All posts by Corey Sandler

Corey Sandler has been a storyteller all of this life. He worked as a newsman for Gannett Newspapers and later as a correspondent for The Associated Press before entering the worlds of magazine and book publishing. He has written more than 200 books on history, travel, sports, technology, and business. He currently is a destination and special interest lecturer for Silversea Cruises, one of the world's best luxury cruise lines. If you'd like to contact him, please send an e-mail to this address: corey[AT]sandlerbooks.com (Replace the [AT] with the @ symbol, please.)

3-4 January 2020:
Los Angeles, California USA:
Heading Home

By Corey Sandler

We have arrived at the Port of Los Angeles; San Pedro, to be specific, about 20 miles away from L.A. but most importantly on an inlet of the Pacific Ocean.

It’s been a grand voyage, a 28-day segment of the record-setting World Cruise of the Viking Sun.

The tour began in London, crossed the pond to Atlantic Canada, headed south into the Caribbean and then down and around the bottom of South America and then up the West Coast of South America, Central America, and on to California.

We joined the ship in Valparaiso, Chile and we leave her now as she and her guests prepare to sail to Asia and then Europe and eventually back to London.

On a beautiful southern California day we crossed over the bridge from San Pedro to Long Beach and spent the morning at the spectacular Aquarium of the Pacific in the company of sharks, jellyfish, clownfish, sea turtles, penguins, and so much more.

For the past four weeks we have sailed along with the denizens of the deep. Today we got up close. Here are some photos from our visit.

Aquarium of the Pacific

Up in the Air

Upcoming is our least favorite part of the trip: airports and airplanes and lugging luggage. But we won’t put our suitcases too far from reach: more journeys await.

To new friends we met aboard, we wish safe travels until we meet again. I hope to meet you again aboard ship or in these pages.

The American part of the World Cruise of Viking Sun. We joined the ship 28 days ago in Valparaiso, and head for home now from the Port of Los Angeles.

All content by Corey Sandler, copyright 2020. All rights reserved. To contact me, please use the links on this blog.

2 January 2020:
San Diego, California USA:
The Deep South of the Far West

By Corey Sandler

San Diego is a beautiful setting, a great year-round climate, a natural deepwater harbor, great beaches, and an economy based to a great extent on the U.S. Navy and tourism.

But San Diego has a bit of a second-city complex. It is, in fact, the second most populous city in California after Los Angeles. In my opinion, L-A gets all the attention but San Diego—and San Francisco—deserve some more of the praise.

Today was bright and sunny. Not much of a surprise there; San Diego is almost always thus. But it was–by local standards–a wintry day, barely reaching into the low 60s.

When this cruise ends in two days, my wife and I are headed for a northeast winter which generally is much, much different.

Here are since photos from today:

A streetscape in the Gaslamp District, developed about 1888
The retired aircraft carrier Midway, now a museum and moored nearby to Viking Sun

One of my favorite things about one of my favorite cities is the wonderful mix between old Spanish style structures and new buildings. Although San Diego certainly is booming, at least thus far they have not destroyed their past.

The lovely Santa Fe railway station, between the docks and the heart of the modern city

The exposition was held in San Diego’s large urban Balboa Park. At a time when many architects (including at a simultaneous fair in San Francisco) embraced the over-the-top Beaux-Arts style, in San Diego they chose Spanish Baroque, which includes some Moorish Revival elements, and a bit of Spanish Colonial design.

The fair was decorated with more than two million plants of 1,200 different types. Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell made a three-day appearance in November 1915.

Some of the Exposition’s buildings are still standing, including the Botanical Building, with a changing display of rare and notable plants, the 200-foot-tall California Bell Tower, shaped like a Spanish ship, the Chapel of St. Francis of Assisi, and the Fine Arts Building , now part of the Museum of Man.

And the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. In 2015, the organ was expanded to 80 ranks and 5,017 pipes, once again making it the world’s largest pipe organ in a fully outdoor venue.

All content Copyright 2020 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

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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:

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

30 December 2019:
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico:
Life is a Beach…and a Bar…and a Golf Course

By Corey Sandler

We are back in Cabo San Lucas, the Cape of Saint Luke, at the bottom of the peninsula of Baja California, lower California in Mexico. Twice in one year: at the start of 2019 and now on the penultimate day of the year. Life is a beach.

We arrived this morning and put down our anchor just offshore of the famous arches, Los Arcos. It is a beautiful place…even with three other much larger cruise ships floating into our line of sight.

Cabo San Lucas was a relatively prosperous fishing and agricultural port, with a few interludes of piracy, for the first few centuries of its existence.

And then in 1973, the Transpeninsular Highway (Mexico Route 1) was completed, linking Cabo to Tijuana and from there to that big country to the north, the United States.

With the road and an airport, Cabo became an accessible destination.

It is now home to about 81,000 people, most of whom work in the tourism industry: hotels, restaurants, shops, tour guides.

It is a beautiful bay, with lovely beaches and lots and lots of tourists…and fishermen angling to catch dollars and euros and pounds from the pockets of visitors.

Los Arcos, the arches at the outside of the harbor at Cabo San Lucas

In a Reflective Mood

As this cruise comes near its end, I found myself in a reflective mood. It helped to have calm seas and a bright sun. Here are some photos from this morning in Cabo:

After today, we have ahead of us entrance into the United States at the glorious city of San Diego in California, and a last call at Los Angeles (San Pedro, to be precise.)

The end is near:

Sunset Interrupted

At day’s end, we hauled anchor just as the sun set behind Los Arcos, the arches at the outside of town. It was a beautiful sight, even with those other–much larger–cruise ships between us and the final rays.

All photos copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

All photos and text Copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

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:

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

26 December 2019:
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala:
Very Old, Very New, Ever Hopeful for a Rebirth

By Corey Sandler

Guatemala is a place of resplendent beauty, terrible poverty, great history, tragic bloodshed, vibrant culture, and a rebirth with a still uncertain future.

It has balanced on a knife’s edge for centuries.

Viking Sun at the dock in Puerto Quetzal this morning
Nearby, a banana boat loads its cargo. Until the 20th century, bananas were a rare and mysterious commodity known only to adventurers and explorers

Inland from the port of Puerto Quetzal lies the huge metropolis of Guatemala City, which would not qualify as one of the more attractive places on this planet. It is a place of grinding poverty, made worse by growling volcanoes all around.

But beyond The City, up in the hills, is the ancient city of Antigua Guatemala, which is a mostly intact Spanish Colonial city bookended by a pair of active volcanoes.

In fact, the Spanish governed most of Central America from Mexico to Peru from here.

Up in the central highlands is the impressive former Spanish colonial headquarters of Antigua Guatemala, since replaced by the less-impressive Guatemala City. Antigua has been damaged over the centuries by earthquakes and volcanoes. But somehow it has managed to maintain an air of dignity and quiet.

Here are some photos I have taken over the years on various visits to Antigua:

All content by Corey Sandler, copyright 2019. ll rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a copy of a photo or one of my books, please contact me.

24 December 2019:
Puntarenas, Costa Rica:
Up Into the Cloud Forest

By Corey Sandler

Costa Rica is one of the most amazing places on the planet, a green nation with one-quarter-of-a-percent of Earth’s landmass and 5 percent of its biodiversity of species of flora and fauna.

And it also extends from sea to shining sea, with the port of Puntarenas on the Pacific where Viking Sun docked this morning and the port of Limón over on the Atlantic side. In between is the cordillera, the mountain range that is an extension of the Canadian and American Rockies to the North and the Andes to the South.

I went with guests up into that spine in the middle, to the Los Angeles Cloud Forest Reserve. We left hot and sunny Puntarenas and spent the day in a cool and drizzly rainforest.

Here is some of what we saw:

The beach at Puntarenas in the morning
The fog and mist descending on a garden in the hills above
Butterflies in the cloud forest
And hummingbirds at a sugar trough

Costa Rica, like Panama–and Colombia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, the United States, and Canada–has ports on both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

There is only one canal, though.

The other countries have done the best they can with roads and railways to transfer products from one ocean to another.

Puntarenas here in Costa Rica was once the country’s principal port, but it was on the wrong side when it came to trade with the east coast of the United States, the Caribbean, and Europe. Over the past century, a railroad and then highways were built to climb up and over the Continental Divide to bring bananas, other agriculture, minerals, and more from one side to the other.

Modern Costa Rica has devoted much of its economy to sustainable and green industries and ecotourism. And the country–not quite perfect in its government and social services, but far ahead of nearly all of its neighbors–is doing well,

In fact, they have their own all-purpose expression of contentment: Pura Vida. Think of it as “all is well” or hakuna matata. It is impossible to use it wrong: Pura Vida!

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

All photos and text Copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. The contents of this blog is entirely mine and not endorsed by or affliated by any of the companies mentioned.

See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

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.

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

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

22 December 2019:
Fuerte Amador, Panama:
From the Pacific to the Atlantic and Back

By Corey Sandler

The skyline of Panama City, a clear sign of the riches that flow into the country from the Panama Canal

We came to Panama–to the resort port of Fuerte Amador on the Pacific–but our eventual goal is California, not the Gulf of Mexico. And so Viking Sun put down anchors and we tendered into shore.

I have been through the Panama Canal more times than I can remember, and love the experience each and every time.

But on this visit I did something different: along with guests I journeyed across the isthmus, about 50 miles, from the Pacific to the Atlantic and then back. Our goal was to visit the Panama Canal from the land side, not from aboard ship.

Still spectacular, and literally an entirely different perspective on the amazing Path Between the Seas.

The large (but not huge) Emerald Princess was passing through the Agua Clara locks near the Atlantic when we arrived. Agua Clara is one of the new set of locks that opened in 2016, built to handle wider and longer vessels. In the new locks, ships are guided through by tugs at the bow and stern instead of the electric locomotives used in the old locks for the same purpose.
The new locks employ rolling gates that pull back into pockets in the wall; you can see the double set behind and to the right of the tugboat at the stern here. Also seen are parts of the three basins above the locks that recycle about 40 percent of the 52 million gallons of fresh water that is used for each transit of the locks.
Later in the day we visited the original locks at Miraflores. Here a large car carrier is making its way up the flight of locks from the Pacific. Here you can see the electric locomotives or mules.
From the land side, the difference in water level is apparent. Ships go up 85 or so feet in three locks from sea level to Lake Gatun to make the transit across the continent, and then 85 feet down at the other side.

All content by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to purchase any photos or books, please contact me.

To read more about the Panama Canal, click on the Panama tag below.

20 December 2019:
Manta, Ecuador:
On the Line and in the Net

By Corey Sandler

After two days at sea in the pacific Pacific, we arrived early today in the bustling port of Manta, Ecuador.

Ecuador…as in Equator.

Manta is at 00 degrees and 57 minutes south of the Equator, which puts it roughly 67 miles or 107 kilometers away from the line that marks the planet’s middle. We’ll cross from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere sometime around 10 pm tonight as we head for Panama and beyond.

Ecuador, the equator, in many languages, shown in a mural at the port in Manta

The presence of this port brought it a brief moment on the world stage in March of 1736 when some of Europe’s greatest geographers and cartographers gathered here to embark on an expedition to determine the shape of the Earth at the Equator.

The survey included French and Spanish scientists, including Charles Marie de la Condamine, who sought to confirm Isaac Newton’s hypothesis that the earth is a not a perfect sphere but rather has a bulge at the equator because of the effect of centrifugal force on the spinning planet.

We found a monument commemorating that expedition tucked away in a corner of the port as we walked from the ship into steamy Manta, a few miles away.

Just as an aside, it was just a few months ago–July of this year–that I stood on a hillock in Hammerfest in far northern Norway to see a marker from the Struve Geodetic Arcs, a chain of survey triangulations stretching from the far north to the Black Sea, through ten countries and over 2,820 kilometers or 1,752 miles, a 39-year-effort by German-born Russian scientist Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve; his goal was to measure the exact size and shape of the earth by measuring a meridian–a line of longitude running from pole to pole, the opposite line from the equator which is the zero line of latitude.

One of the Struve Geodetic Arcs in Hammerfest, Norway

Back here in Manta, the waters are still thick with fish and the tuna catch remains a major element of the economy. The harbor was filled with vessels disgorging their bunkers with tuna, although the size of the creatures and their number has grown smaller over the years as humans overfish and otherwise damage our planet.

Tuna arriving in Manta this morning

And finally, it needs be mentioned that Ecuador–and in particular the town of Montecristi–holds on to its historical place as the origin of the Panama Hat. I know that sounds like a mix of countries, and it is, but many of the workers and visitors to the construction site of the Panama Canal in the late 19th and early 20th century wore straw hats of the type made here and the name of the Ecuadorian product was applied to the north in Panama. Today, some of the hats come from China and elsewhere with no relation to Ecuador or Panama.

A Panama Hat maker at work in Ecuador

All content by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. To purchase a print or book, please contact me.

17 December 2019:
Lima, Peru:
Ancient Peru’s Back Closet

By Corey Sandler

We arrived early this morning at the port of Callao, Peru’s principal outlet to the sea, about ten miles from the capital city of Lima.

Lima is the third-largest city of the Americas: São Paulo in Brazil has about 12 million inhabitants, and then Mexico City just barely edges into second place with about 9 million residents. Lima counts 8.9 million in its sprawling city, and millions more in the surrounding urban sprawl.

I’ve been to Lima a number of times and have enjoyed strolling its Plaza de Armas with a handsome collection of Spanish Colonial structures.

Today, though, I went with a group of guests for an unusual inside view of one of the most impressive private museum collections in the world: the Larco Herrera Museum.

Rafael Larco Herrera, from a wealthy family with sugar cane holdings, devoted much of his life to collecting artifacts from the rich prehistory of Peru. By some estimates, there are about 87 different known tribes and peoples who inhabited the west coast of South America in and around what is now Peru.

Larco’s collection, amassed between about 1925 and 1966, is astounding, with thousands of objects on display. But the real thrill for me was to get a glimpse of the museum’s storage closet, home to perhaps another 50,000 more pieces of pottery, jewelry and other adornment, and textiles. We were led through the collection by one of the curators.

I performed no looting, taking home only memories and photos. Here are a few:

A funerary wrapping for a Huari mummy, dated sometime between AD 800 and AD 1300. Museum experts x-rayed the piece and say it contains the body of an infant of about four to five years of age. The funerary bundles were intended to shepherd the deceased into the afterlife where they would become an honored ancestor of the living. In fact, one of the gravest threats an attacker could pose to the living was to destroy a gravesite and thus deprive them of ancestors…and their connection to the land.
Next week I am due to give a lecture about the hidden meanings and sources of some of the greatest songs by The Beatles. I couldn’t help but think of the Blue Meanies of Sergeant Pepper Land when I saw this ancient piece.

The Garden of Earthly Delights and Monsters

The museum’s lush garden included Cereus peruvianus monstrosus, a truly creepy Peruvian cactus known locally as Monstrito.
Monstrito in flower

Larco’s Closet

Almost every piece on the shelves of the storage area of the Larco Herrera would be a treasure at another museum.

I was reminded of two other great museum visits I have made as a traveler: to the storage room of the Uffizi in Florence, full of fabulous but not-quite-famous Roman and Italian busts and statues, and the basement overflow room of the British Museum in London.

All content by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved 2019. If you would like a print of any photo, please contact me using the links on this blog.

16 December 2019:
General San Martin, Paracas and Pisco, Peru:
Pelicans and Hidden Necropolises in the Sand

By Corey Sandler

When I was a child, one of my paternal grandmother’s favorite bits of poetry–and she had many–was this:

A wonderful bird is the Pelican.
His beak can hold more than his belly can.

I thought of her today, as we strolled along small resort town of Paracas, midway between the port of General San Martin where our ship was docked and the city of Pisco.

A Pelican in Paracas

We’ve been here before, but it still is amazing to see the sprawling desert that comes right down to the sea in this part of Peru and in Chile to the south. There is not much fresh water to be had, but the ocean is full of fish and the pelicans are well-fed.

Viking Sun at the pier in the port of General San Martin. The port is named after the man considered the liberator of Peru from the Spanish; San Martin was a compatriot of Simon Bolivar
Pierside loading claws at the port

Paracas is a Quechua word that refers to the hurricane-like winds that carry sand. The desert near Paracas is stark beauty, mostly shades of red colored by iron deposits. In 1925 several major archeological sites were found in Cerro Colorado, the Red Hill.

Two sets of tombs were found on either side of the road, one holding about 40 sets of remains and the other hundreds. The larger site is considered much older, but the pair indicate this was a special place for the Paracas people. The older Paracas Cavernas is believed to date from about 800 to 200 BCE, and the nearby Paracas Necropolis from about 200 BCE to 150 of the Common Era.

In both places bodies are wrapped in textiles, many in a sitting position. Peru has done some basic excavation and research, but most of the artifacts are preserved as they were beneath the ground in this dry, remote place.

Cerro Colorado
A modern hotel’s garden in Paracas, lit by the strong morning sun
At the market in Paracas

All content by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

14 December 2019:
Matarani, Peru:
Gateway to the White City of Arequipa

By Corey Sandler

Matarani is the place we parked, but it was not the destination for most of the guests aboard ship. From the gritty mining and export piers here, a fleet of buses departed in the morning for the two-hour-plus drive up into the altiplano to Arequipa.

Matarani, home to about one million, is the deep south of Peru, a thin strip of desert with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the spine of the Andes to the east. In Peru, only Lima is larger–much larger–with nearly nine million inhabitants. We’ll visit that coastal port in a few days.

We’ve been to Arequipa a few times, and so we’re declaring a vacation day aboard ship. We have been on the move almost continuously since March.

Arequipa, about 75 miles or 121 kilometers from Matarani, is up in the foothills of the Andes,  at altitude 2,350 meters or 7,710 feet.

The trip follows a two-lane highway thick with trucks and buses and thin with asphalt and guardrails.

It’s a dramatic setting, and also about as close as many cruise passengers are likely to get to landlocked Bolivia.

And it’s not Mount Fuji in Japan, either, but it probably could pass for it in a movie background. Looming over the city is the El Misti Volcano, rising to 19,098 feet or 5,821 meters above sea level.

It is a stratovolcano, the type that is somewhat like a pressure cooker. It lets off a bit of steam every once in a while but mostly sits around in seeming quietude until it explodes violently.

And yes, it is still active, it last major eruption in 1985.

Here are some notes and photos from a previous visit.

ON THE ROAD

AREQUIPA: LA CIUDAD BLANCA

All photos and text Copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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

————-

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:

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

13 December 2019:
Iquique, Chile:
From Sea Level to See Level

By Corey Sandler

It’s hard to have more contrast in one day than we did today, and that’s an extraordinary thing. 

After a day at sea sailing north, we arrived early this morning at the port of Iquique in Chile, an uncommon sight in this place. They receive only about eight cruise ships a year here. 

And then I went with a group of guests from sea level– because that is where oceangoing ships generally sail– up into the altiplano, the high desert. About two hours drive brought us into the Atacama Desert and the spectacular Huasco Salt Flats.

The flats are at about 3,830 meters above the sea,  or about 12,565 feet.

We had a bright sun and tolerable temperatures and pink flamingoes and llamas and alpaca. Oh, and I took some pictures….

The altiplano is home to some of Chile’s abundant mineral wealth. It all began with saltpeter a century ago, used at first for gunpowder and then as a fertilizer. 

Today,  copper is king,  along with valuable metals and minerals including molybdenum and lithium. That last substance is an essential component of batteries for things like cellphones and tablets.

Our trip back to the port in the afternoon was delayed because of a convoy of some of the largest machines on land: mining excavators, gigantic dump trucks, and support equipment. 

They would make great beach toys. 

Here’s some of what we saw today:

The Cerro Dragón sand dune reaches to the edge of the growing city of Iquique, a reminder of how tenuous many of the coastal ports of South America are
The little town of Pozo Almonte sits at the foot of the altiplano, its history bound up in mining in the hills. The small place draws its name from the Battle of Pozo Almonte of the Chilean Civil War of 1891 between Liberal (Balmacedist) and Congressional forces. The Congressional victory eventually led the junta gaining control of all of northern Chile.
A monument to the men of Pozo Almonte who went to the mines…
and the women…

The Huasco Salt Flats (Salar del Huasco)

The Huasco Salt Flats, at 3,800 meters or 12,500 feet above sea level. The surrounding mountains reach thousands of feet higher, some capped with snow
The rumble of thunder in a place that receives very little rain

Rules of the Road

The copper mines built the roads into the hills, and regularly shut them down to move equipment

All content by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a copy of a photo seen here, please contact me.

11 December 2019:
Coquimbo, Chile:
Well Off the Beaten Track

By Corey Sandler

As is typical for coastal towns in this part of the world, dawn arrived gray and cool. By midday, it brightened just a bit, and then–almost as if controlled by a clock–the sun broke through at 2pm. By 6 tonight, we can expect warmth and a rising wind.

Except for the occasional semi-tropical storm, local weathermen don’t have an awful lot more to talk about.

Viking Sun at the dock in Coquimbo, Chile

I went with guests on a trip up the coast to the market town of La Serena, perusing unusual fruit the locals call tuna, known elsewhere as prickly pear.

The region’s climate is somewhat close to that of the Mediterranean. Chilean wine is better known than their olives, but both grow up in the hills. A local favorite is aceitunas sin amargo, large black olives said to be without amargo or bitterness.

A vendor at the market in La Serena
The hilltop Cruz del Tercer Milenio (The Cross of the Third Millennium), with an observation platform up high, reflects the predominantly Roman Catholic background of Chileans. It stands 83 meters or 273 feet tall, which allows the Chileans to claim the highest cross of South America. (In case you were wondering, Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Hill in Rio de Janeiro stands only 30 meters or 99 feet tall. And in any case, it’s a statue, not a cross.)
At the other side of the bay, seen to the right in this photo, is a handsome mosque constructed by the Kingdom of Morocco as a cultural offering; there is only a very small Islamic population here. The minaret is modeled on the famed Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, Morocco
The afternoon sun fills the Explorers Lounge aboard ship in Coquimbo

All content copyright 2019-2020, Corey Sandler. To obtain a copy of any photo, please contact me.

The content of this blog is entirely mine, and is not endorsed or approved by any cruise line or other entity.

10 December 2019:
Valparaiso, Chile:
The Clock with No Hands

By Corey Sandler

Viking Sun was one of the largest structures in town on our visit to Valparaiso, the Valley of Paradise. The town was lively and happy to see us, although signs of recent civil disturbances were there to remind us of recent parlous times.

Viking Sun at the dock, seen from Valparaiso’s Sotomayor Square. The central statue commemorates what Chile considers its greatest military achievement, the War of the Pacific, the defeat of Peru and Bolivia in the Atacama Desert east of 1879-1883. Peru lost its southernmost territory to Chile…and with that came massive deposits of copper that today is part of the backbone of modern Chile. Bolivia, which allied with the losing side, lost its only outlet to the sea. The war is long over, but the three countries remain somewhat short of cordial in relations, or at least in their view of history.
The famed Floral Clock of Viña del Mar is currently a clock with no hands in the midst of Chile’s season of social and political protests, mostly in the big cities of Santiago and Valparaiso. The mostly young protestors object to economic conditions that tilt in favor of the very rich, alleged corruption that favors officials in the government, and other problems in a country with a still-fragile democracy.
A tough way to earn a living: street buskers juggle, dance, and perform acrobatics at intersections.
At the eclectic Fonck Museum in Valparaiso stands one of only three Easter Island moai located away from the remote island. Easter Island is today part of Chile, although it is about 2,000 miles or 3,000 kilometers to the west in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean.

All content copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

9 December 2019 to 4 January 2020:
Valparaiso, Chile to Los Angeles:
Crossing the Equator on America’s West Coast

By Corey Sandler

We flew south all through the night from New York to Santiago, Chile. We left the wintry East Coast of the United States and landed in summery South America.

Viking’s Viking Sun will spend the next 28 days heading northwest and then north, calling at ports in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, and then San Diego and Los Angeles in the United States.

This is just one month in a record-setting eight-month-long World Cruise. We will cross the Equator as we sail along the appropriately named nation of Ecuador. In fact, across the eight months of this cruise, this ship will cross the Equator four times heading south then north then south then north again. A hearty few dozen guests will be aboard for the entire journey, while others will partake of various segments.

I’ll be posting photos and comments here throughout this cruise. I hope you’ll join me here.

28 September 2019:
New York, New York:
Our Grand Arrival

Website security

By Corey Sandler

There are many places to make a grand arrival, but not many that can truly compete with a sail-in to New York in the early morning.

Before dawn, we sailed along the coast of Long Island and past the sleeping beach communities and the famous amusement park of Coney Island in Brooklyn. Then we moved toward the lights of the massive Verrazzano Bridge and beneath.

At that point, the harbor of New York lay before us: Staten Island, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and lower Manhattan.

I’ve sailed into New York many times, and it is still one of the most thrilling places to arrive by sea.

We have spent most of the last four months aboard Silver Wind, visiting Norway, circling the United Kingdom, crossing over for a circle of Iceland, back to London and the U.K., and finally coming across to Iceland and then up the Saint Lawrence River to Quebec City and Montreal. This final leg took us down the coast and then up the river to New York.

I hope to see you here soon.

All photos and text Copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE ANY PHOTO OR 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.

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

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

27 September 2019:
Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, USA:
Tabernacles, Camp Meetings, and Carousels on Martha’s Vineyard

By Corey Sandler

We are almost at the end of this particular odyssey, one that began in Reykjavik, crossed east to the UK, made a circle of the British Isles, then crossed the pond westward to Iceland and the Atlantic Provinces of Canada. Tonight we will head to New York. For us, it is time to head home for a while.

Our penultimate port of call was on a glorious autumn day at Martha’s Vineyard.

Martha’s Vineyard is famous for being famous. This beautiful island in the North Atlantic is large enough to have hills and valleys and harbors and lakes. It’s also close enough to the mainland of Cape Cod in Massachusetts to be relatively easy to get to.

And because of some peculiarities of location, economy, and religion Martha’s Vineyard has a somewhat unusual history. It does not have the same back-story as Cape Cod, mainland ports of New England, or of the farther-away neighboring island of Nantucket.

Oak Bluffs, population about 4,000…plus however many tens of thousands of summer people are hanging around—was the only one of the six towns on the island to be planned, and the only one developed specifically with tourism in mind.

Some of the earliest visitors to the area that became Cottage City and later Oak Bluffs were Methodists who gathered in the oak grove each summer for multi-day religious “camp meetings” held under large tents or in the open air.

From that base came tourism of all sorts. In the late 1880s, the church tent was replaced by the Tabernacle, an open-sided pavilion with a metal roof supported by wrought iron columns.

In 1884, the Flying Horses Carousel was brought to Oak Bluffs from Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York and installed a few blocks inland from the ocean.

Built in 1876, it is the oldest platform carousel still in operation.

All photos and text Copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE ANY PHOTO OR 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.

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

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

26 September 2019:
Salem, Massachusetts, USA:
Witch City

By Corey Sandler

Salem, on the North Shore of Massachusetts, was one of the most significant seaports in Puritan American history.

It is an interesting small place worth exploring. And by the luck of the draw, the cruise terminal in Boston, about 18 miles southwest, is filled with three large ships on the day of our visit.

By 1790, Salem was the sixth largest city in the United States, and a world-famous seaport—particularly in the China Trade, sugar and molasses from the West Indies, and Sumatran pepper. From Salem codfish was exported to Europe and the West Indies. Salem ships also visited Africa, Russia, Japan, and Australia.

The trade moved on to Boston and New York, although a fair amount of the riches of trade can still be seen in Salem.

Riches…and witches.

Most of us will agree that witches exist only in fiction.

J.K. Rowling became a billionaire promoting the idea that witches and wizards are amongst us. Harry Potter and Hermione Granger and Hagrid and Weasley and Dumbledore.

But hundreds if not thousands of people were accused and many of them convicted of being witches in Europe, Asia, and later the American Colonies. The penalty was usually torture or death, or both.

The period of witch-hunts in Modern Europe and then Colonial North America took place from about 1450 to 1750, spanning the upheavals of the Reformation and the Thirty Years’ War. By some estimates, 35,000 to 100,000 people were executed, the vast majority of them in Europe.

Although Salem was only 18 miles from Boston, it was pretty isolated. As happens in many small towns, conflicts arose amongst small factions. And the most common sources of friction were money, religion, and sex.

The bottom line is that hundreds of people were accused, dozens were put on trial, and 20 people were executed; 19 by hanging and one by being pressed to death. Fourteen of the twenty were women.

The trials began in 1692, and were said to have arisen after some young girls were playing with what was called a “Venus glass”; we call that a mirror today.

Today Salem, Massachusetts is an attractive distant suburb of Boston. I am certain many of the 41,000 residents wished it was known for its harbor, its world-class art museum, or its historic buildings.

But instead Salem adopted a nickname that has proven hard to shed: Witch City. Police cars have witch logos. A public elementary school known as Witchcraft Heights, sits below Gallows Hill. The Salem High School athletic teams are called the Witches, and the school’s newspaper is the “Witches’ Brew.”

The city could just as easily lay claim to a title related to Fine Art or Architecture. The city is home to the House of Seven Gables, the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, and the amazing Peabody Essex Museum.

Oh, and also the Salem Witch Museum, which is—in my opinion—somewhere between Madame Tussaud’s or Disneyland, and a real museum. The museum is—and I am choosing my words carefully here—fact-based.

You might learn something. And there’s a gift shop.

Right in the heart of town is the Peabody Essex Museum, which dates to 1799 when the East India Marine Society was founded, by a group of Salem-based captains and supercargoes, representatives of ship owners.

The society’s charter required members to collect “natural and artificial curiosities” from beyond the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn. To be eligible they also had to circumnavigate the globe, and share navigational discoveries with other members.

In the two centuries since, the society’s collection merged with the former Peabody Museum of Salem and the Essex Institute, allowing a claim as the oldest continuously operating museum in the country.

The museum includes more than 1.8 million pieces.

The Peabody-Essex has one of the major collections of Asian art in the United States, dating from the time Salem ships traded with the Far East. It also has Yin Yu Tang, the only complete Qing Dynasty house outside China.

The museum’s maritime art collection is one of the finest in the world.

And it is about to become considerably larger, with a 40,000-square-foot addition due to open two days after our visit, on September 28.

All photos and text Copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE ANY PHOTO OR 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.

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

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

25 September 2019:
Bar Harbor, Maine, USA:
Mountain, Ocean, Desert, and Dessert

By Corey Sandler

Bar Harbor is one of the prettiest places in one of the prettiest regions of the world and this is (usually) the prettiest time of year to visit.

Fall in New England is an extraordinary experience, and we are hoping for brilliant foliage, clear skies, and a relative reduction in the number of tourists who come to Bar Harbor to see all of the above.

The town of Bar Harbor has lured artists and vacationers since the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, and some of the gilded visitors helped fund the acquisition of land that led to the marvelous Acadia National Park.

In the heart of summer, Bar Harbor can be a very busy place. In late September cruise ships going “up” to Boston (I know it is to the south, but to old salts that meant sailing upwind) or down east to Canada (downwind, but I’m sure you figured that out) bring a a few thousand at a time for a day’s visit.

All photos and text Copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE ANY PHOTO OR 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.

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

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

24 September 2019:
Halifax, Nova Scotia:
The Great and Terrible Harbor

By Corey Sandler

Through the many entries in this blog, you can read about the great harbor of Halifax, and about the terrible explosion during World War I that killed and injured thousands. Today Halifax is booming in a good way, with waterfront condominiums and office towers and its cruise port is sometimes home to four or five ships at a time.

Halifax remains one of our favorite places to wander. A block or two in from the harbor shows the trading heart of the port and up on the hill is the old British Citadel. There’s also the lively student-city-within-a-city of Dalhousie University, and nearby to that the lovely old-fashioned Public Gardens, now shifted to fall colors.

And an easy drive across the island province of Nova Scotia brings you to the beauty and wonder of the Bay of Fundy, home to some of the highest tidal variations in the world.

Variety is a good thing.

Today the schooner Bluenose II was in port. The original Bluenose was launched on 1921 as a coastal fishing vessel and quickly became an unofficial symbol of the Canadian Maritimes. It foundered in 1946, but a replica took to the seas in 1963 and today serves as a grand ambassador of the region and indeed, the nation. I carry a portrait of her in my pocket… on the front of the Canadian dime.

Bluenose II in Halifax today
The Public Gardens, near Dalhousie University
Decorations on the facade of the handsome Bank of Nova Scotia
Inside the bank

All photos and text Copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE ANY PHOTO OR 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.

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

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

23 September 2019:
Louisbourg, Nova Scotia:
The Failed French Bastion

By Corey Sandler

Louisbourg is about 20 miles southeast of Sydney, on what was once a particularly lonely piece of coastline in Nova Scotia.

The times we have visited—even in summer—it has often been shrouded in fog and mist, sometimes nearly wintry. Today was reasonably temperate, but very windy; we were lucky to be able to anchor the ship and get ashore.

Here’s our ship at anchor:

Silver Wind seen from Fortress Louisbourg today

The principal attraction here is the Fortress of Louisbourg, a partial reconstruction of the 18th century fortress. The French named the port Havre Louisbourg after King Louis XIV. And the Fortress of Louisbourg was made the capital of the colony of Ile-Royale.

The location on the southernmost point of the Atlantic coast of Cape Breton Island was chosen because it was easy to defend against British ships attempting to attack Quebec City. The fort was also built to protect France’s hold on one of the richest fishing grounds in the world, the Grand Banks.

South of the fort, a reef provided a natural barrier, while a large island provided a good location for a battery. These defenses forced attacking ships to enter the harbor via a five hundred foot channel.

It was given the nicknames ‘Gibraltar of the North’ or the ‘Dunkirk of America.’

The original fortress, constructed between 1720 and 1740, was one of the most extensive (and expensive) European fortifications in North America.

The expense was so great that King Louis XV was said to have joked that he should be able to see the buildings from his Palace in Versailles.

Louisbourg was a large enough city to have a commercial district, a residential district, military arenas, marketplaces, inns, taverns and suburbs, as well as skilled laborers to fill all of these establishments.

For the French, it was the second most important stronghold and commercial city in New France, behind only Quebec City. In 1719, the fort was home to 823 people. The population would eventually reach more than four thousand.

The fort was surrounded by two and a half miles of wall. On the western side of the fort, the walls were thirty feet high, and thirty-six feet across. On the eastern side of the fort, fifteen guns pointed out to the harbor.

That said, it had a fatal flaw: its design was based on protecting against assaults from the sea. The back door, the defenses facing toward the land were relatively weak. And that, of course, was where the principal attack occurred.

The British would go on to advance into the Saint Lawrence River valley to take Quebec City and displace the French from New France.

The British ended up destroying the fortress and it lay in ruins for two centuries. In the 1960s, the Nova Scotia and Canadian governments helped pay for a massive reconstruction based on the original plans, creating a tourist attraction and providing much-needed jobs for unemployed coal and steel workers in the region.

Today dozens of locals work as interpreters.

Other Visits to the Fortress

All photos and text Copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE ANY PHOTO OR 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.

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

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