Photographers' Blog

Cruising to Venice

By Stefano Rellandini

Venice has always been a peculiar destination for everyone who visits. As a town built on water it appears somewhat atypical; no cars, no motorcycles, not even any bikes. The only way to travel through the city is to walk or use the gondolas, the traditional boats of Venice.

Ships are primarily used to reach Venice and in recent years these have become bigger and bigger. Every weekend seven or eight arrive at the lagoon of Venice. They then sail in front of San Marco square to reach the harbor.

The transition through the lagoon is always an exciting moment, especially witnessing the dimensions of these huge sea giants against the surrounding territory.

Following the capsizing of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off Giglio Island, Venice residents are no longer comfortable having these big ships in their lagoon.

Their passage creates quite a few problems for the city. People’s first impression is that the ships could run into the houses along the water, though obviously this doesn’t happen as every maneuver is meticulously planned.

A night to remember

By Chris Helgren

The weather was calm, the stars and crescent moon shone and the water lapped gently against the hull as three wreaths were tossed into the sea above the Titanic wreck, 100 years after she went down.

It seemed every one of the MS Balmoral’s 1300 guests, dressed against the cool night air, was crammed onto its terraced decks aft, craning for a view of the event. And at 2:20 when the wreaths went in, all was silent. As Philip Littlejohn, the Titanic historian later noted, these details mimicked what would have been happening during the disaster itself – a black night, no light bar that of the doomed liner, and when she went under, silence.

Taking it all in was Belfast writer Susie Millar, who wept at the handrails over the stern, watching as the wreaths floated into the blackness out of sight. She told me, “I thought of people in the lifeboats as Titanic sank, who didn’t know whether they would be rescued or not. It all happened (the memorial) in real time and I thought that people wouldn’t have had time to say all their goodbyes, it happened so fast. It was a night I’ll never forget”.

Vacation in North Korea?

If you are planning to take an exotic vacation, maybe Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is your place.

A week ago I joined a group of foreign journalists and a delegation of Chinese tourism agents on a trip highlighted by a cruise that left the port area of North Korea’s Rason City and headed south to the country’s famous Mont Kumgang resort. To get to the ship, we took a bus from China to a border crossing in Hunchun. Before we arrived at customs, our Chinese guides collected our mobile phones. North Korean authorities don’t allow foreigners to carry any type of mobile communications.

When we crossed a bridge over the river Tumen Jiang, which marks the border between China and North Korea, we passed from a modern highway to an unpaved country road.

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