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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

How I Spent My Summer Vacation


It was the trip of a lifetime: Twelve days sailing the Baltic Sea from Copenhagen to Kiel (Germany), Tallinn (Estonia), Saint Petersburg (Russia), Helsinki (Finland), Stockholm (Sweden), Rostock (Germany), and back to Copenhagen.

The travelers — 17 in all — were my wife’s extended family and their kids (and our kids), and the occasion was to celebrate my father-in-law’s 80th birthday.

It took me almost six months to edit down the thousands of photos to the relatively small collection here.

All photos were taken using my iPhone 7 Plus. In an upcoming post I will detail the equipment I used and the decision-making process that went into what I took with me and why.

It really was the trip of a lifetime. Just take a look!


Day 1: Copenhagen, Denmark  July 4, 2017

Amalienborg Palace

The view from our room at the Hotel Skt. Petri.

The family regroups on the steps of Frederik’s Kirke.

The requisite photo of Nyhavn.

The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s installation, Soleil Levant, at Kunsthal Charlottenborg in Nyhavn. Weiwei collected more than 3,500 life jackets salvaged from refugees who arrived at the Greek island of Lesbos.

Kongens Have (The King’s Garden) and Rosenborg Castle

Frederik’s Kirk

Gustav and Aksel working at the Carlsberg brewery.

We had our kickoff dinner at the traditional Danish restaurant Peder Oxe (above and below).

Day 2: Kiel, Germany  July 5, 2017

My boys and I love trains. Therefore, we visited train stations in every city on this trip, including this one in Kiel.

Kiel Hauptbahnhof (train station)

Our ship, the ms Zuiderdam

Hiroshima Memorial Park

Days 3-4: Tallinn, Estonia  July 6-7, 2017

Kim heading to Raekoja Plats, Tallinn’s Town Hall Square (above and below).

Pikk Tanev (Long Street) in Old Town Tallinn

Fat Margaret’s Tower at the entrance to the old city

Tallinn’s medieval defensive walls date back to 1265.

Days 5-6: St. Petersburg, Russia  July 8-9, 2017

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood was built on the site where Emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded by political nihilists in 1881.

Exterior detail of the church

Interior ceiling

The approach to Peterhof, the summer palace of Peter the Great, completed in 1775

The Samson Fountain and Sea Channel (Morskoi Kanal), which connects to the Gulf of Finland.

Peterhof Palace and the Grand Cascade viewed from the Sea Channel

The Special Treasury, a museum that contains many of the treasures of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great.

A fountain in the Lower Gardens

The Winter Palace at the State Hermitage Museum, the former residence of Peter the Great.

Commissioned by Catherine the Great in the late 1780s, the Raphael Loggias are copies of the Gallery in the Papal Palace in Vatican City.

A view of the Neva River outside the Winter Palace

The War Gallery of 1812 at the Hermitage

A giant malachite urn

The sun sets over the Neva River. This photo was taken at 10:30pm!

Day 7: Helsinki, Finland  July 10, 2017

The Helsinki Central Station (Helsingin päärautatieasema)

The Finnish Design Museum in the Kaartinkaupunki neighborhood

Design Museum interior

Design Museum interior

Helsinki’s Old Market Hall (Vanha Kauppahalli), opened in 1889.

Days 8-9: Stockholm, Sweden  July 11-12, 2017

My wife (in gray jacket) entering Gamla Stan, the old city, in Stockholm

A side street in Gamla Stan

A member of the Royal Guard at the Stockholm Palace

The restaurant Under Kastanjen (“Under the chestnut tree”) in the Old City

The Finngrundet lightvessel, built in 1903, and now a floating museum.

Stockholm center viewed from Skeppsholmen Island

Outside the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities (Östasiatiska museet)

One of my favorite photos from the trip. Not sure why.

Molins fontän in Kungsträdgården (King’s Garden)

Stockholms Centralstation

Centralstation interior

Days 10-11: Rostock & Berlin, Germany  July 13-14, 2017

Brandenburg Gate, once a border crossing between East and West Berlin

The Altes Museum (“Old Museum”) houses the antiquities collection of the Berlin State Museums.

The Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom) on the Spree River in the Mitte neighborhood

The stunning Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, designed by architect Peter Eisenman

Checkpoint Charlie, another crossing point in the Berlin Wall during the Cold War.

In front of the Reichstag, home of Germany’s parliament

Another view of Checkpoint Charlie

Jack at the Berlin Wall

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Oranienburg

While the rest of our group decided to putter around Rostock, Jack and I jumped at the opportunity to head to Berlin. On the way, our train stopped in the town of Oranienburg, site of the Nazi Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. The camp was used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May 1945.

Over 30,000 prisoners died there from exhaustion, disease, malnutrition, pneumonia and other ailments, due to the poor living conditions. Many were executed or died as the result of brutal medical experimentation. Over the course of its operation, over 100 Dutch resistance fighters were executed at Sachsenhausen.

The main entrance to the concentration camp

The infamous slogan Arbeit Macht Frei (“work makes you free”)

The camp wall

A gathering room in the prisoner barracks

Prisoner sleeping quarters

Most of the barracks have been demolished, leaving only their foundations in place (above and below).

Days 12-13: Copenhagen, Denmark  July 15-16, 2017

Outside Le President Bistro near Amagertorv in the heart of Copenhagen. This photo was taken at 10:30pm!

A gate on Amaliegade leading to the central plaza of Amalienborg Palace

The entrance to Tivoli Gardens

Copenhagen City Hall (Københavns Rådhus)

The Hotel Nimb in Tivoli Gardens

Hotel Nimb interior

Copenhagen Central Station (Københavns Hovedbanegård)

Kultorvet (literally “Coal Market”) is a public square in Old Town.

Fresh produce at Gammeltorv (Old Market), the oldest square in Copenhagen.

2017 Copenhagen Jazz Festival

On the last day of the trip, I decided to wander the streets of Copenhagen. I ended up in Kødbyen, the Meatpacking District in Vesterbro, a hipster neighborhood. The 2017 Copenhagen Jazz Festival was in its last weekend, and there was music everywhere. I spent some time in Kødbyen, then decided to wander back to meet my family for dinner. On my walk back, I bumped into one impromptu musical venue after another.

Yep, there’s video:

The Flight Home

Bonus: We got an unexpected flyby over Greenland on the flight home.


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