Tag Archives: Around the World with Corey Sandler

Corey Sandler is a bestselling author of more than 250 books on travel, cruises. sports, business, computers, and high technology. He travels about half the year as a Destination Consultant for Silversea Cruises, giving lectures about ports of call around the world. In his blog, “Around the World with Corey Sandler” includes photos and commentary.

November, 2023: Back to Japan (Part One)

By Corey Sandler

When you imagine Japan, do you conjure Samurai warriors?

Stealthy, lethal Ninjas?

Fierce soldiers who held out against overwhelming forces throughout World War II, including against overwhelming force in the final months?

Or…do you think of modern Japan as something very different?

Pokémon and Sailor Moon? Furry mascots for sports teams, corporations, and municipal governments?

And above all, kittens.

We’ve just returned from another trip to Japan. That marks twice in six months we have ventured to the far extremes of jet lag, a 13-hour flight and 13 time zones. Being there was great; getting there and back was grueling.

This time we met up with Viking Orion, sailing from Tokyo to central and southern Japan and then on to Taiwan and Hong Kong.

To me, one of the great joys of travel is to go where life and culture are different.

When I am away, I do not want to feel at home. I want to go down the rabbit hole with Alice to a place where the more you explore the curiouser and curiouser things become.

I was born just after the end of World War II and that makes me of the age that knew of fierce Japan, ruined Japan, and resurgent Japan. The country, most of its cities and ports reduced to rubble, literally rose from those ashes to become an economic powerhouse.

And though Japan was greatly changed by the war and by the mostly positive efforts of American occupation led by the intriguing General Douglas MacArthur, it rebuilt itself with a culture that took many things Western and turned them toward the East.

An arcade in a huge shopping mall in Tokyo’s Odaiba district topped by a massive model of Unicorn Gundam, a Japanese novel turned manga turned anime about space-traveling Transformer-like machines…or something like that. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The first time I visited Japan, in the 1980s, I was bewildered by the unfamiliar colors of familiar objects like refrigerators and cars: lime green, tangerine, pink. Today, the color scheme has moved more toward neutral Western white, silver, and black.

But there are still some very perplexing examples of things that seem somehow lost in translation.

Consider the humble KitKat chocolate bar, a British invention now owned by the Swiss confectionary maker Nestlé, except for an American offshoot produced by Hershey. KitKat arrived in Japan in the 1970s when rights were acquired by Fujiya, which makes and sells brands including Look, Heart, and Milky chocolates and jellies.

In Japan, you can still buy the traditional chocolate bars, but why go for the familiar when you can also find KitKats in Dark Matcha (chocolate and green tea), Chestnut, Sweet Potato, Caramel Pudding, or Melon?

Alas, some of the 70 or so varieties are produced in small batches and only sold for short periods of time.

We stopped at several dozen convenience stores and other shops in search of our holy grail: KitKat Wasabi. Never found it, but there’s always next time.

KitKat in Japan, shown here in dark chocolate, strawberry, and traditional varieties. We hunted far and wide for the elusive wasabi flavor. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

But for me the greatest source of wonderment in Japan is kawaii: the national fixation on cuteness.

I will not pretend to be a sociologist here.

I will observe that in many places around the world young girls seem to be engaged in a race to dress like, act like, and otherwise seek a very early entry into womanhood. In Japan many instead seem to be holding fast to childhood.

Kawaii girls pose for a selfie at Asakusa in Tokyo. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

I say young girls, because that seems to be the heart of kawaii, but there are also a sizeable contingent of young boys who do not easily put away childish things. Think Nintendo and anime comics and Japanese Boy Bands.

Kawaii (可愛い) means adorable or cute. There are cute girls and cute boys, and also kittens, lots of kittens.

Kittens everywhere. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The hyperactive Japanese game and music and merchandising industries have extended that concept to cute categories within manga (comics or graphic novels) and anime (animated cartoons.)

Say hello to Super Mario Bros., Hello Kitty, and Pokémon.

Pokémon Center in Hiroshima, not far from the hypocenter of the world’s first atomic bomb. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

And then there are the mascots. Nearly every sports team, major corporation, store, city, and prefecture has a kawaii character.

The official mascots of the port of Shimizu, in the shadow of Mount Fuji. Shimizu is also the home of the S-Pulse football team, and S-Pulse mascots and characters are everywhere. Very cute. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
The S-Pulse amusement park, with cute characters, in Shimizu. Somewhat incongruously, the yellow sign at the left points out tsunami escape routes. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

KitKat’s maker, Fujiya, is represented by Peko-chan, a girl in pigtails licking her lips. Peko-chan, to me, looks like a somewhat updated version of Anne of Green Gables, the fictional heroine of books by the Canadian author Lucy Maude Montgomery.

Anne, sometimes called Anne of Red Hair, took hold in the postwar years when American occupation forces imported the book as part of an effort to liberate Japanese girls from traditional gender roles. And very kawaii, too.

Certainly not every Japanese female has gone kawaii. But a stroll through Tokyo, especially on the weekend, leaves you almost surrounded by Lolita fashion, ribbons, bows, and parasols. Makeup styles aim to accentuate large, round doll-like eyes.

In the United States, many young girls play-act adult roles with Barbie dolls. Barbie is not a big factor in Japan, but instead there is Licca, a doll modeled after an 11-year-old girl.

So why kawaii? It could be seen as a way to seek a return to innocence in a country that was ravaged by war, including the horrors of two atomic bombs. In the 1950s, kawaii came into being…at the same time as Godzilla and his competitors. Curiouser and curiouser.

One of General MacArthur’s legacies is a constitution that renounced the right to wage war, at least in theory.

Or perhaps, sociology-wise, a broader move away from the strictures of the samurai, ninjas, and geishas.

Tokyo itself, the capital of the island nation and home to many things old and revered in Japan, has several conflicting personalities. Modern architecture ranges from emulation of things western like the expensive shops on the Ginza and the Eiffel Tower-like Tokyo Tower to inscrutable oddities like cartoon characters surrounding office buildings and very unusual decor at major corporations.

Guardians of the universe outside an office block in Tokyo. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
A sorta-cute representation of a golden frothy head atop the headquarters of Asahi Breweries on the banks of the Sumida River in Tokyo. Locals have other, scatalogical, nicknames for the sculpture. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

I’ll be back next month with photos and observations from other stops on this cruise, including the heavily freighted worlds of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a visit to the neighborhood erupting volcano in Kagoshima, a drop-in in Taipei, Taiwan and a steamy time in schizophrenic Hong Kong.

All photos and text copyright 2023 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like a copy of a photo for personal or commercial use please contact me for permission.

October, 2023: Once More, Into the Ice

By Corey Sandler

I am told that this past summer was a particularly hot and uncomfortable season in much of the United States and Europe and elsewhere. I cannot testify to that, because as chance would have it we spent much of that time in places that ranged between cool and cold.

For the month of July, temperatures soared in the American West, the big cities of the central states, and much of Western Europe. In Athens, Greece authorities shut down the Acropolis for much of the month for the safety of tourists, guards, and various caryatids.

During the heart of the summer, we were in Sweden, Norway, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland, and wearing sweaters and jackets.

We returned to Boston for a three-week rainy and relatively temperate break in August and then departed for a cruise from New York to Nova Scotia, Greenland, and another circuit around Iceland. By the end of the cruise aboard Viking Saturn, we were in winter coats watching the first snow of the season land on the peaks of eastern Iceland.

Here is some of what we saw in September.

Down the Hudson River

We boarded Viking Saturn at New York’s historic cruise terminal along the West Side of Manhattan, near what used to be known as Hell’s Kitchen and later was the site of the tenements that formed the backdrop for “West Side Story.”

Today mid-Manhattan is mostly populated by soaring office and apartment towers. Our ship backed out of the pier and then headed south, down the Hudson River toward the open ocean.

Lady Liberty in New York harbor as we began our journey in late afternoon. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Halifax Puts on a Show

The handsome city of Halifax, Nova Scotia always sparkles.

It is home to one of the world’s largest natural harbors, vying for second place (behind Sydney, Australia) with Cork, Ireland or perhaps Poole in Dorset, England or Falmouth in Cornwall, England.

It is big by any measure, and it also holds the astounding story of the Halifax Explosion on December 7, 1917 when a munitions ship collided with another vessel creating the largest manmade explosion until the dawn of the Atomic Age.

Among its gems is the Public Gardens, a formal Victorian garden established in 1867, the year of Canadian Confederation. No matter what the season, they always have something wondrous to show.

Thinking of its long an illustrious history, on this visit I applied a photo filter that mimics the look of an oil painting.

The Bandstand at the heart of the Public Gardens is used for public performances. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Small Towns on the World’s Largest Island

We moved east to make two calls in Greenland, an autonomous territory of the Kingdom of Denmark that they used to refer to as Grønland. To be politically correct today, its official moniker in the Kalaallisut language is Kalaallit Nunaat. Kalaallisut is a dialect related to Inuktitut spoken by many Inuit tribes in northern Canada.

The vast island is home to only about 57.000 people and nearly all of them live in small communities that ring its west, south, and east coasts. The interior is still nearly unpopulated, with about 81 percent of the land covered by the vast Greenlandic Ice Sheet. Huge pieces of glaciers calve off every summer and mostly head west and south down the coast of Atlantic Canada and New England; it is believed that the iceberg that met the S.S. Titanic followed that route.

The economy is based on fishing and a bit of tourism, as well as the operations of an air base established by the United States during World War II and now under local control.

Scientists are concerned about the loss of the ice cover of Greenland as the climate changes; along with the effects on the global sea level there is also the mixed blessing of possible exposure of mineral and petroleum deposits in this otherwise nearly pristine place.

The village of Qaqortaq, Greenland as the island began to put the summer behind it and prepare for the cold and dark winter. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
A ship’s tender navigates around an iceberg to return guests to Viking Saturn at anchor off of Qaqortaq. The blue hue of icebergs is caused by the compression of snow and ice over time, allowing only that color to be reflected. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The even-smaller town of Nanortalik lies near the entrance to Prins Christian Sound, an inland route amongst the glaciers and mountains at the south end of Greenland. The locals have maintained a former whaling and sealing station as an outdoor museum. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

An Aqueous Version of Iceland’s Ring Road

We arrived at the West Fjords for a visit to the port of Ísafjörður and experienced Iceland’s version of summer all in one day: chilly and cloudy, heavy rain, and then a brief but uplifting glimpse of blue sky and sun.

The Dynjandi waterfall near Ísafjörður is one outlet of a massive snowfield up above. On the west side of Iceland, most of the mountains are flat at the top, bulldozed by the weight of snow and ice and the movement of glaciers. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Dynjani drains into Arnarfjörður, which leads to the sea. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Iceland’s East Side Story

We twice crossed into the Arctic Circle as we circumnavigated Iceland. When we pulled into Djupivogur on the country’s east coast, it seemed as if winter arrived with us, coating the hills with the first snow.

The pyramid-shaped Búlandstindur mountain, the most recognizable site in this part of Iceland, bore a fresh coating of snow from the night before. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Viking Saturn at anchor in Djupivogur. On the east side of Iceland there are fewer glaciers and more young volcanoes and many of the mountains come to a sharp peak. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Offshore to Heimaey

Our final port of call before the cruise came to its end in the capital city of Reykjavik was at Heimaey in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago. This was near the original home of the West Men, Irish monks who were likely the first settlers.

Fifty years ago, in 1973, a long-dormant volcano on the island came to life and destroyed much of the town. Even worse, a long tongue of lava headed for the mouth of the harbor threatening to close it off completely.

A small cadre of locals, aided by international reinforcements, fought against the volcano pouring huge amounts of sea water on the lava and eventually stopping it before it completely closed off the harbor.

Viking Saturn found a spot outside the harbor–the sea bottom too deep and rocky to allow putting down an anchor–and hovered in place all day while tenders threaded the narrow opening into town.

VIking Saturn held her place outside the narrow entrance to the harbor at Heimaey. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

All photos copyright 2023 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like a copy of an image for personal or commercial purposes, please contact me.

Westward, Ho

In October, we will head west for a trip from Tokyo through the Japanese islands to Taiwan and on to Hong Kong. I hope you’ll visit me here in these pages.

September, 2023: Have Microphone, Will Travel (Part Two)

By Corey Sandler

So where were we?

We returned at the end of July from four weeks cruising from Stockholm to Bergen, and then on to Reykjavik…with a lot of wondrous stops in between. And as September begins, we are back at sea, sailing from New York to Atlantic Canada, Greenland, and coming to Iceland but this time from the other direction.

In full disclosure, this blog serves two audiences. I’m happy to share some photos and thoughts with readers. And it also helps us remember where we were and when.

When we left Bergen in mid-July, we headed up the coast of Norway for three port calls, and then went across the North Sea to the mist-shrouded Faroe Islands, and from there approached Iceland from the east for a counter-clockwise, aqueous version of the Ring Road.

The weather was somewhere about midpoint between delightful and dreadful, but we were lucky enough to miss the oppressive heat wave that was ongoing in Europe and much of North America.

Every place we went to was full of wonders. Somehow, though, whoever was in charge of the weather in Ålesund, Norway managed to pull off a Chamber of Commerce salute to our ship as we sailed away.

A double rainbow appeared over the stern of Viking Jupiter as we sailed away from Ålesund. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
In the gray mist of Geiranger, the orange superstructure of a ship’s tender comes to the shore from Viking Jupiter. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
From the Stegastein overlook near the port of Flåm, a view up a side fjord. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
A bit of blue in Ålesund, Norway. The town is jammed with Jugendstil architecture, the Germanic version of Art Nouveau. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
The port of Thorshavn in the Faroe Islands. The captain of Viking Jupiter said he had previously made six unsuccessful attempts to bring a ship into the often-foggy and windy place. I told him I had better luck: been to the Faroes about six times, although I had scarcely seen them because of bad weather. We split the difference: a cloudy, sometimes rainy day but we made port. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
In Akureyri, Iceland–just 62 miles below the Arctic Circle–warm currents and other weather anomalies allow for a relatively temperate microclimate. The town’s botanical garden includes samples of nearly every type of flora of the island nation as well as samples imported from high latitudes around the world. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

So, if all goes to plan–not a certainty these days–as this month’s blog is posted, by this time we will have sailed down the Hudson River in New York, saluted the Statue of Liberty, and hung a pair of left turns to pass along the the length of Long Island and then head up the coast of New England.

In addition to my microphone aboard ship, I’ll have my cameras and lenses at the ready. Hope to see you here again in October.

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you’d like a copy of one of my images for personal or commercial purposes, please contact me.

August, 2023: Have Microphone, Will Travel

By Corey Sandler

As Groucho Marx sang in “Animal Crackers”,

Hello, I must be going
I cannot stay, I came to say, “I must be going”
I’m glad I came but just the same I must be going

To me, that’s a natural turn of events. With the exception of the unwanted and unappreciated interruption of the Pandemic Years, I’ve been on the move most of my life.

It’s good to be going.

So, I’m interrupting the contemplative mood of the most recent set of blog entries to report on my most recent travels, from Stockholm across the Baltic and then up and around the corner to Norway.

And then from there northwestward ho, to the stubbornly iconoclastic Faroe Islands and a near-complete circumnavigation of the island nation of Iceland, which straddles the line that defines the European and American land masses.

We did this in great style, aboard Viking Jupiter, where I was guest lecturer for a month.

The old salt’s benediction used to go like this: “Fair winds and clear skies.”  Fingers crossed, we can expand best wishes for travelers like this: “Fair winds, clear skies, and healthy air.”

As always, I travel with my camera and notebook.

Our first port of call from Stockholm was south across the Baltic to Gdansk, Poland, a place that has seen more than of its share of history. It was once a very prosperous trading port for all manner of local businesspeople, including the Vikings and the Hanseatic League.

And then it came under control of Germany, until the messy aftermath of World War I when it was partitioned off to a reconstructed Poland as Danzig. That act was one of the excuses for war for Hitler, and it was in Danzig that the first actual battle of World War II was fought.

Much of Gdansk–now once again part of Poland–was destroyed in the war, but it was rebuilt as it was before and is now a handsome port of call.

Gdansk, Poland. Photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

A few days later we were in Warnemunde, Germany. This has been a popular seaside resort for more than a century, enduring a strange, stagnant period when it was part of the German Democratic Republic, better known as mostly humorless East Germany.

Warnemunde, Germany. Photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Ice Cream Under Brass, Copenhagen. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Vigelunds Park. Oslo, Norway. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Under Glass. Stavanger, Norway. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights rerserved.
The Hansa Kontor of Bryggen in Bergen, Norway. Photo by Corey Sandler.

I’ll be back next month with more photos from this series. In the meantime, I must be going…preparing for another voyage, this one from New York to a clockwise circle of Iceland.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of any of my photos for personal or commercial use, please contact me through this website.

July 2023: Street Scenes (Part One)

By Corey Sandler

We are, with fingers crossed, seeming to tiptoeing back to something approaching normalcy. Whatever that means.

Soon after I post this blog entry, we will be heading to the airport for what I am sure will be a predictably unpleasant red-eye flight to Europe to meet up with a ship in Stockholm.

Once we have landed, the travel commences and that is the enjoyable part.

But why do we travel?

You can travel to experience spectacular scenery. Or to time travel through history. Speaking for myself, the joy of travel is in how it helps you better appreciate and understand the place from where you started.

I go to learn how other people live and allow it to inform me about my own life.

A favorite fragment from T.S. Eliot:

“And the end of all our exploring

“Will be to arrive where we started

“And know the place for the first time.”

All That Glitters

If ever I need to gild a lily, or anything else, I know the place to send you: the island nation of Malta where several practitioners are fully engaged in applying gold to clocks, statues, picture frames, and just about anything else. The craft is believed to have arrived with the Knights of Malta who extravagantly decorated their palaces when they arrived in the 16th century. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Hound Dog at the Salumeria

In Sorrento, Italy this Italian deli is under the watchful eye of a hound. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Blood Bank

In Constanța, Romania they count the money and discount jokes about Vlad the Impaler better, known as Dracula. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Adjusting Your Bite

In case I needed a reminder to take care of my teeth while traveling, finding this denture-maker in a back alley of the old souk in Casablanca, Morocco sealed the deal. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite

The glamour of the Big Apple, along the West Side cruise ship piers of Manhattan. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Photos and text copyright Corey Sandler. To obtain copies or otherwise use images, please contact me through my website at www.coreysandler.com

Website security

To see portfolios of some of my travel photos visit www.coreysandler.myportfolio.com or www.coreysandler2.myportfolio.com

Photo Portfolio 1

Photo Portfolio 2: Street Scenes

My Sway Portfolio

June 2023: Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (Part Two)

By Corey Sandler

If you were to ask a (talented) child to draw a picture of a volcano, what you’d get would likely look very much like Mount Fuji in Japan.

To put it another way, Mount Fuji is a near-perfect volcanic cone, the tallest mountain in Japan with its summit at 12,389 feet or 3,774 meters. It stands on its own, covered or sprinkled with snow for about half the year.

In April, I was sailing on a ship into Shimizu, south of Tokyo, ready to head out on an expedition to fulfill my mind’s-eye plan for a photo of Mount Fuji. As the sun rose on a gray and cloudy, while the ship was still maneuvering through the harbor, Mount Fuji came to me.

Mount Fuji comes to me, like a magic hat above the countryside. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

I chose to make this image a study in rich black and white.

We had traveled from Tokyo to the southern islands of Japan and back to Yokohama aboard Regent Seven Seas Explorer, and on the last full day of the cruise we called at Shimizu, a bustling city south of Tokyo also known as Shizuoka. The weather forecast for the day called for heavy clouds and that’s what greeted us as we sailed into the harbor.

Mount Fuji was right there, off the starboard side…or so the GPS map on my phone told us. But all we saw was a wall of cloud from sea level to the skies.

But I don’t give up that easily. I kept a weather eye on the sky, and saw it begin to brighten slightly and then a half-volcano-sized hole opened. I took the first of many photos from the veranda of our suite before our ship came to the dock.

For centuries, Japanese artists, poets, and spiritual leaders have made Fuji the object of rhapsodic study.

Fuji is an active stratovolcano, still bubbling within; its most recent significant eruption came in 1707 and across its known recent history it has erupted every few hundred years. You do the math…

It is hard to miss Fuji if you venture south of Tokyo; in fact, on a clear day the summit is visible from the capital city 62 miles away.

Many Japanese consider it a life’s goal to climb to the summit, typically a five-to-twelve-hour trek of about 12 miles on various trails that approach from nearly every direction. Climbing season runs from early July to mid-September, and the best experience is supposed to be a nighttime hike that culminates with sunrise from the summit.

A Japanese aphorism says that a wise person will ascend Mount Fuji once in a lifetime, but only a fool would climb it twice.

I’d consider the hike, although my visits to Japan have all been during the mountain-climbing off-season. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

A View from a Shrine

A few hours later, I went with a group of guests on a pilgrimage to the Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine, constructed in the 17th century at least partly to admire the volcano.

Our guide kept speaking of the beauties of the mountain and pointing vaguely in the direction of the huge volcano, but the clouds were once again completely blocking the view.

We toured the shrine, watched a very young couple dressed in traditional clothing make a pre-wedding visit (accompanied by a camera crew) and toured the gardens. We were just past the peak of cherry blossom trees, but wisteria was having its moment.

As I often do, I wandered a bit from the group and looked for non-traditional photos and angles. I turned a corner and suddenly was face-to-face with a volcano. The volcano. Fuji.

After I snapped a few safety photos, I ran back to alert the guide and guests. Here’s some of what we saw:

Fuji from Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine

Fuji, ready for its closeup. Photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

And then, under the thesis that any worth doing is worth overdoing, we drove an hour back and then past Shimizu to visit Miho no Matsubara, a quiet seaside pine grove with a soft lava sand beach.

Once again, Fuji was elusive at first. But rounding a curve on the beach, we found the mountain once again.

Fuji from the Beach

Okinawa, A Place Apart

A few days earlier, we had called at Naha, the capital city of the prefecture of Okinawa. It includes more than 160 islands inhabited and uninhabited.

For most of its history, Okinawa had been an independent country, the capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It became part of Japan in 1879.

Most of the people of Okinawa speak a distinctive dialog not easily interchangeable with Japanese. Even today, many residents identify themselves not as Japanese, but as Okinawans.

When World War II, Naha and Okinawa Island were essentially invaded by the Japanese military who fortified the island and conscripted teenage boys into combat and teenage girls into nursing and other support roles.

As Allied forces advanced toward the mainlands of Japan, the outer islands became critical defensive positions. In April of 1945, four months before the end of the war, a force of mostly American Army and Marine Corps troops launched an invasion with 185,000 troops, the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific war.

The American intent was to use bases on Okinawa as staging areas for the planned invasion of Japan’s home islands about 340 miles away.

They faced fierce resistance including a retreat by many Japanese troops–and Okinawan civilians–into caves. The battle lasted 81 days.

Precise numbers are hard to come by, but one estimate says 12,500 Americans were killed or missing in action. On the Axis side, 77,166 Japanese soldiers and about 30,000 Okinawan conscripts died. And perhaps 100,000 to 150,000 Okinawan civilians were killed in the assault.

Okinawa remained under American occupation until 1972, and there are still a half dozen American military bases on the islands.

Himeyuri Peace Museum

One of the caves of Okinawa where civilians and troops died. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Okinawan Naval Headquarters

In the weeks leading up to the assault, Japanese naval authorities ordered the construction of a massive network of underground tunnels and rooms in a limestone mountain near what would be the climactic battlesite.

After decades, the rooms and tunnels were opened to visitors, frozen in time and toured mostly in silence.

A command center of the Japanese Navy dug out of a mountainside in Okinawa. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Cruise’s End

Two weeks after we started, Regent Explorer brought us to the bustling port of Yokohama on the Pacific Ocean. That day began about 6:30am and ended 27 hours later–on the same day–when our jumbo jet touched down in another great port, Boston on the Atlantic Ocean. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Photos and text copyright Corey Sandler. To obtain copies or otherwise use images, please contact me through my website at www.coreysandler.com

To see portfolios of some of my travel photos visit www.coreysandler.myportfolio.com or www.coreysandler2.myportfolio.com

Photo Portfolio 1

Photo Portfolio 2: Street Scenes

My Sway Portfolio

April, 2023:
What’s Your Sign? (Part Three)

By Corey Sandler

As April begins, I’m still on dry land for a while, looking for signs.

Is that a new ship on the horizon? Watch this space.

Meanwhile, we have moved into spring, after an almost snowless winter in the American northeast, which is just plain wrong. It portends a long, hot summer, which is something of which I am not fond,

I reached into my digital closet to find some memories of hot times around the world.

Hot, hot, hot

Coquimbo, Chile is a hot, humid place with little shade. I took this picture of the sign at our ship’s dock as I lunged for a breath of cooled air aboard. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Cool, Baby (Even When It is Hot)

Cannes, the chic capital of the French Riviera, is a Disneyland for the rich and famous who gather to gawk at each other and pretend to ignore those who come to see them strut. Photo by Corey Sandler.

Mind Your Children

A tavern owner on Patmos in Greece makes a point. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The Moorish Gothic Firehouse of Ponce

One of the signature structures of Puerto Rico, the Parque de Bombas was built in 1892 by the Spanish government for an international exhibition in Ponce, the island’s second city. After the fair it was converted into a firehouse, a role it held until 1990. The Municipal Band plays concerts there every Sunday. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The Fire Box

The firebox of a working steam engine on the Bodmin & Wenford Railroad in Fowey, Cornwall. Photo by Corey Sandler

Photos and text copyright Corey Sandler. To obtain copies or otherwise use images, please contact me through my website at www.coreysandler.com

To see portfolios of some of my travel photos visit www.coreysandler.myportfolio.com or www.coreysandler2.myportfolio.com

Photo Portfolio 1

Photo Portfolio 2: Street Scenes

My Sway Portfolio

March, 2023: What’s Your Sign? (Part Two)

By Corey Sandler

It’s the heart of winter in the American northeast, and as much as I enjoy snow and crisp, cold mornings I also sometimes allow myself to dream of summer. So I have dipped into my collection from warmer climes of days past and to come.

Sun or Shade, Senor?

The taquilla at the bull ring in Mijas, Spain offers seats in sombra or sol, although there is not much difference when the sun is at high noon. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Polynesian Paradise

Much-traveled artist Paul Gauguin came to the end of his life in Calvary Cemetery in Altuona on Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia. Nearby is the grave of another great artist, the poet, songwriter, and singer Jacques Brel, who died in France but whose body was brought back to buried near his final home on Hiva Oa. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.


The sprawling Sara Braun Municipal Cemetery in Punta Arenas, Chile near the bottom of South America includes thousands of photos and mementos of the dead. The plaques at this well-worn statue offer thanks to the “Indiecito” or “little Indian” for favors received. This highly local recognition is offered in homage to the story of an “unknown Indian” found in the wreckage of a doomed schooner in Patagonia in 1929. The story and the statue are not officially recognized by the Catholic church, but the odd devotion continues. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Rooms with No View

Devil’s Island and the other islets of the French penal colony off the east coast of South America are among the most evocative places I’ve visited. The story of Papillon and Alfred Dreyfuss come to life in this tropical hell. And I yet I come back time and again to absorb a bit more. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The Slave of the Slaves

The Church of San Pedro Claver is named for a Spanish monk known as “El Esclavo de esclavos”, the “Slave of Slaves.” Claver devoted his life to the slaves brought to Cartagena, Colombia even begging in the streets. His story humanizes the slave trade in a different way than most histories of that sad commerce. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Photos and text copyright Corey Sandler. To obtain copies or otherwise use images, please contact me through my website at www.coreysandler.com

February, 2023: What’s Your Sign? (Part One)

By Corey Sandler

Sensory overload: we are surrounded by signs and billboards and other demands for our attention, to the point where we tune them out.

As I travel near and far, I often give myself an assignment: look for unusual doors, special architecture, rippling reflections…and sometimes signs of the times.

In the next few entries here, I’ll share some of what I’ve seen spelled out in full view.

I’ll begin with time travel, old signs of the times.

Long Gone, Not Forgotten

In an old-school office in a timeworn travel agency in the reliquary that is Valletta, Malta I found this wall-sized display of the Pan Am route map. Pan Am was one of the world’s first airlines, begun in 1927, and a pioneer in transoceanic and long distance flights on flying boats and then the first passenger jets. It ceased operations in 1991. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

On the Grand Parade

J.F. Morley’s Gents Formal Hire, on the Grand Parade in Cork, Ireland has tended to the temporary needs of gents since the early 1940s. Styles have changed over the years…just a little bit. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Accessories for Harvard Yard

Since 1883, professors…and students…at Harvard College have only to cross the street from Harvard Yard to Leavitt & Pierce to fill their pipes. They also sell essentials like chess sets, puzzles, shaving kits, and cufflinks. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Don’t Let Your Dogs Bark

Useful advice on an old sign at the historic Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. The shipyard opened in 1800 and at its peak employed more than 50,000 builders, mechanics, and technicians. It ceased operations in 1974 but today is home to the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) in the shadow of Bunker Hill. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

No Alibi

Camp Drum in northern New York State near the Canadian border has served as a U.S. military training base since 1908, in various forms. In the late 1960s, I visited the installation and found this sign in an abandoned maintenance building. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Photos and text copyright Corey Sandler. To obtain copies or otherwise use images, please contact me through my website at www.coreysandler.com

To see portfolios of some of my travel photos visit www.coreysandler.myportfolio.com or www.coreysandler2.myportfolio.com

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January, 2023:
Poetry in Oils

By Corey Sandler

My principal forms of expression are words and photography. But there are times when I feel the urge to venture into impressionism. Blame it–or credit it–to the pandemic, when most of us turned inwards.

As a former newspaperman, I was thrilled to come across a quote by the artist Henri Matisse, who said “Impressionism is the newspaper of the soul.”

And so, I revisited some of my favorite photographs from my world travels and reimagined them constructed out of daubs of oil paint rather than pixels.

But first, a new image from Boston: a cold, cold dose of cheer at the annual Tuba Christmas performance in downtown. We arrived early to watch the slow accumulation of instruments: a tribe of Tubas of various keys, an amalgamation of Euphoniums, a swarm of Sousaphones, and one old Ophicleide.

Tuba Christmas in Downtown Boston 2022 brought nearly 100 bottom note players, and produced enough heat to hold off the snow for a few hours. Photo art by Corey Sandler, 2022. All rights reserved.
The Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec is the oldest church in Canada, a National Site of Canada, and part of the UNESCO World Heritage area of the glorious city. The first cathedral was constructed in 1647, twice destroyed by fire, and rebuilt in grander and grander form. Photo art by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Vineyard Under Shrouds. Near Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Photo art by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Volcano Road. Arrecife on Lanzarote, Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. Photo art by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Fresnel Lens. Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Bermuda. Photo art by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Inner Light. Valmagne near Pézenas in southern France. Photo art by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Overhead. Within The Vatican. Photo art by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Caribbean sunset. Offshore of Nevis. Photo art by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Photo art and text copyright Corey Sandler. To obtain copies or otherwise use images, please contact me through my website at www.coreysandler.com

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To see portfolios of some of my travel photos visit www.coreysandler.myportfolio.com or www.coreysandler2.myportfolio.com

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December, 2022:
Above It All

By Corey Sandler

I love to fly.

It’s airports I hate. Waiting in line for check-in. Going through customs. Security checkpoints. And then there are the passengers, at least some of them.

I am, for better or worse, old enough to remember when you could drop your bag at the curb and then walk directly to the boarding gate with a paper ticket and expect the plane to be there and ready to leave on time. Hah!

Allow me one more peeve, if you please. Now, once I am seated (by the window, of course) I want to watch the world go by. I have taken thousands of air flights, in all sorts and sizes of plane, all over the world and I still am fascinated by all I see. Please don’t ask me to close my window shade as we soar over Greenland or the Alps or Africa so that someone three seats away can play Sudoku or shoot at aliens on a cell phone.

Over the Rockies in winter, heading east from Los Angeles. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
A glacier splits as it nears the sea in Greenland. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Crossing Norway in Winter. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Lining up for an early morning landing in Oslo. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
A rare exception to my dislike of airports: Laguardia’s Marine Air Terminal in New York, frozen in time (with help from recent restoration) and perhaps the oldest major terminal still in use. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Photos and text copyright Corey Sandler. To obtain copies or otherwise use images, please contact me through my website at www.coreysandler.com

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To see portfolios of some of my travel photos visit www.coreysandler.myportfolio.com or www.coreysandler2.myportfolio.com

Photo Portfolio 1

Photo Portfolio 2: Street Scenes

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November, 2022:
Sailing Away (Part Three)

By Corey Sandler

Fall has come to New England, the most spectacular time of the year in a beautiful place. Last week included several quintessential autumn days, clear skies above red and yellow leaves along the blue harbor.

That was followed by three days in which we were encased in pea soup fog, a whiter shade of pale. I could not see the ocean from my window, although I knew it was still there.

And now, as I prepare this blog for publication on the first day of November, we’re back in the sun. But those of us who live here know that will change once more; winter is coming.

In offseason, there are two tall ships tied up in Boston harbor, including the USS Constitution, put into service in 1798 and still an active-duty U.S. Navy ship, venturing out into the harbor from time to time to show her colors. And there is the tall ship called Tall Ship–born as Caledonia in 1947–now moored in East Boston and consigned to less glorious use as a floating oyster bar and outdoor saloon.

The appeal of the tall ship is global, at least in nations that border on the sea. I have come across beautiful relics–and a few modern alternatives–in many far corners.

Here are a few more from my collection.

India’s Wave

India’s INS Tarangini, photographed alongside in Bordeaux, France at the 2018 Tall Ships Regatta. Photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. The ship is also as depicted under full sail in a postage stamp commemorating her 2003-2004 circumnavigation of the globe.

Tarangini is derived from a Hindi word meaning “waves” or “full of waves.” The handsome three-masted barque was commissioned in 1997 as a sail training ship for Indian Navy.

She is square-rigged on the fore and main masts, and fore-and-aft rigged on the mizzen mast closest to the stern, which means she can carry a lot of sail and move along in many different wind conditions.

In Bordeaux, her crew was attired in full dress uniforms that would have made Lord Nelson proud. In fact, she has a sister ship named Lord Nelson, designed by the same architect. That ship has sailed for a British foundation but as I write her future is uncertain.

Poland’s Pride

Dar Pomorza (Gift of Pomerania) at the pier in Gdynia, Poland. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Like many members of the surviving fleet of tall ships, Dar Pomorza has gone through many hands over the years. She was built in 1909 in Germany as the training ship Prinzess Eitel Friedrich, wife of a Prussian prince.

In 1920 she was taken as war reparations by Great Britain, then brought to France. In 1929 she was purchased by the Polish community of Pomerania as a training ship for the Polish Naval Academy in Gdynia, which in the period between the world wars was part of the Free State of Danzig along with the nearby city of Gdańsk.

In 1934 and 1935 she traveled around the world, including a passage through the Panama Canal, as an assertion of pride by the nation of Poland even as war clouds gathered back home. When the Second World War began, with the first shots fired at Gdańsk, she was interned in neutral Sweden at Stockholm.

After the war she was returned to Poland, now under Soviet suzerainty. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the ship became a museum ship moored in Gdynia.

She has three sister ships, including Statsraad Lehmkuhl, which I wrote about in an earlier blog post.

Russia, Docked

Kruzenshtern is now a sail training ship for Russia. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The four-masted barque was built in Germany in 1926 as part of the Flying P-Liners; there are four of these large and fast cargo-carriers still in existence but Kruzenshtern is the last one still sailing.

When she was built in Bremerhaven she was named Padua after the Italian city. After World War II she was surrendered to the Soviet Union as war reparations and renamed after the 19th century explorer Adam Johann von Krusenstern who conducted the first Russian circumnavigation of the globe. He had been born in the Governate of Estonia of the Russian Empire.

As the cargo ship Padua, among her assignments was transporting material to and from South America, and later carrying wheat from Australia.

As Kruzenshtern, the ship’s home port is in the somewhat obscure Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea; Kaliningrad was formerly the German port of Königsberg but was not given up by Russia even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

I have seen and photographed all four of the surviving Flying P-Liners: Pommern, a museum ship in Mariehamn, Finland; Peking, which spent many years at the South Street Seaport in New York and is now a museum ship in Hamburg, Germany, and Passat, also a museum ship, displayed in Travemünde, Germany.

A Swedish Pleasure Craft

The Swedish Royal Schooner Amphion at the Maritime Museum in Stockholm. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

In the immortal words of Mel Brooks, it’s good to be king. Amphion was the personal pleasure craft of King Gustav III of Sweden.

Launched in 1778, the vessel was intended as a royal yacht and headquarters frigate. In Greek mythology, Amphion was the son of Zeus and a patron of the arts.

Her construction preceded the introduction of marine engines that supplemented windpower on most sailing vessels. Instead, the ship included a galley deck that allowed for a complement of oarsmen.

The ship was lavishly decorated and appointed, but a failure as a vessel unable to make much progress with her two masts and she was too heavy to make much use of the 16 pairs of oars.

On her maiden voyage to Stockholm, poor weather conditions left Amphion shipwrecked in the archipelago of Stockholm, and Gustav III was required to come ashore by tender, most unbefitting a royal.

In 1884, Amphion was broken up for firewood, but her figurehead and stern castle were preserved.

A Polynesian Theory

Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki on display in Stockholm. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Kon-Tiki is a relatively modern conception of an ancient craft that Norwegian explorer and author Thor Heyerdahl believed might have been used by people from South America to settle Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.

There’s a lot to unpack there.

Heyerdahl from Norway came to Callao, near Lima in Peru to supervise construction of a primitive balsa wood raft with a rudimentary sail.

The book he wrote about his adventure was a major worldwide bestseller, and the documentary he made won an Academy Award in 1951.

Heyerdahl’s trip did indeed establish the possibility that this sort of sailing vessel could have followed currents and winds from Peru to Polynesia.

That said, modern scientists are generally unconvinced that this was the route and method used by the settlers of Polynesia and Hawaii.

But it was a great story, and it is thrill to see the flimsy raft. Not in Peru. Not on one of the islands of Polynesia. But instead in a special museum in Stockholm.

This sort of unexpected connection between disparate places is the reason I travel.

Photos and text copyright Corey Sandler. To obtain copies or otherwise use images, please contact me through my website at www.coreysandler.com

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October, 2022:
Sailing Away (Part Two)

By Corey Sandler

In September I wrote about the view of Boston’s historic harbor from my office window and specifically about three interlinked tall ships: USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides” in informal, boastful references), USCGC Eagle, and the sailing ship Sea Cloud.

As is the case with most of the lectures I give around the world, pulling on a single thread of information almost always leads deeper and deeper into a story. And so I spent some time examining images from my trove of many thousands of photos from my travels.

Herewith, some true tales of tall ships.

Cutty Sark: Last of the Tea Clippers

Cutty Sark in Greenwich, England. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The Cutty Sark was one of the last tea clippers to be built, and one of the fastest, although the timing of her launch was not great. Steam-powered vessels were beginning to take over, and in 1869 the Suez Canal was opened; the age of sail-powered cargo ships waned rapidly.

Cutty Sark was built in Dumbarton, Scotland in 1869 and intended to carry tea from China, which she did for a few years before switching routes to the trade in wool from Australia. After then she moved to other routes including carrying minerals in South America.

How fast was she? Her maximum recorded speed was 17.5 knots (about 20.1 miles per hour). That is about equal or greater than ordinary operating speeds for modern cruise ships.

Since 1954 she has served as a museum ship, perched on dry land atop a bluff in Greenwich, England, just short of London on the River Thames.

Vasa: Beauty Over Engineering

The Swedish warship Vasa in Stockholm. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Vasa sank on her maiden voyage on August 10, 1628 in Stockholm harbor. Built on orders of King Gustavus Adolphus, she was at that time one of the most powerfully armed warships in the world and also one of the most lavishly decorated.

Oh, and also spectacularly top-heavy.

When she was launched, she sailed less than a mile before a puff of wind rolled her over.

The Swedes salvaged some of her heavy bronze cannons and then all but forgot about the vessel for three centuries. A Swedish amateur archeologist found her in a shipping lane in 1956.

The almost-intact ship was conserved and restored, a process than took nearly three decades, and now lives on in a museum in Stockholm. There are few places that can match the Vasa Museum as a place for instant time travel.

The Flying P-Line Peking

The spectacular four-masted steel sailing barque Peking at the dock at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City in 2009. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Peking was a Flying P-Liner of the German company F. Laeisz, which named nearly all of its vessels after places beginning with the 16th letter of the modern English alphabet.

She was built in Hamburg, Germany and made her maiden voyage to Valparaiso, Chile in 1911 carrying nitrate and wheat around Cape Horn.

The huge ship was a bit more than 377 feet from spar to stern and could hoist 44,132 square feet of sail, which is a bit more than an acre in total

With the outbreak of the first World War in 1914 she was interned there and was later given to Italy as war reparations, going on to owners in the Weimar Republic and then the United Kingdom. She was acquired by the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City in 1975, and in 2017 was transferred to the German Port Museum of Hamburg where she is on display now.

Statsraad Lehmkuhl in Bergen

Statsraad Lehmkuhl, still in service, is based in the beautiful harbor of Bergen, Norway. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Statsraad Lehmkuhl is a three-masted barque built for the German merchant marine in 1914 as a sailing training ship. After the first World War it was taken as war reparations by the United Kingdom, and then in 1921 purchased by a former Norwegian cabinet minister.

At the outbreak of World War 2, she was seized by the Germans, but repatriated after the war.

She is now operated by a foundation as a training ship, under a Norwegian name which translates as “Cabinet Minister Lehmkuhl”.

Statsraad Lehmkuhl is a sister ship to Dar Pomorza, which today is a museum ship in Gdynia, Poland.

The vessel is about 311 feet in length from spar to stern, and is little changed from when she was built, with one exception: in 2019 her diesel auxiliary engine was modified to work with battery power that can be recharged by the wind or the engine.

Roseway Near the Greenway

The schooner Roseway at her summer-season dock in Boston’s Seaport District. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

I once owned a handsome sports car with an ambitious engine; it looked like it was breaking the speed limit even when parked at the curb.

That’s the feeling I get when I see the Roseway, a wooden gaff-rigged schooner at her slip on the south side of Boston harbor.

She was built in 1925 in Essex, Massachusetts as a fishing schooner, but also with an eye on competing in the offshore fishing boat races held in Atlantic Canada at the time. (The most celebrated fishing/racing vessel of the time was the Canadian schooner Bluenose, the “Queen of the North Atlantic.” That ship, which wrecked in 1946, is remembered on the reverse side of the Canadian ten-cent coin.)

Roseway never won the big race, but was much beloved in American waters and in 1941 retired from fishing/racing to become a pilot boat in Boston Harbor during World War II and also served as a special-purpose U.S. Naval vessel with a .50 caliber machine gun aboard.

After the war, Roseway resumed its role ferrying harbor pilots in Boston, the last such sailing vessel in the United States when she was retired in 1973.

Today Roseway is operated by World Ocean School, a non-profit educational organization based in Boston, sailing in the summer up north and in winter from Saint Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

By coincidence (and for confusion’s sake) her dock is very near the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a park installed atop the Big Dig roadway along Boston’s waterfront which replaced the urban blight of the I-93 elevated roadway which cut off the city from its historic and handsome harbor for two decades between 1991 and 2006.

I hope you’ll join me in these pages in November for more maritime musings.

Photos and text copyright Corey Sandler. To obtain copies or otherwise use images, please contact me through my website at www.coreysandler.com

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To see portfolios of some of my travel photos visit www.coreysandler.myportfolio.com or www.coreysandler2.myportfolio.com

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September, 2022:
Sailing Away (Part One)

By Corey Sandler

My office window overlooks Boston harbor, a bird’s-eye view of an historic patch of the North Atlantic that includes the location of the Boston Tea Party, the remains of the old wharves from which the city built its fame and fortune, and around the corner the permanent dock of the oldest commissioned sailing vessel in the U.S. Navy, the U.S.S. Constitution.

Constitution was launched from a dockyard in 1797 in what is now Boston’s North End, also in view from my window. Mostly constructed of live oak, as much as seven inches thick; Paul Revere made the copper sheathing for the hull and forged copper spikes and bolts to attach her planks. 

Several times a year Constitution is brought out from her berth and taken on a tour of the harbor, usually stopping to let loose a ceremonial salvo at Fort Independence on Castle Island at the outside of the harbor and again in front of the Coast Guard station in Boston near where she was constructed.

As I began writing this blog, I looked up and spotted her passing through the harbor once again.

USS Constitution passes through Boston Harbor. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved
USS Constitution at her berth in Charlestown. Behind the brick buildings of the historic shipyard stands Bunker Hill, site of one of the first major engagements of the American Revolution.

Today she relies mostly on assistance from tugboats, last moving under sail in August 2012 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her victory over Guerriere during the War of 1812. It was during that successful battle off the coast of Halifax, Nova Scotia where she earned her nickname “Old Ironsides” after her sturdy oak planking withstood cannonballs from the British vessel.

Constitution saw service against the Barbary pirates of North Africa, the War of 1812, and as a training vessel and ambassador ship including a circumnavigation of the planet in the 1840s and a three-year 90-port tour of the United States in 1934 after a decades-long fundraising effort that mostly collected coins from schoolchildren to pay for upkeep and restoration.

It is still a thrill to see the majestic three-masted heavy frigate, 304 feet in length from bowsprit to spanker, her mainmast standing 220 feet tall. I walk over to visit every few weeks to Charlestown to see her at the dock,.

Constitution is crewed by U.S. Navy personnel and is used for training and exhibition.

But a few weeks ago I caught glimpse of another large sailing vessel moving through the harbor, also flying the American flag.

The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle sailed into the harbor, below my window, stopping to salute the Coast Guard station, and then continued to Charlestown where she tied up at the end of the same pier that is home to her older cousin Constitution.

USCGC Eagle tied up in Charlestown, August 2022. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved
Sharing the pier, Eagle at left and Constitution at right. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved

USCGC Eagle is a training vessel for the Coast Guard, carrying cadets and officer candidates from that branch’s academy. Eagle is just slightly smaller than her much older cousin; 295 feet long from stem to stern, with her foremast and mainmast standing 147 feet tall with a slightly shorter mizzenmast aft of the main.

The Eagle’s eagle figurehead. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved

Eagle has a steel (not iron, not oak) hull and was launched in 1936 as a German naval training vessel; it came into American hands as part of World War II reparations.

This year, for the first time, both ships are under command of a female officer.

About 15 years ago we forged our own connection to USCGC Eagle when we sailed in the Caribbean aboard another venerable ship, Sea Cloud. She is larger than the two old naval ships in this post: 360 feet in length.

Sea Cloud under sail in the Caribbean. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Sea Cloud was built for Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1931, at one point serving as the unofficial residence of Post and her husband Joseph E. Davies, the second American ambassador to the Soviet Union. The ship was tied up in the River Neva in St. Petersburg in part because Post preferred its luxuries to those of Soviet Moscow.

During World War II, Post allowed the U.S. Navy to charter the ship for $1 per year and it served as a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter weather observation ship, home-based here in Boston. Today Sea Cloud is back in private hands, carrying cruise guests mostly in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

It was on one of those voyages that we spent some time with Sea Cloud‘s captain, Richard “Red” Shannon. We learned that he had retired from a career in the Coast Guard, and that one of his postings had been as sailing master of the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle.

On that voyage we met up with the very modern sailing vessel Wind Surf, part of the Windstar cruise fleet. The world’s largest passenger-ship sailing vessel at 617 feet including bowsprit, it has five aluminum masts and a computer-controlled mechanism to raise, lower, or furl its high-tech sails. Below decks there is also an engine to drive a propeller when that was needed or desirable; to be fair, both the Eagle and Sea Cloud have a similar arrangement.

Wind Surf, equipped with aluminum masts and computer-controlled winches to raise, lower, or furl sails. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved

I asked Captain Shannon what he thought of the fancy Windstar vessel.

With a practiced pause, he said, “Well, I expect the sails don’t slow her down much.”

Photos and text copyright Corey Sandler. To obtain copies or otherwise use images, please contact me through my website at www.coreysandler.com

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August, 2022: Northeastern Lights

By Corey Sandler

We take Independence Day seriously here in Boston.

After all, many of the most important early moments of the rebellion against King George began here.

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The Boston Massacre, in which a British soldier fired into a crowd of several hundred protestors, killing five on March 5, 1770. (Referred to by the British as “The Incident on King Street.”)

The Boston Tea Party, the dumping of chests of tea from ships into the harbor to protest a British tax on that essential import, on December 16, 1773 at Griffin’s Wharf. 

The Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, north of Boston.

And the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775, which was a costly victory by the British against colonists in Charlestown on the north side of the harbor in Boston.

None of these events, you will note, occurred on July 4. (And I’d wager that many Americans would fail a basic history quiz on the meaning of the holiday, but I digress.)

The war between the 13 American colonies and Great Britain had been underway for more than a year before the Fourth of July in 1776.

The military occupation of Boston had actually ended in March of 1776 after the rebels had harassed the British with a combination of conventional battles and guerilla warfare. In March, about 1,100 Boston Loyalists departed by ship: some to Nova Scotia or the West Indies and some back to England. The departure of the loyalists nearly emptied Boston’s North End, a Tory stronghold notwithstanding the fact that it was the home of Paul Revere and other important rebels.

On July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia. Actually, independence was declared on July 2, but the resolution that was passed on July 4 was an explanation of the reasons for the act.

The preamble says:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Recently, it seems as if it has been downhill since then. But I digress again.

So here in Boston, July 4 is a big thing. After two years of the pandemic, things are almost as they were in the Before Times. The party began on July 1, and continued until deep into the night of July 4.

For more than three decades, we lived at sea level on an island south of the Massachusetts coast and our celebration was on the beach, low-key and low-level.

But just before the pandemic arrived, we packed up and moved on up to Boston and up 400 feet in the air to an aerie with views of the harbor on one side and the River Charles on the other. Our Independence Day was spectacular, high-key and high-level.

Here’s some of what we saw.

Boston Harborfest July 2, 2022

Boston Harborfest 2022. Fireworks over the harbor. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Boston Harborfest 2022. The wharves along the waterfront were at the heart of the growth of Boston into a great trading port. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Boston Harborfest 2022, Zoomed. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Boston Harborfest 2022. Griffin’s Wharf, the location of the Boston Tea Party, is at far right. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Boston Harborfest 2022. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular July 4, 2022

Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. The Big One, from barges in the River Charles. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. The River Charles empties into Boston Harbor from the west. The Pops orchestra performed at the Hatch Shell in the Esplanade on the left side of the river. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. The River Charles is illuminated by the fireworks above. Private boats and tourist vessels lay at anchor in the river; hundreds of thousands of onlookers watched from the Esplanade on the left side and from bridges. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. Beacon Hill and the Back Bay are at left. Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox is left of the iconic Citgo sign (the red triangle.) On the right side of the river is Cambridge, which includes Harvard and MIT. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

All photos copyright Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to obtain or use an image, please contact me.

To see portfolios of some of my travel photos, www.coreysandler.myportfolio.com or www.coreysandler2.myportfolio.com

July, 2022: By the Beautiful Sea

By Corey Sandler

We’ve successfully completely our carefully choreographed return to the sea and have begun making plans for years to come.

We’ve had it with this virus; go away from our door and everyone else’s.

I was born by the sea and have lived in its vicinity nearly all my life. And now we live perched in a glass-surrounded aerie above Boston Harbor. I’m looking out to sea as I write these words.

From somewhere in the deep recesses of my cluttered mind, a song bubbled up to the surface.

“By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea,
“You and I, you and I. Oh how happy we’ll be.”

The song was published in 1914, music by Harry Carroll (a successful Broadway and popular music composer of the time) and lyrics by Harold Atteridge (a prolific lyricist for shows, including those of Al Jolson, and early films.)

The song topped American music sales for six weeks in the summer of 1914, a time when the world went from relative peace to brutal conflict with the outbreak of the First World War.

Sheet music for “By the Beautiful Sea”, published in 1914.

None of this explained to me why the song is in my head.

But a bit of research turned up the fact that “By the Beautiful Sea” was written on the terrace of Reisenweber’s Brighton Beach Casino, a waterfront music hall in Brooklyn, New York near where my parents met and where I was born.

It had to be part of the background music of my childhood.

There is a Tide

From a pandemic, through a fraught election, to times of violent challenge many of us turn to the sea.

From Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare:

There is a tide in the affairs of men,

Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.

Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat.

And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

On the fjord near Alta, Norway. Photo by Corey Sandler 2019, all rights reserved.
Argostoli on Cephalonia in Greece. Photo by Corey Sandler 2016, all rights reserved.
Castiglioncello near Livorno, Italy. Photo by Corey Sandler 2016, all rights reserved.
From a Window Seat, Above Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Photo by Corey Sandler 2010, all rights reserved.
The River Charles, Through a Window at the Boston Museum of Science. Photo by Corey Sandler 2022, all rights reserved.

All photos copyright Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to obtain or use an image, please contact me.

To see portfolios of some of my travel photos, www.coreysandler.myportfolio.com or www.coreysandler2.myportfolio.com

June, 2022: That New Ship Smell

By Corey Sandler

One of the tropes of cheesy mystery stories is a gathering of suspects, family, or other interested parties at which an unexpected letter is read aloud. “If you are hearing this letter, that means that I am…”

No, not dead, in our case.

If you are reading this blog, it means we have been at sea, at last, after two years of unplanned isolation.

And we did it in high style, sailing on the pre-Maiden shakedown by-invitation-only cruise of the beautiful Viking Mars, right out of the shipyard. Viking Cruises does a fine job delivering well-above-the-middle voyages, and one of the reasons is that it took a beautiful design and has replicated it–a little bit better with each try–for all of the ocean vessels in its fleet.

We met the ship at Civitavecchia, the ancient port of Rome. Our island-hopping itinerary took us to Palermo and Siracusa on Sicily, then the marvelous nation of Malta, on to Cagliari on Sardinia, and Palma, Mallorca before finishing in Barcelona.

Italy, Malta, Spain. Grazie, Grazie, Gracias.

I was one of several guest speakers on this special cruise, and we enjoyed just about everything. If only we could have done the trip without having to endure the sorry state of airline travel these days, especially on the U.S. airline whose name is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet.

The view from above was spectacular. The experience from within…not so much. But we made it from Boston to Rome, and then from Barcelona to Boston by way of Amsterdam where I took this photo from my window seat. Photo by Corey Sandler

Siracusa, Sicily (Italy)

Everywhere on Sicily is special, with its Greek history and its Sicilian culture. Our new ship fit in very well in the old harbor.

Viking Mars at the dock in Siracusa. Photo by Corey Sandler

Shelter from the sun in Siracusa. Photo by Corey Sandler

Ancient gates in Siracusa. Photo by Corey Sandler

A Visit to the Second Island of Malta

Malta is one of our favorite places in the world. If you can’t take a great, or at least good photo there it is time to retire your camera. I’m keeping mine.

On this visit we took the fast ferry from Valletta harbor on the main island of Malta for a visit to the second island of the nation: Gozo, a place less visited by modern tourists but one very familiar to the ancients.

After our ferry ride, we took a tuk-tuk expedition from Yippee Tours circumnavigating the island. Here’s some of what we saw:

The Citadella above Gozo’s capital city of Victoria, which is the name it took under British dominion. Its other name speaks of Malta’s middle eastern influence: Rabat. Photo by Corey Sandler
Around the corner at the Citadella. Photo by Corey Sandler
The ancient bells of the citadel. Photo by Corey Sandler
Malta is just short of one Roman Catholic church or cathedral for each day of the year, as expected for a place that can by some measures be considered an apostolic see, founded by one of the original apostles: Saint Paul (Paul of Tarsus.) Photo by Corey Sandler
Nearby to the grand church stands a grand monument to an old watering place in Victoria on Gozo. “Take a little time out,” you’re invited. Photo by Corey Sandler

Salt pans on Gozo. Photo by Corey Sandler

Cagliari, Sardinia (Italy)

We doubled back to Italy for the day to the salt water-infused city of Cagliari on the island of Sardinia, which sits just below the French island of Corsica.

Cagliari overlooks its harbor, with a view here of a Dutch tall ship flying the red, white, and blue of The Netherlands. Photo by Corey Sandler

Palma, Mallorca (Spain)

Mallorca is the major island of the Balearics, a sun-drenched outpost of Spain. The minor island is Menorca, and the even-lesser rock is Ibiza. Mallorca is dominated by La Seu, the dominating cathedral of tall spires, gargoyles, and gothic arches.

La Seu, the cathedral of Palma. Photo by Corey Sandler

Up close to La Seu. Photo by Corey Sandler

A musician busks in the vaults below La Seu in Palma. Photo by Corey Sandler

All photos copyright Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to obtain or use an image, please contact me.

To see portfolios of some of my travel photos, www.coreysandler.myportfolio.com or www.coreysandler2.myportfolio.com

May, 2022: My Interior Monologue

By Corey Sandler

Everyone has one. An interior monologue, that is.

It is sometimes the most interesting conversation of the day, even if it occurs entirely between your ears.

For the past two-plus years, my interior monologue has consisted mostly of annoyed sighs and unspoken outrage.

If all goes according to plan (hah!) that may begin to change soon. Watch this space.

But while we’re speaking of interiors, though, I thought I might share a few of my favorite photos taken inside marvelous places around the world.

Casa Vicens. The great architect Antonio Gaudí is known for his grand structures in Barcelona and elsewhere in Spain. A few years ago a private residence in the Gràcia neighborhood of Barcelona was restored and opened to the public, offering a glimpse into the architect’s amazing interior design, completed in 1885 during Gaudí’s Orientalist phase.
The Mausoleum of Mohammed V. A relatively modern structure, completed in 1961 in Rabat, Morocco, it is also timeless in its design.
The Library of the Rijksmuseum. The collection of books, catalogs, and other materials related to the vast collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is a work of art in itself, completed in 1885.
Council Chambers of Londonderry/Derry. The ornate Guildhall neo-Gothic and Tudor design Guildhall was completed in 1890, paid for by The Honourable The Irish Society as a projection of British financial and political power in what is now Northern Ireland. Just to put an exclamation point on it, its clock tower was modeled on the Elizabeth Tower in London, much better known as Big Ben. It survived a bombing during The Troubles and went on to play an important role in the still-tenuous split personality of today’s town with two names.

All photos copyright Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to obtain or use an image, please contact me.

To see portfolios of some of my travel photos, www.coreysandler.myportfolio.com or www.coreysandler2.myportfolio.com

April, 2022: History in the Making

By Corey Sandler

As Abraham Lincoln said in a message to the U.S. Congress in the days leading up to the Emancipation Proclamation, “We cannot escape history.”

It is interesting to view his words from 1862, in the early days of the Civil War, through the prism of today.

Lincoln continued, “We…will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.”

Ukraine is a place of great culture and beauty and a complex and tumultuous history.

This blog is about travel, not politics. But it is impossible for me to think of Ukraine as it is today without hearing the echoes of inescapable history. We’ve been to Ukraine several times–in its wobbly final years under a corrupt, puppet government and then just after the Maidan Revolution in 2014 as a ghost war erupted in its eastern provinces at the same time as the country renewed efforts toward establishing a European-oriented democracy.

A music conservatory in Odessa, off Deribasovskaya, which was named after José de Ribas, a Spanish naval officer who was employed by Catherine the Great in the the Russo-Turkish War of 1787 to 1792. After the war de Ribas served as governor and oversaw the grand design of what became known as the Pearl of the Black Sea. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. 

Ukraine—the Borderlands—has an ancient and complex story, almost always a pawn in games played by others.

Like much of the Black Sea region, its ports were home to important Greek settlements and then Roman castrum and eventually the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantine Empire.

In the Middle Ages came nomadic tribes like the Petchenegs and the Cumans or Polovtsy. Then came the Golden Horde, a confederation of Mongol and Turkic tribes, and then the Tatars. And Old Great Bulgaria in the 7th century.

By the 14th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the largest state in Europe, occupying parts of what are now Russia, Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine.

Next came the Ottomans, about 1529; they held onto parts of Ukraine until that empire fell in the Russo-Turkish War of 1792.

It was then part of or allied with Russia, except for several years of World War II when Ukraine was occupied and besieged by Germany.

Today, depending on the disputed borderline of the moment, Ukraine is the largest country wholly in Europe, just ahead of France.

(Russia—the biggest country on the planet—and Turkey cover more territory, but each stands with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia.)


On the southern coast of Crimea, Yalta is probably best known—by those who remember history—as the site of the 1945 conference which redrew the borderlines of postwar Eastern Europe as World War II neared its end, setting into place the borders that would foster the Cold War.

The Yalta Conference brought together the “Big Three Powers”: the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Joseph Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill met at Livadia Palace.

Livadia Palace near Yalta. Photo by Corey Sandler
History was made here in 1945, at Livadia Palace. Photo by Corey Sandler


Sevastopol, also in Crimea, was and once again is a home base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which made it a military target in many wars.

West of Sevastopol are the ruins of the ancient Greek port of Chersonesus Taurica, founded in the 5th century BC. The tourist bureau, if one still exists, would have you call Chersonesus the “Ukrainian Pompeii” or the “Russian Troy.”

The Ruins of Chersonesus just outside the naval harbor of Sevastopol. Photos by Corey Sandler

Odessa: The Pearl of the Black Sea

Located on the mainland of Europe, not on the Crimean Peninsula that dangles below it, Odessa is a handsome cosmopolitan city.

Like Saint Petersburg in Russia, Odessa was heavily influenced by Mediterranean culture and architecture: grand Art Nouveau, Renaissance, and Classicist designs.

The great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin lived in Odessa in internal exile between 1823 and 1824. He wrote that Odessa was a city where “the air is filled with all Europe, French is spoken, and there are European papers and magazines to read.”

The Odessa National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet was rebuilt after a fire in 1873. Outside the Italian neo-baroque design, stone figures depict scenes from Aristophanes and Euripedes. Within is a riot of rococo and Louis XVI style, including a huge chandelier and ceiling frescoes with scenes from Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Photo by Corey Sandler

Another architectural treasure in Odessa is Vorontsov’s Palace, completed in 1830 for Prince Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov.

The design was by the Sardinian architect Francesco Boffo; Vorontsov was so pleased with Boffo’s work that he engaged him to design a grand flight of stairs down to the sea.

Looking down the stairs toward the port you see only the landings, and the steps are invisible; looking up you see only steps.

The Primorsky or Potemkin Steps in Odessa. Photo by Corey Sandler

In 1905, Odessa was the site of an event that would be celebrated by rising revolutionaries.

It was here that the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin­ rose up in mutiny against their Czarist officers, merging with a workers’ uprising.

That mutiny became part of the symbology of the Soviet Union mostly because of Sergei Eisenstein’s great silent film from 1925, “The Battleship Potemkin.”

The film included a scene where hundreds of Odessan citizens were murdered on the great stone staircase, the Primorsky Steps, or as they are now known, the Potemkin Steps.

Eisenstein made the film as revolutionary propaganda, but the techniques of cinematography he employed are still the building blocks of motion pictures.

In the film, the Czar’s soldiers in their white summer tunics march down a seemingly endless flight of steps like a war machine, firing volleys into a crowd.

A separate detachment of mounted Cossacks charges the crowd at the bottom of the stairs.

And its most famous scene: a mother pushing an infant in a baby carriage is shot and falls to the ground, releasing her grip on the carriage which bounces and rolls down the steps amidst the fleeing crowd.

It remains one of the most famous and compelling scenes in motion picture history.

Anytime you see a set of stairs and a baby carriage in a movie, a director is nodding in the direction of Odessa and Sergei Eisenstein. And in doing so, reminding us of the horrors of war.

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

March, 2022:
Changing the Channel

By Corey Sandler

I’ve not been doing much traveling of late.

For more than two years now, we have been steering between threats that line the shores on each side, metaphorically speaking. We have been like Odysseus, navigating down the center of the channel between Scylla and Charybdis on the opposing banks.

I’ve made that particular passage many times without problem from the supernatural six-headed monster Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis. Not in the past two years, though.

It’s a natural passage known today as the Strait of Messina, which lies between Italy’s toe and the island of Sicily.

What I’m looking for now is a way to change the channel, either backwards or forwards to a time of safe passage. Fair winds, a following sea, and healthy air.

So speaking of channels, I’ve been thinking of canals, which are by definition are not natural or supernatural, but human-made passageways dug to provide safe passage.

I love most everything about sailing, including the open ocean beyond sight of land as well as travel along the coastlines and amidst islands. But there is something very special about traveling within the tight confines of an artificial canal. Every one of the major canals on our planet has a backstory of human triumph and failure and resurgence.

As we look forward to eventually returning to near-normalcy, I’m looking back at some of the passages I have made.

The Corinth Canal

The Corinth Canal between the Ionian Sea and the Saronic Gulf in Greece. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The Corinth Canal is perhaps the most supernatural-looking artificial waterway in the world, a frighteningly narrow rock-lined passage separating the Greek mainland from Peloponnesia, saving a 430 mile or 700 kilometer voyage down and around.

It is only 4 miles or 6.4 kilometers in length, but I have been up on the bridge with captains and pilots as we have made the passage and I don’t believe any of us drew a breath in the hour-long transit.

The canal’s original concept dates back two thousand years, but the V-shaped cut was not completed until 1893. There have been landslides and wartime damage since then, and today only a small number of cruise ships are narrow enough to get through.

It’s only 70 feet wide at its base and several ship’s masters I know hang large rubber bumpers from the sides of the ship as a precaution; on one trip through, we left one of the bumpers behind, impaled on a rock.

The Suez Canal

The Suez Canal between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea in Egypt. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

I knew the photo I wanted to take at the Suez Canal before I arrived in Egypt. The 120-mile or 193-kilometer waterway is just a ditch in the desert, but that is what makes it so astounding to see. There are places where you can stand on the land and see what seem to be massive ships plowing through the sand.

The canal was completed in 1869, spearheaded by the Frenchman, Ferdinand de Lesseps who was not an engineer or a builder. He was a promoter, mostly of himself. Sound familiar?

The massive undertaking was completed more or less on schedule and under budget, which is easier to do when your workforce includes tens of thousands of forced laborers conscripted by the Khedive of Egypt at the time.

The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal, between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Ferdinand de Lessups’ next project was the path between the seas, across the isthmus of Panama. He thought he could replicate the ditch through the sand at Suez but the topography could not have been more different. Not only was there a wet, thick jungle teeming with disease-carrying insects but there was also the rocky ridge of the Continental Divide.

de Lessups’ project collapsed in financial, engineering, and medical failure in 1889. American President Teddy Roosevelt threw the resources of his surging nation at the project–along with some sketchy diplomatic and military maneuvers in the region–and completed the job in 1914.

What I love about the Panama Canal is that all of its machinery–the laws of physics–are out in the open to be seen at the three locks up and three locks down at each end of the 50-mile or 82-kilometer passageway.

The Erie Canal

The Erie Canal across upstate New York. Photo by Corey Sandler

The launch of the modern era of artificial waterways can be seen in the Erie Canal, which runs 363 miles or 584 kilometers west to east across upstate New York. When it opened in 1825 it established a watery passage from the Great Lakes in the midsection of the United States and Canada across to the Hudson River and from there out to the Atlantic Ocean.

It remains today the second-longest canal in the world, after the Grand Canal–the one in China, not Venice.

The huge amount of trade that moved along its hand-dug path with 34 locks and an elevation of 565 feet, established New York City as one of the great financial and trade centers of the world.

Today the canal is too narrow and shallow for large ships; it is paralleled for nearly its entire length by railroad tracks and the New York State Thruway. But I have sailed the Erie on small cruise ships and private vessels and it remains one of the wonders of the world.

The Kiel Canal

The Kiel Canal between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Sailing the Kiel Canal in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein always reminds me of taking a long train trip; for much of the 61-mile or 98-kilometer trip you are looking the backyards and back pastures of homes and farms.

Not as well known as the others I have written about earlier, the Kiel Canal is by some measures the busiest artificial waterway in the world with about 90 ships making the transit per day.

It opened in 1895, saving about 250 miles of 460 kilometers of sometimes bumpy seas in and around the Danish straits. The canal was widened in 1914 to allow huge battleships to pass through, and when you exit into the Baltic near the city of Kiel, over your shoulder you can see the shipyards where Germany built most of its dreaded fleet of U-boats for both both World Wars.

The Cape Cod Canal

The Cape Cod Canal, safe passage to avoid a ship graveyard. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Perhaps the least-known of the six canals I’m writing about today, the Cape Cod Canal is a testament to the search for safe passage.

The hook built into the arm of Cape Cod has caused hundreds of shipwrecks over the years. To avoid that, sailing vessels and more modern ships have had to head due east out to sea and then down and around the bottom of Cape Cod. But there is a problem there, as well: shoals and rocks that lie between the cape and the island of Nantucket to the south.

The Cape Cod Canal was begun as a private enterprise in 1909 by August Belmont Jr., who had enhanced his inherited banking fortune with major construction projects like the New York City subway system.

The 7-mile or 11-kilometer canal managed to beat the Panama Canal to completion by a month, but it was never a financial success.

And although it is arguably safer than sailing out to sea and below Nantucket, the Cape Cod Canal has its own challenges: a swift current and a dogleg bend at the middle. That combination makes for difficult navigation, and if you see me aboard ship and buy me a drink I’ll tell you a tale of a master who came very close to losing his stripes–and his cruise ship–at the dogleg. I was there and lived to tell the tale of what in the end was a safe passage.

All photos copyright 2022, by Corey Sandler. If you would like a copy of one of my photos or would like to use one in a project of your own please contact me.

To see portfolios of some of my travel photos, www.coreysandler.myportfolio.com or www.coreysandler2.myportfolio.com