Saturday, 31 July 2010

Sea of Galilee, Israel

Staying by water areas... Isn't this a gorgeous sunrise?!

I find the name of this area quite confusing... In English it's called the Sea of Galilee, but it's not really sea, it's a freshwater area! It's also known as Lake of Gennesaret, Lake Kinneret, Sea of Tiberias or Tiberias Lake. How can 'lake' and 'sea' be used so interchangeably?? I'll use 'Sea of Galilee' here for clarity's sake.

The Sea of Galilee, located near the Golan Heights, is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and it is approximately 53 km in circumference, about 21 km long, and 13 km wide. The lake has a total area of 166 km², and a maximum depth of approximately 43 m. At 209 metres below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake in the world (after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake). The lake is fed partly by underground springs although its main source is the Jordan River which flows through it from north to south.

The smaller stamp is from a set of 4 stamps issued in 2003, representing National symbols, this one here being The Menorah (Candlestick). The second stamp is from a set of 2 stamps issued in 2008, commemorating 60 Years of Friendship between Israel and France.

Burgas, Bulgaria

I'm not very good at geography, although I do think I'm better than my boyfriend's sister who was asking yesterday if Kenya was in Europe (!!!). I did wonder if she was joking... Anyway, I've only just realised that Bulgaria is Turkey's neighbour so I thought it'd be appropriate to post this card next.

It's from a RR on the postcrossing forum, the theme was lighthouses. It took me a while to realise that, but there really is a lighthouse in this card, right at the front. I don't know why, but I was always under the impression that lighthouses were built in fairly remote locations, and this doesn't seem particularly remote to me... Guess I should find out more about that at some point...

Burgas is the second-largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast with population 210,260. It is also the fourth-largest by population in the country, after Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna. It is the capital of Burgas Province and an important industrial, transport, cultural and tourist centre.

Surrounded by the coastal Burgas Lakes and located at the westernmost point of the Black Sea, the large Burgas Bay, Burgas has the largest and most important Bulgarian port. Today, it is a key economic, cultural and tourist centre of southeastern Bulgaria, with the Burgas Airport serving the resorts of the southern Bulgarian coast.

I couldn't find any info about the smaller stamp, but the bigger one is from a set of 2 stamps issued in 2008 with the theme "120 Years of Orient Express".

Sümela Monastery, Turkey

One more official for today... This one comes from Turkey.


Why are so many monasteries located in such strange places? I'm guessing the inaccessible/hard to reach locations are intentional, though...?!

The Sümela Monastery stands at the foot of a steep cliff facing the Altındere valley in the region of Maçka in Trabzon Province, modern Turkey. Lying at an altitude of approximately 1200 metres, it is a major tourist attraction of Altındere National Park. Founded in the year 386 AD during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius I (375 - 395), legend has it that two priests undertook the founding of the monastery on the site after having discovered a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave on the mountain.

During its long history, the monastery fell into ruin several times and was restored by various Emperors. Today the monastery's primary function is as a tourist attraction. Its place overlooking the forests and streams below, make it extremely popular for its aesthetic attraction as well as for its cultural and religious significance. Currently restoration works funded by the Turkish government are taking place.

The stamps are from a set of 10 stamps issued in 2009, depicting Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Warsaw, Poland

Another gorgeous official, this time from Poland.


I've already written about the Warsaw Old Town in this blog so I'm not going to repeat myself. I just HAD to post this card as I absolutely adore it. The atmosphere is great - I love the blue tones and the lights from the buildings. And there's a full moon! The picture looks like it could be from decades ago, very timeless.

It's such a fun card on the back, too, with lots of writing and a nice message, and some super cute drawings (including one of a squirrel! ^_^). I wish I could draw that well, too...

The stamp is from 2001, representing Farms.

Marseille, France

I'm still a bit behind with postcrossing due to Aikido Summer School, I'm slowly trying to catch up. I've received a bunch of lovely officials recently and it's difficult to choose which ones to post here. I have a soft spot for panoramic postcards so this one was a pretty obvious choice.


This is a panoramic view from the Major, to St Jean and St Nicolas forts and Notre Dame de la Garde.

Marseille is the second most-populous city in France (behind Paris), with 852,395 residents as of 2007. It forms the third-largest urban area after those of Paris and Lyon with a population of 1,420,000. Located on the south east coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, Marseille is France's largest commercial port. Marseille is the administrative capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.

The stamps are from a set of 12 food-related stamps issued earlier this year. These ones show Tarte Tatin and Chapon.

Dublin, Ireland

Let's move on... From Tuvalu to somewhere far less exotic and sunny: Ireland. This postcard came from the UK & Ireland RR and is very pretty, I particularly love the colourful doors.

These are Georgian Houses in Dublin. They certainly look very nice! I love the way the house on the right is so well covered by some green plant. I remember a house like that in the town where my grandmother lives, I've always wondered how it would be like to live behind a plant curtain like that. ;)

The stamp is gorgeous! It's from a set of 6 stamps issued earlier this month, representing Irish Fashion Designers. This one is Philip Treacy (well, don't know who the woman is, some model?? :P).

Funafala lagoon side beach, Funafuti, Tuvalu

Now this is something rather different... I never expected I'd receive a postcard from Tuvalu! Not that I really knew anything of the place before now...


The postcard is from the Earth Day 2010 Project, a collaboration between postcrossing and students from Tuvalu. I did comment there so I guess I should've guessed I might eventually receive a card, but I never thought it'd work this way and the UK isn't exactly a rare country with only a few postcrossers, so... I'm very pleased :)

Due to global warming and the rising of sea-level, there are predictions that in the next 50 years the entire population will have to be evacuated. The ocean can swallow Tuvalu whole, making it the first country to be wiped off the map by climate change. This project is to help spread their word about how important it is to reflect and act upon climate change. The project is called "Send Tuvalu to the world" and consists on sending 422 postcards to all over the world sharing their thoughts about Tuvalu. The students organized a painting contest to draw a special stamp to be used in all the postcards, so these are very special indeed.

The view on the card is so beautiful, and there is a cute drawing of an island with palm trees, and a turtle and the sun, drawn by a child named Kashmir. So sweet!

And here is the special stamp!


The Aikido Summer School in Birmingham finished a few days ago. It went really well and for the most part I really quite enjoyed it. I passed my blue belt grading and even got the "Most outstanding female aikidoist of the year" award! I'm still a little dumbfounded by that, I never thought I'd ever get anything like that! It's such an honour.

The postcard here is a sort of landmark, too: it's my 1,000th official received postcrossing postcard! A really nice one, too, with a lovely message at the back.


The photograph was taken by Steve McCurry and shows a man in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Steve McCurry (born February 24, 1950) is an American photojournalist best known for his photograph, "Afghan Girl" that originally appeared in National Geographic magazine. There is actually an exhibition of his photographs going on in Birmingham at the moment, I really want to check it out at some point. I've seen a few of McCurry's photographs and really like them, he's got a talent at capturing emotions in his photographs.

The stamp is from a set of 4 stamps issued in 2009, depicting Endangered or Extinct Species. This one here is the Aurochs.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

The National Library of Finland

Moving on... No more beaches for today. :P I love spending time in libraries and I have to say that generally speaking, Finnish libraries seem a lot better than English ones. They tend to be bigger and maintained better, and most of the services are free. Borrowing books is still free in England (or at least in Wolverhampton and Dudley it is) but you have to pay if you want to borrow cds, dvds or other things like that, which tends to be free in Finland. Well, at least the selection of books in English is better here. ;)

I received this gorgeous postcard from the Finnish Summer RR on the postcrossing forum. It's been such a fun RR so far and I've received a lot of great cards.

The National Library of Finland (Finnish: Kansalliskirjasto, Swedish: Nationalbibliotek) is the foremost research library in Finland. Organizatorily, the library is part of the University of Helsinki. Until 1 August 2006, it was known as the Library of the University of Helsinki.

In addition to being the most important of the libraries of the University of Helsinki, the National Library is responsible for storing the Finnish cultural heritage. By Finnish law, the National Library is entitled to receive five copies of all matter printed in Finland. These copies are then distributed by the Library to its own national collection and to reserve collections of four other university libraries. In addition, the National Library has the right to store in to its collection any material published on the Internet.

Any person domiciled in Finland may register as a user of the National Library, and after this, borrow library material for home use. The publications in the national collection, however, are not loaned outside the library. The library contains one of the most comprehensive collections of books published in the Russian Empire of any library in the world.

The National Library is located in a library complex in the heart of Helsinki, right by Senaatintori square. The oldest part of the complex, designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, dates back to 1844. The newer extension Rotunda dates to 1903. The bulk of the collection is, nonetheless, stored in Kirjaluola (Finnish for Bookcave), a 57,600-cubic-metre underground bunker drilled into solid rock, 18 metres below the library.

Anapa, Russia

Okay... Since today's theme seems to be "beautiful sceneries", here's one more card to add to this theme. If you couldn't see the text at the bottom, would you guess the card shows a place in Russia? I know I wouldn't; it looks more like somewhere in the Mediterranean area!

...but it IS definitely in Russia. I can't read Russian but there's a helpful English explanation on the back of the card.

Anapa is a town in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, located on the northern coast of the Black Sea near the Sea of Azov. It had a population of 53,493 in 2002. It boasts a number of sanatoria and hotels; along with Sochi and several other cities along the Russian coast of the Black Sea, it has enjoyed a substantial increase in popularity since the fall of the Soviet Union, which left traditional Soviet resort cities in Crimea and the breakaway republic of Abkhazia in Georgia on the other side of a national border.

Anapa, like the other Black Sea coast resorts, has a superb sunny summer climate. Anapa shows beautiful (and mostly sandy) beaches. However, Anapa seldom attracts vacation-goers from outside Russia due to its modest infrastructure and its inconvenient accessibility from Western Europe via Moscow or Krasnodar.

The bigger stamp is from the Europa series, this year's theme being Children's Books and this is the Russian contribution to the series. The stamp in the middle is from a set of 2 stamps issued in 2009, depicting Symbol of St Petersburg. This one here is the Ship of Admiralty steeple. The stamp on the left is from a set of 15 definitive stamps issued in 2008, showing animals, this one here being the Elk.

There was something else on the card that made me shake my head... The postman/mail sorter/whoever has scribbled "NOT xxx Street" on the card. There's a street with that name in my town, I live on the ROAD with the same name. How difficult is it to tell them apart, especially when the postcodes are different and the sender's handwriting is very clear?! *facepalm* This has happened before but I still can't quite understand it.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Moving on to another gorgeous location, Vietnam. I've seen so many wonderful postcards from there but haven't received too many unfortunately... This one came from a swap (and is actually NOT from Jo, who seems to send out most postcrossing cards from Vietnam).

This postcard shows Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a popular travel destination, located in Quảng Ninh province, Vietnam. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. Ha Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bái Tử Long bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà islands to the southwest. These larger zones share similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate, and cultural characters.

Ha Long Bay has an area of around 1,553km2, including 1,960 islets, most of which are limestone. The core of the bay has an area of 334km2 with a high density of 775 islets. The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate. The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea shore biosystem. Ha Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 endemic faunal species.

Historical research surveys have shown the presence of prehistorical human beings in this area tens of thousands years ago. The successive ancient cultures are the Soi Nhụ culture around 18,000-7,000 BC, the Cái Bèo culture 7,000-5,000 BC and the Hạ Long culture 3,500-5,000 years ago. Ha Long Bay also marked important events in the history of Vietnam with many artifacts found in Bài Thơ Mout, Đầu Gỗ Cave, Bãi Cháy.

The stamp is from a set of 4 stamps issued in 2009, showing Ornamental Fish. This one here is Centropyge flavissima, I have no idea of the possible English name.

Hong Kong

Another country I'd really like to visit one day is Hong Kong. A friend of mine, Miranda, is originally from there, and actually only just got back two days ago from a holiday there (she brought me some Chinese tea, mmmmmm!!). It seems like such a surreal place, completely out of this world and very modern but at the same time it looks like it also has a very old-fashioned, traditional side to it.


The description on the front of the postcard doesn't make much sense to me... The place looks really beautiful, though, and so different from the views you usually see from Hong Kong.

The stamp is from 2006 from a set of 16 definitives representing birds, this one here being the Red Whiskered Bul Bul.

Kandy, Sri Lanka

The next few days I won't be online too much... I've got Aikido Summer School in Birmingham, from 10am until 4pm until Wednesday. It's only five days in total this year so it's a bit easier than previously, but I'm probably still going to be stupidly tired by the end of it (I'm already tired.. need sleep... zzzzzz). I thought I'd try updating this blog at least today, though, to get my mind off aikido temporarily (I'm freaking out quite a bit as I'll be grading and I'm really nervous.. >_<).

So... from the rainy West Midlands we move to the sunny island of Sri Lanka. As I've mentioned before, I'm rather fascinated with this country as I used to have a penpal there and all the things she told me and the pictures she showed me... whoa! Dinushka (this ex-penpal) mentioned Kandy a few times as well as it was a very important place for here. She once sent me a postcard from there but here's another one I received recently.

The picture here is from Kandy Perehara. It is a famous annual event in which one of the inner caskets used for covering the tooth relic of Buddha is taken in a grand procession through the streets of the city. This casket is taken on a royal tusker. The procession includes traditional dancers and drummers, flag bearers of the provinces of the old Kandyan kingdom, the Nilames (lay custodians of temples ) wearing their traditional dresses, torch bearers and also the grandly attired elephant. This ceremony which is annually held in the months of July or August, attracts large crowds from all parts of the country and also many foreign tourists. Over a hundred elephants parade the streets during this event.

Thank you Ravindra for this beautiful postcard!

The stamp is from a set of 16 stamps issued in 2007, depicting Constellations. This one here is the Aquarius.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Old Bazaar, Skopje, Macedonia

Another postcard from the swap with Anja, and another one showing the Old Bazaar.

I don't really have anything to add here, I'd just like to say again that the architecture looks so cool, these pictures make me think of lazy days and old times when you didn't have to worry about all the modern crap.

The stamp is from a set of 4 (+1 mini sheet) issued in 1999 under the title of "Cultural Heritage" and they all portray different icons. This one shows an icon of Jesus Christ from the monastery Preobrazenie (Преображение) in Zrze, which is around 30 km away from the city of Prilep.

Skopje, Macedonia

I've learned so much through postcrossing. It's such a fun way of learning about different countries and cultures (and other random things, too :D). For instance, I didn't really know anything about Macedonia before postcrossing. I still know very little, but that's still better than nothing. :)

This card came from a swap with Anja in Macedonia. The postcards I chose all turned out to be of the Old Bazaar of Skopje, but it IS a very beautiful-looking place so I don't mind.

The Old Bazaar is one of the largest bazaars in the Balkans and the largest in Macedonia. Situated on the eastern bank of the Vardar River, the bazaar had been the city's centre for trade and commerce since at least the 12th century. It rapidly grew and reached its peak during Ottoman rule, evidenced by over 30 mosques, several caravanserais, and other Turkish buildings and monuments. The commerce hub of Skopje has since become Centar Municipality, just across the river. Although Islamic architecture is predominant in the bazaar, there are several churches as well.

I love the architecture there, it looks so charming, and it looks like such a great mix of east and west. That, plus I'd love to wander around these narrow lanes and explore the shops. :)

I couldn't find any info about the stamp so I just know it was issued in 2000. Anja says that the brooch is an example of the things you can find in the Old Bazaar. EDIT: Ana gave me some more info :) It's a "Cultural Heritage" stamp from 2000, from a set of 4 stamps. It represents a brooch from the 19th/20th century from the city of Bitola.

Dawna Street, Warsaw, Poland

I can't really understand why they seem to publish so many rather boring viewcards in Poland, when there are lots of beautiful places and little details to use in cards instead. ..although I have to say they do that in a lot of other countries as well, in England too. Do the majority of people really want ugly postcards instead of nice ones? Or do they just not care? Anyway... A while ago I received two truly gorgeous postcards from Poland, makes me wonder why there aren't more like them available.

This is one of the cards, showing Dawna Street (Ulica Dawna) in the capital of Poland, Warsaw. It's so cute and colourful! It seems like this place is located in the Warsaw Old Town, which is also a Unesco site. Dawna Street seems to be the shortest street in Warsaw. This terrace is called Gnojna Mount (gnoj in Polish means dung) as till the 1774 gigantic dumping functioned here. (info)

Warsaw's Old Town is the oldest historic district of the city. It is bounded by Wybrzeże Gdańskie, along the bank of the Vistula, and by Grodzka, Mostowa and Podwale Streets. It is one of Warsaw's most prominent tourist attractions. The heart of the area is the Old Town Market Place, with its restaurants, cafés and shops. Surrounding streets feature medieval architecture such as the city walls, the Barbican and St. John's Cathedral.

Warsaw's Old Town was established in the 13th century. Initially surrounded by an earthwork rampart, prior to 1339 it was fortified with brick city walls. The town originally grew up around the castle of the Dukes of Mazovia that later became the Royal Castle. The Market Square (Rynek Starego Miasta) was laid out sometime in the late 13th or early 14th century, along the main road linking the castle with the New Town to the north.

During the Invasion of Poland (1939), much of the district was badly damaged by the German Luftwaffe, which targeted the city's residential areas and historic landmarks in a campaign of terror bombing. Following the Siege of Warsaw, parts of the Old Town were rebuilt, but immediately after the Warsaw Uprising (August-October 1944) what had been left standing was systematically blown up by the German Army. A statue commemorating the Uprising, "the Little Insurgent," now stands on the Old Town's medieval city wall.

After World War II, the Old Town was meticulously rebuilt. As many of the original bricks were reused as possible. The rubble was sifted for reusable decorative elements, which were reinserted into their original places. Bernardo Bellotto's 18th-century vedute, as well as pre-World-War II architecture students' drawings, were used as essential sources in the reconstruction effort.

The stamps on the envelope were wonderful. They are from a set of 4 stamps issued in 2003, depicting Birds of Prey, more specifically ospreys.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Vilnius, Lithuania

I have been looking for this postcard for a while. When I first saw it it really struck me with its originality and slight spookiness. I finally received it this week as I was lucky enough to be "tagged" with it on the postcrossing forum.

These three women are actually statues - something I didn't realise when I first saw this card; I thought they were real people! But no, these women are statues on the marquee of the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre. This theatre is one of the biggest theatres in Lithuania. Since its establishment in 1940, it has staged over 200 performances. The theatre's current repertoire mixes classical and modern theatre with material by contemporary Lithuanian playwrights (Sigitas Parulskis, Herkus Kunčius and others). The theatre is located in the heart of Vilnius Old Town, a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The stamp is from a set of 3 stamps issued earlier this year, representing Coats of Arms of Lithuanian Towns, this one here being Varena.

Vatican City

Moving on, from trains to something quite different... This card arrived this week from a swap with Rita in Italy, she was visiting Vatican and offered to send me a written and stamped postcard from there.

Here you can see St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. It's strange, it doesn't look *that* huge in this postcard. Maybe it's from a different angle or something...?

This postcard is actually quite topical as well, as the Pope is coming to visit the UK soon. I would actually have a fair bit to say about that, but this isn't the place for religious ranting so I'm leaving it to my other journal.

And why is this postcard so special? Because it's written and stamped in Vatican! I was quite surprised (and pleased) that the stamp doesn't show the Pope, but is instead from a set of 2 stamps issued in 2009, the theme being astronomy.

Minehead, England

Since I'm on the theme of trains, I thought I'd post this card next as it's vaguely train-related as well. It's a publicity poster from the 1950/60's.

My lovely friend Phillippa from Postcrossing sent me this card - she and her boyfriend have recently been on holiday in South Wales and England and Pip was kind enough to send me this lovely postcard. I'm rather fond of this kind of vintage/nostalgia ad cards, they are so charming!

Minehead is a coastal town in the north-west of the English county of Somerset. It lies on the Bristol Channel coast, 34 km north-west of the county town of Taunton, 19 km from the border with the county of Devon and very close to the area of Exmoor National Park. Minehead has a population of approximately 10,330 making it the largest town in the West Somerset area.

Since Victorian times, tourism has been a part of Minehead's economy. Minehead is the location of one of the three remaining Butlins camps in the UK. At the height of the season in late July and early August, Minehead's population significantly increases with an influx of tourists.

Speaking of trains and tourism, I find it rather sad (and annoying!) that train travel in the UK is so expensive for the most part, even if you book your tickets weeks (or even months!) in advance. There is all this talk about climate change and "being green", but train companies definitely aren't helping here. A lot of people prefer to use their own cars as it's cheaper than travelling by train. I also read an article in some newspaper a while ago - they had done a study according to which it is often cheaper to go on holiday abroad rather than have a holiday in the UK. That just doesn't sound right, but I also don't think ordinary people should be blamed if they go for the cheaper option as the current economic situation in this country is so bad and a lot of people don't have lots of spare cash.

The stamp is the Welsh first class definite stamp. It's so much cooler than the English one! I was actually in Swansea (in south Wales) yesterday but didn't have a chance of going to any post office so I couldn't get any of these stamps myself.

Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Poland

..and I continue with the train theme. :) This one came as an official, too. The train looks so cute - so colourful!


This postcard shows the last station of Warsaw Suburban Railway, which is in Grodzisk Mazowiecki. Grodzisk Mazowiecki is a town in central Poland with 26,881 inhabitants (in 2006). It is located 30 km southwest of Warsaw.

Warsaw Suburban Railway (WKD; Warszawska Kolej Dojazdowa) is a suburban light rail line in Poland's capital city of Warsaw. The line, together with its two branches, links Warsaw with the municipalities of Michałowice, Pruszków, Brwinów, Podkowa Leśna, Milanówek and Grodzisk Mazowiecki to the south-west of Warsaw.

The line was opened on 11 January 1927 as Elektryczna Kolej Dojazdowa (Electrical Suburban Railway), and received its current name in 1951. It was the first electric railway in Poland and the first one with automatic colour light signalling, supplied by the Swedish firm Signalbolaget.

The stamp on the left is from a set of 3 stamps issued in 2002, representing Polish cities, this one here being the Cathedral of Gniezno, showing the coffin with relics of St Adalberg. I couldn't find any info about the second stamp but it was issued in 1999.

Qinghai–Tibet railway and Yangtze River, China

I really have been lucky recently in that I've received so many wonderful official cards from Postcrossing. I haven't received anything from China for a while now, which is a bit strange considering how many users there are in that country. Well, I got this very nice card from China a few days ago. I love the colours in this one!


The card shows Qinghai–Tibet railway and Yangtze River. The Qinghai–Tibet railway is a high-altitude railway that connects Xining, Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, in People's Republic of China. The total length of Qingzang railway is 1956 km. This railway is the first to connect China proper with the Tibet Autonomous Region, which, due to its altitude and terrain, is the last province-level entity in mainland China to have a conventional railway. Passenger trains run from Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xining and Lanzhou.

The line includes the Tanggula Pass, which, at 5,072 m above sea level, is the world's highest rail track. The 1,338 m Fenghuoshan tunnel is the highest rail tunnel in the world at 4,905 m above sea level. The 4,010-m Guanjiao tunnel is the longest tunnel from Xining to Golmod and the 3,345-m Yangbajing tunnel is the longest tunnel from Golmod to Lhasa. More than 960 km, or over 80% of the Golmud-Lhasa section, is at an altitude of more than 4,000 m. There are 675 bridges, totalling 159.88 km, and about 550 km of the railway is laid on permafrost.

The Yangtze River, or Chang Jiang is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. The river is about 6,300 kilometres and flows from its source in Qinghai Province, eastwards into the East China Sea at Shanghai.

As the largest river in the region, the Yangtze is historically, culturally, and economically important to China. One of the dams on the river, the Three Gorges Dam, is the largest hydro-electric power station in the world. The section of the river flowing through deep gorges in Yunnan province is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas: a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I've seen a lot of very beautiful Chinese stamps and these are no exception. They are actually on both sides of the back of the card but I had to scan them separately... The more colourful stamps are from a set of 4 stamps issued in 2007, showing Mianzhu Woodprints, which are also included on Chinese Cultural Heritage List. The green stamp is from a set of 6 definitives issued in 2002 with the theme "Protecting the common homeland", and the red one is printed directly on the postcard.

Oranmore, Co. Galway, Ireland

The British Isles community on the postcrossing forum is a lot of fun. The latest RR I participated in has been particularly great - I've already received quite a few lovely postcards!

Brian who sent me this card tells me that there are a lot of pubs like this in the west of Ireland. Doesn't it look pretty, too?! It's SO much nicer than my local Wetherspoons in Wolverhampton where I usually go with friends if we decide to go to a pub. I'm not a huge fan of pubs in general but I don't mind if I'm with good friends. I don't really drink alcohol and it always makes me annoyed that pubs tend to charge more for soft drinks than beer. WHY?!? Especially when you consider that unless the soft drink (mainly coke) is from a bottle or a can, it's very cheap to the pub. Ggrrrrr..!

There were some very nice stamps on the card, too, different from the stamp I usually see on mail from Ireland. The stamp on the left is from a set of 3 definitive stamps issued in 2008, depicting wild flowers of Ireland. This one here is the Thrift. The stamp in the middle is from a set of five stamps, "Irish Wild Flower Definitives II" (I'm not sure about the year of issue). This one here shows the Fly orchid. The stamp on the right is from a set of 10 stamps issued in 2009, commemorating An Post's (Ireland Post) Silver Jubilee year. I'm not sure what this particular stamp is supposed to represent...

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

This wonderful postcard from the Netherlands only arrived today, but it's so pretty that I had to post it here as well.


I just love the atmosphere in this card. The lights and the purple colours make it seem like something out of this world. That, plus the houses are super cute; I love these narrow houses with lots of windows. It really makes me want to visit Amsterdam! My sister went there some years ago and really loved the city, I think I would probably like it too. :)

This stamp is the most common stamp on my mail from the Netherlands. It's from a set of 2 definitive stamps issued in 2009.

Peterhof, St Petersburg, Russia

I'm getting rather annoyed with the size of pictures in this blog if I just upload them from my computer. I'm going to try uploading them off my flickr instead and see if that's any better; I'd like to have the pictures of the postcards a bit bigger!


This official from Russia arrived a few days ago and I really, really like it. I'm quite fond of black and white cards in general, and they often seem to show places and people from a slightly different angle. I love the minimalism of this card and the atmosphere in it. I wouldn't have guessed the picture is from Peterhof in St Petersburg unless the sender hadn't told me!

Peterhof is said to be the Russian "Versailles", and the capital of Russian fountains. Having seen more pictures of the place and read more about it since joining Postcrossing (hurrah for postcrossing teaching me more about the world! This is so much more fun than history or geography lessons back at school!) I can totally agree.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Austrian library

I haven't receive just one, but TWO library-themed postcards so far this week! *squee* I just wish this one was a bit clearer about the name of the library and where it's located. ...or maybe it's clear if you speak German, but I don't, so I'm a bit lost. :(


If I'm correct, this card shows the library in St. Florian's Priory, a monastery in the town of Sankt Florian, Upper Austria, Austria. Or at least it looks very similar. There's more info here. I haven't copied and pasted it here in case I got the place wrong...

Austrian mailboxes like to take a walk in the nature... :D The bigger stamp was issued earlier this year for Publicity Campaign 2010. The stamp on the left is from a set of 5 stamps issued in 2007, depicting flowers. This one here is the Scotch Laburnum.

State Library of New South Wales, Australia

Being the bookworm I am, it is always a treat to receive postcards showing libraries around the world.


The library here is the State Library of New South Wales in Australia (also shown with special Christmas lights). It is a large public library owned by the state of New South Wales and it is located in Sydney.

The public library started as the 'Australian Subscription Library' in 1826. It was then taken over by the New South Wales Government in 1869 and became the 'Sydney Free Public Library'. In 1895 it was renamed the 'Public Library of New South Wales' until its most recent name change in 1975, when it became the 'State Library of New South Wales'.

The library contains over 4.7 million items including more than 2 million books, 1.2 million microforms, 1.1 million photographs, as well as newspapers, maps, architectural plans, manuscripts and other items. As well as being a general purpose reference and research library, it contains many historically significant collections dating from the European colonisation of Australia, including accounts from Australian explorers and other pioneers, paintings and sketches, and many other historical records. These are held in the Australiana research collections known as the Mitchell (named for David Scott Mitchell) and Dixson libraries, housed within the State Library precinct. The collections grow through purchase and other acquisitions of material, and legal deposit for all books published in New South Wales.

I'm a little confused with the stamps... Why are they put on the card like this?? I'd like to see the bottom one as well, especially as it doesn't seem to be from the usual overseas stamps range. :(