The Baltics Through Nick Wilder’s Lens



Classic Chicago presents another photo essay by one of our favorite photographers, Nick Wilder.

My wife, Keven, and I thought for years that the Baltic would be a great cruising destination. Cities like Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Gdansk, and St. Petersburg are all within a day’s travel of one another. When we received a brochure from Harvard, Yale, and the Metropolitan Museum describing just the trip we had envisioned on the world’s most beautiful sailing ship, Sea Cloud II, we signed up. Each of the three participating institutions were represented by lecturers who each made three presentations on topics as varied as heraldry, prehistoric genetics, and today’s political climate around the Baltic. We even ran into some college classmates who I hope looked older than we do. Keven was particularly pleased that the ship’s captain is a woman. We’re looking forward to exploring other parts of the world on Sea Cloud II.




Keven and I started our Baltic journey in Saint Petersburg. Our hotel was across the plaza from the Hermitage Museum. Rooms filled with paintings by Rembrandt, Gaugin, Matisse and Van Gogh make it a must see stop for every art lover.


The Hermitage.

Outside the city we explored the Peterhof and Pavlovsk palaces, which have been restored to their original grandeur.





From Saint Petersburg, we took the train to Helsinki where we joined the Sea Cloud II for ten days of sailing around the Baltic Sea.


Sea Cloud II.

The Sea Cloud II has 84 attractive cabins and is powered by engines, sails, and the crew’s muscle power.


Handling the lines.


Manning the sail.

Our first stop was Tallin then Stockholm, where we maneuvered through miles of small islands.


A beautiful summer evening.

Sea Cloud II was accompanied by a pilot when entering or leaving each port.


The pilot was then picked up by a power boat and returned home.

We stopped at the Swedish island of Visby where among other attractions was a hopping dance club.


I couldn’t resist taking a selfie in a club mirror.


We spent a night in Riga where I spotted clever signage for a bicycle repair shop.

We also spent a day in Klaipeda, Lithuania, which features a large industrial port and a beautiful beach where everyone was having a good time.

After a moving visit to the Solidarity Museum in Gdansk, we spent the day on the small Danish island of Christianso.


Vincent Van Gogh would have been inspired.


One of these ladies was camera shy.


Kids jumping into the sea.


Keven walking around the island with our ship in the background (no, it wasn’t that cold).

Our last stop was Copenhagen where we stayed at the elegant Hotel D’Angleterre.


Hotel D’Angleterre.


Marching practice at the parade ground.


We loved exploring the seaport . . .


And the shopping at modern design stores like Hay.