“Voor paal staan” means to be embarrassed, so “Landelijke tentoonstelling voor paal” can be roughly translated as “National Embarrassment Exhibition”. “Paal” is a bollard, these are the things that sneak up on you when you park your car, and attack you when you least expect it, leaving you utterly embarrassed. Why is there a bollard exhibition on a street corner in Rotterdam? I guess the best answer is “because we can!”
Almost 20 years ago, this was the first spot in Rotterdam that I’d been to, and I hold fond memories of it ever since (it’s a very romantic story, but this is not the place for details). Back then it was not the best neighborhood. It was no longer as bad as in the 80s, but there were still a lot of drug users and run-down houses here.
These days, the Heemraadsingel and the park along it have been massively upgraded. There are a lot of lawyer offices here, so you still have a chance of being robbed or ripped off, but on a bigger scale, and the amount of drug use has probably gone up, but the users wear suits now.
November to January, the iconic oliebollen (doughnuts) stand of Richard Visser is here, so the bollards can be tough to spot between the crowds.