Christine van Blokland – Full Interview

Embark on a thrilling journey with Christine van Blokland, the dynamic host of Curious Traveler, where every episode feels like a captivating session in Journalism 101. Picture exploring the wonders of Europe as Christine skillfully unravels the five “W’s” and “How?” while sprinkling in fascinating historical facts – a delightful blend of adventure and education. Former TV morning news reporter turned travel enthusiast, Christine brings a unique flair to PBS and Create TV, transforming your travel experience into an engaging getaway. Intrigued? Join us as we dive into Christine’s fascinating story – from her dream of creating a PBS show, to uncovering her favorite European gems and gathering valuable travel tips for fellow explorers.

Christine, what is the aim of your show?
To educate as well as entertain and that’s the fine balance I’m always challenging myself to get, because for me, my whole reason for starting the show is, I was an entertainment reporter and interviewed celebrities and did all the fun, perky stuff for many years and I really just got burnt out. I was like, “I’d like to use my brain now!” So, I think of Curious Traveler as a history show and we just we happen to go to where the history happened.

How did the show come about? How did you bring it to PBS?
It was always the dream. I have a journalism degree and when I was going to journalism school, at least where I went, there was no real encouragement to be a feature reporter or entertainment reporter. Which is funny now, because these days everybody’s a lifestyle blogger and that. That didn’t exist. I always knew I wanted to do the Charles Kuralt route.

How did the show come about? How did you bring it to PBS?
It was always the dream. I have a journalism degree and when I was going to journalism school, at least where I went, there was no real encouragement to be a feature reporter or entertainment reporter. I always knew I wanted to do the Charles Kuralt route. I remember seeing how Rick Steves started; I was like, “Gosh, that’s my dream, that’s my dream!” And my parents and grandparents have this European connection. I was like, “I really want to do this. I have a love for Europe; how do I do this?” I put together a pilot, a little three-minute thing, pitched it, learned that you have to write a 20-page treatment, but apparently I said all the right things. And Season One went on the air in 2015!

I love the Vienna episode; travel shows don’t often go to Vienna. You cover major European cities, which I like.
Vienna! One of the great things I really loved was it was all about the Habsburg Empire, which for the average travel, viewer, it may not just roll off the tongue. So for me, it was really fun to write about and try to write it still using [my] journalism skills, which is like – don’t lose your audience and don’t bog them down with too many details. For some people it is the first time to learn what this big empire was, so at least, my hope is that viewers aren’t just, “Oh, that’s a pretty place to go to.” We want to entice them to go, but I want to give people a deeper appreciation and a reason to want to get on a plane and spend money to go to Vienna or wherever you may go.

In each show, you literally ask questions like a journalist.
The five “W’s” plus the “H”, and I lay it all out right at the beginning and hopefully they’re intriguing and obscure enough to make somebody watch throughout the show. For me, the way I’ve memorized the order from journalism school was, “Who, What, Where, Why, When and How?” We were filming in Lucerne, Switzerland and we started off early for uninteresting reasons, because all the tourist sites are not as crowded. I’m trying to memorize the standup and all of a sudden I hear in the distance, “Who, What, Where, Why When, How?” And I looked up, it was the sweetest couple, they left their tour group and came over. The wife said, “My husband’s such a fan!” And I don’t even care if he knew my name, the fact that he went, “Who, What, Where, Why, When and How” – that’s awesome!

I saw CreateTV airing some early 2020 shows recently; what you did in 2020 and how did you deal with that? In 2020, late February, early March, we had just filmed in Austria and I’ll never forget it; we were flying back through Frankfurt and saw people with masks. And it was the first time we heard this thing like, “Covid? What is that?” We made it back but we’d only filmed half the season. We did not film again until 202. It’s like that tough thing, obviously you’re supposed to encourage people to stay home and I saw other travel shows going out and wearing masks, and I don’t think that sets the right example, so we just waited.

What’s next for the show?
Season Six just hit the air last month and in true journalist style, they’ve procrastinated a little, but I’m meeting my deadlines! But as the other ten have now hit the air, I’m still writing the other two. That part of it, which I don’t know if people know, I spend 80 percent of my time editing and fine-tuning in post production. People always think, “It must be so much fun to travel!” The traveling part is the short part of it and even that, I’m running around directing people. But Season Six just started airing and we’re thrilled about that.

Where do you go in Season Six?
We’ve got three episodes in Switzerland, three episodes in Estonia, which was awesome, because not a lot of people think to go to Estonia. We’ve got one in the Netherlands, which is a unique one, we chose to go and film some of the UNESCO sites, which was really cool. We have two in France, one was in Provence – hello, can I please retire there already? And three in Poland, which was also fascinating because I think the average American, maybe, only thinks of World War II Poland – bad, bad, bad. No, it’s a thriving, beautiful country, with all of the culture, all the historic sites, it’s wonderful.

For many of these shows we air, funding is often an issue, has that been hard for you as well? Like Peter Greenberg said in his interview, it’s always an issue.
Being a broadcast journalist for 10 or 15 years before this, I thought, “Oh my gosh, sales? How do I do that?” So I hired some sales people to do it and we’ve been fortunate with cruise lines and this is piggybacking off of what Peter Greenberg said; we have all these conversations about expectations, and we’ve actually been really lucky, we’ve had not had a sponsor who’s like, “We really want you to mention the name of the cruise ship.” They see the value of who the viewer is.

What’s your favorite place to travel to in the world? And what hotel do you like to stay in in that city?
The Castle Cottage Inn in Harlech, Wales, because I think Wales is so underrated. We filmed twice there. If you like England, it’s on those rolling hills like they have in Yorkshire, where it looks like a patchwork quilt of green, but Wales is just this wonderful, precious place. Thank goodness it’s still on the planet. It’s one of the rarest languages that’s still alive in the world. They’re trying very hard to preserve their language. It’s a mouthful and a half. I used to say the longest place in Wales, it’s a train station (says the name), it’s a tourist thing to do. The language is really unique and they consider themselves the original Britains and English people are Anglo-Saxons. It’s this wonderful cottage-type of feel.

What do you when you’re there?
It’s so tiny, it’s literally just the castle and a little café, so for me it’s a stop for the night as you’re seeing all the other castles and national parks throughout Wales.

Is there anything you learned through your show that you found interesting or maybe you didn’t?
I mentioned Vienna, and the Habsburg empire; the other thing is a wonderful running thread we filmed in Bergen, Norway and recently in Tallinn, Estonia. And I’ve learned all about the Hanseatic League, which was this medieval trading route; they were German merchants. I don’t know if you learned this in history, I don’t remember learning it in history class, but they were Germans that would go into countries and create their own cities that were German cities. And they would have little wooden walls around it and it was their city, so it was German property. And they would trade and make all this money, and it’s all across northern Europe. So when you go to a place like Tallinn, they don’t consider that an Estonian city, it’s a German city. But all of that wealth and growth happened because of that, and to me to be able to go and see it in person, it’s amazing. When I hear, maybe from grandparents, “I watch this with my grandkids,” I think that’s so cool! I know teachers have a very hard job trying to gets kids interested in things, I hope my show, my writing, gets people interested in obscure history.

Do you ever go to elementary schools and talk with students?
I would love to, the travel shows, I know ours is, are made available to all the public school systems. I would love too be able to get in touch with a public school. I get like Facebook emails from teachers once in a while, “For our humanities class, we used this episode.” I’m like, “Oh, that warms my heart. That makes me so happy!” But I would love to go in and meet the kids and come up with projects and get them

How did your path to being a travel host come about? Were you a big traveler before creating this show?

Not as much as I would have liked. I was born in Scotland, my father is English, my mother is American, but I grew up in the U.S. When I was a teenager, my father was working in Africa, we went over there and, then, in between high school and college you got six humanities credits for travelling across Europe, towards your freshman year. I did that and I thought it was amazing. But after that, I think I just got busy being a journalist and put that dream on the backburner. After a while…“I’ve done this as much as I want to do this, how do I do the next thing!” (laughs)

Do you ever get tired of talking about travel?
No. In fact I’d love to be able to travel more and talk about it more. We’re doing a partnership with a small tour company, so we’re starting to sell “Curious Travel Tours,” and I’m excited about that. This is the first year that we’re doing it and it’s inspired by my shows, but I’m going to actually go on the tour with the group. For me, that’s going to be a dream. So I’m going to be hanging out with fellow travel lovers.

Any tips for someone who is afraid to travel, to travel in general, or travelling now?
I’m so glad you asked that. Whether it’s a solo female traveler, which I know sometimes people get scared about, or large groups, it all seems so intimidating maybe at first. But just remember, wherever you pick on the planet – wherever you’re going, people are living their everyday lives there. They’re going to work, they’re going to the grocery store, they’re taking their kids to school, so it’s not this foreign scary place that’s so different from where you are. For the most, if someone’s never [traveled] before they’re probably going to choose something easy, like Europe where most people speak English. Especially in the capital cities, when you go to your hotel, you’re going to be fine. Don’t try going backpacking with no cell phone in some place where you don’t know where you’re going. But if you’re going to start off in Europe, it’s easier than you think and don’t worry so much, somebody else has done it before. (laughs)

Do you get feedback about how your show educates viewers or takes them around the world and away from their day-to-day lives for a bit?
Yes! The greatest compliment in the world is, gosh and it’s really, really sweet. Over the years, I have some loyal viewers and they’ll say, “Oh Christine when you did that episode in Sweden, my great grandparents are from a town nearby there, and we’ve always wanted to go.” Just the detail, sometimes the details people will recall, “Oh, I never knew on that statue there was a golden shoelace” or whatever it is (laughs). It’s just nice to know they’re actually paying attention. But yeah. people are bonding with me – hey we’re all fellow travelers here, this is my connection to that place.

What’s your typical day when you aren’t filming the show?
For all those years of being a morning feature reporter I’m still a morning person. Right now in post production, I’m usually writing and editing for about six hours a day until my back hurts and I’m like “I can’t do this anymore, I’m going to go for a run in Central Park”. Then when we’re in pre-production, it’s a lot of Zoom calls and planning and writing. When we’re filming, I try to keep our shoot day between 8 and 6, with a lunch break in there.

I ask this for the PBS chefs we interview – what is your favorite place to eat at in Los Angeles?
I lived there in the Miracle Mile. Craig’s, the place owned by George Clooney. This is going to sound like a ridiculous story, but I swear it’s all true. I flew to L.A. because we were fortunate to be nominated for The Emmys®. My friend said, “I’m going to take you to this place.” We were sitting next to not just one Kardashian but all the Kardashians, which is so ridiculous and Melanie Griffith came there to visit with the mom or something and the next day Bruce Jenner announced that he was Caitlyn.  How’s that for a random story? That all happened in that restaurant in Los Angeles; and I got some vegan thing.

Do you ever just pinch yourself because you get to travel for a living and educate people through your travel?
Yes, that part of it is great. But I always want to tell people, because people get to this position in different ways, I always want people to know, not that I’m a martyr, but, I did the hard work. I had to create it, I had to pitch it, I’m still doing the hard work. It’s not like I went on an audition and suddenly I’m a TV star (laughs). But when I get the feedback and were done with the season, and I’m like, “Oh, that’s great.” It makes me so happy when people enjoy it.

Do you have any favorite PBS shows you enjoy watching, that take you away from day to day life?
I was such a purist about “All Creatures Great and Small,” because I read all the books, I watched the original version, I was like, “There is no way I’m going to like the new one!”

I love the new one. The other one I love is “Miss Scarlet and the Duke.” This is such an obscure one, do you know Penelope Keith?
Yes, she does “Hidden Villages.”

That’s the one! That’s obscure one that I love, I live for that. And I actually made my editors watch that. I said, “This is the pacing I want for my show,” (laughs) because they were all used to doing ESPN and sports stuff, I was like, “Watch this! This is what we want to do.” (laughs)

Is there anything you would like to add before we wrap up?
I hope that I reach that nice balance between – I say it’s a history lesson cleverly wrapped in a beautiful travel show. I hope I hit the right balance between educational and entertainment. And, watch it; you’ll learn something!

Curious Traveler season six will begin airing Saturday, March 2, 2024 at 6:30 PM on KLCS. Visit: for a complete listing of air dates/times. KLCS Members can stream past seasons on-demand on KLCS|Passport; visit You can learn more about the show on the Curious Traveler website:, or follow Christine van Blokland on social media: Instagram (@curioustravelertv) or Facebook (@CuriousTravelerTV).

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