Tag Archives: Norway

May, 2024: The Arctic Circle, in Winter. (Part Three)

By Corey Sandler

Our second cruise of the winter to the top of Norway, some 200 miles into the Arctic Circle, proceeded more or less on schedule.

Don’t blame the cruise line. Don’t blame the captain. Don’t blame me.

The high latitudes near the North Pole (and those near Antarctica at the other end of our planet) are places that are predictably unpredictable. Usually very cold, often very windy, sometimes heavily occluded with heavy clouds.

We were there in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights, something I have enjoyed quite a few times.

So here’s the deal: the Northern Lights–or to use its more formal title, the Aurora Borealis–are present in the earth’s atmosphere nearly all the time. Our planet’s protective magnetic field directs most the sun’s solar particles toward the Arctic Circle or the Antarctic Circle where the magnetism is weaker. (At the equator, the earth’s diameter is much greater than it is at the top or bottom, and so magnetic fields have less effect in the high latitudes.)

The second thing that is needed in order to see the Northern Lights is darkness. Sunlight washes out the diaphanous curtains and swirls. In the Arctic in winter, there is very little sunlight for at least three months of the year, from about December to March. (The Antarctic’s seasons are the opposite of the Arctic, with the dark midwinter on June 21 of each year.)

The third necessary element is a clear sky. The Northern Lights are the result of collisions between solar particles and various atoms in our atmosphere. Most of these collisions occur in the earth’s Thermosphere, the second-highest layer of the atmosphere, about 50 to 440 miles above the planet’s surface. If there is heavy cloud cover overhead, there’s little chance of seeing them. I always tell guests that if you cannot see stars or planets in the sky, there’s little chance of seeing the aurora.

And the fourth element: luck. You can be in the right place at the wrong time, or the wrong place at the right time.

On our long sail from Bergen to the top of mainland Norway we had a few faint sightings of the lights; crew on the navigational bridge alerted passengers. But it wasn’t until we were tied up at the pier in Alta that all four elements: solar particles, darkness, clear skies, and luck aligned.

I headed for the highest deck of the ship with my tripod, full-frame digital camera, thermal underwear, and down-filled mittens. The first glimmer was a claw-like green image on the horizon:

Northern Lights appear on the horizon in Alta, Norway. If you can see stars, that’s a good sign that there are no clouds between you and the aurora. Photo by Corey Sandler, copyright 2024. All rights reserved.

I headed from the stern to the bow of the ship, near the radar and communications equipment and set up again.

An Aurora Borealis swoop. Photo by Corey Sandler, copyright 2024. All rights reserved.

Our ship was due to depart Alta about 11pm, and as a group of us waited on the upper deck the navigator set the radar antenna to rotate. We heard the whir and saw the antenna move…and then as if summoned, the Northern Lights came directly over the ship.

The Northern Lights watch us as we watched them. Photo by Corey Sandler, copyright 2024. All rights reserved.

On our way down the coast, headed for the port of Tilbury on the Thames River, we made a call at Narvik in Norway. This is a place of great beauty and possessed of a history that still seems to echo through the fjord.

In the 1890s, a combined British and Swedish group engineered a spectacular railway that ran from iron ore mines in landlocked northern Sweden to the port of Narvik where it could be loaded onto ships and taken to steel mills in Europe.

Narvik in mid-winter, February 2024. The waters of the port and offshore in the Norwegian Sea, though, remain ice-free, benefitting from a finger of the Gulf Stream. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The biggest customer for the Swedish steel coming through the Norwegian port was Germany. And soon after World War II began, Germany invaded and occupied Norway; one of the main reasons was to gain access to Narvik and its railway to neutral Sweden.

One of the largest naval battles of Europe took place within the confines of Narvik, and for a few weeks the British, along with Free French and the Norwegian resistance held off and then ousted the Germans. But the Allied foothold could not be sustained, and they withdrew; German bombers and naval vessels all but leveled Narvik and the export of iron ore from the port was halted.

An iron ore freighter waiting its turn to approach the loading station at Narvik. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Up in the hills above the rebuilt town is a private nature preserve called Arctic Park. I went there with some guests, and we clamped ice spikes to our boots to visit large enclosures that were home to Arctic wolves and fox, wolverines, reindeer, and other creatures including several very large lynx, which are known as bobcats in North America.

Frigid staredown. The lynx and I stared at each other for a while. I wanted a picture. He wanted, I think, me. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

After Narvik, we set sail for IJmuiden, the port of Amsterdam, which was our last scheduled call before disembarkation at Tilbury on the Thames River in England.

A month before, our ship had been unable to make it to Tilbury because of a massive winter storm along the west coast of Norway; we had to fly from London to begin a re-jiggered cruise.

This time we ran into high winds and rough seas as we sailed toward IJmuiden and eventually it became apparent there was no way to make our call in The Netherlands and then cross over the North Sea to end the cruise in Tilbury at the scheduled hour.

And so we ended with an extra day at sea and a nighttime arrival in the United Kingdom.

And then we flew home, unpacked our bags, and began planning our next voyage, scheduled for the end of May. I’ll see you here with details.

All text and photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you want to obtain a copy of one of my photographs for personal or commercial use, please contact me using the link on this page.

April, 2024: The Arctic Circle. In Winter. (Part Two)

By Corey Sandler

So our trip by ship from London to the top of mainland Norway in search of the Northern Lights had started out with a few glitches.

An historically strong winter storm had all but shut down coastal Norway the week before our planned starting date, and that meant our ship Viking Venus had been unable to escape relative shelter in Alta and Tromsø. Guests had boarded in Bergen and headed north, but missed out on most of their cruise ports of call. And those of us arriving in London to board the ship were all dressed up with no vessel to board.

There’s a saying in the cruise industry: Ship happens.

By the time we reached Viking Venus in Tromsø, she was ready to set sail for Alta, the farthest north port on the much-amended itinerary. It was plenty cold and windy in Alta and though the winter sights were lovely, sightings of the Northern Lights were few and far between.

Sailing south toward Bergen, we added a port call in Ålesund, a handsome fishing and trade town. I’ve been there many times in summer, but not so much in the much quieter seriously cold season. Our ship was among the big events of the winter.

A memorial to the Norwegian resistance in Ålesund notes Operation Gunnerside, which was the code name for the successful sabotage of Nazi Germany’s heavy water factory in 1943. The Germans were preparing their own atomic bomb and using abundant hydroelectric power and the relative security of Norway to hide their efforts. The plant was sabotaged and damaged several times before work was eventually moved back to Germany. And then, Hitler was said to have decided that the project was not all that important. Without the sabotage and the flawed thinking of the German leader, World War II might have been an even greater global disaster. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
A combination ship chandlery and home goods store in Ålesund. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Due to Norway’s homegrown version of cabotage regulations, Viking Venus was obliged to make two port calls outside of Norway. A pair of short courtesy calls were made at IJmuiden (the port of Amsterdam in The Netherlands) and an unusual touch-and-go across the North Sea at Newcastle upon Tyne in the northeast of England.

The Victorian-era train station at Tyneside is defiantly out of date. The people of Newcastle, with a distinctive and sometimes incomprehensible dialect and accent, are nicknamed “Geordies”, by some accounts because local miders used George Stephenson’s safety lamp down in the mines. We brought no coal to Newcastle. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The jumbled cruise ended in Bergen, Norway. Guests departed in the morning, and a new group boarded a few hours later. The turn-around day was an unusually bright and sunny day in Bergen; our departure day that followed was a more typical rainy and blustery February day.

Blue skies on the turnaround day in Bergen, Norway; the skies would go back to clouds and fog soon afterwards. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
A storefront in Bryggen, the ancient Hanseatic trading kontor in Bergen. Most of the fishermen and traders were illiterate, and businessmen identified themselves with carved effigies out front, this one a version of a unicorn. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
The University Museum of Bergen–Natural History is one of my favorite places, emerged from a major renovation but still thankfully cast in the past. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
A working part of the museum, thankfully unmodernized, is its antique elevator. One of the oldest still in use in Europe, the staff calls it “The Titanic.” We survived. Twice. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
As we prepared to head back to the ship to begin the next cruise up north to the top of Norway, we enjoyed blue sky framed in the museum’s old windows. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Next month, I’ll take you back up north on our resumed search for the Northern Lights.

All photos and text copyright by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you’d like to obtain an image for personal or commercial use please contact me.

March, 2024: The Arctic Circle. In Winter. (Part One)

By Corey Sandler

I’ve just returned…last night,  to be precise…from nearly a month at sea.  Safe and sound,  well fed,  and restocked with new stories and photos.

We spent the largest portion of two cruises inside the Arctic Circle.  In February, generally the coldest and snowiest and windiest time of the year. 

And for the first two weeks that was exactly what we got: cold, wind, and snow. The second two weeks were strangely, terrifyingly warmer than usual greatly confusing visitors, reindeer, Arctic fox, and other denizens.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the high latitudes up north,  including research trips to Svalbard, upper Norway,  Iceland, Greenland, and far northern Canada; those trips initially were for the book I wrote retracing the four known voyages of the English explorer Henry Hudson from 1607 to 1610.

Hudson got trapped in the ice near Svalbard and then Russia’s Novaya Zemlya island near Arkhangelsk before he turned westward and headed for North America…where he got caught in the ice of Canada’s James Bay.

You can read that story in my book,  “Henry Hudson: Dreams and Obsession.” You can order a print or digital copy here.

On our trip in February of 2024, we sailed in great comfort,  with indoor heating and conveniences,  and fine food.  I was a featured speaker aboard Viking Venus, a vessel Henry Hudson could not possibly have imagined.

But that’s not to say we were oblivious to the weather.  As I said,  inside the Arctic Circle in February.

As we prepared to fly from Boston to London to meet our ship at the Port of Tilbury on the Thames, we heard the first intimations of meterological mayhem.

The winter’s strongest storm,  big enough to be given a name, was lashing the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea.

Storm Ingunn hit the coast of Norway with hurricane-force winds. Scientists said it had the characteristics of a relatively rare “sting jet”, a narrow band of very strong winds caused by the unusually rapid strengthening of an extreme low-pressure system. Very fast upper-level winds were redirected downward to sea level.

In fact,  atmospheric pressure dropped to a level very close to the lowest on record in Norway, a mark not seen since 1907. The storm itself was judged to be the fiercest to hit Norway since 1992.

Storm Ingunn brought hurricane force winds of 115 miles per hour to the island of Heimøya, north of Trondheim. Up and down the coast,  sustained winds of 100mph were recorded,  and in Bergen to the south a bus was blown off the road.

The day before our flight to London we received an email with a few scant details. Get to London,  it said, and we’ll figure out out from there.

When we arrived in London, our ship was still securely tied up at the pier in Tromsø, 2,178 miles away, at the top of Norway inside the Arctic Circle.

It took three days to ferry the guests on board the ship—by chartered jet—from Tromsø to London and to transport new guests (and us) from London up into the Arctic.

Flying north on a charter airliner from London to Tromsø, 217 miles into the Arctic Circle. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved,

The itinerary was completely scrambled, and I was madly at work reordering and adjusting my lectures for the guests.

But we were safe and the ship was grand and Norway, as always, was gorgeous. And our suitcases were properly crammed with winter clothing.  Nothing like a good set of thermal underwear, a ski parka,  down-filled mittens, and a balaklava to make you feel at home. I hardly noticed the -2 degree Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius) morning in Alta, Norway.

Cold morning in Alta, Norway on a day with about six hours of light. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Ice sculpture in Alta, Norway on a -4 Fahrenheit morning. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Oh, all right,  I did notice the temperature.  But this was the Arctic in February,  right?

Here are some photos from that first cruise,  which ended as per schedule in Bergen,  Norway. Next month I’ll share photos from the second cruise which sailed back up north to Tromsø and Alta and then returned us to Tilbury on the Thames and our flight home.

We made it back,  unlike Henry Hudson.

Aboard our ship, a different type of sculpture, with the superstructure encased in ice. Photo by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved.
The handsome port of Narvik, Norway, the terminus of a century-old mountain railroad that brings iron ore from across the border in Sweden. The train and the iron export was a major reason for Germany’s invasion on Norway in early 1940. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Narvik inside the Arctic Circle in February. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Memorial to World War II fallen in Narvik. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Copyright 2024. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a photo for personal or commercial use please contact me.

February, 2022:
Snow Job

By Corey Sandler

So if all had gone according to plan, we would be in Norway today, chasing the Northern Lights.

That’s one of my favorite things to do in one of my favorite places.

As in:

The Northern Lights in Tromsø in March of 2019. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

I’ve chased the lights many times, and you can see some of my favorite photos in early entries of this blog. Search for March of 2019 for a series of posts, including my personal jackpot. You can jump to that page by clicking on the link that follows; why don’t you read the rest of today’s blog first? http://blog.sandlerbooks.com/2019/03/08/7-8-march-2019-tromso-by-night-the-northern-lights-found/

Because of the morphing threat of the virus which must not be named, we are instead still home in New England.

Interesting fact: it is colder in Boston today than in Tromsø, Norway. And this morning we have more snow on the ground than the city at the top of Norway, too.

A massive blizzard passed through the Northeast United States over the weekend; on Saturday the snow blew sideways for nearly 12 hours here in Boston. We rode out the storm in our aerie over the harbor, 200 feet above the snow plows and the shovels down below.

Sunday morning I went out on a photo expedition.

When Winter Comes to New England

Sunrise Colors the Snowbanks. In the background is the old Custom House in Boston, a handsome structure which once was one of the most important structures in the port city. Originally built in 1849, its distinctive tower was added in 1915 and that made it the tallest building in New England until the Prudential Tower was completed in Boston in 1964. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved

Downtown Digs Out

Quincy Market at Dawn. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved
Cold Comfort. The old taverns along what used to be Boston’s waterfront have seen many storms in their history. The Union Oyster House exists in a building that dates from 1714; it has operated as a restaurant since 1826 and claims to be the oldest eatery in continuous operation in the United States. When I passed by just after 7 in the morning, the barkeep was shoveling out and asked me if “Dunkin'” was open down the street with supplies of donuts and coffee. Still snowed in, I told him.

The Statehouse Glows

The Golden Dome. The handsome Massachusetts Statehouse catches the sunrise. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved

Boston Uncommon

Boston Public Garden with a new white carpet from a storm last year. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Still Life with Cigar

A remembrance of celebrated Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach occupies a cold bench at Faneuil Hall. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Dreaming of Norway

In My Mind’s Eye. One of the handsomest settings for a small town in Norway is that of Narvik, in this picture from before the pandemic. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved

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

4 July 2019:
Bergen, Norway:
The Hut of the Hall of the Mountain King

By Corey Sandler

Bergen, the second city of Norway, is a gem that has managed to hold on to much of its character even as it becomes more and more popular with cruise ships and overland visitors.

It is one of our favorite places to walk: from the cruise terminal to town, from town up one of the seven hills, into the university district, and into corners and neighborhoods off the tourist track.

Grieg’s Troldhaugen

On this trip, I went with guests to Troldhaugen, the former home of the great composer Edvard Grieg, best known for “The Hall of the Mountain King”, “Peer Gynt”, and other masterworks.

It was a beautiful day, a beautiful trip, a beautiful conclusion to this cruise. In addition to touring his home, we also enjoyed a concert of works by Grieg, performed by a young Japanese pianist who won Bergen’s Grieg competition in 2018.

Here is some of what we saw today at Troldhaugen:

Grieg’s house, Troldhaugen
Grieg’s composing hut, down by the water. The diminutive Grieg would often sit on a thick volume of music by Brahms to reach the piano he had here.

The Beauty of Bergen

We’ve been in Bergen winter, spring, summer, and fall. Here are some of the city sights:

The Bryggen district, former home of the Hansa merchants in Bergen.
The Bergen train station
Winter in Bergen, on a previous trip

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

3 July 2019:
Olden and Loen, Norway:
The Sky Above, The Fjord Below

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.

Olden is a village in the municipality of Stryn at the mouth of the Oldeelva river on the southern shore of the Nordfjorden, the North Fjord.

On this visit we anchored offshore of a nearby tiny village called Loen, which two years ago came onto the world stage with one of the most spectacular mountain gondolas in the world.

The Loen Skylift rises 1,100 meters or 3,317 feet from sea level at the fjord to a wonder world up above. Opened just two years ago, it is one of the three steepest gondolas in the world, with the last stretch nearly vertical.

Silver Wind from on high.

Each of the two cabins can accommodate 35 people, and the trip takes about five minutes in each direction. The cable car also serves hiking trails and winter ski trails.

We began on a light drizzle at our ship and ended up in a snow storm. I’d like to show you some beautiful views of the fjord and the glacier, but you’ll have to settle for a whiter shade of pale. On July 3…

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, in the east and it flows west.

Snow squall in July

That said, the glaciers of Norway are mere shadows of their former grandeur. The Briksdalsbreen glacier, a popular hiking destination, is located about 25 kilometers or 16 miles south of Olden; just a decade ago it was a broad blue belt of ice. Today it is more like a dirty string tie.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

1 July 2019:
Hammerfest, Norway:
Everything Old is New Again

By Corey Sandler

Hammerfest is very Norwegian, with the same sort of end-of-the-world feeling as most of the other places we visit in northern Norway, inside the Arctic Circle.

And yet it also feels different.

500 kilometers or 312 miles inside the Arctic Circle, this is a place of very severe weather.

Hammerfest is an old settlement with evidence of inhabitation going back 10,000 years, the ancestral home of the Nordic Sea Sami people, and beginning in the early 19th century a settlement of European and then North American traders attracted to the ice-free harbor that is tempered by a finger of the Gulf Stream.

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

All right, not really a rocket ship: it is supposed to pay homage to the traditional triangular drying racks for stockfish or bacalao.

It is also home to the famed Struve Geodetic Arc Monument, a point of measurement along a meridian line from the 19th century, one of the first scientific efforts to determine the size and shape of the globe.

The Struve Geodetic Arc Monument

But why is Hammerfest so relatively modern?

The first reason is that old Hammerfest has had a very hard time over the years. The town has been knocked down, burned down, and bombed and rebuilt many times.

The second is that it is the recent beneficiary of massive investment by oil and gas producers working even farther north, in the Arctic.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

30 June 2019:
Honningsvåg and Nordkapp, Norway:
The Far North

By Corey Sandler

We’ve reached the top of Norway.

Honningsvåg is the northernmost city on the mainland of Norway.

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

Honningsvåg has only about 2,484 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.

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 dramatic landscape North Cape.

A small fishing village near the cape was totally destroyed by the Germans in 1944 and never rebuilt.

What today is called Nordkapp, North Cape, arose in 1950 as the northernmost municipality on the mainland of Europe.

The steep cliff of North Cape at 71 degrees 10 minutes North Latitude is about 2,102 kilometers or 1,306 miles from the geographic North Pole. But it is not the northernmost piece of land in Europe to purists like me.

The tourist attraction at Nordkapp includes a metallic sculpture of planet earth a display of art and artifacts, plus a gift shop.

Nordkapp is just across the bay from the actual northernmost piece of land in Europe.

So why is the gift shop there?

Because Nordkapp has a road, a parking lot for buses, and plumbing and electricity.

Neighboring Knivskjellodden Point, just to the west, extends about a mile further north. But that place is a rather difficult hike and has no parking lot or plumbing.

But actually, since both of these points are situated on an island, some purists will maintain that neither is on the mainland of Europe.

And so, 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 of Europe.

Silver Wind at the pier in Honningsvåg, the big fish in a sea of fishing boats.
Repurposing some of the tools of winter with hopes of summer.
Nordkapp, which is near the northernmost piece of mainland Europe. The actual northernmost finger of land is almost inaccessible and doesn’t have space for tour buses to visit.
The marker at Nordkapp.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

29 June 2019:
Tromsø, Norway:
Churchill’s Northern Obsession

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, Russia. (Some of you may be preparing to look up the population of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. Let me save you the trouble: Reykjavik is a sizeable city about twice the size of Tromsø, but only a small slice at the northern end of the entire island nation of Iceland is within the Arctic Circle.)

Back to Tromsø. Please don’t expect Paris.

Even though at one time this city of 50,000 or so did claim the nickname “The Paris of the North.” It earned that title because successful merchants in the late 19th and early 20th century developed a relatively significant trade with France and brought back a few of the niceties of Paris.

Today I went with guests to see the striking Arctic Cathedral and then to ascend the cable car to the mountain above for a view of the island city. Finally, we visited the Polar Museum, filled with artifacts, photos, and charts of the early explorers and hunters of the far north.

Just as I had promised the guests, we had all four seasons in the course of one day. Starting with rain, moving to a brief glimpse of sun, then snow squall, and back to gray skies.

Silver Wind at the dock
The Arctic Cathedral
The Polar Museum

It is still a very remote place, quite cold and dark in the winter and chilly and not dark at all in the Midnight Sun of summer. Summer solstice came a week ago, on June 21 so locals and visitors will not see the sun fully drop below the horizon for another month.

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

As the Germans advanced northward in 1940 early in World War II, Tromsø briefly served as the seat of Norwegian government. Tromsø escaped the war without major damage, although this part of Northern Norway was one of the most closely watched places in the world.

It was just outside of Tromsø the great German battleship Tirpitz was finally bottled up and destroyed by the Allies after serving as the northern obsession of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill because of the threat it posed to Allied convoys and military vessels in the area.


Big sky in Tromsø.
Tromsø in winter, on a previous visit.


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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

28 June 2019:
Leknes, Norway:
Pastoral Times

By Corey Sandler

Leknes, a bit more than two square kilometers or just under one square mile, is home to about 3,200 people. Plus the occasional hundreds who descend from cruise ships who come to this beautiful part of Norway.

It is hard to think of a part of Norway that is not beautiful. Leknes has a leg up because of its location in the geographical middle of the Lofoten archipelago on Vestvågøy island.

Stockfish on the racks

I went with guests to visit the Lofotr Viking Museum in Borg, near Leknes. Europe’s largest Viking longhouse, a chieftain’s farmstead, it was discovered by a farmer in his field.

We saw re-enactors practicing old Viking trades and enjoyed a version of a 1,600-year-old recipe for lamb soup.

Out in the country you’ll see some old cabins, called rorbuer.

Along the water in the islands there still stand more than a few old rorbu, a traditional type of seasonal house used by fishermen. One end of the structure is on land, the other end stands on poles in the water allowing easy access to vessels.

They’re not much used for their original purpose anymore; instead they are used as vacation homes to fish money out of tourist’s pockets.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

27 June 2019:
Brønnøysund, Norway:
The One with the Hole in the Mountain

By Corey Sandler

The small town of Brønnøysund, population about 5,000, sits just below the Arctic Circle.

It has managed to hold on to an economy based around fishing in the open sea and in many fish farms, agriculture, the largest limestone mine in northern Europe, and our guests and most of the readers of this blog: tourists.

It also is home to the Fort Knox or the Tower of London of Norwegian government documents, the Registry. Marriage licenses, birth certificates, divorce decrees, tax filings: the essential detritis of society.

Bronnoysund is about 75 miles below the Arctic Circle, which means there is a short period of twilight between about 1 and 4 in the morning on the day of our visit. But not to worry: they have lights inside the Registry.

About 9 miles of 14 kilometers south of town, on the island of Torget, is Torghatten Mountain—Square Hat Mountain. That name for the place that rises like a colossal castle of sheer granite is apt. But the fact is that most people will remember Torghatten as the “one with the hole in it.”

The hole is a tunnel about 160 meters or 520 feet long and 20 meters or 66 feet wide. There are trails that lead to it, but most visitors see Torghatten from ships approaching or departing town.

According to legend, the hole was made by the troll Hestmannen while he was chasing the beautiful girl Lekamøya. When the troll realized he would not get the girl, he released an arrow to kill her, which is certainly not appropriate.

In any case, the story says the troll-king of Sømna threw his hat into the path of the arrow path to save her. The hat turned into the mountain with a hole in the middle.

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

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

26 June 2019:
Ålesund, Norway:
In a Reflective Mood

By Corey Sandler

In Ålesund, it’s nearly impossible to avoid slipping into a reflective mood.

This handsome city includes an interior harbor for small vessels, surrounded by a handsome collection of Jugendstil buildings, the Germanic version of Art Nouveau style.

Like many built-up cities of its time, Ålesund suffered from a great fire; the one here came in 1904 and reconstruction was partly funded by and absolutely influenced by German kaiser Wilhelm II.

We have been to Ålesund many times and it is always a place that gratifies me as a photographer. The trick, for me, is to find a new way to reflect on its appeal.

You can see more photos from our visit of two weeks ago in the blog entry for June 4.

Bales of hay in the countryside; some local wags call them Troll Eggs.

Today I went with a group of guests on a day-long trip inland to lunch at a spectacular restaurant atop Mount Stranda, a substantial ski resort about 3,400 feet above the fjords.

We traveled by coach, ferry, and ski gondola in each direction. Here is some of what we saw:

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved.

For most of our time we were above the clouds, but there were brief intervals of clearing and reflections of yet another wondrous part of Norway.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

25 June 2019:
Flåm and Gudvangen, Norway:
Up and Over and Around

By Corey Sandler

We arrived early this morning in Flåm, one of the busiest tiny places in Norway. There is not much here except for the base station for the extraordinary train that climbs up the mountain range…and a rather good craft beer brewery that for some reason set up shop here.

We were last here on June 5, and you can read more details about the train and the town in the blog entry for that day.

After about two hours at anchor, Silver Wind went around the corner to Gudvangen through one of the most handsome fjords in Norway…which is about as high praise as I can offer.

I went with a group of guests on an all-day excursion that began with a tender into Flåm to meet up with the morning sailing of the Future of Fjords catamaran to Gudvangen. The name of the vessel reflects the vision of its owners: it is an all-electric boat, made of lightweight carbon fiber and powered by battries that deliver 450 kWhr of power to each of the two propellers. It glided at 16 knots through the fjord, leaving no smoke and only wake in its path.

Aboard the futuristic Future of Fjords boat.
Silver Wind at anchor, reflected in the glass of the Future of Fjords.
In Aurlandsfjord.

From Gudvangen we went by coach up into the mountains and then onto the mainline of the Norwegian railroad that connects Oslo to Bergen. We rode across from Voss to Myrdal, and there transferred to the famed Flåmsbana railroad that descends down to the sea.

At Kjossfossen (the Kiss Waterfall) a hyuldra lures.

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

19 June 2019:
Oslo, Norway:
The Monumental City

By Corey Sandler

We have reached the apogee (and final port of call) of this cruise. Late this afternoon we will exit Oslofjord and head for the North Sea, and from there back to London. It has been a lovely excursion from the United Kingdom to five countries: France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

Oslo is the capital and largest city of Norway, a mid-sized country, a bit smaller than Germany or Finland, a bit larger than Poland or Italy. It is Europe’s fastest-growing capital and the third-largest city of Scandinavia.

Silver Wind at the dock below Akershus Castle today.

It includes a green space with a sprawling sculpture installation that is a wondrous, strange, uplifting, and disturbing theme park of humanity: Vigelund Park.

A set of intriguing museums, including one that houses a nearly-intact Viking ship.

Under the guns at Akershus.

Another holds Fram, one of the pioneering Arctic exploration ships of Fridtjof Nansen.

And a third memorializes the unusual vessel Kon-Tiki, a balsa wood raft that was at the heart of a theory by Norwegian adventurer
Thor Heyerdahl. He theorized that the islands of the South Pacific were populated by explorers from South America. Interesting theory, though more modern analyses point elsewhere.

Reflections of a monumental city. All photos copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

And there is a monument to global peace, funded by Alfred Nobel, one of the developers of dynamite and other explosives that greatly increased the death rate of modern warfare.

Modern Oslo is the hub of government for Norway as well as much of the country’s trade, banking, industry, and shipping. It is also considered one of the most expensive places to live, somewhere in the company of Singapore, Paris, Melbourne, and Tokyo. In return, residents receive one of the world’s best packages of social services.

The amazing Vigelund Park in Oslo, a theme park of humanity
The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo
The Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

By Corey Sandler

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

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

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

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

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

Here is some of what we saw there:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 20-kilometer (12-mile) Flåmsbana railway rises from the town at sea level to the high village of Myrdal on the steepest standard gauge railway in Europe. The maximum rise or gradient is about 5.6 percent; up 863 meters or 2,831 feet_(1:18) through 20 tunnels and across one bridge.

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

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

The temptress emerges. Photos by Corey Sandler

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

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

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

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

By Corey Sandler

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

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

Such was the case in the core of the City of London after the Great Fire of 1666. The Chicago Fire of 1871. Virginia City in Nevada in 1875 at the peak of the silver mining boom. San Francisco after the earthquake and fire of 1906.

Ålesund was almost totally destroyed on January 23, 1904.

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

German Kaiser Wilhelm had been a frequent vacationer to Ålesund and coastal Norway. After the fire, Wilhelm sent four warships with materials to build temporary shelters.

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

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

By Corey Sandler

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

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

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

Here is some of what we saw:

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

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

A GEIRANGER ALBUM

At the end of the fjord in Geiranger

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

2 June 2019:
Bergen, Norway:
Fire and Ice

By Corey Sandler

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

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

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

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

All photos copyright 2019 Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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

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

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

There are many intriguing alternate endings to that story:

London as a Viking capital?

Bergen as home of the occupiers of England?

Bangers and mash as the national dish of Norway?

Lutefisk in the pubs of Camden Town?

We’ll never know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

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

By Corey Sandler

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

Let me unpack that a little.

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

Its history, population, and relative wealth are all due to the real estate agent’s three most important words of advice: location, location, and location. It is, in relative terms, in a much more moderate clime than the settlements up north. And it is one of the more significant ports, along with Bergen, that lies in reasonable distance from Norway’s North Sea oil and gas fields offshore. A significant part of the economy is involved in supplying the platforms and repairing the equipment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————-

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

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

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

What I Did on My Winter Vacation:
In Living Color

By Corey Sandler

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

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

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

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

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

So we went to Norway for nearly a month.

Here is some of what we saw:

Northern Lights Near Tromsø. Copyright 2019, Corey Sandler. All rights reserved
Narvik, Norway. Copyright 2019, Corey Sandler. All rights reserved.
Snow People, Tromsø. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Bergen in winter. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Tromsø under a blanket. Copyright 2019, Corey Sandler. All rights reserved.
Landing at Oslo. Copyright 2019, Corey Sandler. All rights reserved.

Why I Travel. Copyright Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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