Tag Archives: Norway

5 June 2019:
Vik and Flåm, Norway:
Fjords, Falls, and Rails

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Our last calls in Norway are two small settlements in a spectacular fjord, in many ways an encapsulation of the history and legends of the country.

We began with an early morning visit to Vik, on the southern shore of the Sognefjorden. Like much of Norway, it is a tiny settlement in an outsized setting. The municipality spreads across 833 square kilometers or 322 square miles, with about 2,700 residents.

A thousand years ago or so, this fjord was a thoroughfare for the Vikings.

These days, cruise ships pass by pretty regularly in the summer. Most are headed directly for Flåm, but from time to time, one of them stops for a while in Vik.

I went with guests on a day-long trip from Vik, up into the mountains and then across the top by railroad and then down the hill to Flåm. Our first visit was to the very impressive Hopperstad Church, first erected about the year 1130. It is probably the oldest stave church in the world, and a living bridge between Viking mythology and Christian belief.

Here is some of what we saw there:

Hopperstad Church in Vik. Photos by Corey Sandler, copyight 2019, all rights reserved.

About lunchtime, our ship sailed around the corner to the even smaller settlement of Flåm, famous for its scenery and its railroad that ascends from the sea toward the sky.

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

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

Truth be told, though: the port is basically a train station, a ferry slip, a cruise dock, and a few gift shops.

About 500,000 visitors come each year by ship or train; about 175 cruise ships come each summer.

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 maximum rise or gradient is about 5.6 percent; up 863 meters or 2,831 feet_(1:18) through 20 tunnels and across one bridge.

The trip takes about an hour each way, churning up the mountain at 40 kilometers or 25 miles per hour. Going down, they apply the brakes to keep the speed to 30 kilometers or 19 miles per hour.

There’s a spectacular waterfall about halfway down the mountain, which is high praise for a place like Norway. And, just for us, a huldra, a temptress of the forest emerged. I–and the other men in our group–barely escaped.

The temptress emerges. Photos by Corey Sandler

The idea for the train arose in the 1890s, when trade and tourism was beginning to grow in this part of Norway. But the technology was not yet ready, and construction only began in 1936.

After Germany occupied Norway in 1940, the line was completed. Germany wanted the railway to support their military aims as well as export of raw materials.

After the war, steam engines were replaced by electric locomotives. And the industrial and agricultural products were replaced by tourists.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

4 June 2019:
Ålesund, Norway:
Out of the Ashes

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

There 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. The Chicago Fire of 1871. Virginia City in Nevada in 1875 at the peak of the silver mining boom. San Francisco after the earthquake and fire of 1906.

Ålesund was almost totally destroyed on January 23, 1904.

The familiar 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.

German Kaiser Wilhelm 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.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

3 June 2019:
Hellesylt and Geirangerfjord, Norway:
Up and Over

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We headed in from the Norwegian Sea on one of the most spectacular watery highways to the interior of coastal Norway, following a twisting and turning pathway along the big Storfjorden, then into the smaller Sunnylvsfjorden, and finally the even narrower Geirangerfjorden.

And just for fun, along the way, we sailed alongside an area of unstable mountainside that threatens the entire region if and when it finally lets loose. The thought of a tsunami in a narrow Norwegian fjord is enough to send the trolls into hiding.

In the morning, we made a stop in Hellesylt in the outer reaches. The local waterfall was in full force as the snows of winter melted.

Here is some of what we saw:

Silver Wind at the dock in Hellesylt
All photos copyright 2019, Corey Sandler

At noon we headed to Geiranger, at the dead end of the fjord.

A GEIRANGER ALBUM

At the end of the fjord in Geiranger

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

2 June 2019:
Bergen, Norway:
Fire and Ice

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Bergen is a modern city set in an ancient town, the one-time capital of Norway and a place with a broken link to England.

The beautiful horseshoe harbor, framed by a handsome bowl of seven hills, has a bustling commercial center, an active fishery with a great public fish market, and a laid-back Scandinavian culture that meets up with a lively university and student culture.

Across its history, thought, Bergen has had its tough times. Plague and war, fire and ice.

Skies today began gray and threatening, with no fire or ice expected. Sun broke through at midday…forestalling a return to gray.

All photos copyright 2019 Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Bergen is said to have been founded by Olav Kyrre, also known as Olaf III. Olaf, the King of Norway from 1067 to 1093, was present at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in England.

That battle is considered the end of the Viking Age, or at least the beginning of the end. It pitted an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada against an Anglo-Saxon army led by King Harold Godwinson.

King Hardrada and most of the other Norwegians were killed in a bloody battle. Olaf—the son of King Hardrada—survived and returned to Norway, where he founded the city of Bergen in 1070.

There are many intriguing alternate endings to that story:

London as a Viking capital?

Bergen as home of the occupiers of England?

Bangers and mash as the national dish of Norway?

Lutefisk in the pubs of Camden Town?

We’ll never know.

Bergen served as the capital of Norway in the 13th century, and late in that century it was a Kontor, a trading post, of the Hanseatic League. Some of the homes and warehouses of the traders, Bryggen, still stand along one side of the harbor.

In truth, what we see in Bryggen has been rebuilt numerous times. Many fires and a disastrous explosion in the harbor during German occupation of Bergen during World War II destroyed much of what was original. But the Norwegians mostly rebuilt, as built.

Dried fish at the market
A fresh monkfish…hoping to hide in plain sight. He may have seen a cousin on the menu aboard ship last night.
Inside Bryggen, the old Hansa merchant district

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

1 June 2019:
Stavanger, Norway:
Like Oil Above Water

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Stavanger is a little bit old, a little bit new, a little bit Norwegian, and a little bit New England.

Let me unpack that a little.

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 is, in relative terms, in a much more moderate clime than the settlements up north. And it is one of the more significant ports, along with Bergen, that lies in reasonable distance from Norway’s North Sea oil and gas fields offshore. A significant part of the economy is involved in supplying the platforms and repairing the equipment.

The old part of town grew when Stavanger was a flourishing fishing port, and one side of the harbor is pretty much unchanged going back to the 18th and 19th a century. And strangely, we find Gamle Stavanger, the old town, quite reminiscent of our part of the world, the fishing villages and islands of New England.

And then there is the really old section, outside of town. The first traces of settlement in the Stavanger region date from when the ice retreated after the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago.

Today was what Norwegians consider a pretty good day: neither raining nor snowing. Here are some of the photos I took today:

Silver Wind at the dock, reflected in an art piece.
All photos copyright 2019, by Corey Sandler. Ask rights reserved. Please contact me if you would like to purchase a copy

The region was an important economic and military center as far back as the 9th and 10th centuries.

The Battle of Hafrsfjord took place near present-day Stavanger about the year 872.

The battle, which mostly took place on the water, is considered perhaps the most important event leading to the unification of the various kingdoms of the region under a single monarch for the first time.

The victorious Viking chief Harald Fairhair proclaimed himself the first king of the Norwegians.

The title of this blog post, “Like Oil Above Water”, is derived from Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes. It resonates with me in these wobbly times.

Cervantes writes: “Truth will rise above falsehood, as oil above water.” One can hope…

Old Stavanger
New Stavanger, a model of a drilling rig at the Oil Museum

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

What I Did on My Winter Vacation:
In Living Color

By Corey Sandler

Even professional travelers need a vacation from time to time. And as I often tell people, when I am away I do not want to feel at home.

This winter we checked off one of the boxes on our to-do list. We have been to the far north many times, but this time we made a specific plan to revisit the top of Norway at the optimal time of year to view the Aurora Borealis.

The Northern Lights (and the Aurora Australis, the Southern Lights) are glowing almost all the time, but they cannot be seen in the daylight or when there is heavy cloud cover. In the winter the sun never rises above the horizon for six to eight weeks which gives a whole lot of dark.

And some places on our planet receive significantly stronger solar particles than others: the Aurora Zone is a belt that sits at roughly 70 to 80 degrees above or below the Equator. Too far north and the angle to the lights is too thin; too far south and the odds of seeing them are very slim.

One more thing: in the far north, March tends to have less cloud cover than earlier months in winter.

So we went to Norway for nearly a month.

Here is some of what we saw:

Northern Lights Near Tromsø. Copyright 2019, Corey Sandler. All rights reserved
Narvik, Norway. Copyright 2019, Corey Sandler. All rights reserved.
Snow people, Tromsø. Copyright 2019, Corey Sandler. All rights reserved.
Bergen in winter. Copyright 2019, Corey Sandler. All rights reserved.
Tromsø under a blanket. Copyright 2019, Corey Sandler. All rights reserved.
Near Lillehammer. Copyright 2019, Corey Sandler. All rights reserved.
Landing at Oslo. Copyright 2019, Corey Sandler. All rights reserved.
Why I Travel.

If you would like to order a print of any of my photos, please contact me using the link at the top of this page.

30 July 2018:
Bergen, Norway:
Last Call

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Bergen: an ancient city, a modern town.

A beautiful harbor, a handsome bowl of seven hills.

A bustling commercial center, an active fishery and a great public fish market, a laid-back Scandinavian culture, and a quirky freewheeling university city-state.

Bergen is very Norwegian but very different from the remote small settlements of the country’s west coast and its top.

Our long run of blue sky and warm temperatures gave way to more typical Norwegian weather. Overnight the North Sea was bumpy and this morning we arrived to gray skies and drizzle.

It has though been an exceptionally glorious visit to Norway, which is high praise indeed.

This afternoon we head back out to sea, our destination a passage through the London Tower Bridge early Wednesday morning.

Chef David Bilsland led an informal trek to the Bergen Fish market, introducing guests to some of the oceanic treasures of Norway.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29 July 2018:
Åndalsnes and Molde, Norway:
Dropping In For a Visit

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Sunday in two, count them, beautiful settlements set into the fjords and mountains: Åndalsnes and Molde.

Definitely Halls of the Mountain Kings type of places.

Åndalsnes is a little town with an outsized personality, a mecca for hikers and rock climbers and those of us who just want to enjoy the great outdoors of the fjord land of Norway.

Some come to jump off of perfectly fine cliffs into the fjord below, which is NOT offered as a shore excursion.

The Trollveggen (the Troll Wall) one of the cliff formations in the valley, has a vertical drop of over 1,000 meters or 3,300 feet, the tallest vertical rock face in Europe.

It is an irresistible lure for some.

I went on a somewhat less risky leap: into the Rauma River valley by train on a day that featured three Norwegian seasons in a few hours. We experienced fog and mist and sun and a downpour.

Here is some of what we saw:

MOLDE 

And then at lunchtime we sailed back down the fjord to Molde, a vibrant and colorful city.

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

We’ve come about 265 miles or 426 kilometers south from the Arctic Circle, but Molde is definitely a cool place.

Especially every July, near the peak of summer. The annual Moldejazz festival, one of the largest and oldest jazz festivals in Europe, and one of the most important, brings as many as 100,000 visitors come to the city, quadrupling the local population of about 26,000.

Alas, we missed it by a week, but music is still in the crisp air.

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

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

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

27 July 2018:
Tromsø, Norway:
Not Quite Paris

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.

But it is not Paris.

Even though at one time this small settlement did lay claim to the nickname of “The Paris of the North.”

It is a relatively attractive place for one of the ends of the earth, with a lot more color and liveliness than Murmansk which lies around the corner in Russia about one degree of latitude to the south.

Once again we are visiting the far north in a period of extraordinary weather. It is very pleasant to be here with bright sun and warm temperatures, but rather frightening when you consider how unusual this change in climate is.

Silver Wind at the dock today.

All photos by Corey Sandler 2018, all rights reserved.

By 1850, Tromsø was the major center of Arctic hunting and the city was trading from Arkhangelsk to Bordeaux. It was at this time the small settlement picked up the nickname of “Paris of the North.”

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.

The Polar Museum, Polarmuseet, in a wharf house from 1837, presents Tromsø’s past as a center for Arctic hunting and starting point for Arctic expeditions.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

26 July 2018:
Hammerfest, Norway:
Old World, New World

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Hammerfest is very Norwegian, with the end-of-the-world feeling of northern Norway, inside the Arctic Circle.

And yet it also feels quite different.

500 kilometers or 312 miles inside the Arctic Circle, this is a place of very severe weather. The winds and the seas can pound anytime of the year, and in winter it is brutally cold and the snow builds up and the roads are closed and it is completely dark and you might not want to be here.

We are visiting in summer, or so says the calendar. In the morning it was gray and cold and foggy, which is pretty typical for these parts. But around noontime the sun burst through and there were sunbathers around the pool deck.

I have been here many times, and always find it an interesting place to visit…and then leave, sailing away on a warm, luxurious cruise ship in time for cocktails and dinner.

Silver Wind at the dock this morning.

Foggy bottom morning.

Snow fences up on the hills above town.

And the midday sun filled the harbor in the land of Midnight Sun:

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Hammerfest is an old settlement with evidence of inhabitation going back 10,000 years, and is the ancestral home of the Nordic Sea Sami people, and beginning in the early 19th century a settlement of European and then North American traders.

There are many places like that in this part of the world. But Hammerfest looks and feels so very modern.

This is not a town of old clapboard houses and time-worn storefronts. You’ll find contemporary office and apartment building, state-of-the-art oil and gas terminals, and a church on Kirkegata shaped like a space rocket.

All right, not really a rocket ship: it is supposed to pay homage to the traditional trianglular stockfish racks of fishing ports.)

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

25 July 2018:
Honningsvåg and Nordkapp, Norway:
The Top of Europe, Or So They Say

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.

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 was grandfathered in place.

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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. Honningsvåg is within a bay on the southeastern side of the large island of Magerøya.

The ice-free ocean in the southwestern Barents Sea draws cruise ships in the summer and fishing vessels most of the year.

There are at least five large docks in the port, which makes it an almost irresistible lure for cruise ships.

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

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

Nordkapp has a road and a parking lot for buses and plumbing and electricity. But it is not mainland Europe’s northernmost point, even though that is exactly how it is advertised.

The steep cliff of North Cape at 71 degrees 10 minutes North Latitude is about 2,102 kilometers or 1,306 miles from the geographic North Pole.

But the neighboring Knivskjellodden Point, just to the west, extends about a mile further north. But that place is rather difficult to get to except by a somewhat arduous hiking path.

So North Cape gets the glory.

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

24 July 2018:
Narvik, Norway:
The Iron Road

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Narvik is a place of great beauty, a deep port inset into a cove within a blue fjord.

It is also where a thundering railway line hauling hundreds of cars of iron ore comes down to the sea to be loaded onto ships.

Narvik is a place of peace, with works of art set against snowcapped peaks and reflected in still waters below.

But during the early years of World War II, Narvik was the target of a massive military assault, by the Germans and then by the Allies.

Nearly everything you see in town was reconstructed after the end of the war.

The major industry in Narvik, Norway is the port and railway that connects this isolated place up and into the mountains and across the border to iron ore mines and processing plants in the north of Sweden. LKAB, owned by the Swedish state, is the largest producer of iron ore in Europe.

I went with guests on a journey by coach up and over the coastal mountains into Sweden about 75 miles away. There we meet up with a passenger train coming all the way from Stockholm. We rode the final 90 minutes back to Narvik.

Here is some of what we saw:

All photos by Corey Sandler 2018. All rights reserved.

Last night as we sailed out of Leknes on the open coast and headed south and then eat before turning north into the inside passage to Narvik we saw once again the sort of other-worldly light that falls upon Norway. This is the stuff of trolls and gnomes and halls of the mountain kings.

Here’s some of what we saw in the crepuscular islands:

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

23 July 2018:
Leknes, Norway:
Inland Empire

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Leknes is in the geographical middle of the Lofoten archipelago on the island of Vestvågøya, a bit more then two square kilometers or just under one square mile in size, home to about 3,200 people.

The morning dawned gray and blustery, more like Norway than we have seen in recent days.

Leknes is, though, a bit different because its town center is not by the sea, and it does not depend on fisheries for its economy.

It is a very small community, though, enlarged for the day by the presence of our small ship at the harbor.

About 45 minutes away from Leknes, by way of the underwater tunnel at Napp, is the pretty wooden church at Flakstad. Records say there was a church built here in 1430, later destroyed by a storm in the 1700s.

The new church dates from 1780, built of timber from Russia. One of chandeliers in the church also comes from Russia. The red-painted structure is covered with tiles and includes a Russian-style onion dome.

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

22 July 2018:
Brønnøysund, Norway:
Sweet Dreams

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Many Norwegians call Brønnøysund “the coastal town in the middle of Norway.”

But many tourists remember it this way: “the port near the mountain with a hole in the middle.”

Silver Wind at the dock today.

Brønnøysund is about 75 miles below the Arctic Circle, which means there is a short period of twilight between about 1 and 4 in the morning on the day of our visit.

The outer reaches of the region include the Vega Archipelago World Heritage Site, which consists of about 6,500 islands and islets, spread over more than 385 square miles or 1,000 square kilometers.

The islands are home to all sorts of birds including greylag and barnacle geese, cormorants, and many, many eider ducks.

You may well have slept upon a pillow, or under a duvet or comforter with a link here.

For a long time, the islands off Brønnøysund have been at the center of eiderdown trade.

There’s even the Museum of the Eider Ducks in Nes, if you’re looking for some bedtime stories.

Torghatten Mountain—Square Hat Mountain—rises like a colossal castle of sheer granite.

Torghatten from the nautical bridge of Silver Wind as we arrived in the morning

According to legend, the hole was made by the troll Hestmannen while he was chasing the beautiful girl Lekamøya.

When the troll realized he would not get the girl, he released an arrow to kill her, but the troll-king of Sømna threw his hat into the path of the arrow path to save her.

The hat turned into the mountain with a hole in the middle.

If you don’t buy the story about the murderous troll and the girl and the arrow, there’s this: scientists say the hole was formed during the Scandinavian ice age, about 11,000 B.C.E. Ice and water eroded looser rocks, while the harder ones in the mountain top resisted erosion.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 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

21 July 2018:
Ålesund, Norway:
From the Ashes

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

There’s more water than land in this part of Norway.

The municipality of Ålesund occupies seven of the outer islands in the county of Møre og Romsdal.

There is no doubt that there 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.

Ålesund 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.

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

I have been here many times and always find myself in a reflective mood. Today I went out and rephotographed scenes that I have taken before. My goal was to see if I could find see if I could view familiar places in new ways.

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

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————-

20 July 2018:
Flåm, Norway:
All Aboard!

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Flåm is one of the biggest little places in all of Norway, especially for travelers who come in by cruise ship.

If you call it FLAM, they’ll know what you mean. But to be correct you have to pay attention to the little symbol above the third letter of its name.

The Norwegian and Danish letter Å, with the little diacritical overring above, is not “a” but more similar to “o” in most other languages. So, FLOM.

Check it out: doors in Norway are marked to tell you which one to open. The signs read, åpen.

The village of Flåm is at the end of the Aurlandsfjord, a small arm of the spectacular Sognefjord which reaches 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.

Truth be told, though: the port is basically a train station, a ferry slip, a cruise dock, and a few gift shops.

About 500,000 visitors come each year by ship or train; about 175 cruise ships come each summer.

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, which rises 863 meters or 2,831 feet through 20 tunnels and across one bridge.

The trip takes about an hour each way.

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The idea for the train dates back to the 1890s, when tourism and other trade was beginning to grow in this part of Norway. But the technology was not yet ready, and construction only began in 1936.

After Germany occupied Norway in 1940, the line was completed. Germany wanted the railway to support their military aims as well as export of raw materials.

Today, there are about ten trips each direction during the summer, fewer in the cold, snowy, and dark winter.

At the top, the train shares a station at Myrdal with long-distance trains to Bergen and elsewhere.

The Flåmsbana is the third-busiest tourist attraction in Norway.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19 July 2018:
Haugesund, Norway:
Location, Location, Location

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Real estate agents are fond of reciting what they call the three most important elements of property value: location, location, and location.

The town of Haugesund in the south of Norway was a very early real estate agent’s dream come true.

It is located on a strategically important sound, the Karmsundet, which allows ships to pass without having to go out into the sometimes rough seas on the open ocean.

Even to this day, the Karmsundset is one of Norway’s busiest waterways.

The town’s name comes from the Old Norse word haugr meaning hill or mound, and sund meaning strait or sound.

Haugesund’s first industry was fishing abundant herring offshore.

The herring are long gone, and today the economy is oriented toward the offshore oil industry and the onshore tourism trade.

Scenes from the harbor and town, including the much-celebrated town hall, painted Pepto-Bismol pink. In a national poll it was selected to appear as a property on the Norwegian version of “Monopoly.”

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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

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.

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

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.

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