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.)

23-24 October 2017:
Callao, Peru:
The Port of Lima

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Here’s the answer to a question for team trivia: residents of the major Peruvian port of Callao are known as chalacos.

The city was founded by the Spanish in 1537, just two years after Lima. It soon became the main port for Spanish commerce in the Pacific.

At the height of the Viceroyalty, virtually all goods produced or plundered in Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina were carried over the Andes by mule to Callao.

From there the cargo was shipped to Panama. It was nearly four centuries too early for a passage through the canal, so a land route was used instead.

Cargo was carried overland across the isthmus, and then loaded onto galleons to be transported to Spain. The Spanish maintained strongholds in Cuba and in Cartagena in what is now Colombia.

Lima, Peru
Lima, Peru

A COLONIAL TOUR

Today I went with a group of guests on a tour concentrating on the Spanish  Colonial history of Lima.

Our first stop was at the amazing Casa Aliaga, a home which has been in the hands of the Aliaga family for more than 17 generations from 1535 through today. It is furnished with items including some dating back to the times of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

Here’s a bit of what we saw:

CASA ALIAGA

Photos by Corey Sandler

SAN PEDRO CHURCH

Nearby was Presidential Palace of Peru, guarded by a squad of ramrod straight soldiers:

CASA SAN MARCO

And then we visited a small portion of the sprawling San Marco University, the oldest university in the Americas, dating from 1551. We were greeted by several actors in period dress, including a young woman who showed the connection between Peru and Colonial Spain and the Moorish influence in Andalusia.

And she did so in a very coy way.

THE KON TIKI CONNECTION

Norwegian explorer and author Thor Heyerdahl believed that people from South American could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.

Norwegian explorer and author Thor Heyerdahl believed that people from South American could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.

In 1947, it was from Callao that Norwegian explorer and author Thor Heyerdahl set sail in his balsa wood raft Kon Tiki, on a successful voyage to Polynesia to support his theaoty that people from South American could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.

Today that theory is subject to some questioning, but no one questions the seamanship and bravery of Heyerdahl and his crew.

Lima, the capital and the largest city of Peru, lies about 9 miles or 15 kilometers to the south.

With a population of almost 10 million, Lima is the second-largest city in the Americas, behind São Paulo and before Mexico City.

That puts about one-third of the entire nation’s population in and around Lima, a handsome and bustling city that brings together things colonial and modern.

UP TO MACHU PICCHU

Up in the interior of Peru, along a magnificent mountain pass from the city of Cusco, lies the mystical city of Machu Picchu. You cannot sail there by cruise ship (or any other waterway).

Some of our guests headed there on an extended land excursion. Here is some of what I saw when last we made a pilgrimage there:

Machu Picchu. All photos by Corey Sandler
Machu Picchu

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22 October 2017:
Salaverry, Peru:
A Visit to the Chimú Capital of Chan-Chan

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

In relative terms, Peru is a South American success story. Peru is classified as upper middle income by the World Bank, moving upward.

Its total GDP is somewhere around the 39th largest in the world, with a per capita GDP above $12,000.

But there is a major divide between the relative prosperity of the coast and abject poverty in the high Andes.

The economy is based mostly on exports: copper, gold, zinc, textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, services, and fish meal.

Silver Muse docked at Salaverry, a small industrial port town.

There’s not a lot to recommend in Salaverry, other than a parking space for our ship.

The focus of our visit is the old Spanish Colonial city of Trujillo, about 14 kilometers or 8 miles north.

Also, the amazing ruins of the adobe cities of the Mocha and the Chimú capital city of Chan-Chan.

Today, on a pleasant early spring day in Peru, I went with guests to Chan-Chan, a huge Chimú site. We toured one of the sprawling temples and explored the artwork and architecture of a place frozen in time from about 1450.

CHAN-CHAN

Some of the internal artwork under preservation at Chan-Chan.

Watching over us, a pair of buitres, vultures whose ancestors probably were here six centuries ago.

CENSUS DAY

As it happened, today was the day of the Peruvian National Census, conducted once every 10 years. In an interesting arrangement, all citizens, residents, and tourists are required to stay in their homes or hotels between 8 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon as census workers spread out across the nation.

In a last-minute ruling, the government altered the rules slightly, allowing tourists arriving on the day of the census to come ashore and spend time (and money) in a few select places. And so we did.

At Chan-Chan, I came across a special representative of the Tourist Police, hard at work.

TRUJILLO AND SALAVERRY, PERU

Trujillo, Peru. Photo by Corey Sandler
Coastal Peru. Photo by Corey Sandler
Trujillo, Peru. Photo by Corey Sandler
Trujillo, Peru. Photo by Corey Sandler

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20 October 2017:
Manta, Ecuador:
Take Your Hat

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Here in Ecuador (as in Equator) you need a good hat. It’s not a fashion statement; it’s an essential.

Manta, the largest seaport in Ecuador, is a bit less than one degree south of the Equator, about 65 miles or 105 kilometers below.

It is nearby the place where a famous type of millinery for men and women is made, but that article of clothing bears the name of another country. The famous Panama Hat was first made here, and exported to the workers laboring in the hot sun.

Panama Hats in Ecuador. Photo by Corey Sandler

Today they still make some very fine Panama Hats in Ecuador. But if you don’t look very closely at the label, you might find that your sombrero nuevo was hecho en China.

Though you may never have been here, chances are pretty good you’ve opened a tin of food that was packed here. This is one of the major sources of canned (and fresh) tuna.

Just ask Bumble Bee, Van Camps, and a half-dozen other major companies with canneries here. And the most valuable fresh tuna are packed in ice, loaded on jets, and shipped around the world to connoisseurs.

Tuna coming ashore in Manta. Photo by Corey Sandler
Street vendor in Manta. Photo by Corey Sandler

And although huge, goofy-looking Manta Rays are indeed found in the waters near Manta, they’re also quite common in many other places.

Manta Rays get their name from the Spanish word manta which means blanket, which is a reference to their shape.

Manta, Ecuador gets its name from the Manta tribe, a group of people that was subsumed into the oncoming Inca tide in the 15th century.

Back to hats.

I am fond of a quote from Henry David Thoreau, the champion of simplicity. He too, though, prized his hat: “Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.”

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18 October 2017:
Transit of the Panama Canal:
Floating Across the Continental Divide

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Silver Muse arrives at the Miraflores Locks at the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, 18Oct 2017. 

Early Wednesday morning, before sunrise, Silver Muse took her place in line for a trip through one of humankind’s greatest adjustments to the face of the earth: the Panama Canal.

We arrived outside of Limon Bay in the Caribbean Sea and then moved slowly south to the Atlantic Approach of the canal.

Yes, south. Although we are moving from the east coast of the American continent to the west, at the narrow isthmus through Panama the land bends nearly 90 degrees. And so we enter from the north and exit into the Pacific Ocean sailing south.

Map data (c) OpenStreetMap (and) contributors, CC-BY-SA

That’s just one of many things around which mariners and travelers need to wrap their mind. The most astounding is the fact that our ship—for the very first time in her young career—will rise about 80 feet in three steps at the first set of locks and then descend about the same distance at the end of the day as we enter the Pacific.

Silver Muse makes her maiden transit of the Panama Canal. Photos by Corey Sandler

In between, we sailed the fresh water of Gatun Lake, created in the early 20th century by the construction of a dam across the Chagres River.

The Panama Canal itself is nearly unchanged from the way it was when it began operation in 1914. Last year, a new set of wider and longer locks were opened alongside the original ones; think of them as new entry ramps to an existing watery highway.

I have made the passage many times, and it always is a thrill to view the technology and relive the history of its construction.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

17 October 2017:
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica:
The Atlantic Side of the Rich Coast

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Buenos dias.

¿Cómo vas?

¿Pura vida?

Muy bien, gracias a Dios.

There’s your basic meet-and-greet for Ticos, also known as Costa Ricans.

Good day.

How are things going?

Pura vida?

Very well, thank God.

The one phrase you might not have recognized is one that pretty well sums up the Costa Rican character.

Pura vida.

Literally, it translates as pure life, except in proper Spanish that would be vida pura.

He looks cool, at least from a distance.

The Costa Rican expression is the rough equivalent of “full of life” or “real life” or “cool.” Or perhaps, hakuna matata.

It’s an all-purpose phrase, used as a greeting and a farewell. You can use it to say thanks, or to express satisfaction. It’s hard to use it wrong.

The phrase arrived in Costa Rica in 1956 in a Mexican movie. In that film, pura vida was the expression of eternal optimism by a character who can’t seem to do anything right.

Here is Costa Rica, though, they seem to be doing many, many things quite right.

It’s a special place, notably different from its neighbors in Central America in lots of good ways.

Since 1948, Costa Rica is arguably the most stable democracy in Central America and among the better-functioning longstanding governments in the world.

Nearly universal literacy, national health care, an economy that has moved on from agriculture to ecotourism.

No army, no navy, no air force. Just a civilian police force.

It helps to have some friends with benefits, including the United States, available in an emergency.

We’re coming in to the Atlantic or Caribbean side of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica (the Rich Coast) is one of eight countries to have ports on both the Atlantic and Pacific: Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia…and Panama.

And when we leave Puerto Limon, it is to Panama where we shall head, for our luxurious passage between the seas.

A STEAMY FIELD OF DREAMS

In a typical Major League Baseball game in the United States and Canada, an average of 100 baseballs are used.

Why so many? Some become scruffed or dirty in play, some go into the seats as foul balls, and a few make their way over the fence for a home run. The average lifespan of a baseball is just two plays.

And it is essential that—as much as possible—that all baseballs are close to identical: the same size, weight, and construction.

A Rawlings factory was established in Costa Rica in 1987, and it served as the exclusive provider of baseballs for the major leagues until 2013.

The factory is in Turrialba, east of the capital city of San Jose up in the mountains of Costa Rica and they make about 2.4 million baseballs per year, the vast majority of which are shipped to the United States.

The baseballs are mostly made by hand by three hundred qualified sewers, the best of whom can make three balls per hour. They earn less than $100 per week, making balls for athletes who earn many millions of dollars throwing, catching, or hitting.

The balls are made of horsehide or cowhide, tightly held together 108 hand stitches around a rubber wrapped cork center. Each ball, between 9 and 9¼ inches in circumference, weigh 5¼ ounces. must have 108 perfect stitches.

Despite the major production of baseballs, the sport itself is not very popular in Costa Rica. The leading sport is football, although many athletes here are very well aware of the success of players who have come from nearby Panama (Mariano Rivera), Nicaragua, Cuba, and hundreds from the Dominican Republic where the production of baseball players is a major industry.

Earlier this year, the Houston Astros signed 19-year-old pitching prospect Bryan Solano, born and raised here in Puerto Limon. He likely will have five or more years of work in the minor leagues, with hopes of someday taking the mound in a major league game.

But I could not pass up the chance to visit El Estadio de Beisbol in steamy Puerto Limon today to pay homage to a field of dreams.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14 October 2017:
Key West, Florida:
The Sun Also Sets

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Here in the Conch Republic, not everything is normal.

Let me rephrase that. In Key West, normal is not normal.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But this is a place where you could walk down the street dressed in a scarf and a sneeze. . .

and receive compliments on the scarf.

But in a sense, Key West has more or less gotten back to its version of normal, just a month after an unwelcome visit by Hurricane Irma which came ashore 20 miles north of Key West, over the Big Pine, Summerland and Cudjoe Keys.

Key West was partially submerged, and suffered some damage but the locals have been working non-stop to restore the place to greet visitors much more appreciated: tourists. Silver Muse is among the first cruise ships to return to the town.

It was a hot and almost impossibly humid day…and this is autumn.

Here’s our ship, making her maiden call:

And I was glad to see that the street art survived, including this giant homage to a famous photo taken at the end of World War II:

This evening we set sail for two days at sea, headed for Puerto Limon, and beyond that a transit of the Panama Canal.

Key West was a regular home to Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and President Harry S Truman and other notables.

They have a New Year’s Celebration that is out of this world, but that is just one of many fantastic fantasy festivals here at the very bottom of Florida.

In Key West, you can stand at the corner of South and Whitehead Streets and take a picture of a monument that marks the southernmost point of the United States.

Well, it’s close.

Here’s the fine print: the monument is in the general vicinity of the southernmost point of the continental United States.

Whitehead Spit, just west of the monument, is the true southernmost point, but that piece of land is U.S. Navy property, not ordinarily accessible to tourists.

The actual southernmost point of the United States is not on the continent.

It is at Ka Lae, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

But wait, if we broaden our definition to include U.S. possessions, the southernmost part of the United States is tiny Rose Atoll, in American Samoa, an unincorporated territory.

Actually, there’s an even more obscure spot: the Amundsen–Scott Station at the Geographic South Pole.

You can’t get any further south than that. But since Antarctica is by treaty an international zone, it is not a part of the United States.

Not that they quibble about true facts much around here.

This is, after all, a place where every night hundreds of tourists and many locals gather at Mallory Square to watch the same thing that happened roughly 24 hours ago: the setting of the sun.

Same sun as you’ll seen everywhere else on the planet. Except here, it’s different.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 October 2017:
Fort Lauderdale, Florida:
Musings on a Grand Voyage

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Welcome aboard for the start of the Grand Voyage of Silversea’s beautiful new flagship, Silver Muse.

We’re heading southwest from Fort Lauderdale, with a first stop at the quirky semi-independent somewhat incredible, and always enjoyable Key West, the southernmost point of the mainland of the United States. It will be our last touch of the U.S.  for more than two months.

Silver Muse

From there it will be westward to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, where we we will perform final weights and measures before Silver Muse makes her first transit of the Panama Canal, the pathway between the seas.

When we reach the Pacific, we’ll head south down the coast of South America with calls in Ecuador, Peru, and Chile on the first leg of our voyage.

Here’s our plan for the first segment of the Grand Voyage:

The second leg will go down to the bottom of the continent, with closeup encounters with the fjords and icefields of Laguna San Rafael and Garibaldi Glacier. After rounding the Strait of Magellan. we’ll start heading north with a scheduled call at the Falkland Islands on our way to Montevideo, Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

And the third part of the trip will take us to seven stops in Brazil, including some less-known places and one of the most famous places of the deep south, Rio de Janeiro. From there we make an arrival…and a departure…from the famous French prison island of Devil’s Island.

I hope you’ll join me here throughout.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29 June 2017:
London, England:
Journey’s End, Through the Tower Bridge

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We’ve completed our roundtrip from cosmopolitan London up the west coast of Norway to the cold top at the northernmost point of mainland Europe and back.

Early this morning, Silver Wind entered the estuary of the River Thames about 1:30 a.m.

Sunrise came at 5:47 a.m., in time for us to have a glorious approach to London, gleaming in the early sun.

Just as the morning rush hour got fully under way, the spans of the London Tower Bridge opened to let us through to come through to our mooring.

Here are some photos I took two weeks ago when Silver Wind went through the Tower Bridge at the end of our previous cruise.

Passing Through the London Flood Barrier

Under the Emirates Cable Car

\

Alongside the O2 Arena, With Adventurous Gawkers On the Rafters

Passing By Our Sister Ship Silver Cloud

Arrivederci to our guests heading home; some will take a taxi from the ship to Greater London, and others have longer journeys. Safe travels.

We, too, are going home for a while. We’ll be back aboard ship in the fall; 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 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

27 June 2017:
Stavanger, Norway:
The Oil Capital

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Stavanger is one of Norway’s oldest cities, the third-largest urban zone and metropolitan area of the country . . . and perhaps one of Norway’s least-known ports.

Its history, population, and relative wealth are all due to the real estate agent’s three most important words of advice: location, location, and location.

It was established because of its fine harbor, in the relatively temperate south of the country. It prospered as a trading port.

Stavanger is in many ways a summation of all things Norwegian.

It is a dramatic port in a harbor framed by mountains, snow-capped most of the year.

It has a history of trade and war, war and trade.

It was and is used by fishermen.

And in recent years, the latest hordes of invaders are tourists, most of them coming in by cruise ship—more than 100 ship visits per year.

But the largest single driver of the economy—directly and indirectly—is the oil and gas industry.

TODAY IN STAVANGER

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

Stavanger is called by some the Oil Capital of Norway, the headquarters of the government-owned Statoil company and the base for much of the support for the vast offshore fields in the wild and cold North Sea.

Other international establishments, and especially local branches of foreign oil and gas companies, contribute further to a significant foreign population in the city.

There are also domestic and international military installations in Stavanger, among them the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s Joint Warfare Center.

Stavanger also as another distinction, among the most expensive cities in the world.

It is featured in comparisons including the Big Mac index which compares the cost of a burger around the world, which may be one of the more accurate ways to gauge the cost of living.

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

26 June 2017:
Bergen, Norway:
Mood Swings

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Bergen is the last major port call on this cruise, a charming and sometimes moody place in the southern part of Norway.

Why moody? Well, the people here are almost always unfailingly pleasant and accommodating.

The weather: not so much.

Bergen is a place where you can experience all four seasons. All in one day, that is.

Bergen Norway 21Jun2013-4718

Bergen Norway 21Jun2013-4722

Moody weather in Bergen. Photos by Corey Sandler

In the morning I walked with Silversea chef David Bilsland and a group of guests from our ship to the Bergen Fish Market on an educational and shopping tour.

Below, Rudolph the Red-nosed Hot Dog

BRYGGEN

Bryggen, on the north side of the bay, was used as a dock and warehouse area by the Hansa between 1350 and 1750.

Here are some photos from today:

Photos by Corey Sandler

AN ANTIQUE MUSEUM

I am a big fan of the Natural History Museum at the University of Bergen. Alas, it is under renovation until 2019. I look forward to returning…but i hope they don’t overdo the renewal.

It was a very old-fashioned museum—think wooden cabinets with specimens pinned in place, stuffed animals of all sort, and huge whale and other skeletons hanging overhead.

Some of the creatures—and the design of the museum—are extinct.

Bergen6 Univ

Bergen5 Univ

Bergen Natural History Museum. Photos by Corey Sandler

ABOUT BERGEN

Bergen is home to about 268,000 people in the city itself and 394,000 in the surrounding area.

It is thus the second-largest city in Norway, behind only Oslo, although the capital city is much more populous: 1.4 million.

Oh, and a whole bunch of fish.

Bergen4

Bergen3

Bergen2

Bergen1

FISH MARKET

The great fish market occupies the center of the horseshoe-shaped harbor; in modern times the market has been extended from outdoor stalls to a handsome indoor building.

The fish is about as fresh and tasty as you’ll find anywhere, and all you need to do is look hungry to be offered a sample of smoked salmon or boiled crab or fish chowder.

Bergen Norway 21Jun2013-4701

Bergen Norway 21Jun2013-4714

King Crab at the Bergen Fish Market

Bergen Norway 21Jun2013-4706

This guy looks quite surprised at the situation he has found himself in. It’s an Ure fish, which means red fish, similar to red snapper.

MY GUILTY SNACK

One other point worth noting: Norway is one of the few countries that still hunts whales for meat. (The others include Iceland, Japan, and a few tiny island nations.)

Norway catches a few hundred Minke whales, mostly in waters at the northern end of the nation.

Minke whales are not considered an endangered species, although their numbers—like all other varieties of whales—are greatly reduced.

My wife and I live on Nantucket Island, which for a period of time in the 19th century was the whaling capital of the world. It was the Saudi Arabia of whale oil.

But the whalers who left from our island on voyages of as much as three or four years did not eat the whale meat. All they wanted was the oil as well as baleen and whale bone.

And today, although Nantucket celebrates its heritage as a whaling port (including the fine Nantucket Whaling Museum), it is at the forefront of a nearly-universal boycott against the harvesting of whale for meat today.

Although I have been to Norway, Iceland, Japan, and Arctic Canada many times, until a few years ago I had never tried whale meat.

Reason 1: Political correctness.

Reason 2: Have you ever seen whale meat? It is enough to make you seriously consider vegetarianism.

But on a tour of the fish market, we were offered samples of king crab and gravlax and codfish caviar and fish chowder.

And then, a platter of small pieces of smoked whale.

I hesitated…and then took a bite.

It tasted a bit like beef or caribou. Not bad.

But I felt guilty about it. And I promise never to do it again.

There are other foods to explore without the worry of losing my credentials in the upright citizens brigade.

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25 June 2017:
Olden, Norway:
A Tiny Place in a Grand Setting

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Norway is a relatively small place, but Olden…well, it’s a tiny place in a grand setting.

Think of the Halls of the Mountain King and glaciers and trolls.

The village of Olden is at the mouth of the Oldeelva river on the southern shore of the Nordfjorden, the North Fjord.

It is less than half a square kilometer, or 140 acres in size, with a population of about 498.

Nordfjorden is one of the longest fjords in Norway, with its main arm extending eastward from the sea about 106 kilometers or 66 miles. The fjord starts as runoff from the Jostedalsbreen, Europe’s largest mainland glacier fed by the largest snowfield on the continent.

There was plenty of water below our keel. The fjord has a maximum depth of 565 meters or 1,854 feet.

The Jostedalsbreen glacier remains quite large, but like most cold places on the planet it has been affected by climate change.

Today I went with a group of guests on a road and boat trip to the base of the Kjenndalsbreen glacier, which is a minor finger of the huge Jostalsbreen.

We passed along emerald green silver green waters of Lake Loen and then proceeded on foot to the valley that holds what remains of the glacier.

The frozen river has receded to perhaps 30 percent of its fairly recent extension into the valley.

I focused my camera on the reflections and on the patterns in the water and ice and rock. Here’s some of what I saw.

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24 June 2017:
Molde, Norway:
Cool

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

There is a Norwegian aphorism that goes like this:

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only poor choices of clothing.”

We have experienced very cold winds, moderate temperatures, rain, and even a bit of snow on this trip.

One of the weather forecasts for today predicted a 90 percent chance of rain. The day started out gray and threatening, but by 11 in the morning there was blue sky without a single cloud, which I suppose means we hit that 10 percent sweet spot.

The day is not yet over, though. The afternoon is back to shades of gray.

On our walk today I was in a reflective mood. Here’s what I saw.

REFLECTIONS ON MOLDE TODAY

All photos by Corey Sandler, copyright 2017.

Norway is, in general, not known as a hot place.

Molde is located about a third of the way up from the base of the country, pretty far north but still about 265 miles or 426 kilometers below the Arctic Circle.

But it benefits nicely from a nearby finger of the Gulf Stream, giving it a maritime, temperate climate, with cool-to-warm summers, and relatively mild winters.

However, in other ways, Molde is definitely a cool place.

Especially every July, near the peak of summer. This small place is home to the annual Moldejazz festival, one of the largest and oldest jazz festivals in Europe, and one of the most important.

As many as 100,000 visitors come to the city, quadrupling the local population of about 26,000.

The festival this year runs from 17 to 22 July, and something like 120 concerts are planned.

The famed Atlantic Road runs up the coast nearby to Molde. Photo by Corey Sandler

UP FROM THE ASHES

Like many Norwegian towns, Molde suffered greatly in World War II.

German air-raids in April and May 1940 destroyed about two thirds of the town.

Molde was in effect the capital of Norway for a week after King Haakon, Crown Prince Olav, and members of the government and parliament arrived at Molde on April 23, after a dramatic flight from Oslo. They arrived in time to experience the bombing raids personally.

The Norwegian gold reserve was also brought to Molde, and was hidden in a clothing factory.

Today the gold comes mostly from tourists.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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

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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.

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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”

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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AMAZON.COM by clicking on the banner below.

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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.

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