... and the new. This set of water-gates (photo taken from the passing Mini) for the Bremerhaven main dock, now form part of a canal which is actually larger than Suez - it's the largest in the world. They were constructed by Thomas's (ex) girlfriend - a pretty and petite engineer, 31 years old - but not single-handedly. The hinges were made in Gdansk and weigh about 1000 tons each. They have a couple of spares sitting around in a nearby yard, just in case a drunken captain ploughs into them as happened a few weeks ago on a different gate. We don't know what happened to the captain, but since he has caused millions of euros of damage, plus millions of euros in lost trade, I think he might be in a Gulag right now, waiting for the winter.
The Bremerhaven ship yard is astounding in it's vast scale. There are whole yards of classic American cars sitting there, waiting for restoration and resale. We saw row upon row of gleamingly new tractors in neat, regimented formation - flashing like trees as we passed. Container boats that look like office tower-blocks stand next to each other, waiting to be filled with about 7000 brand-new Mercedes or BMW cars. The crew that sail these enormous ships amount to no more than 7 people - a Somali pirate's dream come true, if they can get within range with a grenade-launcher.
We drove past 40 foot-high, red scaffold structures with little wheels on the bottom, and these turned out to be container transport vehicles. The drivers of these things are usually women, for some reason, and it is said that trying to control one is like riding a drunken camel. A few weeks ago, one toppled over, killing the driver.
We also saw a nearby factory which builds the largest wind generators in the world. The blades of these things are about 150 feet long each, and the gondolas are so large that you can land a helicopter on them (though you wouldn't want to overshoot the pad). Some of these 200 ton gondolas were sitting around, wrapped in white plastic and waiting to be fitted out.
I would have liked to see what this area looked like before people like my father bombed the shit out of it about 70 years ago. Apparently, if they had any bombs left after raids on Berlin and Dresden, they off-loaded them on Bremerhaven before reaching the North German coast. The result of this is that downtown Bremerhaven looks just like any other European city centre now - as boring as hell.