About PJ

PJ Adams is a psychotherapist and best selling author who splits her time between California and Europe. She enjoys learning French and writing about travel, self help, and other topics. Follow her on Twitter @PJAdams10Facebook, YouTube.

For more information on Meandering Trail Media or PJ Adams Books OR to schedule an interview or book signing, contact: Info@pjadamsbooks.com OR John Birkhead, PR Director, john.birkhead@pjadamsbooks.com,  +1 (760) 707-2577, Fax +1 949-258-8693.

See our France books trailer HERE

See the Intoxicating Greater Paris: Loire book trailer HERE. 

 

See the Intoxicating Southern France book trailer HERE 

See the Intoxicating Paris book trailer HERE     

         

Index of postings

This form does not yet contain any fields.
    PJ Adams

    PJ Adams is a psychotherapist and author in California.

    This area does not yet contain any content.
    Saturday
    Dec092017

    AMA Waterways Christmas Cruise 2017

    The waves rippled gently against the bow of our elegant ship as we sailed from Hungary to Germany along the azure Danube. From my French-balconied AMA Serena cabin, Rachmaninoff played softly in the background. I couldn’t resist snapping image after image of the romantic countryside on this magical Danube voyage over seven days this November.

    I felt like I had entered a fantasy novel. In reality, I was sailing along in the flesh, feeling the wind on my face and a Christmas song in my heart! 

    AMA Waterways, my host for a week just before Christmas, is one of the premiere river cruise purveyors. Their routes across the globe include France, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Africa, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Africa. For our journey, AMA delighted 19 of us from my local town in California who boarded the AMA Serena along with 100 or so others for a Christmas Markets cruise up the Danube. We added some extra excursions to pretty Budapest and grand Prague at either end of the cruise.

    We were all primarily English speakers. That is except for a delightful Puerto Rican group of 30 or so who were escaping hurricane devastation. Their spirited camaraderie contributed substantially to the festive spirit onboard.  

    If you haven’t taken a river cruise, you might be amazed at the lyrical way a floating hotel can provide the best in elegant cuisine, exhilarating off-boat excursions, and quirky on-board entertainment. But there’s a lot of work happening behind the scenes to make all this merriment a reality. 

    I discovered there are three key entities aboard a cruise ship that make a voyage like this possible. First is the Cruise Director. He or she manages all on-board and off-board activities for passengers.

    Our AMA Serena Cruise Director was a gregarious Brit named John Riley. He made sure our days and nights were filled with nightly entertainment and daily excursions to legendary locales like Budapest (goulash central), Vienna (home to Mozart and fine waltzes), and Salzburg (of Sound of Music fame). A fine master of ceremonies, John even orchestrated an on-board Christmas extravaganza that featured tree decorating, holiday entertainment by the crew, and a visit from Father Christmas himself.

    Observing John coordinate multiple walking guides in a half dozen towns for us guests who chose to participate, as well as oversee all aspects of the cruise from guest fly in to fly out, was truly amazing. I found AMA Waterways to be particularly accommodating to the needs of passengers who chose less activity for a variety of reasons, including disability or the simple desire to stay on board and enjoy the AMA Serena’s offerings.

    A second critical onboard group is helmed by the Hotel Manager. We were lucky to have Zoran Gajanovic, formerly of Viking and Disney cruises, who oversaw the accommodations, food and beverage service, and general hotel staff who provided impeccable service and delicious food and drink to us in several venues. 

    It is no small task to manage a cruise ship of this size. The AMA Serena herself is a spacious vessel, modeled on a classic ocean yacht. She has 84 suites and staterooms accommodating 160+ passengers. We had the run of the ship, which included the upper Sun Deck complete with heated pool and canopied loungers offering us unfettered views of the beautiful countryside. With the Sun Deck’s walking track and heated swimming pool, a fitness room, and a fleet of onboard bicycles to use on our own or on one of the many guided bike tours, we had everything we needed to work off those extra Christmas pounds. Some of us also took advantage of the massages, hair salon, and the onboard gift shop opportunities as well. 

    The third and perhaps most important element of the AMA Serena staff was Captain Henk Klos and his burly crew who guided us expertly from Hungary to Germany.

    Captain Henk, who told me he was actually born on a vessel in his native Amsterdam, helmed our ship from Budapest to Nuremberg in true nautical style. I was fascinated by the AMA Serena’s progress up the Danube and managed to take videos of the crew showing how they helm the ship as she progresses through a series of locks along the winding river. 

    But I haven’t mentioned food yet! The AMA Serena offered a variety of choices for our dining pleasure. These included La-Chaîne-des- Rôtisseurs-level international cuisine in the general dining areas, a multi-course Chef’s Table tasting menu at the rear of the ship, and continuous food and beverage service in the handsome main lounge areas.

    But I can’t forget about the Christmas Markets! The cruise featured a holiday theme centered around Christmas Markets enticing us across four countries. In Hungary, we sampled tasty Hungarian goulash and Gluhwein (mulled wine) that Budapest is famous for, as well as loaded up on pretty ornaments, knitwear, and holiday treats available at the markets. 

    In Salzburg, home to all things Sound of Music, and Vienna, the heartland of waltz, we enjoyed dozens of Christmas Markets with specialty foods including Vienna sausages, strudel, schnitzel, sauerkraut, and bake goods and cookies unique to the areas. During our stops in various German locales including Regensberg and Nuremberg, we enjoyed German nibbles like Würstchen (sausages), fondue, and Christmas Punch.

    Our final stop was Prague in the Czech Republic. This old/new city has sophisticated people, bustling commerce, and fascinating cuisine. It delighted us with its ancient enclaves, Jewish Quarter, palace, lovely Vltava River, and sophisticated shopping streets that rival the Champs Élysée in Paris.

    But we couldn’t stay on board forever—although many of us would have liked to. Our Christmas cruise drew to a close on a fine holiday note with Christmas songs sung by the crew, a festive Captain’s Gala, and even a visit from you-know-who who brought every last one of us a present (and a hug)! 

    Thus if you find yourself fantasizing about a river cruise somewhere on this big blue marble we live on—no matter what time of year it is—I can highly recommend AMA Waterways at https://www.amawaterways.com. They have a way of making dreams—and fantasies—come true.

    Happy Holidays! For videos of our cruise, click on the following links:

    AMA Waterways Budapest Illuminations Cruise 2017

    AMA Serena Navigates the Misty Danube

    AMA Serena in Lock @Hilpoltstein Germany

    AMA Serena Crew Sings Jingle Bells

    Thursday
    Jul272017

    Brit Bite #3: Adventures in Wonderful & Weird England

    Who Knew Shakespeare was Hip? William Shakespeare is not only the best-selling fiction author of all time (estimated 4 billion copies of work sold). He may also have the face and name that shows up in more product placements than Mickey Mouse. 

    Shakespeare’s birthplace, marriage home, and surrounding buildings are now a Disney-like compound in Stratford-Upon-Avon that could rival Legoland. Characters tell his story of birth, upbringing, marriage, creative genius, death, and ongoing presentation at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s digs just down the street on the Avon River. 

    But Shakespeare hasn’t lost his panache over time one bit. For example, Shakespeare is now LA-hip on a variety of clothing and jewelry products. And why not? His thinning hairline is rad. His moustache makes him kissably cool. And his Elizabethan-swagger is right in keeping with our Kardashian-flavored times.

    Shakespeare is also “into” modern-day bubbly wine, as well as whites and reds. He well knew the power of wine when he wrote, “Your lips are like wine and I want to get drunk.” Or “the wine cup is the little silver well, where truth, if truth there be, doth dwell.” (He probably sipped on a goblet or two as he penned his plays.)

    Shakespeare would probably love how his wine influence has effervesced over the centuries. He’s on vintages, corks, coasters, wine paraphernalia, wine clothing, wine hats, wine glasses, and even wine corks masquerading as thumb drives.

    In Stratford-Upon-Avon, they sell a nice variety of Shakespeare wines. Among them are a sparkling bubbly and a decent red. I can hear him now, in the back of the Garrick Inn, sipping a bit of red and whispering to his companions: “Yo. Good company, good wine, good welcome, can make good people.”

    And of course Shakespeare shows up in a myriad of other products like books, bookends, posters, busts, platters, drapes, pillows, rugs, wall hangings, games, toys, masks, Halloween costumes, coloring books, and even fishing rods just to name a few.

    Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg eat your heart out. You’ll never overtake this guy. (At least for a few hundred years.)

    Sunday
    Jul232017

    Brit Bite #2: Adventures in Wonderful & Weird England

    It’s Ostrich for Lunch. Brits eat all kinds of “strange” things from my view: black pudding (made with blood), marmite, ice cream with jelly, chip butties (French fry sandwiches), mushy peas, fish in newspaper, scotch eggs, Yorkshire Pudding (that’s neither pudding or edible with a spoon), and haggis (sheep stomach mash).

    But I never knew they relished ostrich.

    These fine-feathered birds that stand nine feet tall on average, apparently make fine burgers—and even hot dogs!

    But I passed.

    I went with the traditional fish and chips instead. My fish hung off the platter like a whale, mind you, but it was actually very tasty. The chips and beer weren’t bad either. 

    I’m also always amazed at how much food is on the plate of a traditional English breakfast. It often includes eggs, sausage, mushrooms, ham, baked beans, chips, and fried tomatoes—all slathered in HP sauce and washed down with pots and pots of tea. A mere 800-1000 calories.

    But who’s counting.

     

    Sunday
    Jul232017

    Brit Bite #1: Adventures in Wonderful & Weird England

    Don't Mess With the Swans. Cambridge, England is a university ciy and official capital of Cambridgeshire located on the Cam River. It's approximately 50 miles (80 km) north of London.

    Famed for educating more than 30,000 students a year, it also offers some fine tourism. Among these is "punting" on flat gondolas called "punts" that go up and down the Cam River. You can either hire a "punter" to helm your punt or sail it yourself.

    A word of advice, however. When you’re punting with a family of kids, avoid running over a swan family of 10. Papa Swan will nip you in the punt…and possibly go after your pesky children trying to smack him in the head with an oar.

    On the other hand when you're punting with your sweetie (and have left the kids at home), don't forget to take champagne. Oh, and be sure your “punter” is a PhD Shakespeare scholar with whom you can have a literary conversation and probe for possibilities as a son-in-law.  

     

    Thursday
    Jun012017

    England 2017 Here We Come

    England 2017. Before returning to France in the fall, I decided a summer trip to “the green and pleasant land” of England was in order. I spent some of my time as a student in London, and ventured out to the countryside whenever possible. So this upcoming visit will give me the opportunity to revisit some of my pastoral favorites, as well as my London haunts. My journey begins in the countryside. On the agenda: Cambridge, Stratford, Glastonbury, Bath, the Cotswolds, and time permitting, Stonehenge. 

    First Stop Cambridge. Cambridge is a city on the River Cam in eastern England. It’s home to the prestigious University of Cambridge, dating to 1209. University colleges include King’s, famed for its choir and towering Gothic chapel, as well as Trinity, founded by Henry VIII, and St John’s, with its 16th-century Great Gate.  Here, the Cam River wends through the campuses—and punting (boating) on a flat riverboat propelled by a “punter” is a must. (If you’ve been to Venice, this is England’s version of a gondola.)  The End House B&B will be my abode in this university enclave. From here, I can wander through the colleges, and stroll downtown for shopping, high tea, and some pub visits. I’ll most certainly stop by Fitzbillies for some world famous Chelsea Buns, the best cinnamon buns in England. A few hours at the Imperial War Museum in  Duxford is also on the schedule. This fantastic military exhibition specializes in UK and US military aircraft like the Douglas C-47 Skytrains my uncles jumped out of as young WWII soldiers when they landed on the Normandy Beaches in northern France nearby. 

    Next Stop Stratford-Upon-Avon. Shakespeare, the Bard, was my long time companion throughout my college years—or at least his writing was! As an English Lit undergrad, I spent four years with my nose buried in Shakespearean plays and poetry by the likes of Byron, Keats, and Shelly. Woodstock Guest House, a pretty cottage covered in English roses and petunias, will be my next accommodation. It’s just a stone’s throw from the Swan Theatre where I’ll be seeing a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Vice Versa. (And I can walk to it. From my B&B! So a stop at a pub on the way--and perhaps after--will be de rigueur. Sorry for the French.) I’ll probably revisit Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shakespeare’s grave at the Holy Trinity Church and commune with the literary muses as I begin my next book.

    I’ll also stop in at Warwick Castle, a stupendous medieval fortification built by William the Conqueror—who was in fact French (in case you forgot). I’ll also wander Stratford, probably lunching at my favorite hotel, The Shakespeare, where I did some business in the 90’s. From there, I’ll meander the rolling hills and adorable villages of the Cotswolds—which are straight out of a Jane Austin novel.

    Roman ruins and healing waters in Bath. I’ll next make my way to Bath. Bath is not only home to the only Roman Baths in England, but it’s a Regency-period darling. That is, this charming “R&R” town became the hot spot during the Regency period (1795-1837) for nobles and rich merchant families who “took the waters” and hobnobbed with the social elites. Many of their mansions and summer homes remain to this day. Three Abbey Green—a spectacular 1689 B&B shaded by a giant English Oak—will be home for the weekend. I’m particularly looking forward to a classic English High Tea at the Bath Priory, a grand 1835 Georgian manor on 4 acres of gardens. Our tea will no doubt include cucumber sandwiches, petite fours, scones with jam and clotted cream, and plenty of tea. (And perhaps a glass or two of champagne). 

    In town, I look forward to viewing the baths again (where I took my mother some years ago) and ending up in the Pump Room Tea Room. Here we’ll actually drink a little of the famous waters of Bath. And of course we’ll have more tea (but I may be ready for a latté by then). A drive through ethereal Glastonbury and a climb up the famous Tor (tower) are on the itinerary as we head back to London via Stonehenge. I first visited Stonehenge some years ago when visitors could still touch the stones. Alas, no more. It’s roped off now like a crime scene, keeping visitors at a circumspect distance.

    Final stop, London—and memories of my flower-child youth. As a student I had the good fortune to spend a summer at the London School of Economics (LSE) about the time former alumni Mick Jagger was making his first millions as a rock star. (We both studied in the LSE’s Shaw Library. But I suspect Mick was  working on lyrics to Satisfaction rather than writing a scholarly treatise.) Of course I will wander by the LSE this trip and go by the Lincoln’s Inn Field Law enclave nearby. I trekked past all the “solicitors” (lawyers) each day during my college summer because I had to cross through Lincoln’s Inn to get from my LSE dorm to the campus. By the way, when I first moved into the dorm, I was astounded to find they had a pub in the basement! (Beer on tap was a big temptation.) 

    This time, no dorm room for me. Instead I will be the guest of the famous Savoy Hotel, the icon of hostelry on the Strand near Covent Garden. From here, friends and I will be seeing the royal sights like Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the Crown Jewels, Houses of Parliament, the British Museum, the London EYE, and much more. Naturally I’ll be popping in for some shopping at Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason. (I may skip Harrods as I was there the Christmas before last).

    We will also take in three plays at these famous London theatres: the Royal Haymarket, the Duchess, and  Shakespeare’s Globe where we’ll sit on old style benches as in Shakespeare’s Day (shown). (The good news is I rented cushions for all of us at £5 a piece. I’m tempted to make a cheeky comment about my grateful derriere, but I will demur.) 

    Dining will be everything from pub food like fish and chips with malt vinegar to Indian bhajis to high-end dining at the Mandarin Oriental. At the Mandarin we’ll enjoy Dinner by Heston, which is a two-Michelin-star experience. I will also stop in to my beloved Rules for at least an after dinner drink; Rules, you may or may not know, is the oldest restaurant in London. It’s also the place where Q dines in the James Bond movies. 

    Finally, I’m looking forward to three stellar experiences at the Savoy Hotel itself: High Tea, Beef Wellington at the Savoy Grill (now helmed by Gordon Ramsay), and jazz in the Thames Foyer as the pièce de résistance of my trip.

    I’ll post photos and stories along the way on Facebook and Twitter of this extraordinary adventure. And I hope to build relationships with my old and new pals as I research a new book. Cheers!