Wednesday, 29 September 2010

El Jem, Tunisia

It's pouring it down and I'll have to go out in a moment, to pick up a parcel from the post office in Dudley town centre as the postman was too lazy and just pushed a "sorry, you were out" card through the mailbox - when I was actually IN, and so was one of Matt's brothers. Why can't they ring the doorbell, surely it can't be THAT hard?! Grrr.

I'm so jealous of one of my colleagues at my volunteering job - she's going to Morocco this weekend on holiday. I wish I could go there, too. Or somewhere else where it's WARM. Tunisia wouldn't be bad, either, and it's so beautiful over there! I recently received a postcard from a postcrosser who went on holiday in Tunisia. She saw this impressive amphitheatre there amongst other things.

The impressive ruins of the largest colosseum in North Africa, a huge amphitheatre which could hold up to 35,000 spectators, are found in the small village of El Jem. This 3rd-century monument illustrates the grandeur and extent of Imperial Rome. [source]

The stamp is from a set of 4 stamps issued in 2009, depicting Fruits of Tunisia. This one here is Cherry (one of my favourite fruits!!).

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Richmond, Tasmania, Australia

One more autumn card for today, this one comes from Australia (where it's actually spring at the moment unless I'm very much mistaken).

Richmond is a town about 25 km north-east of Hobart, in the Coal River region, between the Midland Highway and Tasman Highway. At the 2006 census, Richmond had a population of 880. Richmond's most famous landmark is the Richmond Bridge, built in 1823 by convicts using hand carts, around the time of the town's first settlement. It is Australia's oldest bridge still in use. Yeah, you can see Australia is not a very old country - something built in 1823 would not be considered very old over here. ;)

The Summer Garden, St Petersburg, Russia

Another autumn card, this one arrived about a year ago from the "Autumn tag" on the postcrossing forum.

Can you believe the place here is actually called the Summer Garden?! Well, it is. A Summer Garden in autumn. :D The Summer Garden occupies an island between the Fontanka, Moika, and the Swan Canal in St Petersburg and shares its name with the adjacent Summer Palace of Peter the Great. The park, first conceived by Peter in 1704, was laid out by foreign garden planners between 1712 and 1725 in a Dutch Baroque style. Three years later, the walks were lined with a hundred allegorical marble sculptures, executed by Francesco Penso, Pietro Baratta, Marino Gropelli, Alvise Tagliapietra, and other Venetian sculptors. In the late 20th century, 90 surviving statues were moved indoors, while modern replicas took their place in the park.

Nice stamps on the card, too, both issued in 2009. The one on the left is Russia's contribution to the Europa series, last year's theme being Astronomy. The second stamp commemorates the 75th Anniversary of the Birth of U.A. Gagarin (1934-1968), first Astronaut in the World.

Lapland, Finland

Autumn is here so I thought I'd post some autumn-related postcards here. They will all be older cards that I've received; I like posting an occasional older card anyway as I have a lot of great ones in my collection.


This card arrived in March this year. A very nice official from Finland - I love receiving official postcrossing cards from Finland and wouldn't mind it happening more often. I've become quite interested in Lapland recently so any cards related to that are a particularly nice treat.

There's nothing about the exact location of the place shown on this card, it's just a random stream somewhere in Lapland on a frosty morning. It reminds me of the photos my parents have shown me from their trips in Lapland. I used to say I wouldn't want to go to Lapland myself but now I think I wouldn't mind anymore if I ever got the chance.. which is pretty unlikely now unfortunately.

This card is particularly nice thanks to the stamp and cancellations. The card was actually mailed in Finland, but it's sent from an event in Turku organised by the local stamp club, and Åland's Post was there too, hence the special stamp and cancellations. I think this stamp was probably printed specifically for this event ("Spring in Turku") as it shows the Turku Castle. In any case it's SUCH a treat!

Landsort, Sweden

I've been pretty lucky recently - I've participated in lotteries on the postcrossing forum and I've actually won three in a relatively short space of time! I think I should host my own lottery some time soon.. Last time I did it was so much fun! Anyway, this is one of the cards I've won.

Landsort is a Swedish village and a lighthouse on the island of Öja. The tower was built in 1689, with an upper conical iron section added in 1870. Open fires have been lit here since a long time ago.

The first "real" lighthouse was lit in 1651, and until the now standing tower was built a couple of different buildings was used as a lighthouse. The 1689 tower was constructed to carry an open fire which ran on coal. In 1840, a colza oil lamp was installed. The flame ran on paraffin from 1887, and in 1938 it was electrified. Today the Swedish Maritime Administration owns and runs the lighthouse.

I've lived next to Sweden most of my life and yet I only have a few postcards from Sweden. A bit strange... I have a couple from my parents when they've visited Stockholm, but that's about it. It's strange how Postcrossing has never picked up in Sweden. Maybe it's the expensive stamp prices? Surely it can't be a lack of postcards or anything like that - a Finnish postcrosser told me that postcards are actually cheaper in Sweden than in Finland. It would be nice to see more postcards from Sweden!

This card was mailed from Norway (and had a cute little Norwegian flag sticker on the back of the card :)). The stamp is from a set of 3 stamps issued in 2008, depicting Wildlife in Norway. This one here is the Elk.

Lisboa, Portugal

I may not have ever been to Italy but I have been to Portugal. Not to Lisboa, though, but Algarve in the south. It was about twenty years ago but I still remember it as a lovely time. I'd love to go back one day to see if the place is anything like I remember it as being, but right now I'd be more interested in Lisboa.

This card comes from Miceu in Portugal. I've done a number of swaps with Miceu and have received some truly AMAZING postcards of Portugal. All those old houses, pretty windows and doors, narrow alleys, bright colours... ahhh!

I don't know much about the place shown on this card, apart from the fact that it shows 'Elevador da Lavra', a funicular that helps people climb the slope. Isn't the old tram (?) charming?!

This card came in an envelope with a bunch of other lovely postcards. The stamps on the envelope were equally wonderful. The top two were both issued earlier this year. The one on the left is from a set of 7 stamps depicting Rock in Portugal. This one here shows the cover of Moonspell's 'Wolfheart'. The stamp on the left is from a set of 6 stamps depicting Portuguese Cheeses, this one here showing Serra da Estrela. The smaller stamp underneath is from a set of 6 stamps issued in 2006, showing Portuguese Masks.

Tuscany, Italy

Mmmmm, to be on a holiday again... I don't know when I'll have one again or at least be able to go abroad again, but I can dream. This card is from Ilaria in Italy, she went on holiday in Tuscany this summer. I'm jealous...!

Matt's brother has been teasing me about Rome again - he went there some years ago and I doubt he'll ever forget the ice cream bars. :P He keeps telling me about them as well, knowing how much I love ice cream. Rome is definitely one of my dream holiday destinations, although not just for the ice cream :p Tuscany wouldn't be bad either, though, it looks like a gorgeously beautiful area.

Earlier this year I tried to read 'Under the Tuscan Sun' by Frances Mayes. I would've loved to like it, I honestly thought it would be a good book as it's supposed to describe such a beautiful area, but it was really boring and I just couldn't be bothered after maybe 40 pages. By now I've figured that life is too short to waste on bad boods.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

French Polynesia

One more card for today, I need to do something else today as well. :P

I don't really have much to say about this card and I don't even know the exact location of the place on this card, it simply shows a random beach somewhere on the French Polynesia. I have to say I'd love to be lying on that beach right now. Days are getting colder here which means our house is getting colder, too. This morning it was +13 C in my room... that's just crazy, and it's going to go even lower later on in the winter. Brrrrr.... Good job I have two (or technically three :D) new teapots, I suspect they'll be well used.

Pretty, pretty stamps used! The one on the left is from a set of 4 stamps issued in 2008, depicting Marine Fauna. This one here shows the Hump-back Whale. The stamp on the right is from a set of 12 stamps issued earlier this month, depicting Birds of Polynesia. Unless I'm very much mistaken, this one here is the Fruit dove.

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Speaking of rivieras.. I thought this would be an appropriate timing for posting this card.

I'm embarrassed to say that up until now I didn't really know the difference between Monaco and Monte Carlo. Well, frankly, I thought the name 'Monte Carlo' just referred to a casino. :P Not quite so - Monte Carlo is one of Monaco's administrative areas.

Monaco is the second smallest country (by size) in the world; only the Vatican City is smaller. Monaco is also the world's second smallest monarchy (and principality to be more exact), and one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The state consists of only one municipality (commune). There is no geographical distinction between the State and City of Monaco, although responsibilities of the government (state-level) and of the municipality (city-level) are different.

Beirut, Lebanon

This one is an interesting postcard. It shows Beirut, Lebanon but was sent from Finland (I received it from a tag on the postcrossing forum). Also, on the back of the card it says this is a view of "Modern Beirut", but it certainly isn't "modern" anymore. This looks like a proper vintage postcard, I'd say it was possibly printed in the 1980s or even earlier.

Anyway, this is a general view of Beirut, showing big hotels of the Lebanese Riviera. The city has probably changed a lot since this picture was taken, and I don't know what the war has caused...


This is one of my favourite out of the postcards I've received in the last couple of weeks. Lavender fields fascinate me; the purple colour is gorgeous and spread out like that, like a mat, it's just amazing.

I have to confess I didn't know there were lavender fields in Croatia, but according to Agi, who sent me this card, this is a typical Dalmatian view. Lavender fields were in blossom there a few months ago. I wish there were lavender fields around here, too, but I haven't seen any, just an occasional random bush. :(

Isn't the stamp cool?! It's from a set of 3 stamps issued earlier this year, showing Croatian Fruits. This one here is Grape, obviously. I love the unusual round shape and how the colour matches the colours of the postcard. :)

Bar, Montenegro

Another postcard from Montenegro...

Bar is a coastal town in Montenegro. It has a population of 13,719 (2003 census) and it is a major seaport of Montenegro. A long-lasting melting-pot of different confessions and nations, Bar represents a mix of modernity, tradition and beauty. It is an important and dynamic economic centre within Montenegro, but is also a town of rich cultural and historical tradition. Some of the highest achievements of Montenegro’s civilization originated in Bar. The oldest written documents and the most important work of medieval Montenegrin literature and history can be found here. The town also served as the seat of the oldest religious institution of Montenegro (the Bar archbishopric). One of the world’s oldest olive trees grows here, the Old Olive of Mirovica, which is more than 2000 years old.

Of all the cultural and historical monuments in Bar, the 19th-century King Nikola’s palace is the one that attracts the most attention. Built right beside the sea, it houses the County Museum which contains all the most significant archaeological finds from this region. Within this residential complex, beside the palace, there are two watchtowers called “gvardije”, a court chapel called the “small palace” and an orangerie.

As for the stamp, I'm clueless again. I wish there was a comprehensive online catalogue of all stamps issued in the world but that really would be too much to ask. :P

Sveti Stefan, Montenegro

A new country! No, I didn't have any postcards from Montenegro before this week. Now I have a few, all thanks to kind postcrossers. I know embarrassingly little about the ex-Yugoslavian countries but the area has started to fascinate me. When I was in Finland I read an article about them in a magazine (where my sister's been doing illustrations), and it was really interesting.

Sveti Stefan (or "St. Stefan") is a seaside resort in western Montenegro, located 5 km southeast of Budva, on the Budva Riviera. It used to be a tidal island, but is now permanently connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. In the 15th century the island was a fishermen's village. In the 1950s the last residents of the village were evicted, and Sveti Stefan was transformed into a luxury town-hotel. The streets, walls, roofs and façades of the buildings were, for the most part, preserved, while the interior of the building were transformed to offer the most modern luxury hotel comfort.

Sofija who sent me this card tells me that many famous people have visited Sveti Stefan in the last 3 years, including Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, the Rolling Stones and the footballer Ronaldinho. I would've thought this kind of people would choose somewhere more obvious to go, although I can't blame them - the place does look incredibly pretty!

The stamp was issued earlier this year, that's about as much as I know about it..

Koktebel, Ukraine

The second official for today comes from Ukraine. I wanted to post it here because it's such a beautiful view, I love the colours and the dreamy atmosphere in it.


Koktebel, formerly known as Planerskoye, is one of the most popular resort townlets in South-Eastern Crimea. Koktebel is situated on the shore of the Black Sea. It is best known for its literary associations. The Russian poet Maximilian Voloshin made it his residence, where he entertained many distinguished guests, including Marina Tsvetayeva, Osip Mandelshtam, and Andrey Bely (who died there). They all wrote remarkable poems in Koktebel.

The original name Köktöbel is of Turkic origin: in Crimean Tatar it means “Land of the blue hills” (from kök, “sky blue”, and töbe, “hill” or “mountain”, composed with the collective suffix -el). Its Soviet name of Planerskoye comes from the Russian planer, or glider: the hills above the shoreline were the site of many early experiments in manned heavier-than-air flight by Russian pioneer aviators.

#2 reason to post this card here: the stamps are amazing! Huge, colourful and beautiful. The stamp on the right is from a set of 3 stamps issued in 2008 to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of Birth of Taras Shevchenko - this one here is a Self portrait from 1840. The two stamps in the middle are from a set of 4 stamps issued in 2009, representing Ukrainian Songs. The one on the left represents Haidamaky Songs and the one on the right Joking Songs. I couldn't find any info on the small stamp on the left but it looks like a definitive stamp.

Kuršių Nerija, Lithuania

Time for a couple of official cards now.. the first one is from Lithuania, a very beautiful card an a Unesco site, too!


The Curonian Spit is a 98 km long, thin, curved sand-dune spit that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast located in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia and southwestern Lithuania. It was formed about 5,000 years ago. A glacial moraine served as its foundation; winds and sea currents later contributed enough sand to raise and keep the formation above sea level. Since 2000, the Curonian Spit has been on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

The Curonian Spit is home to the highest moving (drifting) sand dunes in Europe. Their average height is 35 meters, but some attain the height of 60 meters. Several ecological communities are present on and near the Spit, from its outer beaches to dune ridges, wetlands, meadows, and forests. Its location on the East Atlantic Flyway means it is frequently visited by migratory waterfowl. Between 10 and 20 million birds fly over the feature during spring and fall migrations, and many pause to rest or breed there.

Kuršių Nerija National Park is one of the five national parks in Lithuania. It was established in 1991 to protect the unique ecosystems of the Curonian Spit and Curonian Lagoon.

The stamp is from a set of 2 stamps issued in 2008 to commemorate the XXIX Olympic Games in Beijing.

La Lira Popular, Chile

Something a little different now.. This cool card arrived from a swap with Noelia in Chile. She told me that usually you can only find viewcards in Chile, so this was a nice change for her. I really like it, too, although I don't mind viewcards, either. :)

La Lira Popular means 'popular lyre' or 'cord literature': Lists where popular poets published their poetry in stanzas of then octosyllabic lines illustrating them with rustic engravings. Its origin goes back to the beginning of the XV century in Spain and in Chile it was very popular between 1860 and 1930.

The stamps are from a set of 10 stamps issued in 2008, depicting Typical Chilean Characters. These here show Road Sweeper, Knife Sharpener and a One Man Band.

Colonia Tovar, Venezuela

This week has been pretty busy, or at least it's felt like that. I haven't spent that much time at home... One of the best things about this week has been that yesterday I could talk to my parents in Finland via messenger; it actually worked and we could talk instead of typing! Hurrah!

Mail-wise this week has been pretty good. Below is one of my favourite postcards received this week, from Gaby in Venezuela.

I have to confess I've become quite interested in Venezuela in the past few months, but that has been mostly thanks to Viva Vegan, an amazing Latin cookbook. I would pretty much love to cook through the whole book. :P Anyway, food aside, Venezuela looks like a beautiful country, even if apparently the political situation in the country isn't the best possible at the moment, I don't really know.

Colonia Tovar (Tovar Colony) is a city located in the Tovar Municipality of the state of Aragua in Venezuela, 60 km west of Caracas. The town was named after Martín Tovar y Ponte who donated the land over 150 years ago, and was founded by Agostino Codazzi. The city is mainly known for its Germanic characteristics, culture, and a dessert called "golfeado", which is very similar to a cinnamon bun. Founded in 1843 by German settlers, the city remained isolated from the rest of the world until 1960, a factor that stunted any technological advances and permitted the inhabitants to keep their culture and traditions. The majority of its residents are descendants of Germans and have a Northern European appearance.

The stamps are from a set of 10 stamps, issued in 2009 to celebrate the launch of the satellite Venesat-1, also called Simon Bolivar (and the first Venezuelan telecommunications satellite), a year before.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Inle Lake, Myanmar

My last card for today comes from Myanmar (or Burma). It wasn't mailed directly from there but it's still a nice addition to my collection, and it's a very nice card too.

Inle Lake is a freshwater lake located in the Shan Hills in Myanmar. It is the second largest lake in Myanmar with an estimated surface area of 116 km2, and one of the highest at an altitude of 880 m. During the dry season, the average water depth is 2.1 m, with the deepest point being 3.7 m, but during the rainy season this can increase by 1.5 m.

Although not a large lake, there is a number of endemic species. Over twenty species of snails and nine species of fish are found nowhere else in the world.

The people of Inle Lake (called Intha), some 70,000 of them, live in four cities bordering the lake, in numerous small villages along the lake's shores, and on the lake itself. The entire lake area is in Nyaung Shwe township.

On this postcard you can see Intha fishermen standing a the stern on a slender boat, rowing with one leg "leg rower" on Inle Lake.

This card was mailed from South Korea. The sender, James, did actually visit Myanmar recently and got postcards from there, but apparently it's very difficult to send mail from Myanmar.

The stamp on the left is a definitive stamp issued in 2003, depicting the South Korean flag. The second stamps is a definitive from a set of 2 issued in 2006, depicting birds. These here are Whistling Swans.

Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina

A couple of swap cards to finish off for today, the first one comes from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bihać is a city and municipality on the river Una in the north-western part of Bosnia and Herzegovina and has a population of around 45,500. The town was first mentioned as early as 1260 as property of a church in Topusko, Croatia in a document by the Hungarian-Croatian king Bela IV, and became a free city in 1262. Bihać was the temporary capital of the Croatian Kingdom. During World War II, Bihać, along with the rest of Bosnia, was a part of the Independent State of Croatia. The city also served as headquarters for the Communist army of Josip Broz Tito, the seat of the first AVNOJ session in 1942 and the center of the anti-fascist resistance. As such, it became a target of the occupying powers and the Germans retook it in 1943 and held it until 1945 and their final defeat.

Bihać suffered the destruction of many buildings during the recent Bosnian War, when the area around the city was under siege by the Bosnian Serb forces for over three years, until the summer of 1995 when the siege was broken in the beginning of the Croats' Operation Storm conjoined with Bosnian forces under General Atif Dudaković.

The city and the region are now becoming a viable tourist destination for its natural beauty. The Una river valley where Bihać is situated provides the best route from Zagreb to Dalmatia so the traffic position is also favorable. There's also a yearly regatta held on the Una, as well as the Bihać Summer theatrical event.

The stamps on this card are very nice, I couldn't find any info on them though unfortunately. EDIT: Ana told me both stamps are definitives from a set of 5 stamps representing domestic animals, issued in January 2007...a goat and a cat are here :)

Rukkirahu Lighthouse, Estonia

I have quite a few "postcard pals"; people I regularly swap postcards with. I don't have as many as I used to, though, as I haven't heard from a few people for ages. I suppose they aren't interested anymore then... I love meeting new people this way and getting to know them better. That, and they always send me such lovely postcards! The postcard underneath is one of the latest ones I've received. This one is from Rita in Estonia.

I love postcards of seas, somehow I find them very calming. Lighthouses are always great, too, and the colourful strip on the left is a very nice addition on this card.

Rukkirahu is an island in the Väinameri Sea. Rita tells me that you can see this lighthouse when you travel on a ferry from mainland Estonia to Hiiumaa.

There are some lovely stamps issued in Estonia! I couldn't find much info on the stamp on the left, but it looks like it commemorates the hundred years (in 1996 when the stamp was issued) of Narrow gauge railway in Estonia. The stamp on the right was issued earlier this year with the theme Estonian manor halls, this one here being The Suuremõisa on the Hiiumaa Island.

Volcan Poas National Park, Costa Rica

It's really been an exceptionally good mail day today - I also received this beautiful postcard from Costa Rica today!

Volcan Poas National Park is a National Park that covers an area of approximately 65 km²; the summit is 2,708 m. One of the attractive features about Poás is that you can get all the way to the edge of the crater. The volcano is located in the Central Volcanic Conservation Area located in the Alajuela Province near the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, which encompasses the area around the Poás Volcano. The main crater is 289 m deep and is quite active with frequent small geyser and lava eruptions, however the last major eruptions were during 1952-54. Two more craters make up parts of the park, the extinct Von Frantzuis crater and the Botos crater. Botos is a beautiful cold, green water crater lake with a diameter of 365 m. The Botos crater has not erupted for about 7,500 years. Well-marked trails will take you to see the two inactive craters. The park is frequently closed to visitors because of sulphuric gas emissions. There are a number of indications that the volcano is slowly building towards a new eruption over the last decade.

The park maintains a variety of wild plant and animal species, such as the Poas Magnolia tree, and Bangs's Mountain Squirrel. It is home to many bird species, including the Clay-colored Robin and the Resplendent Quetzal and varieties of hummingbirds, tanagers, flycatchers and toucans.

The stamp is an automated sticker. It's very nice, though - why is it that most countries don't have any pictures on these labels? Having said that, though, I quite like the new UK "faststamps". The only problem is, they are not available in all post offices, and I don't think you can get them anywhere in Wolverhampton. I might try to get some next time I go to Birmingham...

Project Hope, China

Another "project postcard" that arrived today. This one is an official card.


Project Hope is a Chinese public service project organized by the China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF) and the Communist Youth League (CYL) Central Committee. Started in October 30, 1989, it aims to bring schools into poverty-stricken rural areas of China, to help children whose families are too poor to afford it to complete elementary school education. Through Project Hope, the CYDF has also sought to improve educational facilities and improve teaching quality in poorer regions.

The stamp is pre-printed on the card so there's not much to say about it.. except that the flowers look very pretty!


Today's been a very good mail day. ...and weird. This postcard from Tonga is definitely the highlight of the week for me. It did confuse me a bit as well, though..

I received this postcard from a postcard project here. I sent them a card back in, um, April or May perhaps and wasn't too sure if I'd ever get a card back as I guessed they'd probably be swamped with postcards. I'm so excited that I did finally receive a card back! It did take a while to get here, though - the card is dated June 17 and I only received it today.

The card looked a little strange when I picked it up, and I noticed it had another card stuck on its back! It's addressed to someone in Canada, but for some reason it got stuck to my card. I've put it in an envelope and will mail it onwards on Monday. Hopefully then the person will receive it soon. I haven't had anything like that happen to me before!

I had heard of Tonga before, mainly thanks to a friend I used to have on livejournal. She went to study in New Zealand for some months a couple of years ago, and was offered a chance to visit Tonga during her stay there. Apparently Tonga is to New Zealanders a bit like what the Canary Islands are for Finns :O

Tonga is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. It comprises 169 islands, 36 of them inhabited. The Kingdom stretches over a distance of about 800 kilometres in a north-south line located at about a third of the distance from New Zealand to Hawaiʻi. Apart from being the only sovereign monarchy among the island nations of the Pacific Ocean, Tonga is also the only island nation in the region to have avoided formal colonisation.

Tonga has a tropical climate with only two seasons, summer and winter. Most rain falls around February and April. The Cyclone season lasts from November to March. Over 70% of the 101,991 inhabitants of the Kingdom of Tonga live on its main island, Tongatapu. Although an increasing number of Tongans have moved into the only urban and commercial centre, Nukuʻalofa, where European and indigenous cultural and living patterns have blended, village life and kinship ties continue to be important throughout the country.

The stamp is very nice. It looks like it's from a set of 4 stamps issued in 2001, depicting Tongan dances, but with a new postage value printed on. This particular stamp shows Me’etupaki Dance. Performed by men brandishing wooden, paddle-shaped ‘weapons’, this lively dance is accompanied by players beating slit drum ‘nafas’. The dancers wearing traditional costume, are decorated with colourful ‘pandanus kahoas’ or necklaces.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Barra, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

...and here's the final Scotland postcard from Andy. This one shows Barra on the Outer Hebrides.

Kisimul Castle dominates Castlebay, the main settlement of Barra. The most southerly of the Outer Hebrides, Barra is a very attractive island which has been aptly described as the "Hebrides in Miniature". The vessel MV "Lord of the Isles" provides the daily ro-ro link with Oban.

The 2001 census showed that the resident population was 1,078. The area of Barra is roughly 60 square kilometres, the main village being Castlebay (Bàgh a' Chaisteil). Barra is now linked by a man-made causeway to the neighbouring island of Vatersay (Eilean Bhatarsaigh). The Isle of Barra is a predominantly Gaelic-speaking island.

The west of the island has white sandy beaches backed by shell-sand machair and the east has numerous rocky inlets. Barra is abundant with stunning scenery, rare flowers and wildlife, which can be appreciated by coastal or hill walks, drives or cycle rides along the various small roads. Car and bicycle hire are available locally.

Uniquely in Europe, Barra's tiny airport, near Northbay, uses the beach called An Tràigh Mhòr (English: The Big Beach) as a runway. Planes can only land and take off at low tide meaning that the timetable varies. Barra's airport is the only airport in the world to have scheduled flights landing on a beach. The aircraft currently in operation on Barra is the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, flown by Loganair on services to Glasgow and Benbecula from where connections to Stornoway are also available. There are no flights on Sundays.

Shetland, Scotland

Ok, while we're so high up in the north of Scotland, I thought I'd also post about Shetland since one of the cards Andy sent me is from there. I've become more interested in Shetland in the last few months, mainly thanks to Simon King's book "The Shetland Diaries". The descriptions of the wilderness and natural beauty of these remote islands are truly fascinating. Shetland is so far from everywhere and it sounds like something out of this world.

Shetland is an archipelago in Scotland, off the northeast coast. The islands lie to the northeast of Orkney, 280 km from the Faroe Islands and form part of the division between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east. The total area is approximately 1,466 km2. Administratively, the area is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland for which the now-archaic spelling Zetland was used until 1970. The islands' administrative centre and only burgh is Lerwick.

The largest island, known as the "Mainland", has an area of 967 km2, making it the third-largest Scottish island and the fifth-largest of the British Isles.

Out of the approximately 100 islands, only 15 are inhabited. The main island of the group is known as Mainland. The other inhabited islands are: Bressay, Burra, Fetlar, Muckle Roe, Papa Stour, Trondra, Vaila, Unst, Whalsay, Yell in the main Shetland group, plus Foula to the south-west, Fair Isle to the south, and Housay and Bruray in the Out Skerries to the east.

On this postcard you can see P&O ferry St Clair leaving Lerwick. P&O Scottish Ferries operate regular ro-ro sailings to Aberdeen and Stromness from Lerwick. Replica longship Dim Riv in foreground, Bressau in background. St Clair operates to Aberdeen and to Bergen in summer.

Italian Chapel, Lamb Holm, Orkney Islands, Scotland

One more postcard from the Orkney Islands. I just HAD to post this, isn't it a cute little chapel?!

Built during World War 2 by Italian prisoners of war engaged in building the Churchill Barriers, this beautiful little chapel is all that remains of camp 60. Constructed from two Nissen huts, the chapel is situated on the Holm side of Lamb Holm. Lamb Holm is a small uninhabited island in Orkney, and the highly ornate Italian Chapel is the island's main attraction.

Stromness, Orkney Islands, Scotland

Another card from the Orkney Islands...

Stromness is the second-largest town in Orkney after Kirkwall, and is located in the south-west of Mainland in Orkney.

The name "Stromness" is derived from the Norse language. "Strom" refers to the strong tides that rip past the Point of Ness to the south of the town. "Ness" means "headland". Stromness literally means "current headland". In Viking times Stromness was called Hamnavoe, meaning "peaceful" or "safe harbour".

A long-established seaport, it has a population of approximately 2,190 residents. The old town is clustered along the characterful and winding main street, flanked with houses and shops built from local stone, with narrow lanes and alleys branching off it. There is a ferry link from Stromness to Scrabster on the north coast of mainland Scotland.

First recorded as the site of an inn in the 16th century, Stromness became important during the late 17th century, when England was at war with France and shipping was forced to avoid the English Channel. Ships of the Hudson's Bay Company were regular visitors, as were whaling fleets. Large numbers of Orkneymen, notably from Stromness, served as traders, explorers and seamen for both. Stromness Museum reflects these aspects of the town's history (displaying for example important collections of whaling relics, and Inuit artefacts brought back as souvenirs by local men from Greenland and Arctic Canada). An unusual aspect of the town's character is the large number of buildings decorated with displays of whale bones outside them.

Orkney Islands, Scotland

Let's stay on islands. I received this card, and a bunch of other lovely postcards of Scotland from the lovely Andy from postcrossing before I went to Finland and have been meaning to post about this and a few others ever since. This is one of my favourites, probably because it includes a map and it's a panoramic postcard (I'm quite fond of panoramic postcards).

There was some helpful info on the back of the card:

The seventy-plus Orkney Islands lie at latitude of 59°N, with an area of 9700ha a coastline of 920km, and a population of about 21,000. Only 10km at closest from Scotland, Orkney's diverse economy comprises agriculture, fishing, tourism, crafts, whisky and oil. The mild climate is due to the North Atlantic Slope Current and weather systems. There is much to see and do including world class archaelogy, magnificent coastal scenery, wildlife, as well as such things as the Churchill Barries, Old Man of Hoy and St Magnus Cathedral.

Lighthouses in Åland

This very cool lighthouse card arrived a while ago from a swap. Mmmm, I like seeing lighthouses around the world!

The lighthouse on the left is called Lågskär and was built in 1920. It is located in southern Åland, around 20 kilometres south of Mariehamn. In 1696, the first Cairn (a sea mark) was built on the island of Lågskär, but it was destroyed by Russia in 1714 during the Greater Wrath (a period of time in the Finnish history referring to the Russian invasion and subsequent military occupation of Finland from 1714 until the treaty of Nystad 1721). There have been several different lighthouses on the island, the current one was built in 1920. It was automated in 1961.

The middle lighthouse is called Märket. Märket is also a small uninhabited skerry in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland (in the area of the autonomous Åland Islands), which has been divided between two sovereignties since the Treaty of Fredrikshamn of 1809 defined the border between Sweden and Russian Empire as going through the middle of the island. The westernmost land point of Finland is on Märket. The lighthouse is on the Finnish side of the current border, which has been unmanned and automated since 1979. When it was built by the Russians and Finns in 1885 there were no clear maps of the island. After the completion of the lighthouse, it was discovered that it had been built on the Swedish part of the island. As a result, the border was adjusted in 1985 so that the lighthouse is now located on Finnish territory. However, the overall land area given to each country could not change, and neither could the coastline, so as not to interfere with each country's fishing rights.

The lighthouse on the right is called Sälskär and was built in 1865. It's located in northern Åland. The lighthouse was automated in 1949 and has been unmanned since.

Goslar, Germany

Germany is an awfully underrepresented country in this blog. One of the biggest reasons for that is that I don't get as many postcards from there as I used to, and then most of those are multiviews that I don't generally find too inspiring. This one, on the other hand, is very pretty.


Goslar is a historic town in Lower Saxony, Germany. The Old Town of Goslar and the Mines of Rammelsberg are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Goslar has a rich history stretching from the Neolithic via the ancient Saxon times, the Holy Roman German empire, Reformation, Enlightenment, German Nationalism, Emancipation, Militarism, German Imperialism, Democratisation, the National Socialist Dictatorship including Racism & Genocide, the Iron Curtain, up to German reunification. In addition Goslar can field an exciting industrial history.

Salian Emperor Henry I founded the town in the 10th century after the discovery of silver deposits in the nearby Rammelsberg. The wealth derived from silver mining brought Goslar the status of an Imperial City, which attracted the interest of the Holy Roman Emperor.

The Mediæval Imperial Palace of Goslar (Kaiserpfalz) was built in the 11th century and became a summer residence for the emperors, especially Henry III of Germany who visited his favourite palace about twenty times. Henry is buried in Goslar.

Goslar's Mediæval cathedral was built at the same time as the Mediæval Imperial Palace, but only the porch survived; the dome itself was torn down in 1820. Other sights are the town hall (16th century) and the ancient mines of the Rammelsberg, which houses now a mining museum.

I couldn't find any info on the stamp (!!) and I only know a few words of German so all I know is that this stamp was issued in 2008 and commemorates of the 150 years of ... um... zoological work in Frankfurt?