Tipp No. 104: “Below The Surface” – Spectacular Underwater Photography by Tobias Friedrich

arts, Creatures, Film, Insights, Nature, Reisen, Sports, Technology, Tipps, Travel

When I was a child, I dreamt of becoming a crew member of spaceship “Enterprise” in order to discover new worlds, unknown life forms and different cultures. Actually, I`ve lived this dream by chosing jobs that
allowed myself to travel a lot, to visit exotic places and which is even
more important to meet interesting people of in many aspects different cultures.

Scuba diving has been on my bucket list since childhood because I was
aware of the fact that the oceans are still “terra icognita” although about
71% of the earth`s surface (2/3) is covered with water of which 97,4% is salt-water.
From the very beginning, I had the idea that scuba diving could be the
unique opportunity to experience a kind of “space traveling” without the
need to meet NASA qualification requirements.

Of course, I was also inspired by the reports about Jaques-Yves Cousteau
and his adventureous expeditions when I finally took action and passed my scuba diving PADI open water exam in the Red Sea / Egypt many years ago.
It turned out that my phantasy of “space traveling” underwater was not completely absurd. As a scuba diver rookie, who is dependent on his
equipment and the goodwill of the sea dweller, I felt actually very vulne-rable. There was no doubt, it was me who was the intruder… the alien in this outlandish – almost surreal – water world! 

The spectacular underwater photography of Tobias Friedrichs brought
pre cious memories back…
Back on board after a beautiful dive, I was completely overwhelmed by
all the impressions and my emotions…Secretly and unnoticed a few tears
dropped into the Red Sea.
I didn`t recognize myself anymore because I was convinced to be quite
top-heavy and introverted. 
All this fragile beauty underwater was simply breaking my heart.
I learnt that beauty can be painful. In particular, if it is endangered by
pollution, mass tourism (I was a part of too) and climate change.   
Maybe, it was also a dash of desparation why I experienced this sudden
“crisis of joy”. 

Tobias Friedrich`s touching underwater photography allows us to sneek
a peak  cit.: “Below The Surface”. This motto might be ambiguous in
my case.

However, I` d like to share my fascination with you and invite you to
descent into The 50 Shades of Deep Blue….Enjoy the weightlessness, the flow, hushed sound level and not to forget the encounters with still quite unknown creatures who are often as curious as the human visitor!

Friendly encounter with a brown fur seal (South Africa)
Humpback Whale (Oman)
2 purple eye dwarf gobies, sitting on top of a hard coral near Marsa Alam (Egypt, Red Sea).
Face to face with a shark


"From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is 
bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he
is free."
Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910 - 1997)

In his childhood Tobias Friedrich loved to watch the adventures of the Calypso with Jacques-Yves Cousteau as its captain and the beauty of the world that is below the ocean’s surface. It’s still an overwhelming feeling for him when he has the chance to dive. He loves the elegancy and calmness of the world under water standing in contrast to the hectic atmosphere above.

Tobias Friedrich lives in Germany and started taking pictures with a DSLR underwater in the year 2007. Since then his images have been published in prestigious scuba diving magazines and newspapers around the world.

Several underwater photographic competitions, have honoured his work, resulting in over 50 awards with nearly 30 1st places.

Lately, he has been named “Underwater Photographer of the Year 2018” in the prestigious UPY London competition.

The UPY 2018 awarded photo: A panoramic view of the cargo deck inside the SS Thistlegorm with the motorcycles in the middle and light to lighten the trucks on the side of the cargo deck, near Sharm el Sheikh, Northern Red Sea, Egypt.

All waters, from zero to 30° Celsius, are attractive for him, at least there is something to photograph.

Tobias`fine arts photography is not staged. His photography is rather a result of stamina, patience and opportunity. He is not working with photomontages. The panorama view – combining a view above and under the ocean surface – is achieved by utilizing a dome camera.
He is SEACAM equipment for his Canon EOS 1DX Mark II and 5D Mark II DSLR.

He is leading expeditions and workshops around the world, where everybody can join.

Please, feel free to visit his website that shows further amazing underwater photo galleries, panorama views, beautiful aerial views (highly recommended!) and a few offerings like:

  • Underwater photography BOOKS in German and English language,
  • His calendar “BELOW SURFACE 2019″
  • A collection of high-quality POSTCARDS with unique motifs
  • His schedule of awesome PHOTOWORKSHOPS 2019 (Destinations: Egypt, Bali, Philippines, Brother Islands) – simply click on “JOIN”.

web: http://www.below-surface.com

The Calendar 2019 by Tobias Friedrichs

Tipp No. 70: Water Colour Wildlife & Landscape Paintings by The Artist Ben Woodhams (Denmark / Bornholm Island)

arts, Creatures, Kunst, Nature, Reisen, Tipps, Travel

I totally fell in love with Ben`s work…I would like to share a few of his wonderful water colour paintings.

As you might have noticed from visiting my tiny blog, I am at home in Northern Germany. Northern Germans are often teased by calling them: “fish heads, shell pushers and dike tramplers”.  I suppose, I am touched by Ben`s art because on one hand I know his themes well and because ….I can feel the weather looking at his paintings, on the other hand I seem to share his perspectives and perception of moods, colours, surface structures etc…Besides, the picture composition and other details of Ben`s aquarelles reminds me on Japanese paintings. 

However, I am very glad that I stumbled upon his wordpress blog linked to his website:



Ben Woodhams is an English artist and illustrator currently living and working on the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.

After beginning a career in museums and art galleries as an exhibition curator and designer, Ben and his family moved to Bornholm in 2008, where he works as an artist, illustrator and educator.

Ben’s practice is founded in direct observation and specialises in birds, working primarily in watercolour. Studies of living birds are made in the field, while dead birds are taken to the studio. Moments in time, and the relationship between the process of observation and depiction, are the engines that drive Ben’s work – the tension between the ‘need’ to capture the moment or the vision, and the desire to let the medium speak its own language.

Recently Ben has been studying changes in the landscape through space and time. The patterns made by a passing flock of cranes, the rising tide within a rock pool, shadows moving over a rock during a day, an oilseed rape field blooming over a period of weeks, changes through the seasons and over years.

Of course, Ben is offering original paintings as well as limited printed editions for purchase.

Interestingly, he is teaching aquarell painting  & drawing (in English and Danish language) for private and public groups (all age classes) additionally.  
He focus on observation-based drawing, watercolour painting and relief printing techniques and put emphasis on outdoor drawing and painting.

Just a few impressions of BORNHOLM – as a teaser that I don`t need anymore….Maybe, we will see each other on Bornholm island in 2019?

Tipp No. 112: ECOSIA – The Search Engine That Plants Trees (Awarded German Social Business)

Insights, Nature, Reisen, Tipps, Travel
About 51.000.00 have been already planted


Greening the Desert

ECOSIA is a German social business that was founded in 2009 after a trip around the world and the discovery of the high impact on all kinds of life by deforestation. Ecosia won several awards for its clever concept and speedy growth in Europe and beyond. In April 2014, ECOSIA was the first German company to become a B Corporation thanks to its social business model.

ECOSIA uses the profit made from your searches to plant trees where they are needed most. Get the free browser extension and plant trees with every search.

ECOSIA knows that trust has to be earned

That is why ECOSIA publish his monthly financial reports and tree planting receipts online. This way the user can hold ECOSIA accountable.

ECOSIA is planting all around the world

Trees mean a happy environment, healthy people, and a strong economy. Their awesome projects in cooperation with notable local organizations:

  • Restoring watersheds in Brazil
  • Restoring coastal forrests and natural corridors in Madagaskar
  • Trees for healthier forrests and people in Indonesia
  • Empowering women in Kenya – as part of the “Green Movement” against deforestation, land grabbing and corruption.
  • Coffee For Peace in Colombia
  • Protecting the home of the Orang-Utans in Indonesia
  • Regreening the Sahel in Burkina Faso
  • Restoring key watersheds in Ghana in coop. with “TreeAid”
  • Supporting Europe`s biodiversity in Spain
  • From Cocaine to cacao in Peru in coop. with the PUR project
  • Restoring the Atlantic rainforrest in Brazil in coop. with PACTO
  • Food security through tree planting on Haiti
  • Alternatives for Palm Oil in Indonesia
  • Reforesting vulcano slopes in Nicaragua in coop. with Dia
  • and more important projects with a focus on tree planting.

“We plant native acacia trees, because they make the soil more fertile. With our earnings we started a communal savings account for women to borrow and start their own businesses.”
Sara, 42 Mechisho, Ethiopia
From Cocaine To Cocoa, Peru


It doesn`t save data about your searches. ECOSIA doesn’t create personal profiles of his users based on their search history. ECOSIA actually anonymizes all searches within one week.

Follow ECOSIAs journey to one billion trees


For further details, just visit their website: https://www.ecosia.org/

By the way, ECOSIA is also offering a tiny Online Shop….

The headquarters of ECOSIA is located in Berlin.

Poem No. 113: “Poems for Europe – 10 National Portraits in Verse” by various European Poets

Gedichte, Insights, poems, Reisen, Travel
Bildergebnis für i love europe

What happened when 10 European poets were asked to portray their home country in verse ahead of the European elections?

Well, the first thing some of them did was cheat. Then they all became a little melancholic…
Magazines across the continent – not necessarily within the EU itself – would commission a favorite poet to write four lines on their country. Frankly speaking, the majority of Europeans don`t regard Turkey as an European country at all.

Please forgive the glaring omissions – the result has been dictated by those who decided to take part – and instead worry for Europa. Clearly this is not a continent suffering from bombastic self-confidence & optimism; in fact, quite the opposite.  (Die Zeit & The Guardian)


Magazine Kosovo 2.0 
Poet Shpëtim Selmani

On the first day blood was created 
on the second day death 
on the third love was mentioned 
and then there were no days left for us


Magazine ZEITmagazin 
Poet Saša Stanišic

We’ve lost our secrets. Gave them away, like our well-built weapons,
only involuntarily. We shake babies, when Bayern lose a match, we are as beautiful as a bishop’s residence. We bet our beer will take over, a monument for Erwin
Rommel, our epics, our migrants in the theatre, our Russian energy


Magazine De Morgen Magazine 
Poet Maud Vanhauwaert

Small, but with a central location 
And with views aplenty. Belgium is a house 
With many rooms – where things get shuffled and pushed around – 
Behind curtains where all of Europe wanders past


Magazine Volkskrant Magazine 
Poet Johnny Ceres Jr

We from on top of each other
Are not like iron on iron
But are like slipping in
When nobody’s looking for a moment


Magazine Il Venerdì di Repubblica 
Poet Valerio Magrelli

On a Turkish Song to Italy

Dear Italy, At last you’re in my sight
I salute you, friendly shores!
The whole peninsula rests
Encircled by a craving necklace
Of the drowned.
Every one of them is a crumb
Scattered to find the way home
But the fish have eaten them 
and the clandestini [illegal immigrants]
Lost in the sea without return
Wander like Tom Thumbs
Sown in the water all around


Magazine ViMagazino 
Poet Dimítris Dimitriádis

The Buried Cradle

The crisis is not the same in Greece as in other countries. 
Everyone says, no matter how they say it, Greece is the cradle of Europe. 
Europe should consider its roots and reconsider its values. 
And see in Greece, and Greece in itself, the painful present, 
the raw material for a brand-new cradle

United Kingdom

Magazine Observer Magazine 
Poet Don Paterson


What country? And you try being so far adrift 
in this weather. Still, we have our two-edged gift 
of tongues to watch, and tongues we find to sing 
of London’s Babylon, Skye’s Wyoming


Magazine Radikal 
Poet Murat Mentes

The aliens sniffing the aromas rising from Turkish kitchens
The aliens hearing poems of Rumi, melodies of Mevlevis
The aliens seeing the brightness of the Bosphorus, of domes, of young smiles
Ask each other: “Those signals do come from the Earth, but which part exactly?”
One among them gives the answer: “From Europe, of course, where else?!”


Magazine Das Magazin 
Poet Jürg Halter

Pro Helvetia

As neutral as a cheese free of inhibitions
Thriving in a golden bank safe
In the shade of chocolate-covered mountains
Where every cliché becomes a shrieking reality: Pro Helvetia


Magazine Falter 
Poet Michael Stavarič

Barely have I closed my eyes 
and I think to myself
That I fit in there perfectly
In you, my beloved Austria
And everything is good
For 10, 12, 13 breaths
Barely awake again, I am asked if I will 
be writing an obituary to
you, my beloved Austria
And I hear myself say
Yes, yes, oh yes
And then that truly frightened me

Postcard No. 12: “COLOGNE, MAINZ and DUSSELDORF” – The People`s Voice…provocative Carnival Floats in Germany

arts, humor, Kunst, Oddities, Reisen, Tipps, Travel


Blond is the new Brown/Brunette (the brown color is associated  with right-wing extremist parties, nationalists & autocrats)

Hitler (Germany; Hitler could be replaced by Alexander Gauland / current leader of the AfD) – Wilders (Netherlands) – Marie Le Pen (France) – Donald Trump (USA)

By the way, just a small detail, many people abroad don`t know…Adolf Hitler was no German Citizen. He was an Austrian migrant from Braunau.


It is said that Carnival was already celebrated in Mesopotamia 5000 years ago.

Since 12th century, carnival is celebrated in Germany. The German carnival parades in the Rhine-Main area (to be differentiated from the Pagan Fastnacht / Shrovetide in Southern Germany & Switzerland) are absolutely unique due to its historical background & special traditions like the satirical floats, throwing candy, costumes balls, marching bands in historical uniforms of France & Prussia, huge Carnival clubs and so on.

The Cologne Carnival, as well as those in Mainz, Eschweiler and Düsseldorf, are the largest and most famous. The next week of party will start end of Feb. 2019.


On Carnival Thursday (called “Old Women Day” or “The Women’s Day” in commemoration of an 1824 revolt by washer-women), women storm city halls, cut men’s ties, and are allowed to kiss any passing man. This tradition is still alive. Even in other public buildings and corporate offices men should better wear cheap ties on this day of the year…


The carnival parades and floats make fun of individual politicians and other public figures. Many speeches do the same. This worldwide unique tradition has got his origin in 18th century, when the Rhine-Main area was occupied by French troops led by Napoleon and later on by Prussian troops. The Carnival clubs / guilds that create the satirical floats were founded by urban guilds. The handcraft guilds were namely forbidden by the occupiers because the guilds represented free urban citizenship with political Rights, influence & a network of power thanks to their partnerships with guilds in other “free” cities that want to be ruled neitherby monarchs nor by churches. In medieval times, there was a famous proverb: “City Air makes free”. On the Country side the farmers were dependent on the liege lords and the churches, who owned the land and possessed a lot of privileges.  De facto, the rural people were nothing else but slaves.


During carnival people wear costumes often including a coverage of their faces. There was an attempt to forbid this coverage of faces. And a special police force – called “The Sparks” was founded to enforce this rule of king Wilhelm (?). But this attempt failed. Instead of following the new rule, the German city citizens made fun of it and established a carnival group called the “Sparks” and added the “Spark Mariechen” (Young Beautiful girls) to their carnival dancing groups. These girls in uniform perform risky acrobatic stunts and are often thrown into the air (like Cheerleaders) and are then caught by the group again… It is said that this dancing choreography was understood as a hidden warning in former times….”We – the People – can let you fall”…or: “Kingdoms rise and fall”.

The tradition, carnival freedoms and anonymity allows the people to break taboos, critisize the king & noble houses, majors, elites, bureaucrats and armed forces bluntly. The costume balls and parties provided an opportunity for women & men to meet each other and to flirt without being judged by others.

The tradition to make drastically fun of individuals, organisations and systems in power like politicians, churches / religions, industry sectors / reps (local, domestic and international ones) is still very much alive!

At this occasion , I`d like to outline that it is not my Intention to insult anybody or to promote an opinion by publishing the images of the very popular carnival motif-floats. There are motifs that don´t comply with my taste / style…but the topics are always up-to-date.

Actually, everything & anybody can become subject of the motif-floats. Nobody is safe, and everybody has to be prepared to face derision. The bigger the pain & annoyment, the bigger is the suspicion that the derision possess a core of truth.

I am glad that we`ve got the freedom to design these motif floats, to express ourself not only during carnival season. The parades and funny but sharp Carnival speeches prove that many people are educated, informed, able to question the status-quo, are not afraid  of criticism & expressing opinions and that they are interested in politics & Society topics…and that they are still determined to participate. It namely needs some significant Background knowledge & education to understand the satirical motif floats.

By the way, every year Carnival groups and marching bands of our neighbor countries are invited and join the parades. In my view, it would be exciting if our neighbors would contribute (more) own carnival motif floats additionally.

Let`s have a look at a few examples of the satirical motif floats…


Carnival Club “Rheinische Garde Blau” anti-war motif – “No war in Syria, Iran and in the Ukraine!”


Two big babies trying to impress each other with the size of their…Missiles.


European Hitler greeting arm lifted / supported by Vladimir Putin




Emmanuel Macron (French President) as Napoleon in a vintage car (provided with fuel by Germany) with reference to his idea of an EU Reform – beyond a mere trade union – headed by France.


Berlusconi (former president of Italy), who is well-known for his sex parties, homophoby and close relations to the Italian mafia.


Putin (leader of Russia, who is often present in the media with Images, on which he shows his naked upper body to appear manly), on the left arm: Economy and on the right arm: Military.



Angela Merkel / CDU (chancelor of Germany for already 14 years) as Mammoth and Martin Schulz (former leader of the opposition party SPD), who is unable to challenge her.


Ex-Chancelor Gerhard Schröder with a case full of Money from ROSNEFT (huge oil / energy industry corporation) in the butt of the Russian bear…corruption? After his lost re-election Schröder was employed as a “Consultant”.


The German emblem “The Eagle” (also called “fat chicken”) with a Burning right wing: “Attacks on refugee centres”.


Typical German lawn gnomes…(a well-known symbol for old-fashioned, penny-pinching babbits who are close to Right-wing extremist parties). On the signs: “No mixed cultures”, “Betrayer (of the Bio-German People) go home!”, “Reichs-Gnome” (Reich = Kingdom = Nazi slang), “The Beet is Full/Crowded!”


German chancelor Merkel as a turtle

Rosenmontag am Rhein - Düsseldorf

Schulz / SPD, who was popular and caused an upturn of the SPD for a short time, failed to challenge Merkel because of his own fault. Today, the SPD (coalition partner of the CDU)lost her credibility completely and is continuously losing her supporters.

Traditional Rose Monday carnival parade in Duesseldorf

“The next one, please!” – A reminder never to underestimate chanceleor Merkel. In fact, she was able to block all of her Critics and competitors silently. On the skulls & bones the names of German politicians.


On the bear: Russia Affaire


On the sausage “Democracy”, the animal (I cannot identify): Polish goverment and the dirt: “Dictatorship”


Former communist countries Poland & Hungary shift to dictatorships led by conservative nationalists, autocrats and their supporters (right-wing extremists).

Both countries that are EU members, are critisized for not accepting a fair share of refugees.


Angela Merkel / German chancelor and the former German – American Relations. Since the election of D. Trump there is a wind of change. today, the German Government is talking About becoming more Independent and is admitting that there are competeing interests, of Course. In the past, German politicians and public media were always talking about “our friends” (the States) like using a prayer wheel.


“Rotten/ bad credits” – Banks are purging on the German tax payer, who was betrayed by the financial institutions (that caused the financial crisis, triggered by the breakdown of the Lehman bank) and then had to rescue the Banks by providing tax money.


Greece went bancrupt. The EU took over the debts of Greece and provided billions of  financial aids two times, as far as I know. A debt cancellation was no option because it would have resulted in a downgrade of the creditworthiness rating of other struggling Southern European EU members like Italy and Spain. Greece is still blaming Germany for its economic crisis because Germany insists on “Saving Money” (reduction of governmental expenses) like the German government is doing it for many years (see the Slogan on the arm of Merkel “you have to save money!”) Greece called the German politicians Nazis because of this precondition for further financial injections. Again, Germany (who is providing > 1/3 of the EU Budget) is simply the scapegoat in my view.

Actually, Greece falsified documents and balance sheets to gain the EU Membership – without Meeting the Basic requirements. Greece was living from credits and unfortunately didn´t reinvest the credit money in his infrastructure and new Industry as urgently needed. Besides, Greece is suffering from a high level of corruption and nd other money drains, such as a widely accepted tradition not to pay any taxes.

It is also critisized that the Greek People don`t take benefit of the financial aids because the Money is transferred directly to the Banks to cover at least the interest rates of the Greek (bad) credits. I think, it is true. Actually, we are rescueing again the banks only, who provided rotten credits to not creditworthy countries – speculating on the tax money of EU countries, which will step in to avoid another economic crisis. The system is completely insane!

TOP priority should be to get the financial institutions under control. Maybe these parasits should be simply nationalized. I am not willing to minimize their business risks and to secure their profits by paying taxes.


On the side of the float: Support of Banks.

Greece receives financial aids for survival but the money is forwarded directly to the wealthy elites, who don`t pay ny taxes and sabotage Greece recovery. The EU money  is rather transferred to banks abroad (see above), while the People of Greece are facing a breakdown of their HealthCare, economy, pension schemes and public infrastructure etc.

Italy could become the next candidate…As you can see, there are many provocative motifs for future floats.


The major of Dusseldorf City is hunting the head of a financial Institution based in Dusseldorf, who wants avoid taxes on profits.


German economy (Merkel) and France (ex president Sarkozy)


On the feather tail of the tiny, naked, vain cock: “Your Berlusconi (ex president of Italy) is back.”


“Refugee Graveyard – Mediterranian Sea” – On the boat: “This is the true downfall of the Occident”


The States and the Mexican migration issue.


The wave of refugees might let sink the CDU Government led by Merkel


Islamic Terror doesn`t intimidate us.


Satire cannot be killed.


The Pope Franziskus: Beating…but with dignity.


IS Terrorist calls an AfD politician (AfD = newcomer right-wing party in Germany that fuels hatred on muslims) “useful idiots”.


ex US-President Bush (Christian extremism vs Muslim extremism)


Turkish president Erdogan – not ErdoWahn ( = Erdo-delusion, writing on the turban) -who is accused to be a right-wing Islamist & autocrat, who cannot stand criticism and other opinions (he accused all kind of people – like politicians, journalists, Judges, police etc. – to be terrorists in order to silence and imprison them if required), Erdogan is causing great tensions in Germany – not only he used to Insult Germany and its reps by calling them Nazis etc. but also by alienating and taking influence on the huge Turkish community that lives in Germany (often in 3rd Generation) and becomes more & more conservative and religous. The majority of Turks in Germany (with or without German passport) seems to be more loyal to Turkey than to Germany and is critisized for supporting and cit.”loving”  Erdogan who is establishing a corrupt dictatorship in the view of many bio-Germans, who don`t understand why their Turkish neighbours love an authoritarian, islamistic autocrat, while enjoying the Benefits & prosperity of  a liberal, tolerance-based democracy with all kind of freedoms and a clear separation between religion and state/government. It is said that the Turks in Germany love Erdogan and its rude nationalism due to an inferiority complex. Besides, they think that Erdogan is responsible for the economic upswing in Turkey that was very much less developed and poor compared with Europe.  Today, Turkey is in the middle of an economic Crisis due to his high Inflation and his high Levels of governmental but also private debts.  Turkey has to ask Germany and the EU for financial support now. Among the Turks in Germany it is not tolerated to critisize Erdogan. The social pressure is high. The Turkish Government has estblsihed a Hotline – for German Turks to denunciate Turks who critisize the Turkish Government.


“Carnival for All!” … all Kind of religions including atheists.


IS and Erdogan (president of Turkey) clinking glasses with the blood of the Kurds.

The Kurds are a minority group in Turkey, who are aiming for an independent state within the borders of the former “Kurdistan” – a country that was divided after WWI and covers territory in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq.
The Kurds don`t support the Government of Erdogan and are accused to be terrorists due to their separatism.
Same time, the Kurds are successfully fighting back the IS troops – and prevent the expansion of the IS (also in direction to the Turkish territory). The Kurds are known for their bravery but suffer from high losses, very limited resources and poor Western support. Western countries namely try to maintain good relations to Turkey. Turkey is a NATO member of geostrategical importance and the EU is dependent on Turkey that blocks increasing refugee flows (coming from the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan but also from Pakisthan, Bangladesh & India).  In fact, Turkey is paid well for closing its borders. Furthermore, it is the aim of the West to avoid that Russia and China gain more influence in the European backyard utilizing Turkey as an entrance. The Kurds have to pay the bill. They are caught in between the lines of fire. Enemies like Turkey and the IS are easily agreeing on a common foe – the Kurds.

By the way, the still biggest migrant group in Germany are the Turkish people (since the 60`s/70`s) and of course, Germany gave home to a huge amount of Kurdish migrants as well…


“Cultivation of Traditions / Heritage” (writing at the side of the float) – Cardinal Meissner (a very conservative German catholic) is burning a Woman, who confessed an abortion. Abortions till the 12th week (I think) are legal in Germany. Abortions at a later stage of pregnancy require an exemption and special justification.


First suicide bomber: REALITY; second one: Chliché / stereotype.


Thousands of people attend the carnival parades, that you can watch on TV as well, every year. The party continues in bars & clubs, ballrooms or at home. Many People take holidays for a week.

Map with Carnival and Fastnacht Locations in Germany.



Helau (Dusseldorf)!  Allaaf (Cologne)! …These are the two most common Carnival Greetings.

More Rural Fastnacht

The Fastnacht with ist local rituals, fairytales and very old handmade costumes (that are forwarded from one generation to the next one) is a completely different story.

Postcard No. 4: “XANTEN” – a trip with a “TIME MACHINE” (repaired post)

Insights, Reisen, Travel

Various independent tribes, the Roman legions & settlers, the Vikings, different Noble Houses and Churches, Napoleon Bonaparte & friends, the Nazis & enemies…whoever was on the move in the course of the centuries, all of them seem to have passed through XANTEN…and left marks.

“Salve Amici”,

Greetings from XANTEN in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany… XANTEN, a city that can be traced back to first settlements of independent tribes built in 2,000 BC!

Around 15 BC the Roman castrum or camp Vetera was created on the Fürstenberg near modern-day Birten. It was intended as a base for campaigns into Germanica and until its destruction during the Revolt of the Batavi in 70 AD, it was occupied by 8,000 to 10,000 legionaries, and was the main base of the Classis Germanica.

After the destruction of Vetera a 2nd camp became established at the Bislicher Insel, named Castra Vetera II, which became the base camp of Legio VI Victrix. A nearby created settlement, which was inhabited by 10,000 to 15,000 former legionaries and others, was given the rights of a colonia in 110 AD by the Roman emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus, who renamed the town Colonia Ulpia Traiana. Xanten was the 2nd biggest Roman base in Germanica Inferior following Colonia Agrippinensis (today’s Cologne).

+++ As you can see, the entire city of Xanten is breathing history! +++

And of course,  you shouldn´t leave Xanten without visiting one of the biggest
Archaeological Park and open air museums in the world. The hilarious open air museum was built at the site of the Roman settlements Colonia Ulpia Traiana. The parc showcases various 1:1 reconstructed Roman Buildings (temples, a hostel, houses for living & bathing etc.), towers, weir systems, walls and the popular Amphitheatre.

Furthermore, you`re invited to visit various themed Pavillons, like “Bread & Circuses: Galdiators & Bears”, “Caesar, Senate and The People – Governors & governed”, “protective building on Insula 39” (an excavation site), “Travel & Traffics”, “Construction & Techniques” and so on.

The amazing parc also offers a “fun & game”s for kids & adults.  A range of familiar and unfamiliar ancient pastimes are waiting to be rediscovered in the Roman Games. Furthermore, kids can enjoy a huge adventure playground and a new water playground with a mix of fun & education.

The Roman world comes alive in the LVR-Archaeological Park Xanten. The large programme of demonstrations, festivals, themed weekends, Sunday tours, lectures and other activities to watch and join in provides many good reasons for visiting the ancient city.


The history of Xanten is very colourful and an exciting thriller. For instance the town and its catholic convent was raided by the “Norsemen” (Vikings) in year 836 like other cities along the river Rhine. Maybe it was Ragna, Lagertha and Rollo, who dropped by and said Hello…?

In the 5th century the Franks built the medieval town Xanten, where mythical Siegfried of Xanten was born according to the Nibelungen Saga. No, unfortunately you cannot bath in dragon blood in Xanten but maybe you like to attend the Siegfried Spectacle to watch scenes of the Niblungen Saga? Or do you prefer to visit the Siegfried Museum?

It is impossible to share Xantens history – that left many marks – in a few lines…Xanten is a living memory and true treasure.

Other attractions to keep you busy in Xanten include the impressive medieval town centre with Xanten Gothic St. Victor Cathedral (constructed: 1263 – 1544! 281 yrs of construction proving the determination & stamina of the people, pls. see the high altar below), many museums (including a Jewish Museum) and large man-made lakes for various watersport activities.


XANTEN is also well-known for its events like the Xantener Sommerfestspiele (a prestigious classical music festival lasting two weeks every summer), the annual Xantener Montmartre, where artists from all over the world show their latest works, modern arts exhibitions, the Siegfried Spectacle (Nibelungen Saga open air theatre) as well as the annual German sandcastle-building Championship for instance.

As you can see, there is still a huge demand for a nice Amphitheatre!


Installation: “Car Rodeo” in the Amphitheatre of Xanten by H.A. Schulz (German Artist)

Xanten is a very popular destination for School Trips (usually lower class levels) in Germany for good reasons. The first time, I visited Xanten was an exciting one-week school trip to Xanten as well. As you can see, I never forgot this trip…and still possess a passion for history despite working for technology ventures my entire professional life.


If you like to travel with a “TIME MACHINE”, simply stop over in XANTEN!

“Ave, Amici!”

Further Impressions of the LVR-Archaeological Park Xanten as an appetizer:

Modern Arts Festival – Car Wars
Historical Festivals
Roman Hostel with Herb Garden
Roman Interiors
Bathing House

Postcard No. 28: “The 101 Tower in Taipeh” – Republic of China / Taiwan

Insights, Reisen, Travel
Taipeh Skyline

The Taipei 101 tower in Taipei, Taiwan, was the world’s tallest building from 2004 until 2010 when it was beaten out by Dubai’s impressive Burj Khalifa.
Regardless, Taipei 101 is still considered the tallest green building in the world for its innovative and energy-saving design.

Rich with symbolism and tradition, Taipei’s iconic landmark is a standing monument to ancient feng shui traditions and modern architecture.

International Size Competition
Ruyi-Figure above one of the entrances.
Ruyi is a curved decorative object that serves as a ceremonial sceptre in Chinese Buddhism or a talisman symbolizing power and good fortune

Taipei 101 Specifications

  • Height: 1,667 feet (508 meters) as measured from the ground to the tip of the spire on top.
  • Highest Occupied Floor: 1,437 feet (438 meters).
  • Number of Floors: 101 (an additional five basement floors are underground).
  • Outside Observation Deck: 91st floor.
  • Construction Cost: US $1.8 billion.

Symbolism and Design

Even the neighborhood and sculptures in the park surrounding Taipei 101 are meant to support the tower’s feng shui and to prevent positive energy from escaping. The park is round to reinforce the idea that the tower is a giant sundial. From the shape of entrances to curving surfaces and colors, the landmark is designed to symbolize prosperity and good fortune.

To some onlookers, Taipei 101 looks like a stack of Western-style Chinese food carryout boxes (traditional oyster pails), however, the tower is meant to represent a stalk of bamboo reaching into the sky to connect heaven and earth.

The 101 floors represent adding one to the number 100, which is considered perfect and auspicious in Chinese culture. In other words, even better than perfect! The eight sections of the tower are a nod to the auspicious number eight, which represents abundance and good fortune in Chinese culture.

Because four is considered an unlucky number in superstition, having a 44th floor was purposely avoided by creating a floor 42a to bump the 43rd floor into that position.

Interesting Facts About Taipei 101

  • When it opened in 2004, the Taipei 101 tower beat the twin Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by a height of 184 feet for​ the title of “tallest building in the world.”
  • Although owned by the Taipei Financial Center Corporation, the tower is actually managed by a company based in Chicago, USA.
  • Taipei 101 is symbolically boasted as the tallest sundial in the world; the circle-shaped park around the tower adds to the effect.
  • There are 61 elevators inside of the tower. Each elevator has atmospheric controls to keep passengers’ ears from popping.
  • The two fastest elevators inside Taipei 101 moves at an astonishing speed of 37.7 miles per hour (55.2 feet per second); they were once the fastest in the world. Reaching the 89th floor from ground level only takes around 44 seconds!
  • The parking area in the basement of Taipei 101 is 893,000 square feet (82,962 square meters) and can accommodate more than 1,800 vehicles — don’t forget where you parked!
  • Taipei 101 cycles through seven different colors (each with symbolic meaning) with a new color for each day of the week.

The History of Taipei 101

Construction on the Taipei 101 tower began in 1999 after two years of planning; work concluded in 2004. The ground-breaking ceremony was held on January 13, 1999, and the tower opened to the public on December 31, 2004. Construction was delayed for only a week during a catastrophic earthquake in 2002 that caused five deaths at the site after a construction crane plummeted to the street below.

Taipei 101 surpassed Malaysia’s iconic Petronas Towers to grab the title of “tallest inhabited skyscraper.” At the same time, the tower took the record for “highest inhabited floor” from the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) in Chicago.

The chief architect for Taipei 101 was Chinese-born C.Y. Lee; he received his master’s degree from Princeton University in New Jersey, USA.

Construction Caveats

The Taipei 101 tower had to be constructed with more than just beauty and symbolism in mind; Taiwan is regularly subjected to powerful typhoons and regional earthquakes. According to the designers, the tower can withstand winds of up to 134 miles per hour and the strongest earthquakes on modern record.

To survive potentially destructive forces of nature, Taipei 101 incorporates a steel pendulum — the largest and heaviest damper in the world — suspended through the core of the building between the 92nd and 87th floors of the structure. The suspended sphere weighs 1.76 million pounds (725,749 kilograms) and sways freely to offset the movement of the building itself. Visitors can see the aesthetically shaped pendulum in action from a restaurant and the observation decks.

The anti-sway system passed a real-life test during Taiwan’s 6.8-magnitude earthquake in 2002 while the tower was still under construction.

The fascinating pendulum as earthquake damper.
The mass damper inside of 101

What Is Inside the Taipei 101 Tower?

Taipei 101 is home to scores of tenants including communications companies, banks, motor companies, consulting groups, and financial companies. Some notable tenants include Google Taiwan on the 73rd floor, L’Oreal’ — the world’s largest cosmetic company, and the Taiwan Stock Exchange. The tower is also home to a library, fitness center, a shopping mall with over 828,000 square feet of shops, and all the expected retail and restaurant chains.

Taipei 101 Observation Decks

Taipei 101 has two indoor observatories (88th and 89th floor) that provide 360-degree views of Taipei. Stairs go up to the 91st floor outside observation deck which is open when weather permits. The record-breaking wind damper can be viewed from the indoor observatories. Food, drinks, souvenirs, and voice tours are available for purchase.

The Secret Floor Hosts “The Summit 101 Club”

Perhaps most interesting of Taipei 101’s inhabitants is Summit 101 — a secretive, exclusive VIP club purported to exist on the 101st floor of the tower. Aside from once being listed in the tower brochure, the club is shrouded in secrecy and is unreachable via the regular elevators.

Despite widespread publicity and millions of visitors a year that come to see the tower, no one is really sure what goes on up there! The irony is that millions of people from around the world stare at the top of the tower on New Year’s Eve as Taipei 101’s spectacular fireworks shows are broadcasted internationally.

Only in 2014 was a TV film crew finally allowed inside of the Summit 101 club; its existence was publicly acknowledged. Rumor has it that only foreign dignitaries, special VIPs, and people who spend a hefty sum in the mall are invited to the top for the best view of the city.

The 101st floor is divided into different sections, so speculation still exists that the public hasn’t seen all that there is to know about the secret floor.

Poem No. 93: “Hearthside” by Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)

Gedichte, poems, Reisen, Travel
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)

Half across the world from me
Lie the lands I’ll never see-
I, whose longing lives and dies
Where a ship has sailed away;
I, that never close my eyes
But to look upon Cathay.
Things I may not know nor tell
Wait, where older waters swell;
Ways that flowered at Sappho’s tread,
Winds that sighed in Homer’s strings,
Vibrant with the singing dead,
Golden with the dust of wings.
Under deeper skies than mine,
Quiet valleys dip and shine.
Where their tender grasses heal
Ancient scars of trench and tomb
I shall never walk: nor kneel
Where the bones of poets bloom.
If I seek a lovelier part,
Where I travel goes my heart;
Where I stray my thought must go;
With me wanders my desire.
Best to sit and watch the snow,
Turn the lock, and poke the fire.