6/21/2017

Speyer Cathedral, Helmut Kohl: Speyer, Germany

Speyer, is a 2027-year-old city, along the banks of the Rhine river in southwest Germany, in the Rhineland-Palatinate state. The town is dominated by the Speyer Cathedral, which is named Imperial Cathedral of Speyer.  It is dedicated to St. Mary, patron saint of Speyer, and to St. Stephen.  In 1925, the cathedral was raised to a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 198l.
This is day nine of our European river cruise. Our Uniworld river ship arrived in Speyer on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 8:30a.m. Where we are met by Herman the German, our tour guide, for our half-day walking tour.  Herman shares historic information about his city. Telling us the city of Speyer was liberated by the Americans during WWII, and then became part of the French zone from 1944 to 1989.  Herman is old enough to recall seeing Charles De Gaulle lead the French troops through the city at the end of the World War II.
Speyer is an important regional retail center, and with tourism being the leading industry. The city contains electro technical industries, oil refineries, and manufactures metal, machinery, ships, aircraft, textiles, and chemicals. There are significant historic remains: The Old Gate, subterranean Jewish Baths, and the Baroque Trinity Church.
Jewish Courtyard and Museum
Most important today, we see the preparations for the funeral of Helmut Kohl, the former German Chancellor who died June 16, 2017.  Inside  the Speyer Cathedral, we see a memorial portrait and a condolence book with expressions of sympathy from the community, tourist, and leaders from around the world.

Chancellor Kohl’s funeral procession will begin in Strasbourg, France and be carried downstream on the Rhine river to the city of Speyer.  His funeral service will take place inside the cathedral and the burial service at the cemetery will be private.  Throughout the town, we see memorial black ribbons on flag poles in remembrance. He is credited for bringing East and West Germany together, helping to the create the Euro, and for some controversy during his political term, as well.  You can read more about his burial and service here.
Angela Merkel said,  "Without Helmut Kohl, the lives of millions of people who lived behind the Wall until 1990 would have been completely different - of course, my own as well. Dear Chancellor Kohl, you played a decisive role in the fact that I am standing here," Merkel said, her voice shaking slightly.
"Thank you for the chances you gave me. Thank you for the chances you gave to many others. Thank you for the chances that we as Germans and Europeans have because of you."


6/19/2017

Charismatic Bernkastel-Kues, Germany

Bernkastel-Kues is an attractive little twin town in the Moselle Valley, halfway between Cochem and Trier, Germany.  In the early 20th century, Bernkastel on the right bank was merged with Kues on the left bank along the Moselle River.

Our river ship, the River Queen set sail from Trier, on Sunday June 18, 2017, at 1:00p.m. and arrived in Bernkastel, Germany at 9:00p.m. and will remain in port overnight. We began Monday, June 19, 2017, with a village walking tour. Our guide, Marita is the daughter of a winemaker and she lives in the town of Kues, which is directly across the Moselle River from Bernkastel.
Looking across to Kues, Germany
She points out the old Roman fortress on top of a hill, overlooking both Bernkastel and Kues.  The half-timbered Spitzhausche - the town's most photographed building, was built in 1416. Its ground floor is much narrower than the upper floors, which gives it a wobbly looking. There are many medieval and historical things to see and know about Bernkastel-Kues, but the most important is  the renowned Moselle wine region and the most labor intensive steep vineyards in the world.
Quaint streets and charming Kernkastel street
Bernkastel has the steepest sloping vineyards in the Mosel’s winegrowing, with a nearly 50% grade.  It’s also prized for its “Bernkasteler Lay” soil; a slate and blue shale mixture that’s heavier than the soil dominating the surrounding areas. The region’s Bernkasteler Doktor vineyard, is so named because a sip of its Riesling supposedly cured the Archbishop of Trier from a life-threatening illness in the 13th century. And it is often considered to be the greatest vineyard in Germany. The vineyards are so steep that the vineyard workers operate a wired trolley system to transport grapes at harvest.

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.

6/18/2017

Christ's Holy Tunic: Trier, Germany

Trier lies in a valley between low vine-covered hills of red sandstone in the west of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, near the border with Luxembourg and within the important Moselle wine region. Uniworld's River Queen  docked overnight  near Trier Harbor, along the head of the Moselle river.  Where we begin on Sunday, June 18, 2017, with a city tour of  historic Trier.

As the oldest city in Germany, Trier blends the old and new history together seamlessly with the Moselle river.     Trier was the largest Roman settlement north of the Alps, and had no less than six emperors ruling this Roman City.   Remnants of the old Roman city still stand, and is designated as a UNESCO protected site. Other Roman remnants are the Amphitheater, the Imperial Bath, and Porta Nigra (the Black Gate).

The Porta Nigra is a large Roman city gate in Trier, Germany. It is today the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps.
We start our visit at the Basilica of Constantine, one of two basilicas built by Emperor Constantine in 306AD.  This church was destroyed in WWII, as was 40% of Trier. The other basilica is St. Peter’s Cathedral - home of the Holy Tunic, a sacred relic donated by Constantine’s mother, St. Helena.

On Friday of Easter Week, in 2012, Pope Benedict XVI’s special envoy Cardinal Marc Ouellet, presided over a ceremony opening the pilgrimage to the Holy Tunic, preserved in the Cathedral of Trier in Germany. The relic, piously believed to be the ‘seamless garment’ worn by Christ at the Passion, was exposed for the veneration of the faithful, for only the fourth time in the last hundred years. According to legend, the Holy Tunic was brought to Trier – at the time when Gaul was the capital.


Notably another important fact, Trier is the birthplace of Karl Marx.
The Karl Marx House museum is a writer’s house museum in Trier. In 1818, Karl Marx, the father of modern socialism and communism, was born in the house. It is now a museum about Karl Marx's life and writings.


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.



6/17/2017

The Grand Duchy: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

The River Queen arrives in Trier, Germany at 1:00p.m. on Saturday, June 17, 2017 and will remain in dock overnight. Where we will visit Luxembourg American Cemetery and also a walking tour of Trier, Germany - birthplace of Karl Marx.

Luxembourg is officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and is a landlocked country in western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. Its capital, Luxembourg City, is together with Brussels and Strasbourg one of the three official capitals of the European Union and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest juridical authority in the EU.

A grand duchy is a country or territory whose official head of state or ruler is a monarch bearing the title of grand duke or grand duchess.
Luxembourg is a fortified city designed by the military architect, Vauban, who designed most of Europe’s medieval walled cities.   The scant remains of Luxembourg’s walled city and subterranean tunnels are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The WWII Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial, lies just within the limits of Luxembourg City.  A 50-acre cemetery, established December 29, 1944 by George S. Patton, Third U.S. Army, which liberated Luxembourg.  More than 5,000 U.S. military men (no women) are buried here, many who were killed in the Battle of the Bulge, from December 1944 through January 1945. General Patton is also buried here after he was killed in a car accident after the war ended.  This cemetery is exactly like other American Cemeteries in Europe, all stones are white Liza marble, with engraved Christian crosses or Stars of David.   




6/16/2017

Half-Timbered Houses, Castles and Cobble Stone Streets: Cochem, Germany

Our boutique river ship arrives in Cochem early on June 16, 2017, and we begin with an 8:15a.m. walking tour of the village of Cochem and a shuttle ride up to Reichsburg Castle.

Cochem is situated between Trier and Koblenz along the Moselle river. Few towns in Germany can match its charm with its picturesque beauty. Offering legends, folklore and a rich medieval history - woven into every curlicue street. Situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty surrounded by high elevations, steep vineyards and storybook wine villages.

view of the village of Cochem from the Moselle with the Reichsburg Castle on the hilltop @Flickr
Cochem boasts some of the most enchanting sights along the 250Km stretch of the Moselle River wine region. There are more than 4000 wine makers,  and a population of only 5800 - an area once settled by the Celts,  nearly 2500 years ago.


St. Martin's Church in Ediger-Eller near Cochem where we listened to an organ concert


We set sail at 6:00p.m. for Trier, Germany & Luxembourg to arrive at 1:00p.m. Saturday, June 17, 2017.

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.



6/15/2017

The German Corner: Koblenz, Germany

Uniworld's boutique river ship the River Queen sailed overnight from Cologne, Germany reaching Koblenz, Germany at 8:a.m on Thursday, June 15, 2017. We are docked within walking distance of  the heart of Koblenz.  We  begin the morning with a leisurely walking tour into the heart of Koblenz. Koblenz – Germany’s most beautiful corner. We are met by  Homeira, nicknamed Mira, our tour guide, who was born in Afghanistan.  Her family re-located to Germany when the Russians invaded Afghanistan, in 1979.

Moment to Wilhelm the great, he was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was the eldest grandchild of the British Queen Victoria.
Koblenz is the second largest city in Rhineland-Palatinate. Known as a city of immigrants with 3500 refugees. A city that was 90% destroyed during WWII.    A  2000 year old medieval town that lies at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine rivers.  Where the waters of the Moselle meld with the Rhine as you stand on the speck of land called the German Corner.  There are flags from several countries along the promenade, known as the Rheinanlagen, including the U.S. flag, which was added after September 11, to show support to the USA and a protest to terrorism.
History Column
In one of the main squares in the city is the History Column, installed in 1993.  Starting at the bottom of the Column, in sequential layers, beginning with the Romans, are significant eras in the city’s history.

Today in Koblenz and in the total of Germany, it is an official holiday celebrating Corpus Christi. The day honors the Eucharist (Holy Communion, Lord's Supper), which is important in the Catholic church. Corpus Christi is a public holiday in some parts of Germany and is marked by parades for the blessed sacrament (in form of bread or wafers). We stop to watch the Priest perform the sacraments and deliver his blessing to all in the audience. 
Festivities Celebrating Corpus Christi

Our European river ship will stay in-port until 7:00p.m.  then all aboard for Alken, Germany and  onto Cochem, Germany.


6/14/2017

Cologne Cathedral: Cologne Germany


 

Uniworld’s River Queen departed Amsterdam at 1:00p.m. on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.  To begin our 24-hours of sailing, gliding southbound, on the Rhine River. At about 6:00a.m. we pass Dusseldorf, Germany and reach our destination of Cologne, Germany at 12 noon, on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. From the ship's sundeck, we begin to see Cologne Cathedral -  where the twin spires soar 157meters high.

Our ship docks on the banks of the Rhine and within walking distance of all to see-and-do in Cologne. We begin with a  guided-walking tour of  Old Town Cologne and with a visit to the Cologne Cathedral. Also know as, the High Cathedral of St. Peter, an iconic landmark, along with a self-guided tour in the Museum Ludwig.  The cathedral, in 1996 was named a UNESCO world heritage site, retains many original treasures.

The cathedral suffered fourteen hits by aerial bombs during the war. However, It did not collapse, but stood tall in an otherwise flattened city. The twin spires are said to have been used as an easily recognizable navigational landmark by Allied aircraft which may be a reason that the cathedral was not entirely destroyed.

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.

Our European river ship will stay in-port until 11:00p.m.  then all aboard for Koblenz, Germany.

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.

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


6/10/2017

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.


6/09/2017

Going Dutch: Handsome Amsterdam



 Good Morning Amsterdam!

Welcome to Amsterdam!  J. Christina team has arrived  and we're off to see  handsome Amsterdam - where we will stay for a few days prior to our European river cruise.   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.