19-20 June 2018:
Saint-Malo, France:
The Old World to the New World

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

This little place has a story of its own, as well as a firm hold on pieces of European, North American, and South American history.

Jacques Cartier was born in Saint-Malo in 1491, and sailed up what is now the Saint Lawrence River in Canada to the eventual sites of Quebec City and Montreal in 1534 and on two later voyages.

We arrived late yesterday afternoon under glorious blue skies. This morning , though, the fog was there to greet us and stayed most of the day.

But we had the time to stroll the ramparts of the old city and the fog helped reinforce the feeling of history, especially the connection between this place and New France. Much of Saint-Malo looks and feels like Quebec City on the other side of the pond, which makes complete sense.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved.

Also from Saint Malo were the first colonists to settle the Falkland Islands off of Argentine.

French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville founded the islands’ first settlement in 1764, naming them after the port of Saint-Malo which had been the point of departure for his ships.

And so the French called the islands, “Les Îles Malouines.”

The name “Falkland” was applied to the channel between the two main islands by John Strong, captain of an English expedition which landed on the islands in 1690.  Strong named the strait in honor of the financier of his voyage, Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount of Falkland, the Treasurer of the Navy.

The British stay with the name Falklands. The Argentinians use their version of Îles Malouines, in Spanish, “Islas Malvinas.”

The Cathedral at Saint-Malo, and the sepulchre of Jacques Cartier. All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

About 45 minutes away is the beautifully-preserved walled town of Dinan, mostly undamaged by war and time.

The medieval town on the hilltop has many fine old buildings, some of which date from the 13th century. The town retains a large section of the city walls, part of which can be walked.

The Romanesque 12th-century Basilica Saint Sauveur, which contains a crypt with the heart of Bertrand de Guesclin, a locally-revered, 14th-century knight.

Dinan. All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

One of the iconic sights of the world is Le Mont-Saint-Michel, an island commune in Normandy, about an hour’s drive from Saint-Malo.

Mont-Saint-Michel, less than a kilometer or half a mile off the coast, cut off from the mainland by high tide (although a modern causeway sits just above the water level.)

The town of Mont-Saint-Michel embodies feudal society: on top, God and the abbey and monastery. Below, the great halls of the nobility. And at the bottom, outside the walls: homes for fishermen and farmers.

Today, though, it is open to assault by tourists.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

18 June 2018:
Belle-Ile, France:
A Beautiful Island, Indeed

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Belle-Ile-en-Mer.

Beautiful Island in the Sea.

And that it is.

“La bien nommée”, aptly named.

At the island’s main town of Le Palais, the first thing you’ll notice is the star-shaped Citadelle Vauban, which was built by the famous French military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban in the 18th century.

It was called by some, “The Battleship of the Atlantic.”

The fort now houses a luxury hotel-restaurant, a peaceable repurposing.

On this trip I went with guests to the spectacular Port Coton, a geological formation that was an inspiration for Claude Monet and many other great impressionist painters. Here’s what we saw in the afternoon light:

We also made a visit to the private garden of an accomplished landscaper and botanist on the island. He has made a paradise on the earth of Belle-Ile-en-Mer:

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved,

THE DIVINE SARAH

It is said that within an hour after first setting foot on Belle-Ile-en-Mer in August 1894, Sarah Bernhardt purchased an abandoned fort on the cliff top at La Pointe des Poulins.

Bernhardt was 50 years old at the time, still active in her career. She would spend parts of her last thirty years there.

Bernhardt ended up creating a compound for friends and family, which she called her “menagerie.”

Scenes from Bell-Ile, including part of Sarah Bernhardt’s home. All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Belle-Ile, Brittany’s largest island, lies about 9 miles or 15 kilometers off the coast of Morbihan.

It is a place of beautiful beaches—about 60 of them, spectacular craggy coastline, and a lovely pastoral interior.

About 5,000 people live there year-round; over the course of a summer about 50,000 come to visit.

A menagerie, indeed.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

17 June 2018:
La Rochelle, France:
At the Nexus of History

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

La Rochelle is not the first city of France, nor the second or even third or fourth.

But the city, population 80,000 today, has seen more than its share of history over time.

Ancient Celtic and Gallic peoples, the Romans, the Franks, the French, the Germans, the Americans.

Today it includes some lovely sights and interesting places to visit, and it is one of the most visited cities for tourists in the country.

This ancient area was the home of Eleanor of Aquitaine, as well as at the center of the Wars of Religion that pitted Catholics against Protestants of various stripes, including the Huegenots.

Much of the city’s trading economy was devastated in the Wars of Religion.

After the wars, though, La Rochelle became a base for trade with the New World, this time to Nouvelle France in Canada—today’s Quebec and the Maritime provinces, as well as the Antilles in the Caribbean.

On this visit, Silver Wind docked at the nearby commercial port of La Pallice. I went with guests on a tour first to the beautiful Ile de Ré, a barrier island just offshore, connected to Europe by a 2-kilometer causeway bridge.

It was a quiet Sunday on the resort island, but the grand market was open. The oysters, fish, and vegetables were displayed with typical French style.

ILE DE RÉ

LA ROCHELLE

We then continued to the city of La Rochelle, a nearly intact Middle Ages port. The inner harbor is closed off by a set of towers; at various times in history a chain was stretched across the narrow mouth to block invaders and pirates.

I also visited the Saint-Saveur church in town, admiring several centuries-old ex votos left there by sailors, many of whom departed from here for New France, now Canada.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

15-16 June 2018:
Bordeaux, France:
Les Grand Voiliers for a Two-day Taste

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Victor Hugo said, “Take Versailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux.”

That’s a pretty good lineage, especially when you mix in Bordeaux wine, Bordelaise sauce, and a handsome mix of architecture and culture.

Even better, we are here overnight. Party on!

LES GRAND VOILIERS

It was a gray and gloomy Friday in glorious Bordeaux, but not to mind: we arrived in the heart of the Bordeaux-Fête-le-Vin, the wine festival of wine country in a wine-obsessed country. Wine tastings, gourmet food carts, fireworks, and a collection of about 20 Grand Voiliers, Tall Ships.

All photos by Corey Sandler 2018, all rights reserved.

I spend the day exploring with my camera, concentrating on a pair of beauties: first the Kruzenshtern, the second-largest tall ship afloat. It was built in 1926 by the Germans a s a cargo vessel and was taken by the Soviet Union in war reparations in 1946.

She is a four-masted barque of 114 meters length (or 374 feet) now operated by the Russian Navy from a base in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave carved out of a piece of Baltic coastline. The ship has a black hull with a broad white stripe down its length that is broken by black rectangles; from a distance they look like gun ports, but they are just for show. Which says something about something.

And the second object of my attention was INS Tarangi, the pearl of the Indian Navy. She is a more modern vessel, built in 1997 as a sail training vessel. Square-rigged on the fore and main masts and fore-and-aft rigged on the mizzen mast.

Her name means “waves” in Hindi, and she is almost constantly in service in training or races around the world. She left India in April and will be in Norway in July, where those of us on Silver Wind just may have the opportunity to see her again. I hope so.

SLEEPING BEAUTY

Bordeaux’s nicknames include “La perle d’Aquitaine” (The Pearl of Aquitaine), and “La Belle Endormie” (Sleeping Beauty).

That second name referred to the pollution-blackened walls of the old town center; the walls have now been cleaned and the pearl shines most everywhere.

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

I will leave the fine points of oenology to the wine experts and our sommeliers aboard ship. Not that I don’t enjoy an occasional glass of wine. But it’s not my specialty.

I’ll just say that this region produces what some say are the best cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes and wine, as well as some other varieties.

Grapes were introduced to the region by the Romans, probably in the 1st century. They liked what they got, and it has been a constant ever since.

Bordeaux now has about 116,160 hectares (287,000 acres) of vineyards. There are about 10,000 wine-producing chateaux, and 13,000 grape growers and amongst them they produce about 960 million bottles per year.

Bordeaux produces large quantities of vin ordinaire or table wine, as well as some of the most expensive wines in the world.

The fancy stuff mostly come from the region’s five premier cru  (first growth) red wines (four from Médoc and one, Château Haut-Brion, from Graves.

We shall conduct tastings and report back, if we can read our notes in the morning.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

14 June 2018:
Bilbao, Spain:
Ancient Peoples, Modern Art

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

After a relaxing day at sea across the top of northern Spain, we have arrived at Bilbao.

The city is on the northern coast of the Iberian Peninsula about 19 kilometers or 12 miles from the Bay of Biscay, the largest municipality of the autonomous community of the Basque Country.

Depending on your political point of view, that makes it either a part of Spain…or a place within Spain. It is an issue that remains highly contentious in (or within) the country’s various regions.

It is believed the Basques are the distant descendants of some of the earliest inhabitants of Western Europe. Genetic studies indicate Basque tribes predated the arrival of planned agriculture in the Iberian Peninsula, about 7,000 years ago.

Today, Bilbao is most known for its museum centerpiece: the Guggenheim Bilbao, designed by architect Frank Gehry and opened in 1997.

Built alongside the Nervion River, which runs through the city of Bilbao, it is one of several museums belonging to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

It features permanent and visiting exhibits of modern art works by Spanish and international artists.

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All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The museum came about because of an effort by the autonomous Basque government to have a rebirth of the city’s decrepit port area.

In 1981, the government offered to fund a Guggenheim museum, covering the $100 million U.S. cost of construction, a $50 million acquisitions fund, and to subsidize the annual budget.

Not a bad deal if you’re a foundation looking to add a new museum to your collection.

Now, I realize I am somewhat out of the mainstream in my appraisal, but for what it is worth: I am not a fan of Frank Gehry.

His buildings, to me, always look like the aftermath of some terrible industrial accident.

But the Guggenheim Bilbao, to me, is among his better works.

And the glories of Bilbao are reflected in its metallic shell.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

12 June 2018:
La Coruna, Spain:
Seeking Enlightenment

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We have crossed the border from Portugal into Spain, and many Spaniards call this interesting, somewhat remote port La Coruña.

But we are also in the autonomous community of Galicia, and there the official name of the port is A Coruña.

If you want to venture into the obscure, the English called the place Corunna and you will see some reference to that name in history books.

And if you want to go from the obscure to the archaic, then let’s throw in The Groyne.

You can’t go wrong with any of the first three.

La Coruña is sometimes called “The Crystal City.” That nickname is derived from its many galerías, or glazed window balconies, said to have been adopted from the windowed stern of warships.

They help bring a lot of light into the homes here, in a place where the sun regularly seems to be absent. Here are some photos I took today in grey Galicia.

All photos by Corey Sandler 2018, all rights reserved.

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

About an hour away from La Coruña is the city of Santiago de Compostela, a handsome place that had its origin in the establishment of the shrine of Saint James the Great, now the city’s cathedral.

The shrine was the destination of the Way of St. James, a leading Catholic pilgrimage route begun in the 9th century.

According to legend, the remains of the apostle James were brought to Galicia for burial.

In 813, according to medieval legend, the light of a bright star guided a shepherd to the burial site. The shepherd quickly reported his discovery to the bishop, who declared that the remains were those of the apostle James and immediately notified King Alfonso II in Oviedo.

To honor St. James, the cathedral was built on the spot where his remains were said to have been found.

The story ties in with one possible explanation for the name Compostela, which would be from the Latin Campus Stellae, “field of the star.”

Modern scholars think the name may have a less lofty origin, from the Latin, composita tella, “burial ground.”

The Way of Saint James, the Camino de Santiago, has seen a resurgence in recent decades

And today tens of thousands of people make the pilgrimage each year.

You are supposed to start from your own doorstep, although many follow a path from the French border.

That trip is about 800 kilometers or 500 miles, and the trip usually requires about one month.

Some people make the pilgrimage in a single trip, while others perform portions of it stretched over several years.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

11 June 2018:
Oporto, Portugal:
Sweet Forgiveness

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Porto is not the most famous place in Portugal, unless you have a particular affinity for a particular form of liquefied grape.

Porto is, literally, the Second City of Portugal, its second-most-populous place with 1.8 million people in the metropolitan area.

Porto (also known as Oporto) has always been a mercantile city, and this is evident in the style of the buildings lining the Avenida dos Aliados, the core of the downtown area.

The center of town, unlike other major Portuguese cities, which tend towards the baroque, is granite and monumental.

Lisbon is the grand city of palaces and monasteries and monuments and a metropolitan population of about 2.8 million.

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Porto is instead a place of broad shoulders and hard work, in some ways the economic heart of the country.

But it is the home of a form of liquid gold. The reaches of the valley of the Douro River have a microclimate that is optimal for cultivation of olives, almonds, and especially grapes.

Douro may come from ancient Celtic tribes, for whom the word meant water. In Roman times, the river was personified as the god Durius.

Or, and this definition is much preferred by modern Portuguese (especially in the tourist bureau), the name may mean “River of Gold”, as in Rio do ouro.

The most famous of the wines is Vinho do Porto, a fortified wine, typically a sweet red wine although there are also dry, semi-dry, and white varieties.

Port wine is fortified by the addition of a neutral grape spirit known as aguardente in order to stop the fermentation, leaving residual sugar in the wine, and to boost the alcohol content, usually to about 19 to 23 percent.

The wine is then stored and aged, often in barrels stored in a cave (pronounced “cahv”) before being taken from that storage cellar to be bottled.

The Douro valley was defined as a protected region for winemaking, an appellation, in 1756, making it by some measures the oldest defined and protected wine region in the world.

Over a hundred varieties of grapes are sanctioned for port production, although only five are widely cultivated and used.

We’ll raise a toast with a few after dinner tonight.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

10 June 2018:
Lisbon, Portugal:
The All-Glories Tour Commences

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We’re back in Lisbon after a short break.

Welcome aboard for the start of a cruise that begins in the warmth of Portugal, Spain, and France and concludes with a glorious procession up the River Thames and through the London Tower Bridge.

We are embarking on Silver Wind, the smallest and most intimate ship of the Silversea cruise fleet. We have no rock-climbing wall, no water slide, no indoor ice capade arena, no seven-deck atrium with neon lava lamps. Just fine food, a small amount of fine company, a great crew, and luxury. If that’s what you’re looking for, this is a fine example.

Here’s our plan. I hope you’ll join me here in these pages.

We came to Lisbon ahead of the ship and worked off a bit of jetlag with a visit to the spectacular Calouste Gulbenkian Museum.

Calouste Gulbenkian was born in Turkey of Armenian heritage, and amassed a huge fortune at the end of the 19th and into the early 20th century as one of the first oil traders. He spent a great deal of his fortune on a collection of art from around the world and across many cultures. The museum is worth a visit all by itself.

Here are a few photos from our visit to the Gulbenkian Museum.

We are sailing out of Lisbon in the late afternoon, which is even more glorious than sailing into Lisbon in the early, early morning.

I’ll be here with more photos and commentary every day.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS