Saturday, 22 October 2011


One more card for today. ...and it's from a new country (to me): Qatar. And it's such a nice, colourful card, too!

The card shows a Qatari girl in traditional jewellery, which looks pretty impressive indeed. I can't help thinking it must be pretty heavy, though...

Qatar, also known as the State of Qatar, is an Arab emirate, in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. A strait of the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island state of Bahrain.

Qatar has been ruled as an absolute monarchy by the Al Thani family since the mid-19th century. Formerly a British protectorate noted mainly for pearling, it became independent in 1971, and has become one of the region's wealthiest states due to its enormous oil and natural gas revenues. In 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani became Emir when he seized power from his father, Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, in a peaceful coup d'état. The most important positions in Qatar are held by the members of the Al Thani family, or close confidants of the al- Thani family. Beginning in 1992, Qatar has built intimate military ties with the United States, and is now the location of U.S. Central Command’s Forward Headquarters and the Combined Air Operations Center.

Qatar has the world's largest per capita production and proven reserves of both oil and natural gas. In 2010, Qatar had the world's highest GDP per capita, while the economy grew by 19.40%, the fastest in the world. The main drivers for this rapid growth are attributed to ongoing increases in production and exports of liquefied natural gas, oil, petrochemicals and related industries. Qatar has the second-highest human development in the Arab World after the United Arab Emirates. In 2009, Qatar was the United States’ fifth-largest export market in the Middle East, trailing behind the U.A.E., Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. With a small citizen population of less than 300,000 people, Qatar workforce comprises expatriates from other Arab nations (20% of population), the Indian subcontinent (India 20%, Nepal 13%, Pakistan 7%, Sri Lanka 5%), Southeast Asia (Philippines 10%), and other countries (5%). Qatar has attracted an estimated $100 billion in investment, with approximately $60–70 billion coming from the U.S in the energy sector. It is estimated that Qatar will invest over $120 billion in the energy sector in the next ten years.

The stamp is from a mini sheet of 18 stamps issued in 2002 to commemorate the Fifa World Cup that year.

Negril Lighthouse, Jamaica

Weird... I thought I'd already posted about this card in this blog but I checked back and nope, I haven't. It must've just been a similar lighthouse postcard, then.. :p I received this one a couple of years ago and it might still be the only postcard I've received directly from Jamaica, written and stamped.

Negril Lighthouse was built in 1894 2.4 km south south east of the westernmost tip of Jamaica by the French company Bubbler & Bernard. It is one of the earliest concrete lighthouses. Its foundation is a tank 4.3 m deep, which is kept filled with water to keep the 20-metre reinforced concrete tower balanced and secured in the event of an earthquake. The tower is topped with a lantern and gallery.

An automatic white light 30 m above sea level flashes every two seconds. The light was operated by gas initially, switching to acetylene in 1956 and solar energy in 1985. Several adjacent one-story frame keeper's houses are staffed.

The site is a well-known attraction of the Negril area, and the lighthouse is maintained by the Port Authority of Jamaica, an agency of the Ministry of Transport and Works.

Such beautiful stamps! The one on the right is from a set of 5 stamps issued in 1995, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Birth of Bob Marley, and the stamp next to it is from a set of 4 bird stamps, also issued in 1995, this one showing the Yellow-billed parrot. The stamp on the left is from a set of 4 stamps issued in 2003 with the theme 'BirdLife International', the stamp here showing the Jamaican Tody. The stamp at the bottom is from a set of 4 stamps from 1995, commemorating 50 years of United Nations.

Plešivica, Croatia

Another beautiful postcard from a dear friend, this time from Nives. I actually received this card a few months ago, but I'm really, really behind with this blog.. :/

Plešivica is a mountain about 40 kilometres from Zagreb. I couldn't really find much info about it, and it all seems quite confusing as there seems to be different spellings, and I'm not sure if I'm reading about the right place as they are apparently also located in different parts of Croatia... hhhmmmm... In any case, it looks like a really beautiful place, I like the foggy view. :)

The stamp is from a set of 4 stamps issued in 2010, representing Croatian Ethnographic Heritage. This one shows Medimurje.

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia

I have a little ongoing project - I'm trying to get a postcard from all different regions of Russia. I still have lots missing but I'm trying to work through the list slowly. Kamchatka is one of the newest regions in my collection, and the three cards Kristina sent me are all amazing.

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is the main city and the administrative, industrial, scientific, and cultural center of Kamchatka Krai, Russia. It has a population of 179,500 (2010).

Petropavlovsk was founded by Danish navigator Vitus Bering, in the service of the Russian Navy. Bering reached Avacha Bay on July 10, 1740 and laid the foundation stone for the harbor town, naming the new settlement "Petropavlovsk" (Peter + Paul) after his two ships, the St. Peter and the St. Paul, built in Okhotsk for his second expedition. The town's location on the sheltered Avacha Bay and at the mouth of the Avacha River saw it develop to become the most important settlement in Kamchatka. It was granted town status on April 9, 1812.

The city is situated on high hills and surrounded by volcanoes. In fact, the horizon cannot be seen clearly from any point in town as volcanoes and mountains are everywhere. Across Avacha Bay from the city is Russia's largest submarine base, the Rybachiy Nuclear Submarine Base, established during Soviet times and still used by the Russian Navy. The city is located 6,766 kilometers from Moscow (about nine hours by plane) and about 2,220 kilometers from Vladivostok.

The stamp on the left is from a set of 2 stamps issued in 2009, to commemorate the 125th Anniversary of the Birth of painter Z.E. Sereryakova. The stamp on the right was issued in 2010 to commemorate the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Kakadu, Australia

An absolutely gorgeous postcard I received from dear Heather last month. I love the colours here!

I've already written about Kakadu here so I won't be repeating that here. On the right you can see some Aboriginal art - isn't it lovely and colourful?!

As usual, the stamps that Heather has used are really beautiful. The ones on the right appear to be from a sheetlet of 20 stamps issued earlier this year, showing coral reefs of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, while the stamps on the left are from a set of 4 stamps, also issued earlier this year, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). ....aaand what makes this card even cooler is the special Quokka stamp cancellation. Thank you SO much, Heather, you're a star!

Seinäjoki, Finland

Every autumn in Finland the Finnish Post celebrates 'Postimerkin päivä' ('Day of the Stamp'). It's been a tradition for as long as I can remember - they had it when I was a child and into stamp collecting, and my grandmother would always try to help me get the special cancellation from her town. Yeah, there's a special cancellation for that day, something I wish they'd do here in the UK as well. Dear Marja (marja2006) was kind enough to send me this card with a matching stamp and the cancellation. :)

This card shows the Town Hall in Seinäjoki. It was designed by Alvar Aalto, a famous Finnish architect. To be honest, though, I'm not too impressed with this building, it simply looks really boring to me. I'm more familiar with Seinäjoki because of Provinssirock, one of the largest and oldest rock festivals in Finland and which I attended a few times when I was younger, about ten or so years ago (is it really that long since I've been there?!).

Marja used a special matching stamp - it looks like the stamp has the Town Hall on it, too, as well as Lakeuden Risti church (also designed by Alvar Aalto). Different towns in Finland have started to have their own stamps in Finland in recent years it seems, which I really like.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Just one more card for today.. but this last card is quite a treat - it's from the Cook Islands, and actually mailed directly from there! I have my postcard pal Sharon from Australia to thank for this treat; she visited Cook Islands this summer and kindly sent me a postcard from there.

The Cook Islands is a self-governing parliamentary democracy in free association with New Zealand. The 15 small islands in this South Pacific Ocean country have a total land area of 240 square kilometres, but the Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers 1,800,000 square kilometres of ocean.

The Cook Islands are in the South Pacific Ocean, north-east of New Zealand, between French Polynesia and American Samoa. There are 15 major islands, divided into two distinct groups: the Southern Cook Islands, and the Northern Cook Islands of coral atolls.

The islands were formed by volcanic activity; the northern group is older and consists of six atolls (sunken volcanoes topped by coral growth). The climate is moderate to tropical.

The main population centres are on the island of Rarotonga (14,153 (census 2006), out of the country's total population of 19,569), where there is an international airport. The chief town, Avarua, on the north coast of Rarotonga, is also the capital of the Cook Islands.

With about 100,000 visitors travelling to the islands in the 2010-11 financial year, tourism is the country's main industry, and the leading element of the economy, far ahead of offshore banking, pearls, and marine and fruit exports.

Defence and foreign affairs are the responsibility of New Zealand, in consultation with the Cook Islands. In recent times, the Cook Islands have adopted an increasingly independent foreign policy. Although Cook Islanders are citizens of New Zealand, they have the status of Cook Islands nationals, which is not given to all New Zealand citizens.

The stamp is from a set of 18 definitives issued in 2010, all depicting flowers.

Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran

Another official from earlier this year, this one is also one of my very few postcards from Iran. ...and it's a Unesco site as well!


The Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran, in the north-west of the country, consists of three monastic ensembles of the Armenian Christian faith: St Thaddeus and St Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor. (The one on this card is St Stepanos.) These edifices - the oldest of which, St Thaddeus, dates back to the 7th century – are examples of outstanding universal value of the Armenian architectural and decorative traditions. They bear testimony to very important interchanges with the other regional cultures, in particular the Byzantine, Orthodox and Persian. Situated on the south-eastern fringe of the main zone of the Armenian cultural space, the monasteries constituted a major centre for the dissemination of that culture in the region. They are the last regional remains of this culture that are still in a satisfactory state of integrity and authenticity. Furthermore, as places of pilgrimage, the monastic ensembles are living witnesses of Armenian religious traditions through the centuries. Source.

The stamps on the right are definitives issued in 2009, while the stamp on the left is also a definitive, issued in 2010 and possibly from a set of 4 (?) stamps depicting fish.

autumn in Austria

Ha! The weather reports were wrong, thank goodness, and it didn't snow here. It has actually been reasonably warm - I haven't had to use my hotwater bottle too many times yet :p I haven't been to West Park to take photos yet, I really need to go at some point.. Meanwhile, here's a pretty autumnal postcard to look at. :)


I have no idea of the exact location of the place on this card, all I know is that it's supposedly a random location somewhere in Austria. ..and such a beautiful place it is, too! I love the colours here, the contrast of the oranges and yellows with the blue of the lake and the mountains (?).

The stamp is a Europa stamp from 2009, that year's theme being 'astronomy'.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Transylvania, Romania

One more card for today, a very nice official I received from Romania this summer.


Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical regions of Crişana, Maramureş, and Romanian part of Banat.

Transylvania is often associated with Dracula (Bram Stoker's novel and its film adaptations, and Vlad the Impaler), and the horror genre in general, while the region is also known for the scenic beauty of its Carpathian landscape and its rich history.

The houses on this card are traditional houses that can be found in Carpathian Mountains. The poem, then, is called 'Soapte Din Transilvania' ('Whispers of Transylvania'). There was a helpful English translation on the back of the card:

At the edge of that dark forest
I chose my house to build
I dance and sing to praise the best
of my companions, my truthful shield
here and far away.

The stamp on the left is from a set of 7 stamps issued in 2005, depicting Romanian Pottery. The stamp on the right is from a set of 4 stamps issued in 2007, showing Romanian Ceramics.

map of Luxembourg

Another older card, this one is an official postcrossing card I received back in 2008. I don't have too many postcards from Luxembourg...


Luxembourg is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland ("good country") in the south. Luxembourg has a population of over half a million people in an area of approximately 2,586 square kilometres. A representative democracy with a constitutional monarch, it is ruled by a grand duke. It is now the world's only remaining sovereign grand duchy. The country has a highly developed economy, with the world's highest GDP (nominal) per capita according to the IMF. Its historic and strategic importance dates back to its founding as a Roman era fortress site and Frankish count's castle site in the Early Middle Ages. It was an important bastion along the Spanish Road when Spain was the principal European power influencing the whole western hemisphere and beyond in the 16th–17th centuries.

Luxembourg is a member of the European Union, NATO, OECD, the United Nations, Benelux, and the Western European Union, reflecting the political consensus in favour of economic, political, and military integration. The city of Luxembourg, the capital and largest city, is the seat of several institutions and agencies of the European Union.

Luxembourg culture is a mix of Romance Europe and Germanic Europe, borrowing customs from each of the distinct traditions. Luxembourg is a trilingual country; German, French and Luxembourgish are official languages. Although a secular state, Luxembourg is predominantly Roman Catholic.

The stamp on the left is from a set of 6 stamps issued in 2001, depicting different Euro coins. The stamp on the right was issued in 2008 in a set of 2 stamps showing children's paintings, with the theme 'Greetings from Luxembourg'.

Bugøynes, Norway

I thought I'd throw in an older card again. This one is from my parents from their trip to northern Norway about two years ago.

Bugøynes (Pykeijä in Finnish) is a fishing community in the very most northeastern tip of Norway, in the municipality of Sør-Varanger in the province of Finnmark, situated by the Varanger Fjord which is a vast bay off the Barents Sea (a part of the Arctic Ocean), near the border with Russia. The village is situated some 500 km north of the Arctic Circle, with nearly 230 inhabitants.

Before the road was built to Bugøynes in 1962, the main link between Bugøynes and the rest of the world was by sea. The most-visited town in those days was Vadsø, on the opposite side of the Varanger Fjord. Although Kirkenes, on the south side of the fjord, was the local administrative centre for Bugøynes, it did not become the centre for shopping until people could reach it by car.

Now most trade in this part of Finnmark takes place in Kirkenes. Workplaces in Bugøynes include fishing, salmon and other fish processing, the processing of reindeer meat and game, as well as slipway and machine workshops.

I seem to remember my parents mentioning visiting a fishing boat or similar where the catch included HUGE crabs - one of them weighed more than 9 kg!

The stamp on the right is from a set of 2 stamps issued in 2009, under the theme 'Norwegian Year of Cultural Heritage'. The stamp here shows a radio. The smaller stamp on the left is from a set of 3 definitives issued in 2001.

Ulm, Germany

I'm not usually too fond of multiviews but this one is a really nice exception and I really, really like this card! I won it in a lottery on the Postcrossing forum a while back. (Speaking of lotteries, I've been lucky enough to win a couple recently so I've been thinking of having my own as well. I've got an idea in mind and if everything goes as planned, I should be able to put it up next weekend. Keep an eye on the lottery section of the forum if you're interested!)

Ulm is a city in the federal German state of Baden-Württemberg, situated on the River Danube. The city, whose population is estimated at 120,000 (2006), forms an urban district of its own and is the administrative seat of the Alb-Donau district. Ulm, founded around 850, is rich in history and traditions as a former Free Imperial City. Today, it is an economic centre due to its varied industries, and it is the seat of a university (University of Ulm, founded in 1967). Internationally, Ulm is primarily known for having the church with the tallest steeple in the world, the Gothic minster (Ulm Minster, German: Ulmer Münster) and as the birthplace of Albert Einstein.

The stamp was issued earlier this year and shows the old town of Regensburg, which is a Unesco site.

Russian cuisine: Tula pryanik and tea

One good thing about autumn and cold days is that they're a perfect excuse for staying at home and drinking lots of tea (not that you need an excuse to drink tea - I drink it all the time :P). This postcard reminds me of such cosy days in. :)

I wonder if drinking black tea with a slice of lemon is a particularly Russian thing to do? I remember when I had just started university in Finland and for about a month I lived in a flat where I shared the kitchen with one more person. She was a lovely Russian-Estonian girl who introduced me to this way of drinking tea. I should try this again, I seem to remember it was really tasty. Mmm...!

Pryanik, then, are traditional gingerbread. Tula pryanik is a type of printed gingerbread from the city of Tula, the most famous kind of Russian gingerbreads. Usually the Tula gingerbread look like a rectangular tile or a flat figure. Modern Tula gingerbreads usually contain jam or condensed milk, while in the old times they were made with honey. Gingerbreads are known in Tula since 17th century. The first mention of the Tula gingerbread is in Tula сensus book of 1685.

I don't think I've ever tried pryaniki.. I'd love to, though, it looks and sounds really delicious! I wonder if it's anything like the Polish gingerbread, Toruń (which are sooo yummy!)..??

Russia is definitely one of my favourite countries when it comes to stamps. Just look at these beauties! The stamp on the right is a Europa stamp from 2005, that year's theme being gastronomy. The small stamp underneath is a definite from 2008 in a set of 15 stamps, this one representing a Fox. The flower stamp in the middle is from a set of 5 stamps issued in 2001, depicting tulips (I hadn't realised the flower on it is a tulip! ooops...), and the small stamp next to it is from a set of 12 definitives issued in 2009, depicting Russian Kremlins, this one here showing the Novgorod Kremlin. The round stamp below, then, is from a set of 5 stamps issued in 2003, depicting Fruits.

City Park, Skopje, Macedonia

Autumn's here again. *sigh* I'm not too excited, even if I do like the colourful leaves in trees. It's just that it's also a lot colder again and I don't like having to freeze all the time. We've had a pretty weird autumn here so far, though - last week it was super warm, some days were actually warmer than in the Caribbean I think, but then this weekend it might snow! :( Anyway, with autumn here again at least it's more appropriate to post about this lovely card here - it didn't seem right earlier this year. :p Dear Ana sent me this beautiful card earlier this year.

This is the City Park in Skopje. Ana tells me it is one of the most frequented destinations in Skopje during nice sunny weekends in the summer, I wonder how popular it is in autumn? It certainly looks lovely! ..and reminds me a bit of West Park, my favourite park in Wolverhampton. It's such a lovely oasis amongst all the houses and urban areas, a bit of nature in this area which otherwise isn't exactly the prettiest place in England. I should visit there again soon, to relax a bit and to take photos again. ;)

The adorable cat stamp was issued in 2007 and the Darwin stamp in 2009. I'm too lazy to check but wasn't 2009 a special year when it comes to Darwin, I mean I remember a set of Darwin stamps being issued in the UK then as well?!