6/21/2017

Cologne Cathedral: Cologne Germany

 
Touring the Old Town of Cologne with a visit to the Cologne Cathedral or known as the High Cathedral of St. Peter, an iconic landmark, and the Museum Ludwig.  The cathedral, in 1996 was named a UNESCO world heritage site, retains many original treasures

Inside are the relics of the Magi in the reliquary and other sacred figures.  The bones of the Magi arrived, wrapped in first century Syrian silk.  King Otto placed gold crowns on the skulls of all three of the wise men.  Analysis has revealed that one skeleton is of an old man, one of middle-age, and the third of a young man.  And this coincides with legend, that the Magi were about ages 60-, 40-, and 20-years old.  The Star of Bethlehem is, understandably, an important motif in the Cathedral.
 Cologne Cathedral-High Cathedral of Saint Peter
On 15 August 1248 Archbishop Konrad Hochstaden laid the foundation stone for a new Cologne Cathedral


The Cologne Cathedral Treasury is the biggest and perhaps the richest in Germany.


The most famous possession of the treasury is the golden Shrine of the Three Kings, attributed to Nicholas of Verdun and his workshop. The treasury also contains some outstanding medieval illuminated manuscripts, such as the Limburg Gospels from Reichenau.



6/13/2017

The Allure of European River Cruising


J. Christina has been asked many times about our cruises and we want to define what we believe describes this type of European boutique river cruise - that we and many others  enjoy. Our post represents our personal opinions, thoughts and comments about this unique river cruising experience and why we think it's so alluring to so many. While we use what we believe is the correct term -  river cruise ship.

Let’s start with what it is:   An elegantly designed boutique river cruise ship sailing on the great waterways and rivers in Europe. While offering luxury hotel-style accommodations and amenities, and some with décor reminiscent of the region. 
Reception lobby onboard the River Queen
It is not:  An ocean-going vessel that offers casinos, all night buffets or Broadway productions on board, nor is it a small canal, towpath barge, that only travels a few miles in one country.

European river cruising allows travelers to embark on a one-of-a-kind, curated itinerary for the river traveler. Traveling in a unique style while stepping-off into the heart of great European cities, with ease, grace and anticipation.

Our firsthand experiences are from  cruising the many beautiful and enchanting rivers of Europe.  When vetting and designing our personalized European itinerary, we tick-off the boxes: educational, enriching, opportunity to meet other well-traveled individuals, while ending sightseeing days with regional meals and luxury accommodations. So far, we believe we have found these amenities in  European river cruising culture.
Biking in Amsterdam
Itineraries transcend every age group, i.e.  families with children to the young-at-heart. Inclusive tours range from sightseeing at a gentle pace to full-out fitness and active adventures. Something for everyone.

European river cruising is often the mid-segment of our independently designed travels. We incorporate a variety of pre-and post-destinations to make crossing the Atlantic worthwhile, i.e. pre-Amsterdam and post-Switzerland and on to the Cote d'Azur.   In our case, European river cruising opens the passage for us to get from point A to point B..…effortlessly and refreshed to continue our extended travels.
Rijksmuseum Museum Gardens
Become a river cruiser with us today aboard #Uniworld's River Queen, as we glide along the riverscapes of historic cities making daily ports-of-call in Germany, Luxembourg, France, and reaching our final destination ashore in Basel, Switzerland.




*J. Christina is a personal travel blogger, writer and amateur-hobbyist photographer at Scribbles and Smiles.  Living happily in the USA, married to John, aka, Mr. Christie.  J. Christina is our bespoke identity in the blogosphere.  Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina is a  means for others to travel vicariously through our blog posts,  Instagram and Facebook.  J.Christina has contributed to Bonjour Paris, FRANCE Magazine, and The Good Life France.








6/12/2017

Welcome Aboard: Uniworld's River Queen

Welcome Aboard! Today we embark on Uniworld's boutique river ship the River Queen in Amsterdam.  Where we will enjoy the next 13 days cruising the mighty Rhine and meandering  Moselle rivers. While quietly gliding out of the Netherlands and on to magical destinations, we will admire the riverscapes along five European nations. With daily ports-of-call in Germany, Luxembourg, France, and reaching our final destination ashore in Basel, Switzerland.
#Uniworld, #Amsterdam, #EuropeanRiverCruises       @google images

Travel with us by boutique river ship, on foot,  motorcoach and private transport, while immersing ourselves in  the best these regions has to offer. We invite you to travel with ease, grace and anticipation to places some only glimpse on a postcard.



Have your creative passport stamped and lean in to a daydream....through our words, images and experiences on-board our elegant and stylish European river ship.  Bon Voyage!    


*J. Christina is a personal travel blogger, writer and amateur-hobbyist photographer at Scribbles and Smiles.  Living happily in the USA, married to John, aka, Mr. Christie.  J. Christina is our bespoke identity in the blogosphere.  Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina is a  means for others to travel vicariously through our blog posts,  Instagram and Facebook.  J.Christina has contributed to Bonjour Paris, FRANCE Today, and The Good Life France.

Charming Canals: Amsterdam

Exploring the charming canals in Amsterdam







*J. Christina is a personal travel blogger, writer and amateur-hobbyist photographer at Scribbles and Smiles.  Living happily in the USA, married to John, aka, Mr. Christie.  J. Christina is our bespoke identity in the blogosphere.  Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina is a  means for others to travel vicariously through our blog posts,  Instagram and Facebook.  J.Christina has contributed to Bonjour Paris, FRANCE Today, and The Good Life France.


6/11/2017

Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh Museum: Amsterdam

Every traveler’s dream is to be up-close and personal to iconic landmarks, flower-laden villages, and picturesque hamlets. As we visit Amsterdam, we will see historical canals, world famous museums and iconic paintings that some only glimpse on a postcard. Join us as we explore the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam today.
The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. The museum is located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, close to the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Concertgebouw.
The famed Rijksmuseum has been significantly updated, taking over a decade to renovate. Rijksmuseum contains the most renowned works of arts by Dutch and Flemish artists and artifacts in the world:  One of Rembrandt’s most famous paintings, The Night Watch is in the hall of fame along with Vermeer’s Kitchen Maid and the Woman in Blue Reading a Letter.
Rijksmuseum- Amsterdam                             
Amsterdam is just as famous for its artists and museums as it is for its canals.  Inside the Van Gogh Museum is over 200 of the post-impressionist master’s paintings, include The Potato Eaters and Sunflowers. Some of the most significant artifacts are the hand-written letters between Vincent and his brother, Theo. Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) is one of the Netherlands’ most famous artists.
Van Gogh Museum - Amsterdam


6/09/2017

Going Dutch: Handsome Amsterdam



 Good Morning Amsterdam!

Welcome to Amsterdam!  J. Christina team has arrived  and we're off to see  handsome Amsterdam.  Our personalized travel plans include a  pre- and post-element, bookends if you will.  Kicking-off  in Amsterdam to explore, tour, and tip-toe through the tulips in this beautiful canal city.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands needs little introduction as the capital and most populous municipality of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Some call it the land of boats and bikes, or fondly the Venice of the North.  This small country is located in the  northwest of Europe, with Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and  swathed by the  North Sea.

It's a popular tourist destination where four million tourists visit annually to see the old city center's architecture and historic canals, that have morphed into modern-day thoroughfares. Where locals take water-buses to work and some live in colorful houseboats tethered to the postcard pretty canal banks. Come on along as we unwrap Amsterdam from dawn to dusk for the next several days.
Renaissance Hotel  Amsterdam
Our only foray to the Netherlands a few years ago, was in the southeastern region: Venlo, Maastricht, and Margarten. Ride with us through the maze of historic canals and become a Dutchie on this adventure.

Bike Parking
*J. Christina is a personal travel blogger, writer and amateur-hobbyist photographer at Scribbles and Smiles.  Living happily in the USA, married to John, aka, Mr. Christie.  J. Christina is our bespoke identity in the blogosphere.  Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina is a  means for others to travel vicariously through our blog posts,  Instagram and Facebook.  J.Christina has contributed to Bonjour Paris, FRANCE Today, and The Good Life France.







6/05/2017

Amsterdam to Basel: Life Is Short - Take The Trip

Join us on


Join J. Christina and travel vicariously as we wing our way to Amsterdam,  to the land of tulips and historical canals.  Where we will enjoy Amsterdam by-day and by-night. After, we will wind  onward to ply the waters of the legendary Rhine and the alluring Moselle rivers. Where together we will set sail through the Netherlands and segue to Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and France - onboard Uniworld's boutique river ship, the River Queen.

European river cruising is not our only genre of travel for the next  several weeks.  We plan to dip, dodge, and weave our way around Switzerland by train. Where we will hopscotch around Basel,  Bern, and  Lucerne  and possibly over to the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein.

Continue  your travels with J. Christina on the third segment of our bespoke journey as we loop along the Cote d’Azur.  Where we will return to our familiar and beautiful home base in Menton, France.  Amble with us to some off-the-beaten-path medieval hilltop villages, while indulging in the sights, sounds, and flavors of the French Riviera that we so enjoy! Come on along, grab a seat, and enjoy these  dreamy destinations with us.  Life is short - Take the trip.

#Uniworld, #EuropeanRiverCruises, #Iamsterdam
Amsterdam, Cologne, Koblenz, Cochem (Ediger-Eller), Luxembourg, Trier, Boppard, Speyer, Strasbourg, Breisach, Colmar, Kayserberg, and Riquewihr - UNESCO World Heritage Sites



J. Christina is a personal travel blogger, writer and amateur-hobbyist photographer at Scribbles and Smiles.  Living happily in the USA, married to John, aka, Mr. Christie.  J. Christina is our bespoke identity in the blogosphere.  Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina is a  means for others to travel vicariously through our blog posts,  Instagram and Facebook.  J.Christina has contributed to Bonjour Paris,  FRANCE Today,  The Good Life France.











5/02/2017

Every Traveler's Dream: European River Cruising

Few journeys are more endearing than traveling on Europe’s rivers. Embarking on a one-of-a-kind European river cruise allows travelers to step-off into the heart of great European cities, with ease, grace and anticipation.  Every traveler’s dream is to be up-close and personal to iconic landmarks, flower-laden villages, and picturesque hamlets. With European river cruising you will experience vistas and sights that some only glimpse on postcards.
photo credits Flickr
 Pont de Pierre  - Bordeaux, France - Garonne River
Seventeen magnificent arches - one arch for every letter in Napoléon Bonaparte. Connecting the left and right banks of the Garonne River, commissioned by Napoléon and inaugurated in 1822, the first bridge ever built in Bordeaux.
J. Christina@ Scribbles and Smiles, has followed this traveler’s dream now for more than a decade. “With cruises down the plentiful and enchanting rivers of Europe, including her most recent along Bordeaux’s alluring Garonne and Dordogne and the not-to-be missed, gleaming waters of Portugal’s Douro River.”  Where she indulged in the sip, sample, and stroll among some of the world’s greatest vineyards and river destinations.


4/27/2017

Way of St. James - Le Chemin de St. Jacques de Compostelle


The Scallop Shell and the Camino de Santiago
As we traveled through Spain and Portugal, the historical bronze scalloped shell was always prevalent in signaling the way to the Way of St. James Pilgrimage route. If we looked closely, we would find the emblem embedded in sidewalks, buildings and fountains leading the way to Santiago de Compostela.

In Bordeaux, France, we discovered the same historical markers throughout the city, guiding pilgrims on their journey to reach Le Chemin de St. Jacques de Compostelle - in northwestern Spain.

4/26/2017

Blaye, France: Le Citadelle De Blaye

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 J. Christina's article and may other wonderful features can be found in the Winter edition of The Good Life France magazine for free.

J. Christina Visits The Historic Town of Blaye: Le Citadelle De Blaye
photos credits Terry Sonnonstine-Austin, TX - La Citadelle De Blaye - Blaye, France

The Aquitaine region stretches long and lean against the French Atlantic coastline, reaching up to the Pyrénées mountain range and transcending to the Spanish border.  Here in the Gironde department, intrepid travelers scamper to the summit of storybook castles, bike through vineyard-laced countryside, walk through ancient villages, and sip world-renowned wines.  It is here that tourist and travelers alike can discover the douceur de vivre in this tiny one-kilometer long settlement, once named Blaye-et-Sainte-Luce. 

Let me introduce you to Blaye, France, a petite but mighty hamlet, sitting at the southern tip of the Gironde estuary formed by the confluences of the nearby Dordogne and Garonne rivers.  Blaye is a historical and powerful commune from medieval times, where the Citadel of Blaye and its military fortifications sit majestically over the waters of Western Europe’s largest estuary.

Le Citadelle De Blaye, a medieval fortress, along with Fort Médoc and Fort Paté, formed a military defense system, during the 18th and 19th centuries to protect the downstream port of Bordeaux from sea invasions and wars.  It is a legendary example of engineering genius and Romanesque architecture designed and built by the famous engineer Vauban and named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.  A picture-postcard town, with scarred ramparts, that bears witness to battles and conflict through this gallant maritime route.  

Nowadays, we find the citadel is a living monument, where inside the bastion, a warren of cobblestone streets, stone houses, artisan shops, cafes and wine shops, still thrive.  From atop the medieval walls of this photogenic Blaye Citadel there are stunning panoramic views of the estuary and across to the famed Médoc. Where photographers return many times to capture the reflections in the golden hour light, capturing mirror images off the estuary waters.

It is free to enter the citadel and its ramparts, but within its walled city visitors pay for guided tours of Abbey Saint Romain or Musée d’Archéologie et Histoire de Blaye, through the Office of Tourism.

While walking the main street of Blaye, there is a feel of authentic living, transcending through en plein markets, held every Wednesday and Saturday, in front of the Citadel. Where the street is vibrant, rich and strewn with colorful tented stalls, where locals and travelers buy local produce and seafood from the region.  The soil in Blaye is rich and varied, boasting 240 days of sunshine that produce prized asparagus, figs, and celebrated Côtes de Blaye red wines from family owned wineries in the Gironde. A must visit is the Maison du Vin on the Cours Vauban to taste the famous wines from this enchanting region.

A visit to Blaye is a step-back in time where the locals are warm and welcoming making your time in the Gironde, a captivating experience.







4/24/2017

Saint Émilion: A Postcard-Perfect Hilltop Town in Dordogne

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post appeared December 7, 2016 by J. Christina on  France Today


Sitting perched on a limestone hilltop like a graceful balcony above the Dordogne ValleySaint-Émilion is a town in the Gironde department in southwest France. In 1999, Saint-Émilion became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, honored for its cultural landscape and historical vineyards. This medieval, fairy-tale town is a maze of curlicue ballast stone streets– strewn with charming storefronts, squares, and flower-laden terraces– all ready for the one million tourists who visit annually.



4/12/2017

Porto, Portugal: The Real Port Wine Town


Porto is considered the real Port wine town in Portugal where port wine tastings rooms are plentiful.  Historic port wine producers; store their wines in caves, aging tanks, and tasting rooms along the waterside docks in Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. Signs emblazed the rooftops and upper deck areas along the riverbanks, advertising the Vintner's wines and tasting rooms.  It’s remarkable - the voyage of the grapes, from the steep, hot terraces of the Douro region, to being transported  down to Vila Nova de Gaia, where it is aged and fortified into wine in the maritime climate before being shipped around the world.

Tuk-Tuk rides in Porto, Portugal