in 1445.

The village has a Michelin rated restaurant, Le Beau Séjour, owned by the Bracco family. The owners have captured the essence of French décor, in a canvas of French grey and linen white, creating a romantic ambience. The food is homemade with locally sourced ingredients, all composed from traditional recipes, such as rabbit, lamb and fish… along with the not-to-be missed apricot pie!


Truth is, there are many scattered hidden treasures along the Cote d’Azur: secluded hideaways, ancient ruins, and villages like Gorbio steeped in history. Discovering places serendipitously is the pleasure of travel.

Transportation: Zest Bus Line:   Bus 7 from Menton – shuttle bus- 22-25 passenger
Restaurant: Le Beau Séjour (cash only-March–October lunch only//July-August lunch & dinner-*closed every Wednesday)


About J. Christina:
J. Christina is founder at Scribbles and Smiles, travel writer, and hobbyist photographer. Writing a personal travel blog from the Midwest. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of  editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

J. Christina’s blogging journey began before the word blog was trending, writing about European travel destinations on share-sites, forums and online journals. After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a perched medieval village.

J. Christina’s work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and Perfectly Provence.

5/30/2018

Treasures of the French Riviera: Musée National Marc Chagall

Treasure of the French Riviera: Musée National Marc Chagall by J. Christina appeared on the digital magazine Perfectly Provence on May 30, 2018.   Perfectly Provence is a digital lifestyle and Mediterranean magazine for locals and visitors - focused exclusively on the South of France.  Please enjoy our post below. 

Situated on the south east coast of the French Riviera, Nice, France hardly needs an introduction as one of the most beautiful and sophisticated regions in the world. Nice is the second-largest city in the Provence-Alpes Cote d’Azur - often referred to as the Queen of the French Riviera. Whether you call it the Côte d’Azur or the French Riviera, this is a prime location for discovering historical  art and cultural highlights.

Artistic treasures and gems are bountiful in Nice. Many discreetly tucked away in peaceful gardens, up craggy hillsides, and even atop ancient ruins. Others scattered along the Mediterranean seascape. One remarkable treasure, perched high above Nice is Cimiez Hill.  From this extraordinary vantage point, Nice offers cityscape views where the azure Mediterranean Sea beckons you to explore more of the jewels in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur province.
Scribbles and Smiles J. Christina
At the foot of Cimiez Hill is the Musée National Marc Chagall, opening its doors to honor the talents and philanthropic generosity of this great Franco-Russian artist.  It is an extraordinary art museum that is the benefactor of the largest public collection of Chagall’s works, including seventeen masterpieces entitled, The Biblical Message.  In 1966, Marc Chagall originally donated the Biblical Message series to the French State, first being exhibited at the Louvre in Paris, and eventually making its permanent home in the upper-class neighborhood on Cimiez Hill in Nice.

With the collaboration of Marc Chagall, the museum’s architectural design includes a large airy, polygon shaped room, which exhibits the first of twelve biblical message interpretations – all edifying the first two books of the Old Testament: Genesis and Exodus.  The remaining five wall-size paintings – The Song of Songs explodes in fiery reds, telling the story of Solomon. All seventeen masterpieces render powerful spiritual and religious stories all told through Marc Chagall’s artistic color, passion, and whimsical symbols.  
Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
Abraham and the Three Angels

Follow link for additional Biblical Message images
The Musée Marc Chagall is a must see with its peaceful and light filled environment, and enriching art, all defined by his own imaginative style. The Musée contains decades of Chagall’s artistic career as he continued to work up to his death in March 28, 1985, in nearby Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France where he is buried.
The French Riviera is just waiting for you to amble through its winding hillsides, discover small villages, and climb its hilltops to discover a treasure-trove of artistic treasures.

Museum Access Details


Musée National Marc Chagall (website)
36 Avenue Dr Ménard,
06000 Nice, France
Tel: +33 (0)4 93 53 87 20
Transportation: Bus #15 or #22/ 1.50€
Entrance fee: 10€
Closed Tuesdays

About J. Christina:

J. Christina is founder at Scribbles and Smiles, travel writer, and hobbyist photographer. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role as editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

Follow Scribbles and Smiles recent posts on Access Riviera,  Perfectly Provence  France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and  often from onboard an elegant European river ship - sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers. Or, follow them on their journeys via Instagram.


5/09/2018

Bourg: Perched Atop A Quiet Secret in Dordogne

Bourg, France, is a hidden gem on the right bank of the Dordogne River, nestled in the heart of the wine appellation of Côtes de Bourg, in southwest France. In the 16th century Bourg was its own fortified community that secured a prominent position at the confluences of the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers.  In medieval times this tiny hamlet was invaded by Visigoths, ravaged by the Normans, fortified by the English, and hosted more royalty than anyone ever expected, having been visited by four kings. 
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
Chateau de Citadelle of Bourg @ image T. Sonnontine

Nowadays, Bourg sits discreetly among three prominent UNESCO Heritage sites:  Blaye, Saint Émilion and Bordeaux. This tiny ancient village once named Bourg-sur-Gironde, built in Roman times, tells a tumultuous 2000-year-old history. 

4/25/2018

Is European river cruising really all that?

Having traveled on the great rivers of Europe for more than decade, there are few journeys more endearing than slowly plying Europe’s waterways, on-board a specialty designed river ship.  Sailing these great rivers of Europe, including the delightful Danube, the mighty Rhine, river Rhône, and the romantic Seine; is simply a one-of-a-kind curated experience.
Scribbles and Smiles JChristina
Douro River Valley
Embarking on a river cruise allows travelers to step-off into the heart of great historical cities steeped in tradition, with grace and anticipation.   Intrepid travelers dream of being up-close and personal with iconic landmarks, flower-laced villages, and picturesque hamlets, all lying within steps of their boutique river ship.  With river cruising you will experience vistas and landmarks that some only glimpse on postcards.  So simply put – yes, European river cruising is all that!

Scribbles and Smiles JChristina
Seine River - Paris, France
Whether it’s traveling untethered along Bordeaux’s alluring Garonne and Dordogne rivers, or the mirrored waters of Portugal’s Douro river - all are a feast for the senses.   Being immersed in local culture, discovering UNESCO World Heritages Sites, or indulging in the sip, sample, and stroll among some of the world’s greatest vineyards will make unforgettable memories.   There’s no better way to authentically connect with the region and discover its hidden nuances.
Scribbles and Smiles JChristina
Dordogne river valley
Many river cruises are inclusive, running the gamut from romantic and stunning, to awe-inspiring; others are more humbling.  One of the great benefits of joining a European river cruise is the variety of itineraries available for river cruisers.  How about a cooking lesson in a romantic chateau, biking through the leafy vineyards of Médoc wine region, or scampering around the ancient ruins of a citadel?  Or, delve into history with a private lunch destination in the once war-torn Croatia, all accompanied with remembrances of the strife and struggles during the Homeland Wars? There are many heart-warming, educational, and memorable journeys to be discovered while cruising on Europe’s diverse waterways.

One thing is for sure---you will create, capture, and record countless shareable moments to last a lifetime – right from the luxury of your floating boutique European river ship.



About J. Christina:
J. Christina is founder at Scribbles and Smiles, travel writer, and hobbyist photographer. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role as  editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

Follow Scribbles and Smiles recent posts on Access Riviera,  Perfectly Provence  France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and  often from onboard an elegant European river ship - sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers. Or, follow them on their journeys via Instagram.








4/07/2018

Saint-Émilion: Lost-in-Time Storied Village

Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
Saint-Émilion is a charming medieval village located in the heart of the famous Bordeaux wine area.
Saint-Émilion is a honey-colored wine village in the Gironde department in southwest France, where it gracefully adorns a rocky outcrop overlooking the Dordogne river valley.  In 1999, Saint-Émilion was awarded the title Cultural Landscape by UNESCO; protecting its ancient  architecture, landscape, and historic vineyards that still produce world famous wines today.  This quaint wine village will pull at your heart strings with its photogenic beauty, glistening limestone facades, and  vine-laced vineyards.
The most practical piece of advice I can give you for visiting Saint-Émilion is to wear sturdy walking shoes. You will thank me later, as you navigate up and down those captivating winding lanes, all inlaid with centuries-old shiny and slick ballast-cobblestones, beckoning you forward - to explore this remarkably rich village.
Saint-Émilion is a medieval, fairytale-esque town with a maze of curlicue stone streets filled with charming storefronts, enchanting squares, and flower-laden terraces just waiting for you to enjoy the splendor. The village of Saint-Émilion grew famous and wealthy in the eighth century through its wine trade and prominence on the route to Santiago de Compostela. Visiting Saint-Émilion is so much more than wine; nowadays, you can spend time just strolling the crooked and charming streets without ever visiting a wine château (but wouldn't that be a shame).

Scribbles and Smiles by JChristina
Saint Émilion Monolithic Church
Postcard perfect Saint-Émilion is more than just renowned wines - it will steal your heart with its landscape, history, and serene lifestyle. In this blonde-colored wine village, just east of Bordeaux, perhaps the most extraordinary site is what lies below ground, the Monolithic Church from the twelfth century.  1300 years ago, a Breton monk named Émilion, came to this ancient town, then named Ascumbas, to escape religious persecution.  According to legend he has an intriguing and curious story - Émilion lived and existed in this dark and damp  subterranean cavern-church, where it is said he performed miracles.  In this ancient story, Émilion was believed to have carved a limestone seat that aided women in fertility; and during this period more miracles appeared among his faithful followers.  Many believed the underground spring-fed pool of water used for baptism also cured blindness. 
The most dramatic sight from afar is a raising steeple from the corner of the Les Cordeliers: a fifteenth century bell tower, soaring up 68-meters high above Saint-Émilion. Where climbing nearly 200 steps upward situates you atop a glazed tile rooftop, with a majestic view across the valley of lush vineyards and châteaux.   
This lost-in-time storied town, Saint-Émilion, weaves an incredible visual story that goes with its legendary origins through Romanesque architecture, religious sites and cultural indulgences. Simply put, it’s a one-of-a-kind destination. This beautiful town with its scarred ramparts bears witness to battles, while weaving an amazing memoir. Truth is, there are many such treasures in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of southwest France all waiting to be explored.

Saint-Émilion Tourism
Saint-Émilion is a quick car, train or bus ride from Bordeaux and the town is easily explored on foot, by petit tourist train, or even via tuk-tuk ride.


About J. Christina:
J. Christina is founder at Scribbles and Smiles, travel writer, and hobbyist photographer. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role as  editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

Follow Scribbles and Smiles recent posts on Access Riviera,  Perfectly Provence  France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and  often from onboard an elegant European river ship - sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers. Or, follow them on their journeys via Instagram.