Boat Spotting

Rotterdam is Europe’s biggest port. A long peninsula separates the two entrances and is a fantastic place for boat spotting. The northern entrance leads to the older inner port and is mainly used by river boats and container ships. The southern entrance leads into the ore and coal port and the oil terminal and sees the big tankers and bulk cargo ships carrying more than 200.000 tons of ore. Some people spend whole days there, but sometimes the air from the refineries and industry is so bad that it gives you a headache

Fisherman watching a boat race


Pollard willows are a typical characteristic of the traditional dutch landscape. They were planted along ditches. The young branches were cut to provide material for basket weaving. Today few people still weave baskets. Cutting the branches is too much work and nobody bothers. When the branches are not cut they grow thicker and the trees become unstable and topple over in storms. Slowly the traditional pollard willow alleys disappear

Willows reflected in a flooded field


In the 17th century tulip bulbs became an object of speculation. In 1637, the price of a single flower bulb could reach a price of up to ten fold the yearly income of a skilled artisan in Amsterdam. Later the same year the bubble burst and fortunes were lost as quickly as they had been earned before. However, the flower bulb industry is still doing well in the Netherlands and numerous varieties of tulips as well as daffodils and gladioli are cultivated. “Tulip mania” became a metaphor for economic bubbles of prices high above the actual value.

For me it is always surprising how the sensitive flowers can survive the severe Dutch weather. Storms of wind force 8 and torrential rain are no rarity in the main flower season between March and May.

More photos and a longer story on my blog:

All you need is law

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the german company Grünenthal Chemie marketed the use of thalidomide under the name contergan as a medication useful against morning sickness, sleeplessness and anxiety. It was also used as a sedative for pregnant women, although it was never tested on this particular group. The use of contergan led to numerous miscarriages and birth defects, in particular severe deformations of the limbs. The reason was an enantiomeric impurity, which was difficult to detect with the means of the time. There were 10,000 victims in 46 countries. It took a long time and numerous law suits to get at least financial compensation for the victims.

A man with deformed arms walks up the staircase of the metro station Eberswalder Strasse in Berlin. By pure coincidence, the sign above the entrance has an advertisement for a law firm “all you need is law”

Bulb fields

The coast along the north sea between the French-Belgian border and and the northern tip of the Netherlands is one long stretch of sandy beach. Behind is an area of dunes. The sandy ground behind the dunes proved to be perfect for the cultivation of flower bulbs. In spring the colorful fields are a popular attraction for tourists. The flowers are not marketed but discarded. Only the bulbs are harvested, dried and sold.


My neighborhood was built in the first two decades of the 20th century. The building plan left lots of space for green. In the spring the display of flowers in the gardens add to the ornaments of the art deco houses. The use of bricks in different colors was typical for the time. Only the oldest houses got names

Cherry Blossoms

This year saw the earliest cherry blossom season in Japan in more than 800 years. Meanwhile the Sakura trees are popular ornamental trees all over the world. They also line this shopping street in Delft. In the background the old church of Delft. It has a steeple which is not much less inclined than the one in Pisa, Italy, but is much bigger.

Cherry blossom in times of Corona…


During the time of the GDR, the german democratic republic before reunification in 1989, the Trabant was a coveted possession. People were on a waiting list for many years to get one. In January 1991, a year with an exceptional cold and icy winter along the coast of the Baltic Sea, buyers already preferred to buy a more fancy car. A few years later they had disappeared from german roads. At the station in Göhren on the island of Rügen this one, the station wagon version, still had the old GDR license plate. The Rügen narrow gauge railroad, however, in the background, which in 1991 still was a means of public transport which had barely changed since the foundation of the GDR, is still running today with the same steam engines and cars. It even was extended. However, today, its services are many used by tourists.

Trabant, Göhren, Rügen (scan of an Agfa CT 18 slide)