Tag Archives: Norway

20 July 2018:
Flåm, Norway:
All Aboard!

By Corey Sandler

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.

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————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Corey Sandler

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

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

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.

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

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

By Corey Sandler

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.

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

24 June 2017:
Molde, Norway:
Cool

By Corey Sandler

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.

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

22 June 2017:
Bodø, Norway:
You, Too?

By Corey Sandler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pilot was Francis Gary Powers.

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

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

NEPAL IN NORWAY

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

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

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

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

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

23 June 2017:
Trondheim, Norway:
Gothic Norway

By Corey Sandler

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.

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

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

By Corey Sandler

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.

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

19 June 2017:
Tromsø, Norway:
Northern Exposure

By Corey Sandler

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

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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16 June 2017:
Ålesund, Norway:
Fire and Fish

By Corey Sandler

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

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

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

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

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15 June 2017:
Flåm, Norway:
Where Fjord Meets Railroad

By Corey Sandler

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

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

So, FLOME, or something like that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UP THE TRACK

BLOG Flam Norway 29June2014_DSC7427

BLOG Flam Norway 29June2014_DSC7430

The old town, just above the train station

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

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

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

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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)

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

2 July 2014
 Bergen, Norway

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Our last port of call on this cruise is the lovely Norwegian coastal city of Bergen, always a surprise even to those of us who have been here many times. It is one of those cities where the people seem to seek to enjoy every moment of every day.[whohit]-Bergen 2Jul-[/whohit]

Bergen is an ancient city and a modern town.

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.

It was gray and drizzly for most of the day, but Bergen’s charms shone through. Here are some photos from 2 July:

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All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

And here’s a photo album of some of my favorite spots in Bergen from many visits.

BERGEN5 Bryggen

BERGEN3 Harbor

Bryggen, the ancient trading district along the harbor, and a fishing boat nearby. Photo by Corey Sandler

BERGEN4 Floibanen BERGEN1 Harbor BERGEN2 Harbor

A funicular runs from just above downtown to a hill overlooking the city. Photos by Corey Sandler

BERGEN6 Bergen University Museum

The University district is a city within the city, including a fine old-school museum filled with skeletons, stuffed animals, and missing most of the crowds in town. Photo by Corey Sandler

Bergen is said to have been founded by Olav Kyrre, also known as Olaf III.

Olaf was King of Norway from 1067 to 1093. He was present at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in England.

That battle, considered the end of the Viking Age, or at least the beginning of the end, took place between an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada and an Anglo-Saxon army led by King Harold Godwinson.

King Hardrada (Olaf III’s father) and most of the other Norwegians were killed in a bloody battle.

Olaf survived and returned to Norway, where he founded the city of Bergen in 1070.

If he had won in England, London might well be a Viking capital. Salt cod in the pubs of Camden Town. Bangers and mash as the national dish of Norway.

The background music of Bergen is Peer Gynt by composer Edvard Grieg, who spent much of his life in Bergen.

Peer Gynt is the leading character of a favorite Norwegian folk tale about a poorly behaving boy who falls in love with a beautiful girl but is denied her hand.

He heads out to the country—meets up with nasty trolls at the Hall of the Mountain King and then to remote Mongolia, all the while still smitten by the girl back home.

I don’t mean to spoil it for you, but in the end, he gets the girl. Or she gets him.

The great Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen wrote a five-act play in verse about Peer Gynt.

And when it premiered in 1876 in Oslo, it was accompanied by incidental music written by Edvard Grieg.

Modern Norway is a constitutional monarchy.

From the time of Harald Fairhair until the present day, Norway has had more than 60 named sovereigns. The current King belongs to the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, which has ruled Norway since 1905.

King Harald V, age 77, is well-connected.

He is first cousin once removed of King Philippe of Belgium and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg; second cousin of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, and the second cousin once removed of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

And in waiting: 40-year-old Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit.

Speaking of princesses, last year, Norway received a huge gift to its tourism business when Disney released its film, “Frozen.”

Yet another Disney princess, this time Anna of Arendelle.

We proceed tonight for a day at sea and then the end of this cruise, at Copenhagen.

All text and photos copyright 2014 by Corey Sandler. If you would like to purchase a photo, please contact me.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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

Here’s where to order a 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)

1 July 2014
 Kristiansund, Norway

In the Hall of the Mountain Data Farm

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Our northernmost call on this cruise is at Kristiansund.

It’s a small place, much less populated than the confusingly named Kristiansand which is one of the most southerly points of Norway.

Kristiansand was named in honor of King Christian IV, who founded that southerly city in 1641, on a spit of SAND.

As should be very obvious, Kristiansund was named after King Christian VI in 1742. It gets the second half of its name from SUND as in STRAIT. A Strait is a long body of water that connects two larger bodies: sea to sea, for example.

BLOG Kristiansund 1July2014_DSC7604 BLOG Kristiansund 1July2014_DSC7603

The ferry, claimed to be the oldest continually operated mechanized transportation in the world, crosses the harbor at Kristiansund to the various islands that make up the remote town. Just outside of town is a stretch of the spectacular Atlantic Road which connects many of the small communities along the western coast of Norway. Photos by Corey Sandler

So Kristiansund is where we are headed, about one-third of the way up the Norwegian coast at about 63 degrees north latitude.

That’s pretty far north, but not quite within the Arctic Circle, which is an arbitrary demarcation at 66 degrees 33 minutes and 44 seconds north, about 384 kilometers or 239 miles further north than Kristiansund.

The position of the Arctic Circle is not fixed.

It directly depends on the Earth’s axial tilt, which fluctuates within a margin of 2 degrees over a 40,000-year period, mostly due to tidal forces resulting from the orbit of the Moon.

The Arctic Circle is currently drifting northwards at a speed of about 15 meters or 49 feet per year.[whohit]-Kristiansund 1Jul-[/whohit]

Because it exists on small islands, Kristiansund is one of the most densely populated cities of Norway.

BLOG Kristiansund 1July2014_DSC7543

Bales of hay and other food for livestock, stored for the short summer and the long winter ahead. Photo by Corey Sandler

On the day of our visit, there were almost 20 hours of daylight. Six months from now, about 20 hours of dark.

So what do they do in the winter? Sing, I guess.

The splendid Art-Nouveau Kristiansund Opera House, completed in 1914, is the oldest opera house in Norway and one of the few that survived World War II. Each year Kristiansund puts on Opera Festival Weeks in cold February: Norway’s largest opera and musical theater festivals, one of the largest in all of Scandinavia.

I’ve been to Norway and Kristiansund many times, but always have concentrated on the mountains and the fjords. This time, I dug deeper–underground to the Naas marble mine between Kristiansund and Molde.

BLOG Kristiansund 1July2014_DSC7575 BLOG Kristiansund 1July2014_DSC7572

The barges to the interior of the cave, and a banquet hall 500 meters below ground. Photos by Corey Sandler

The mine has been in operation for decades, a family affair. It began as a source of slabs of marble and cemetery markers. In more modern times, the marble has been used for industrial purposes: ground up for use in other products including as a principal ingredient in the high-gloss paper used in some magazines and books.

But the global consumption of paper for books and magazines has been in decline since the advent of the personal computer and especially reading tablets like the Kindle and the iPad. And so the Naas marble mine has looked for something else to do with its mountain and the 60 or so kilometers of roads and caverns within.

Ironically, it may be computers that saves the business they are threatening.

The owners of the mine are installing high-power electrical lines and fiber optic cables and hope to rent out the caverns for use as data farms, holding huge amounts of information for companies all around the world.

Why in a mine? Because it offers a controlled and stable environment with inexpensive cooling for the thousands or millions of disk drives and memory chips.

That’s the plan. In the meantime, we took a tour by raft and on foot in what I would expect Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg would call the Hall of the Mountain Data Farm.

BLOG Kristiansund 1July2014_DSC7586 BLOG Kristiansund 1July2014_DSC7558 BLOG Kristiansund 1July2014_DSC7580

Inside the Naas marble mine. Photos by Corey Sandler

All text and photos copyright 2014 by Corey Sandler. If you would like to purchase a photo, please contact me.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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

Here’s where to order a 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)

 

 

 

30 June 2014
 Geiranger, Norway

Deeper into the Fjords of Norway

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We head inland from the Norwegian Sea on one of the most spectacular watery highways into the interior of coastal Norway.[whohit]-Geiranger 30Jun-[/whohit]

Silver Whisper followed a twisting and turning pathway along the big Storfjorden, then into the smaller Sunnylvsfjorden, and finally the even narrower Geirangerfjorden.

On our way in, we made a brief stop in Hellesylt to allow guests to debark for an overland shore excursion that reunited with the ship at Geiranger, at the dead end of the fjord. The fjord, which includes sheer cliffs, impressive waterfalls, and patches of green and white, is one of Norway’s most visited tourist sites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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In the fjords near Hellesylt. Photos by Corey Sandler

BLOG Hellesylt June2014_DSC7522

The Seven Sisters waterfall between Hellesylt and Geiranger. Photo by Corey Sandler

The town of Geiranger is a pleasant little place in a spectacular setting.

This isolated little town is the third-busiest cruise ship port in Norway. As many as 180 ships visit during the four-month tourist season, depositing as many as 300,000 passengers—not all at once—in Geiranger, which has a permanent population of about 250.

As I said, it’s a beautiful set of fjords and a handsome, peaceful place.

Except: it is under constant threat of severe damage or even total extinction. Scientists worry that a big piece of a mountain called Åkerneset could one day collapse into the fjord.

And, they say, this would cause a tsunami that could destroy downtown Geiranger. Studies indicate as much as 100 million cubic meters or 130 million cubic yards of rock and earth could collapse. They estimate the tsunami would be about 30 meters or 98 feet high.

We hope the people of the fjord (and those of us aboard ship) are spared that particular bit of excitement.

BLOG Gerianger June2014_DSC7526 BLOG Gerianger June2014_DSC7529 BLOG Gerianger June2014_DSC7532

Silver Whisper at anchor in Geiranger. We climbed up the hill for a better viewpoint, stopping at the picture-perfect Geiranger Church, built in 1842. Photos by Corey Sandler

All text and photos copyright 2014 by Corey Sandler. If you would like to purchase a photo, please contact me.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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

Here’s where to order a 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)

 

29 June 2014
 Flåm and Gudvangen, Norway

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Our epic journey leads us from Copenhagen in the Baltic Sea through the Kattegat and into the North Sea, and beyond to the Norwegian Sea.

Silver Whisper swung out to sea and then into one of Norway’s most spectacular waterways, the Sognefjord, to visit Flåm and Gudvangen.

About the name of our first call: 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.

Flåm is on one leg of a horseshoe-shaped fjord; at the end of the other leg is Gudvangen, where our ship repositioned in the afternoon.

The sail-in on the Aurlandsfjorden 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.

BLOG Flam Norway 29June2014_DSC7446

BLOG Flam Norway 29June2014_DSC7438

BLOG Flam Norway 29June2014_DSC7410

BLOG Flam Norway 29June2014_DSC7427

BLOG Flam Norway 29June2014_DSC7430

A sunny morning in Flåm, a spectacular setting with a gravity-defying railroad. Photos by Corey Sandler 

About lunchtime, Silver Whisper departed Flåm to sail around the corner to God’s Place by the Water.

I’m not attempting to make a religious commentary here.

Gudvangen means just that: “God’s Place by the Water.”

BLOG Naeroyfjord Gudvangen June2014_DSC7487

BLOG Naeroyfjord Gudvangen June2014_DSC7479

BLOG Naeroyfjord Gudvangen June2014_DSC7456

BLOG Naeroyfjord Gudvangen June2014_DSC7496

Scenes along the way from Flåm to Gudvangen, ending with the hoisting of the “black ball” to tell other ships we were at anchor. Photos by Corey Sandler

BLOG Naeroyfjord Gudvangen June2014_DSC7448

Approaching Gudvangen. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

All text and photos copyright 2014 by Corey Sandler. If you would like to purchase a photo, please contact me.

 

2 July 2013: Alta, Norway: In Search of the Ghost Ship of World War II

By Corey Sandler, Silversea Cruises Destination Consultant

We crossed over the top of Norway yesterday, and as we reached 71 degrees North we sailed into a chilly summer fog bank near the top of Europe at North Cape.

The Silver Cloud is fully equipped with radar and radio and GPS and all of the other modern navigational devices.

But our captain also turned on the fog horn, and its deep bass blast rumbled out in front of us.

I couldn’t help but think of the conditions under which the North Atlantic Convoys had been forced to travel between 1941 and 1945: in radio silence, blizzard and ice storm, polar darkness or (most dangerously) Midnight Sun…all the while nervously on watch for German U-boats, aircraft, and surface ships.

I’ve written about this in previous blogs: although the German battleship Tirpitz never engaged in open-sea fighting, she nevertheless had a major impact on the planning and operations of the convoys.

British, Canadian, and American convoys were in constant fear that the Tirpitz would emerge, and so they had to sail away from the Norwegian coast…and into the path of U-boat wolf packs.

Its presence—if not its use—diverted the efforts of dozens of Allied ships, thousands of Allied airmen, and became a five-year obsession of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

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The Tirpitz in her lair in Kåfjord. (Historical photo)

The British had unsuccessfully attempted to destroy Tirpitz while it was under construction in Germany.

They were not able to mount a major air assault early in the war.

Winston Churchill turned to the secret labs.

The daring—perhaps crazy—plan for the Chariots—human torpedos, actually, failed because of bad weather conditions.

But another plan was hatched: the X-Craft.

Three of the four X-Craft actually made it to Norway and two got through the submarine nets to come beneath Tirpitz.

Their mines exploded, causing major damage to the Tirpitz, but she was only partially repaired.

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A memorial to British submariners lost in attempts to sink the Tirpitz in Kåfjord

hen the British sent aircraft: at first from carriers offshore and then from a base in Murmansk in northern Russia. It was from there that one huge “Tall Boy” bomb miraculously found its target through the smoke screen laid down by the Germans.

The crippled Tirpitz was moved to Håkøybotn, a cove west of Tromsø, and there she was finally destroyed on November 12, 1944.

On our way up the coast from the start of this voyage in Copenhagen, we had visited Tromsø. And then later we sailed to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk, the two ports used by the Soviets to receive aid from the Allies during the war.

Today I went with a group of guests to visit the place where the Tirpitz had hidden for most of the war, and where she was repeatedly attacked by British naval and air forces.

Kåfjord is at the dead-end to the long and winding Altafjord that leads out to the sea.

We visited a small, private collection of artifacts from the German occupation and a few pieces of the Tirpitz. That was not the most impressive part of the visit.

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A piece of radio equipment said to have been used by the Norwegian resistance in Alta

Instead, it was the view of Kåfjord itself that will stick in my mind:  It’s a typically pretty piece of Norway, with only a few small markers to remind you of the terrible threat that lurked here for nearly four years in the war.

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Kåfjord today

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The Kåfjord Church, one of the few old buildings to survive the German occupation. Today it includes a memorial to British submariners as well as to local copper miners who died in the mountside mines 

But to most historians, it was the successful Atlantic Convoys to the Soviet Union that allowed the Russians to hold off and eventually push back the Germans and mark the beginning of the end of World War II.

That effort came at a huge cost in lives and treasure, much of it because of the ghost ship that once lived here.

All text and photos Copyright 2013, Corey Sandler. If you would like a copy of any photo, please contact me through the Obtain a Photo tab of this blog.

 

26 June 2013. Honningsvåg, Norway: Almost All the Way North

26 June 2013. Honningsvåg, Norway: Almost All the Way North 

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.

A 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.

A CAPTAIN EARNS HIS PAY

We arrived to face a stiff wind coming out of the north, and blowing across the dock where Silver Cloud was due to tie up.

It took us three tries, the last one with the help of a boat that came out from shore to take our lines and pull them to mooring points in the harbor. We winched ourselves alongside.

There are times when a ship’s captain earns his keep in ways other than shaking hands at a formal reception line; this was one of those days.

A MEAGER PLACE

Honningsvåg is within a bay on the southeastern side of the large island of Magerøya. That name speaks volumes about the fruitfulness of the land: it means “meager.”

All that seems to grow on Magerøya is lichen, huge numbers of fish, reindeer (only when they visit on summer vacation), and cloudberries.

I’ll pass on the lichen, but I have tried reindeer (and caribou, the same creature) and I’m sorry to report that Rudolph is rather tasty. It reminds me of a mix between beef and calf’s liver.

Cloudberries, which grow only at very high latitudes—in places like Norway and Scotland—are delicious, delicate fruit and very high in Vitamin C.

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HOW FAR NORTH?

Searching for a northeast passage to India in 1553, British navigator Richard Chancellor came upon a crag 1,007 feet (307 meters) above the Barents Sea.

Chancellor named the jut of rock North Cape.

The Norwegians would later adjust that to Nordkapp.

It certainly is far north, but first of all, it is not the North Pole, and secondly it is not actually the farthest north piece of land in Europe.

The neighboring Knivskjellodden Point, just to the west, extends about a mile further north.

It’s a lot harder to get to, though, and so the more convenient North Cape gets the glory. And the visitor’s center, gift shop, and restaurant. The northernmost gift shop in Europe, of course.

But actually, since both of these points are situated on an island, some purists will maintain that neither is on the mainland of Europe. Instead they point to Cape Nordkinn (Kinnarodden)  about 70 kilometers or 43 miles to the east. It’s not quite as far north, but it is on the mainland.

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The marker at North Cape, near the gift shop

And just to put things in perspective, 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.

In any case, the North Cape on the northern side of Magerøya island, is a dramatic place, a rite of passage for many visitors to the far north.

The drive from Honningsvåg—a city in name alone—is about a 40-minute trip across a slightly green moon-like landscape that is mostly empty. There are not that many settled places in the world above 71 degrees North, and the geography shows why.

In Finnmark County at the top of Norway, an area about the size of Switzerland, there are about 1.5 humans per square kilometer; reindeer outnumber people two-to-one.

THE SAMI

All through this region of Norway, and then across the border into Finland, are the Sami people.

They are also known in some languages as Lap or Laplanders, although modern Sami may reject that term.

Traditionally, the Sami have pursued a variety of livelihoods, including coastal fishing, fur trapping, and sheep herding.

Their best-known livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer herding.

Since prehistoric times, the Sami people of Arctic Europe lived and worked in an area that stretches over parts of what is now northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Russian Kola Peninsula.

On our way to the North Cape we visited the remote home of a Sami couple. The man, who spoke little Norwegian and no English, posed with one of his favorite reindeer. His wife worked inside at the gift shop counter.

Changes in latitude, changes in attitude.

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Text and photos copyright 2013 by Corey Sandler. If you would like to obtain a copy of a photo from this blog, please visit the tab Order a Photo.

 

25 June 2013: Tromsø, Norway: Good day, sunshine, and never mind the clock

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Greetings from the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Also the 3 a.m. sun and the noontime sun and cocktail hour sun.

This is also one of the best places in the world to experience the Aurora Borealis.

Except, of course, when the light is on all day. Midnight Sun means the Northern Lights are out of sight.

That doesn’t mean the sky is always blue. We have been in and out of the mists and rain for the past few days as we headed north up the west coast of Norway.

But this morning—morning by the clock—dawned bright and sunny and we happily headed into town.

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Silver Cloud at the dock, along with an ocean-going tug

Tromsø is the largest city and the largest urban area in Northern Norway, and the second largest city and urban area north of the Arctic Circle, second only to Murmansk.

But 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.”

Tromsø has very much the feel of a place near the end of the world. The shops and houses are painted in brilliant hues and modern structures feature mirrored glass to extend the views all around.

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It has a lot more color and liveliness than Murmansk and Arkhangelsk, which lie ahead of us on our journey.

Most of Tromsø is located on the small island of Tromsøya, 350 kilometers or 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, at 69 degrees 40 minutes north.

Among its civic claims to fame: the world’s northernmost university, botanical garden, cathedral, and most importantly, the northernmost brewery in the world.

Despite only being home to around 80 people, Tromsø was issued its city charter in 1794 by King Christian VII. The city quickly rose in importance with trading, fishing, churches, and a bit of culture.

Arctic hunting, from Novaya Zemlya to Canada, started up around 1820. By 1850, Tromsø was the major center of Arctic hunting, and the city was trading from Arkhangelsk to Bordeaux.

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Polar Museum

It was at this time that the small settlement bestowed upon itself the nickname “Paris of the North.”

The Macks Brewery was opened in 1877, and still maintains a presence.

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Macks Brewery, the northernmost brewery in the world, or so they say

By the end of the 19th century, Tromsø had become a major Arctic trade center from which many Arctic expeditions originated.

Explorers like Roald Amundsen, Umberto Nobile, and Fridtjof Nansen made use of the know-how in Tromsø on Arctic conditions, and often recruited their crew in the city.

It was in Trondheim, about 100 miles from Tromsø, that the Germans parked their prize battleship Tirpitz during World War II.

Its presence—if not its use—diverted the efforts of dozens of Allied ships, thousands of Allied airmen, and became a five-year obsession of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

By the end of the intense cat-and-mouse game in the North, the Tirpitz had been moved to a cove right outside of Tromsø, and it was there the battleship was finally sunk.

We enjoyed our morning in the sun, even when it began raining again. Later in the all-day morning, about 2 pm, blue skies returned.

IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM, EAT ‘EM

In town, as we usually do, we visited a supermarket to learn about the real way of life in a foreign port. There we saw some things we expected–like whale meat–but one thing that caught us by surprise.

At the seafood counter was a basket of extra- extra-large brown speckled eggs, about two- to three-times the size of chicken eggs. They were, we learned, from seagulls. The price, about $4 each.

This is a great delicacy in northern Norway, despite the fact that here–like many places around the world–seagulls are referred to as “flying rats.” They are said to have a mild flavor, usually boiled and served on a piece of flatbread with melted butter atop them. (I can’t help imagining they actually taste like garbage bags and soda pop tops, but I did not put my theory to the test.)

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Here’s the way we experience Sun Shock here on board the beautiful Silver Cloud: we come back to our suite from an extended dinner at the end of the day, perhaps at 9:30 or 10 pm, and find the curtains tightly closed.

But a few beams of brightness leak through, and it’s all but impossible to resist opening the curtain:

Good morning, Tromsø, whatever the clock says.

Text and photos Copyright 2013, Corey Sandler. To obtain a copy of any photo, please visit the Order a Photo tab of this blog.