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.)

22 June 2017:
Bodø, Norway:
You, Too?

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Located on a peninsula in the Norwegian Sea, Bodø is one of Norway’s windiest cities. And cold. And with two months of sunless days, and two months of nothing but sun.

We’re arriving close to the peak of the Midnight Sun season.

Silver Wind at the dock in Bødo, which is pronounced Boo-duh, more or less.

It’s a remote and relatively unknown place, although it had a few close brushes with history.

Six weeks after Norway was invaded by Germany, most of Bodø was destroyed by a Luftwaffe attack on May 27, 1940. Why? Because the Allies had begun work on an airfield there.

And then 20 years later, in May of 1960, an airplane departed an U.S. air station near Peshawar in Pakistan. It was due to land in Bodø, Norway.

That’s a rather unusual route, and this was not your basic airplane.

This was a U-2 spy plane, and its flight path was intended to be the first attempt to fly all the way across the Soviet Union, deeper into Russia than the Americans had ever gone.

The U-2 plane, a most unusual design, was capable of flying as high as 75,000 feet above the earth, nearly 15 miles up. That was higher than any Soviet plane of the time could fly, and thought to be out of reach of antiaircraft weaponry.

The U-2 was armed not with bombs or missiles but instead with many cameras capable of high-resolution photography.

The pilot was Francis Gary Powers.

And you may also remember that the Soviets somehow managed to shoot the U-2 out of the sky with a flurry of 14 surface-to-air missiles.

The airport at Bodø has been used for various secret and not-so-secret purposes in its history. Today, in addition to commercial flights, it is part of a NATO cold weather training center.

NEPAL IN NORWAY

On this visit I went with the guests a group of guests on a strenuous hike up Keiservarden, the tallest local mountain. The hill, about 600 meters or so but rather steep, was renamed in honor of Kaiser Wilhelm in the early 1900s. Wilhelm was a regular  visitor to Norway at the time.

The trail was challenging and I can only imagine what it was like before it was improved a few years ago by a set of Nepalese experts.

As always, I carried my pack of cameras and lenses. As I write these words my knees are reminding me of the morning stroll.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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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:

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

23 June 2017:
Trondheim, Norway:
Gothic Norway

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Trondheim is the third largest city of Norway, with about 188,000 residents in the metropolitan area. Bergen is the second-largest, with about 278,000 residents. The largest city in Norway, which we are not planning to visit on this cruise, is the capital at Oslo around the corner tucked in next to Sweden.

In Trondheim, Nidaros Cathedral, the Domkirke, was built over the burial site of Saint Olav, the king of Norway in the 11th century, who became the patron saint of the nation.

It is the traditional location for the consecration of the King of Norway.

The church was built from 1070 to 1300. After the Protestant Reformation, it was taken from the Roman Catholics by the Lutheran Church in 1537.

The last Catholic Archbishop had to flee from the city to the Netherlands, later dying in what is today Lier, Belgium.

Anyway, the Domkirke is the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world.

Not the northernmost cathedral, and not the northernmost church. But the northernmost cathedral that dates from medieval times.

Norway’s current King Harald V and Queen Sonja were consecrated in the cathedral in 1991.

In 2002, their daughter Princess Märtha Louise married the writer Ari Behn in the cathedral.

The facade of the cathedral includes dozens of saints well known and obscure. Very close to the main entrance is a prominent remembrance of St Sigurd also known as St Sigfrid of Sweden depicted holding the three severed heads of his nephews. According to the story, the boys were murdered and recovered by Sigurd and were able to tell him the name of their killer.

The city of Trondheim is includes a major university and is a lively place to visit. Its old sector includes warehouses, some of them dating back many hundreds of years.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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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:

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

20 June 2017:
Honningsvåg, Norway:
The Northernmost* City of Europe

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Honningsvåg is the northernmost* city on the mainland of Norway.

*There are a few gotchas in that description. Mainland, not on an island. And city, not a town or village or settlement.

(And in case you are wondering, Murmansk in Russia just around the corner is slightly to the south and Reykjavik in Iceland is not on the mainland.)

That said, Honningsvag has only about 2,436 inhabitants which is below the Norwegian definition of a city as a place with at least 5,000 residents. But its status as a city wa s grandfathered in place.

COLD COMFORT TODAY

Tomorrow is midsummer’s day here in Norway but we arrived this morning to find wintry conditions: 4 degrees Celsius or a bit less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit and drizzle.

But we spent the day walking around what is for us a familiar place in a very remote corner of the world.

Here is some of what we saw.

It’s a rather small place, too, especially in the wide open spaces up north. The city consists of 1.2 square kilometers or 300 acres, within a bay on the southeastern side of the large island of Magerøya.

The famous North Cape and its visitors center is on the northern side of the island.

Searching for a northeast passage to India in 1553, British navigator Richard Chancellor—among the early explorers of the far north—came upon a jut of rock 307 meters or 1,007 feet above the Barents Sea. Chancellor named the place North Cape.

It’s a dramatic place, a rite of passage for many visitors to the far north. There are a small number of Sami people who still live something close to a traditional life in the far north.

The tourist attraction at Nordkapp, which includes a metallic sculpture of the planet earth—plus a display of art and artifacts, plus a gift shop, is just across the bay from the actual northernmost piece of land in Europe.

Why is the visitors center not at the actual northernmost spot in Europe? Because the northernmost spot is at the end of a narrow and somewhat fragile cliff, and there’s no place to park tourist buses.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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

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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:

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

19 June 2017:
Tromsø, Norway:
Northern Exposure

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Tromsø is the largest city in Northern Norway, 350 kilometers or 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

It is the second largest city within the Arctic Circle, behind only Murmansk.

Please don’t expect Paris. Even though at one time this small settlement did lay claim to the nickname of “The Paris of the North.” Everything is relative, I suppose.

Tromsø has a population of about 50,000, and the urban area spreads widely across about 973 square miles or 2,500 square kilometers.

Photos by Corey Sandler

It is home to the world’s northernmost university, botanical garden, cathedral, and most importantly, the northernmost brewery in the world.

Now someone out there is saying: what about Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland?

Well, Reykjavik is larger than Tromso, about twice the population. But it lies about 150 miles short of the Arctic Circle.

Arctic hunting, from Novaya Zemlya to Canada, started up around 1820.

On today’s visit I went in search of monuments to a diverse group of people who were born or spent time here.

Among the ones I found was a statue to the great explorer Roald Amundsen. After 35 years of circling the globe, in 1928 Amundsen sent out to find the crew of another Expedition that have been lost in the Arctic.

In June of 1928, Umberto Nobile, a friend and sometime companion of Amundsen was missing in the Arctic and the Norwegian explorer launched a rescue mission.

Amundsen’s seaplane crashed somewhere in the Barents Sea and he and five other members of his crew were never found.

The statue of Roald Amundsen, not far from his home in Tromso.

In the center of the city is a large statue of a tall man comma King Haakon VII, who was sovereign of Norway through World War II, including time in exile in London.

King Haakon VII

Adolph Thomsen was a renowned organist and composer born in Bergen. From 1879 to 1883 he served as the organist at the Cathedral here. One of his compositions, “Childhood Memory of Nordland” is considered an unofficial anthem of the north.

Adolf Thomsen

And then there is Peter Wessell Zappfe, born in Tromso in 1899. He was a physician, author, and mountaineer.

He is best known though for his writings which put forth a pessimistic and fatalistic view of human existence, in part inspired by the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.

Zapffe argued that humans are born with an overdeveloped skill of understanding and self-knowledge, which does not fit into nature’s design.

And so, why is Zappffe shown smiling on his plaque?

By 1850, Tromsø was the major center of Arctic hunting and the city was trading from Arkhangelsk to Bordeaux. The French connection led to the somewhat dubious Paris nickname.

By the end of the 19th century, Tromsø had become a major setting off place for Arctic expeditions. Explorers like Roald Amundsen, Umberto Nobile, and Fridtjof Nansen picked up supplies and often recruited their crew in the city.

In the heart of the city is the Church of Our Lady.

Like many other things in Tromso, it has a northernmost claim: the farthest north Catholic bishopric. The present church was completed in 1861.

Although the local Catholic population is only about 350, Pope John Paul II visited this small church and stayed as a guest of the bishop in 1989.

That makes it, of course, the northernmost Catholic church ever visited by a Pope.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

You can help support this site by making purchases from AMAZON.COM by clicking on the banner below.

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

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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:

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 2017:
Svolvær, Norway:
Cold Fish

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We’ve arrived in a tiny town, within the Arctic Circle, with a major history in the fishing industry of Norway.

All of Svolvær fits within just short of one square mile or 2.3 square kilometers, and has a population of about 4,500 hardy souls.

The residents, and visitors, often get to experience all four seasons…in one day. That was our experience today: early morning was cold and damp, midday bright and sunny and warm, and then gray rolling clouds moved back in.

TODAY IN SVOLVÆR

+

In the foreground, our ship against a background of a snow field.

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would to obtain a copy of any photos you see in my blog, please contact me at corey[at]sandlerbooks.com

Please substitute @ for [at] in the email address.

For a few months each year in the cold and sunless winter, millions of Atlantic cod migrate south from the Barents Sea to spawn among the reefs and shoals of Lofoten.

Fishermen have been flocking here to cash in on the bonanza for more than a thousand years.

From the start, the lure to the remote island was the Northern Atlantic Cod fishery. Just to make things worse, the prime season for that catch is in the cold, dark winter.

Offshore, this is also one of the prime places for the hunting of whales, principally minke whales.

Norway, along with Japan and Iceland are the only places that still engage in that practice in large numbers.

Norway resumed hunting whales in 1993, imposing its own limit of 1,000 minke whales. The current catch is about half that number.

There is also an industry in salmon farming.

The windswept Lofoten islands have a kind of magical pull, even within the mystical world of Norway.

Its fjords provided dramatic backdrops to some of the grandest of the Viking sagas.

The Norwegian novelist Johan Bojer described the Lofoten chain in his 1921 book, “The Last of the Vikings,” as “a land in the Arctic Ocean that all the boys along the coast dreamt of visiting some day, a land where exploits were performed, fortunes were made, and where fishermen sailed in a race with Death.”

In Norse folklore the long, cold spine of mountains that hugs Norway’s northwest coast was the home of scary or nasty trolls and valkyries.

Valkyries were said to be maidens who conducted slain warriors to Valhalla.

Actually, in some versions they were more than that: they were the spirits who chose those who will die in battle and those who may live.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

You can help support this site by making purchases from AMAZON.COM by clicking on the banner below.

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

 

16 June 2017:
Ålesund, Norway:
Fire and Fish

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We arrived in Ålesund, Norway on a gray and misty day, which suits the place very well. I accompanied a group of guests on a visit to two of the outlying islands, Giske and Godøy, passing through six or so of the 900 tunnels dug through mountains and under the seabeds of Norway.

I used the flat light and mist to paint a portrait:

ÅLESUND TODAY

We went out to Giske Island, home to a few hundred very hardy folk as well as the old Giske Church, built in Norman style as a Catholic place of worship in the 12th century as a family chapel for the Giskes. Today it is a Lutheran church, and it includes some spectacular carvings, restored in modern times.

Farmers in the region store their harvested hay and silage in rolls. The local nickname for them: “Troll Eggs.”

And then we stopped for a visit to a remote lighthouse, and to a café at its base. The café was promising Heimelaga brennsnut, which translates as Homemade Burnt Snout. Brennsnut is the name of a hearty vegetable and meat soup, served very hot, hot enough to scald your nose.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2017. All rights reserved.

OUT OF THE ASHES

There is are many things terrible about a great fire. Lives, property, history lost.

But if you’re looking for something positive about the destruction of a city by fire, there is this: when a boomtown burns down and is rebuilt, the result is often a handsome showpiece of a particular style.

Such was the case in the core of the City of London after the Great Fire of 1666.

Virginia City in Nevada in 1875 at the peak of the silver mining boom. And San Francisco after the earthquake and fire of 1906.

And in the place where I live now, Nantucket Island, which was devastated by a fire in 1846 that destroyed the old whaling town but not the fortunes of the whaleship captains.

Each of these places was rebuilt quickly, cleaner and more stylish than before the fire.

So too, Ålesund Norway, which was almost totally destroyed on January 23, 1904.

The oft-told story is that the fire began after a cow kicked over a torch and in the cold night a wind-driven fire raced through the wooden town, destroying about 850 homes, killing one person, and leaving more than 10,000 residents without shelter.

Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany had been a frequent vacationer to Ålesund and coastal Norway.

After the fire, Wilhelm sent four warships with materials to build temporary shelters.

And then the town was rebuilt in stone, brick, and mortar in Jugendstil, the Germanic version of Art Nouveau style.

ÅLESUND ON A SUNNY DAY

Today, Ålesund has the most important fishing harbor in Norway, amongst the most modern in Europe. The local catch includes cod, whitefish, and herring.

You’ll see the equipment for production of stockfish, which is unsalted fish—usually cod—dried by cold air and wind on wooden racks.

In fact Norway is one of the prime suppliers of stockfish, baccala, baccalao—all the same thing—to places like Italy and Portugal and elsewhere around the world.

And then there is Lutefisk, which is a whole other kettle of fish.

It is made from aged stockfish (air-dried whitefish) or dried/salted whitefish (klippfisk) and lye (lut).

It is gelatinous in texture. Its name literally means “lye fish”, and it is somewhere between fish and fish-like jelly. Try it—you might like it—or perhaps not.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

You can help support this site by making purchases from AMAZON.COM by clicking on the banner below.

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 June 2017:
Flåm, Norway:
Where Fjord Meets Railroad

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Silver Wind’s first call in Norway began when we came in from the open sea and sailed inland along one of Norway’s most spectacular fjords to visit Flåm.

If you call it Flam as in ham, they’ll know what you mean. But the Norwegian and Danish letter Å, with the little diacritical overring at it top, is not “a” but more similar to “o” in most other languages.

So, FLOME, or something like that.

The village of Flåm is at the end of the Aurlandsfjord, a small arm of the spectacular Sognefjord which extends in from the Norwegian Sea.

The 204-kilometer or 125-mile-long Sognefjord is said to be the longest and deepest fjord in the world.

The sail-in in the early morning is always spectacular; so, too, the sail-out in the still-bright evening.

Not far from the open sea is the statue of Fridtjof at Vangsnes on the Sognefjorden.

Fridtjof was the hero of an Icelandic Viking saga. The original version dates from the 8th century, updated and continued about the year 1300.

German Kaiser Wilhelm II was a regular visitor to this part of Norway, and in 1913 he gave the statue as a gift to the Norwegian people.

Flam has been a tourist attraction since the late 19th century.

Truth be told, though: few people come to see the port.

It’s basically a train station and a few gift shops. The 20-kilometer (12-mile) Flåmsbana railway rises from the town at sea level to the high village of Myrdal on the steepest standard gauge railway in Europe. The trip takes about an hour in each direction.

UP THE TRACK

BLOG Flam Norway 29June2014_DSC7427

BLOG Flam Norway 29June2014_DSC7430

The old town, just above the train station

At Kjossfossen, a maid of the most emerges a few dozen times a day to entice tourists. Looking for a job? This might not top your wish list.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

You can help support this site by making purchases from AMAZON.COM by clicking on the banner below.

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

 

11-12 June 2017:
London, England:
Through the Tower Bridge to a Farewell and a Welcome Aboard

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

On a handsome Sunday afternoon, Silver Wind made its grand approach to London, one of my favorite sail-ins anywhere in the world.

Our ship is just the right size to make her way up the River Thames and through the Tower Bridge. All traffic across the river was stopped, and the twin bascule arms of the bridge were raised to let us pass through. This is an experience that never gets old, not for me or the captain, crew, and passengers.

In the morning, as we approached the mouth of the Thames we passed near to the Thames Estuary Mansell Forts, rising from the sea like rusty machines from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.

The offshore forts  were built during the Second World War to defend against German minelayers and planes that were seeking to approach London up the watery highway of the river.

Here is a photo I took this morning as we passed nearby the ghostly forts.

 

We passed between Gravesend on the south bank, and Tilbury on the north. Some larger cruise ships and freighters can come no closer than this.

Pocanontas, the daughter of a chief in Virginia,  was by many accounts the first native American to visit England. After marrying a colonist in America, John Rolfe, she later sailed with him to England where she was received at the court in London and feted as a celebrity.

On the return voyage, seven months later, she was taken ill and died ashore in Gravesend in 1617 at age 21. She is buried under the chancel of St George’s parish church.

Closer to London, we passed through the Thames Barrier, erected to guard against the flooding of much of Greater London by exceptional high tides and storm surges that move up from the North Sea.

In modern times, a flood in 1928 killed 14, and then the North Sea Flood of 1953 killed 307, resulting in the construction of the barrier.

Just short of the Tower Bridge, we crossed over the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, which links Greenwich to the South to the Isle of Dogs in London. The tunnel opened in 1902, built of cast iron rings that extend 1,215 feet of 370 meters; the interior is about 9 feet in diameter–and I can’t recommend it to claustrophobics.

And then finally, the Tower Bridge opened for us. It is close to the Tower of London, from which it takes its name.

The bridge opened in 1894, with two towers tied together above by a pair of horizontal walkways. The roadway pivots upward at each end in a bascule design, like a forearm bending up from the elbow.

To those guests leaving us here in London, I wish you arrivederci, until we meet again. I hope to sail with you again. And to guests joining us here for the next cruise, benvenuto. Welcome aboard.

We’re headed back down the Thames and then up the west coast of Norway to near its top…and then back up the Thames to where we started. Here’s our plan:

After two days in the North Sea, we are due to call at the pretty little village of Flåm, Norway. It is best-known as the lower terminus of a railroad that ascends up from the fjord into the surrounding mountains.

We’ll continue on to Alesund, Svolvaer, Tromso, and Honningsvåg near the top of Norway and close to Nordkapp, the famed north cape of the country.

Then we’ll turn back for more calls in Norway, at Bodo, Trondheim, Molde, Olden, and the wondrous city of Bergen.

I hope you’ll join me here in these pages.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

You can help support this site by making purchases from
AMAZON.COM by clicking on the banner below.

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 cover

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

 

10 June 2017:
Dartmouth, United Kingdom:
Not Quite Famous

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Dartmouth, the town near the mouth of the River Dart, is not quite famous.

Although, over the centuries, it was here that Geoffrey Chaucer visited, and adopted a character. And where Sir Francis Drake, and Sir Walter Raleigh plundered fabulous treasures.

It was here that the troubled explorer Henry Hudson was put under arrest. And the Pilgrim Fathers and the Mayflower put out to sea.

Prince Charles, his son Prince William, and a host of other royalty and naval figures trained here. And Agatha Christie vacationed.

Dartmouth was for centuries a very strategic deep-water port for sailing vessels. The port was used as the departure point for the Crusades of 1147 and 1190.

Warfleet Creek, close to Dartmouth Castle is supposed by some to be named for the vast fleets which assembled there.

Today I went with guests on a visit to Slapton Sands, about 10 miles away, where in 1944 about 800 American soldiers and sailors died in a D-Day rehearsal gone terribly wrong.

Here are some pictures from today:

A DARTMOUTH AND SLAPTON SANDS DIARY

Silver Wind at anchor in Dartmouth

Above Dartmouth

Slapton Sands

The countryside of Devon

Dartmouth

The room call board within the Royal Castle Hotel in Dartmouth

Dartmouth Castle

Dartmouth was a home of the Royal Navy from the reign of Edward III in the 14th century.

Dartmouth sent a number of ships to join the English fleet that attacked the Spanish Armada in 1588. And then Nuestra Señora del Rosario, the Spanish Armada’s “payship” was captured along with all its crew by Sir Francis Drake.

It was reportedly anchored in the River Dart for more than a year and the crew were used as laborers on the nearby Greenway Estate which was the home of Sir Humphrey Gilbert and his half-brother Sir Walter Raleigh.

Greenway was later the holiday home of Dame Agatha Christie in the 1950s.

The Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, established in 1863, is where all officers of the Royal Navy and many foreign naval officers are trained.

And in the run-up to the D-Day invasion of 1943, it was in this region that hundreds of thousands of American soldiers and sailors gathered and trained.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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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.

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Henry Hudson Dreams cover

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

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9 June 2017:
Cardiff, Wales:
A Doctor in the House

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Cardiff is in the southwest of Wales, a bit closer to England than Holyhead in both geography and culture.

If London is New York, then Wales is the American midwest.

The tourism bureau would have us believe Cardiff has the largest concentration of castles of any city in the world, a claim I cannot easily verify.

In addition to Cardiff Castle, there are numerous other grand homes scattered about.

Until the Roman conquest of Britain, Cardiff was part of the territory of the Silures, a Celtic British tribe that flourished in the Iron Age.

The Romans built a 3.2-hectare (8-acre) fort established by the Romans near the mouth of the River Taff in 75 AD (four years before the eruption of Vesuvius on the Italian peninsula.)

In 1081 William I, King of England, began work on the castle keep within the walls of the old Roman fort.

Cardiff Castle has been at the heart of the city ever since. The castle was substantially altered and extended during the Victorian era. Small portions of the original Roman work can still be distinguished in the wall facings.

I spent the day exploring the apartments built within the castle in the 18th and 19th century by the Bute family, which amassed a huge fortune in the coal export business.

The most spectacular enhancements were made by the third Marquess of Bute, John Crichton-Stuart.

Here is some of what I saw:

A wondrous goat of a downspout at the castle

The spectacular Arab Room in the living quarters

The children’s room, decorated with great tales and portraits (left to right) of Aesop, Sheherazade, and Chaucer.

The gentlemen’s smoking room, with a nod to the ladies: the inscription reads in Latin: “Love Conquers All, and We All Surrender to Love.”

But outside the gentlemen’s smoking room, a depiction of Typhon, the most awful of Greek monsters, intended perhaps to keep women away

Outside in Cardiff, a pub named after the officer keeper of the mascot of the Royal Welsh Regiment. The Goat Major tends to the needs of the goat, who has his own title, rank, and salary

A fishmonger at the Central Market

And finally, a one-stop shop where you can get a tattoo, have it removed, or give yourself over to taxidermy

All photos copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved

MODERN CARDIFF

One of the most striking modern structures in Cardiff is the Millennium Centre, home to the Welsh National Opera, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and the Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre.

The finished building by architect Jonathan Adams was meant to express “Welshness.” Its construction uses local metal, wood, and glass, and 1,350 tons of local slate in purple, blue, green, gray, and black colors.

Inscribed on the front of the dome, above the main entrance, are two poetic lines, written by Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis in Welsh and English.

IN THESE STONES
HORIZONS
SING

Which somehow brings us to Doctor Who, which I’m sure means quite a lot to many of you and nothing whatsoever to others.

The Doctor, from a race called the Time Lords whose home planet is Gallifrey, travels through time and space in his ship the TARDIS (an acronym for Time and Relative Dimensions In Space) with various companions.

From time to time he regenerates into a new form (which is how the show has been running since 1963).

The show, in its current form, is produced and filmed by BBC Wales.

His time-traveling space ship, the Tardis, appears from the exterior to be a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. Not so much anymore.

Much of the series is filmed in and around Cardiff—not because of a particular Welsh reason, but as a stand-in for London and other places.

All text and photos Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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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:

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Henry Hudson Dreams cover

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

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8 June 2017:
Holyhead, Wales:
Princes and Prisoners

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We’ve arrived in the northwest of Wales, a lesser-known corner of the United Kingdom.

It’s a place of legends and mountains and kings and princes. The Prince of Wales, right? And Prisoners.

About an hour away, is Caernarfon, the source for more than 700 years—with a few gaps here and there—of the title for the heir apparent to the English or British monarchy.

The title of Prince of Wales was first granted to princes born in Wales in the 12th century onwards; at the time Prince was the top of the chain, not King.

One of the last Welsh princes, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, was killed in battle in 1282 by Edward I, King of England, whose son Edward, born in Caernarfon Castle, was invested as Prince of Wales and was the first English person to claim the title.

Since the 13th century, the title is granted to the heir apparent, although it is not a formal part of the royal succession but instead a personal honorific.

The title merges with or is replaced by King on accession to the throne.

In 1911, David Lloyd George, at the time Member of Parliament for Caernarfon boroughs, agreed to the British Royal Family’s idea of holding the investiture of Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David as the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle.

The ceremony took place on July 13, 1911, with the royal family paying a rare visit to Wales, and the future Edward VIII received his preliminary title there.

On July 1, 1969 the investiture ceremony for Charles was held at Caernarfon Castle.

HAIL, HAIL SNOWDONIA

On this visit I went with guests for a ride on the Welsh Highland Railway through a portion of the dramatic Snowdonia National Park. It was a gray and misty day, but that suited our journey well.

Here are some scenes from our railway voyage:

THE PRISONER

About 90 minutes away from Holyhead, across the Isle of Anglesey, lies Portmeirion.

It is an architectural folie, a version of an Italian coastal town—perhaps Portofino—purpose-built as a tourist attraction.

Most of the 50 or so buildings are slightly smaller than full-scale, which is exactly the approach that Walt Disney used in creating Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

And it is such an unusual sight that it was used as one of the centerpieces of a 1960s fantasy cult television series.

The Disney-esque visionary behind Portmeirion was Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, who devoted much of his time from 1925 to 1975 on its construction.

The television series was The Prisoner, first broadcast in the United Kingdom from September 1967 to February 1968. Only 17 episodes were made, starring Patrick McGoohan.

Basically, it is the story of a spy who quits in anger, but as he prepares to run away is rendered unconscious by knockout gas. When he awakes he finds himself held captive in a strange seaside “village” that is isolated by mountains and the sea.

The series had bits of spy fiction, a heavy dose of science fiction, a dollop of allegory, and more than a soupçon of psychological drama.

By that I mean it is rather difficult to explain.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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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.

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

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7 June 2017:
Greenock and Glasgow, Scotland:
On the Clyde

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Early Wednesday morning, we crossed west to east in the North Channel, from Northern Ireland to Scotland.

We arrived at Greenock, the northernmost port of call on this cruise, at about the same latitude as Moscow.

It’s not Moscow, of course. For one thing, they don’t speak Russian in Greenock, or Glasgow.

That may or may not help you, though. Because here in the west-central Lowlands of Scotland they use a dialect that is not exactly the Queen’s English. They call it Glaswegian.

And the effect of the Gulf Stream on the River Clyde helps Greenock’s average temperature stay above that of similar towns in the region and much milder than that of Moscow.

Greenock’s location that far north also gives long hours of daylight in midsummer and short days in midwinter. On the longest day of the year, June 21, the sun rises at 4:31 in the morning and sets at 11:07 in the evening.

We have been under gray skies and in rain for much of the past few days.

But the sun made its reappearance this morning, in a place not known for bright days. We chose to explore Greenock.

Among the places we visited was Saint Mary’s Church, established by Irish Catholics who crossed over in search of jobs and food in the 19th century.

We also went to see the Old West Kirk, a small but noteworthy outpost of the Church of Scotland.

Here are some photos from today:

A GREENOCK ALBUM

Silver Wind at the Dock

Saint Mary’s Church

A wee bit of shopping at a local outlet

The grand town chambers of Greenock, with a steeple one meter taller than that of Glasgow up the River Clyde

Greenock from the top of Lyle Hill, overlooking the Clyde

The Old West Kirk

The Old West Kirk, Church of Scotland, was the first Presbyterian Church built in Scotland after the Reformation. Opened in 1591 and added to several times, it was later moved from its location along the water in 1917 when Harland and Wolff enlarged their shipyard.

The Church’s original graveyard held the tomb of Mary Campbell, or Highland Mary as she was known: the poet Robert Burns’ somewhat unrequited love.

Burns was forced to marry—at least on paper—another woman after that other woman somehow became pregnant. Mary Campbell was later said to have prepared to emigrate to Jamaica in 1786 to be with Robert Burns, but Mary died of typhus in Greenock before she could leave.

One other intriguing detail: Mary Todd Lincoln, the widow of American president Abraham Lincoln, came to Greenock in 1869 to visit the grave of Mary Campbell and also that of Robert Burns (in Dumfries);

President Lincoln was said to have been an admirer of Burns and his widow, a very melancholic woman even before her husband’s assassination, continued that pursuit.

GLASGOW

Expanding from the medieval bishopric and royal burgh, and then the establishment of the University of Glasgow in the 15th century, Glasgow became a major center of the Scottish Enlightenment in the 18th century.

From the 18th century the city also grew as one of Great Britain’s main hubs of transatlantic trade with North America and the West Indies.

With the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, Glasgow rapidly expanded to become one of the world’s leading centers of chemicals, textiles, and engineering; most notably in shipbuilding.

Glasgow was to many observers the “Second City of the British Empire” for much of the Victorian era and Edwardian period.

By about 1900, Glasgow was producing more than half Britain’s tonnage of shipping and a quarter of all locomotives in the world.

All text and photos Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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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”

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Henry Hudson Dreams cover

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

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6 June 2017:
Belfast, Northern Ireland:
The Titanic City

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, which—like it or not for some residents—is part of the United Kingdom.

A tenuous peace has taken root in the past two decades, with some level of power-sharing between the two sides.

In modern times, Belfast was a center for two major industries: linen (which is the source of one of the city’s nicknames, Linenopolis), and shipbuilding.

The main yard, Harland and Wolff, built a ship you may have heard of: the RMS Titanic.

The Harland and Wolff shipyard is now the location of the world’s largest dry dock, where the giant cranes Samson and Goliath stand out against Belfast’s skyline.

Most of its work now involves support for offshore wind and oil platforms.

But in the early 20th century, this was the biggest and most productive shipyard in the world, and Belfast was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution.

Harland and Wolff became one of the largest shipbuilders in the world, employing as many as 35,000 workers.

Belfast briefly overtook Dublin as the largest city in Ireland.

My view of history is that it is driven by economics.

And the relative success of Belfast as an industrial center was one reason why Unionists held on to the link to Great Britain, at least at first.

The flashiest modern attraction is Titanic Belfast, which opened in 2012 to coincide with the centenary of the incomplete maiden voyage of the luxury liner Titanic.

The angular metallic structure was intended, according to its designers, to evoke the image of ship.

It stands 126 feet (38 meters) high, the same height as Titanic’s hull.

Locals have already applied their own nickname: The Iceberg.

We went for a long walk across the river to the former shipyards and the Titanic Museum, which also includes in a nearby drydock the last remaining White Star Line vessel: the tender Nomadic, constructed alongside her much larger sister to be dispatched to Cherbourg to carry guests from shore to the ship at anchor. Nomadic performed that task just once…and then was reassigned after Titanic sank.

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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:

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Henry Hudson Dreams cover

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

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5 June 2017:
Londonderry/Derry, Northern Ireland:
Stroke City

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Londonderry is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland, home to about 93,000; well behind the 483,000 in the capital city of Belfast.

The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Irish name Daire or Doire meaning “oak grove”.

In 1613, the city was granted a Royal Charter by King James I and as a reflection of the funding it received from the London guilds, it added London to Derry in its name.

Its official name remains Londonderry.

But like many, many things in this part of the world it depends on who you are talking to.

In general, Nationalists—those who would prefer a unified Ireland bringing together Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and who are predominantly Roman Catholic—drop the “London” and call the city “Derry.”

Many Unionists—those who want to maintain Northern Ireland as a part of the United Kingdom and who are predominantly but not exclusively Protestant—subtly, or not-so-subtly, keep the link to the UK out front by calling the place “Londonderry.”

A local broadcaster tried to popularize the nickname of Stroke City as in Derry-Stroke-Londonderry.

An older nickname is the Maiden City, a nod to the fact that its old walls were never breached in three separate sieges in the 17th century, including the Siege of Derry of 1688 to 1689.

The Siege of Derry was the first major event in the Williamite War in Ireland, also called in Irish the War of the Two Kings.

It was a conflict between the Jacobites (supporters of the deposed Catholic King James II of England and Ireland, VII of Scotland) and the Williamites (supporters of the Dutch Protestant Prince William of Orange) over who would be monarch of the Kingdom of England, the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of Ireland.

The siege is commemorated yearly in August by the Apprentice Boys of Derry, a Protestant fraternal society, founded in 1814.

During the troubles, marches by the Apprentice Boys were often the flashpoint for violent opposition by the city’s Irish nationalist majority.

The parades still take place, but in recent years most of the Troubles are more like well-rehearsed Kabuki theater. Let us hope they remain that way, or go away completely.

These days Derry or Londonderry is mostly peaceful, with conflict moved into the political realm. The British election is scheduled for less than a week from now, and Sinn Fein is now a recognized political party

Today we went for a walk within the walls of the old city to visit the Guildhall, paid for, constructed, and decorated by the London Guilds who aimed to make Derry British…and who added London as a prefix to its name. Here are some of the stunning glass windows of the Main Hall:

From the Guildhall we exited the old city walls and walked a short distance to Bogside, a mostly Catholic area that was involved in many of the major events of The Troubles, including Bloody Sunday.

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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:

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

Henry Hudson Dreams cover

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.

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4 June 2017:
Killybegs, Ireland:
Little Cells

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

You would not be thought odd by me if you figured that Killybegs was the name of a Monty Python sketch.

But, no.

The  Gaelic translation for Killybegs is ‘Na Cealla Beaga’ which means “little cells.” The name is derived from an ancient monastery in the area.

I am going to make an assumption that cells were nothing at all like our suites aboard ship.

We are in northwest of Ireland near the border with Northern Ireland.

Killybegs, population about 1,297 on a fair day, is on the south coast of County Donegal, near Donegal Town.

Inland is quite green and pastoral, the Ireland of most of our expectations.

But the coastline in this corner is very dramatic, with the highest sea cliffs of Europe, beaches, and wintertime snow. The Wild Atlantic Way (so dubbed by the local tourist boards) stretches 2,500 kilometers or 1,550 miles from County Donegal and Killybegs.

Today, Killybegs is a very quiet place. It is though, the home of Ireland’s largest fishing fleet and our ship fit in between and amongst trawlers at the dock.

Above town the restored Church features a major stained glass window dedicated to the fishermen of town.

And speaking of Monty Python, I went to make a pilgrimage to a place I spotted on the map: Fawlty’s Lounge. Alas, Basil was nowhere to be seen and I later learned that the nightclub had gone out of business recently.

Or perhaps they moved to a location closer to the sea…or in it.

ALL PHOTOS COPYRIGHT 2017, COREY SANDLER

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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:

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

Henry Hudson Dreams cover

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.

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3 June 2017:
Foynes, Ireland:
Location, Location, Location

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Foynes, population about 600, is a pretty village in County Limerick in the midwest of Ireland. But there are many pretty places in Ireland.

Foynes has a deepwater port, inland from the open ocean and well-sheltered, on the southern bank of the Shannon Estuary, a 60-mile-long tidal waterway that runs from the City of Limerick to the Atlantic Ocean.

But there are other major ports in Ireland, too. Cobh and Cork, and Waterford for example. And in Northern Ireland there is Belfast. They are all quite old and established ports.

But in 1930 there was something special about Foynes that is not matched by those larger and better-known ports: location, location, location, at least when it comes to its line of latitude.

In the early 1930s, as plans were being made for the first commercial transatlantic flights between the United States and Europe, early aviators sought the shortage distance point-to-point and passage over land for as much of the trip as possible, adding a margin of safety.

In 1933, famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, who was working for Pan American Airlines as a consultant, homed in on Foynes.

The idea was to use flying boats, huge aircraft that included the Flying Clipper design. Land-based commercial airplanes did not have the fuel capacity to cross the Atlantic with a full load of passenger and freight.

Flying out of New York, planes would hug the east coast of the United States, over Boston and Maine, and then pass over Nova Scotia in Canada and finally Newfoundland before making the over-water crossing to Ireland. The distance was about 3,050 miles.

Foynes had the added advantage of being in Ireland and not England; Ireland was already signaling its intention to remain neutral as the winds of war arose, and indeed it would hold that position throughout World War II.

Construction of a terminal in Foynes was begun in 1935, and the first transatlantic proving flights were operated on July 5, 1937 with a Pan Am Sikorsky S-42 flight from Botwood, Newfoundland and Labrador. Service to New York, Southampton, Montreal, Poole and Lisbon followed.

Foynes would be one of the most important international terminuses of commercial flight from 1939 to 1945, through World War II.

The age of the flying boat was relatively short. Advances in technology—accelerated by World War II military demands—led to development of longer-range propeller-driven and then jet aircraft.

In 1942, Shannon Airport opened on flat boglands on the northern bank of the same estuary as Foynes. And in 1946, after the end of the war, the flying boat station in Foynes closed.

A DAY IN BUNRATTY

On this visit I went with a group of guests further up the River Shannon to Limerick to make a visit to Bunratty Castle. This structure was built about 1425 and went through a number of owners, beginning with wealthy landholders, then Kings and other Nobles in the region of North Munster.

The three story castle fell into near ruin but was lovingly restored and reopened in the 1950s. It includes some amazing period gurniture and decorations and very well conveys the claustrophobia of dwelling within a 600-year-old stone castle.

Inlaid into the wall of the Great Hall was an ancient fertility symbol, promising (or threatening) children to women who passed by.

Surrounding the castle is a Heritage Park that displays buildings from the 18th century including private houses, farm houses, a schoolhouse, doctor’s office, and other structures.

We capped off the somewhat chilly day with a stop at a bar for a cup glass of Irish coffee. I asked the bartender to hold the coffee and hold the cream and I enjoyed the rest.

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Foynes is generally a rather damp and sometimes chilly place, and perhaps not the most wonderful place to land after a 20-hour flight in a boat.

An oft-reported story–which does not necessarily mean it is true–is that Joe Sheridan, chef at the restaurant at the terminal in Foynes, greeted cold and wet passengers arriving on one of the Clippers with a cup of coffee greatly improved by the addition of Irish Whiskey and cream.

There are some people who say that in the process he ruined three perfectly good drinks: coffee, whiskey, and cream.

Text copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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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:

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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

 

2 June 2017:
Cobh, Ireland:
A Place of Beginnings and Endings

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Cobh is a place of epic beginnings and endings.

It is one of the closest ports of Europe to Canada and North America.

Cobh—or Queenstown as it was known then—was the place from which millions of Irish departed their homeland to seek a new start in the new world, the land of milk and honey, the place where the streets were paved with gold: America and Canada.

The population of Ireland was estimated at 8.2 million in 1841; half a century later, in 1891, the population was said to be 4.7 million.

As many as 4.5 million Irish arrived in America between 1820 and 1930, from Queenstown, other Irish ports, and British ports like Liverpool.

Today, in the United States, more than 10 percent of Americans trace their roots to Ireland.

Queenstown was the last piece of land touched by passengers on the doomed ship Titanic in 1912.

And Queenstown was just out of reach of the Lusitania, which came the other direction from New York before it was torpedoed and sunk off the Old Head of Kinsale in 1915.

A COBH ALBUM

A SIDE TRIP TO CORK

On this visit, we were off the ship early and onto a morning train up the estuary to the big city of Cork, about 15 miles away. In not-all-that-ancient times, the distance was enough to make the cities grow very differently.

Today, Cork is a lively town with a wealth of Georgian and Victorian buildings and a few pieces of idiosyncratic architecture as well.

Here are some photos from today:

Silver Wind at the dock, as seen from the train station on the other side of the quay.

An old mill in Cork, converted to apartments.

Inside and outside the English Market in the heart of Cork.

ALL PHOTOS COPYRIGHT COREY SANDLER 2017, all rights reserved.

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Text and images copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

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 cover

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

1 June 2017:
Falmouth, Cornwall, United Kingdom:
Pasties and Pirates

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Cornwall forms the southwestern tip of the mainland of Great Britain.

This is an interesting part of the United Kingdom with a great deal of history, and not all that much visited.

One of the local specialties is the Cornish Pastie, which was one of the original fast foods. It was developed as a way to provide a hot, sealed meal for the workers in the mines of Cornwall.

The ingredients for a proper pastie include “swede”, which some people call turnip but it is actually a yellow turnip or rutabaga.

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A Pastie maker in Falmouth. Photos by Corey Sandler

The word is pronounced PASS-TEE, by the way.

Not PAYS-TEE, of course, which is something completely different.

In the Caribbean, on the French island of Les Saintes, native women still bake something similar: Les Tourments d’Amour, the torments of love which had their origin as a packaged meal given the fishermen heading off for a day’s work at sea.

Falmouth also had other moments of history including as the place where Charles Darwin returned from his great voyage of natural discovery on the ship Beagle.

And it was the place where the first word of the success of the British against the Spanish Armada and the death of Lord Nelson was received.

It was also from this little port that one of the most daring commando raids of the second World War World War II launched. The raid on Saint-Nazaire in 1942 successfully disabled an important dry dock in German-occupied France for the duration of the war and forced Germany to send major ships needing repairs through waters closer to the United Kingdom and within range of  ships and aircraft of the Allies. The raid came at great cost, though, both in deaths and captured soldiers, and is not forgotten in Falmouth.

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Text and images copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

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 cover

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

31 May 2017:
Southampton, United Kingdom:
Going Full Circle

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

During the night we crossed La Manche (the Sleeve), which is what the French call the English Channel. More precisely, we sailed out of Honfleur and arrived this morning at Southampton in the United Kingdom.

This marks the end of this cruise, which began two weeks ago in Monte Carlo.

To guests leaving us here, bon voyage. We look forward to sailing with you again somewhere, sometime.

And to new guests, welcome aboard.

Tonight, Silver Wind departs on a new cruise, heading west then north then south then east. That works out to a near-complete circle of the British Isles.

Here’s our plan:

We are due to call at Falmouth in the southwestern tip of Cornwall in England, then to the Republic of Ireland and Cobh, Foynes, and gotta-smile-because-of-the-name port of Killybegs.

Then we cross the border to Londonderry/Derry and Belfast in Northern Ireland. A quick dart across the water brings us to Greenock in Scotland, the port for Glasgow.

And then back southward to Holyhead and Cardiff in Wales, the Dartmouth in Devon.

On Sunday, June 11 we are due to make a grand procession up the River Thames, passing through the Tower Bridge in London in the afternoon.

I hope you’ll follow along in these pages.

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Text and photos copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved.

30 May 2017:
Honfleur, France:
Hidden in Plain Sight

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Honfleur is a medieval gem, hidden in plain sight, between the major French port of Le Havre across the Seine to the east, and the D-Day beaches of Normandy to the west.

It’s a lovely place, with a certain je ne sais quoi, not at all like much of the rest of coastal France.

And so it seems no surprise that this was one of the sources of impressionism in art and a musical genius of evocative impressions.

Honfleur was the birthplace of the artist Eugène Boudin and the composer and artist Erik Satie.

And it was a favored place to visit for French painters Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet, English landscape artist William Turner, and writer and critic Charles Baudelaire.

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While much of Normandy, about 50 miles or 32 kilometers way, was pounded by the Allies in the D-Day landing or by the Germans in defending it, Honfleur survived the war relatively untouched.

During German occupation, authorities in Honfleur allowed the River Seine to silt up the harbor, making it of little military value.

What remains is of great cultural value to us now.

A RETURN TO NORMANDY

Seventy-two years ago, Southampton was one of the ports of embarkation for the invasion forces of D-Day, along with Portsmouth and other places.

Today I went again to the beaches and the villages of Normandy, something that should be mandatory for historians, politicians, and anyone else of consequence.

Among the men and boys who landed at Normandy was my father,  and I take advantage of every opportunity to visit there.

A Normandy Album

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We begin at Omaha Beach,  one of the two principal American landing sites,  then went up on the bluff to the vast cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, the final resting place of about 13,000 Americans,  two thirds of them given benefit of a gravestone with their name,  the remainder–as the notation reads–known only to God.

At Arromanches the British constructed a massive artificial harbor that allows the full push to Germany to begin.

No one with a soul can visit these places and come away unmoved.

Text and images copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

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 cover

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