Saturday, 29 January 2011

Hell, Norway

One more card for today.. a postcard from Hell!

I had this postcard in my favourites for a very long time, I'm so happy to finally have it! It's not mailed directly from Hell (now there's a sentence I never thought I would write :D), but it's still a treasure, and a very beautiful card with the strong colours of the sunset.

Hell is a village in Lånke, Stjørdal, Norway with a population of about 1500 people. It has become a minor tourist attraction because of its name, as visitors often have their photograph taken in front of the station sign. The station sign reads "Gods-expedition", an archaic Norwegian spelling of the word for "cargo handling" - godsekspedisjon would be the current spelling.

The name Hell stems from the Old Norse word hellir, which means "overhang", "cliff cave". The Norwegian word hell in its everyday usage means "luck", in any way pronounced. The Old Norse word Hel is the same as today's English Hell, and as a proper noun, Hel was the ruler of Hel. In modern Norwegian the word for hell is helvete.

The station itself, Hell Station, is situated at a railway junction where the rail line Nordlandsbanen north to Bodø branches off from Meråkerbanen between Trondheim and Storlien in Sweden. Hell station is currently a manned railway station.

Hell is a post town with two post codes: 7517 for delivery route addresses and 7570 for P. O. Boxes. Hell currently has a grocery store, gas station and a retirement home (ah yeah, you could retire in Hell!).

It's a bit unnerving how much the Hell railway station reminds of the railway station in Savonlinna. It looks quite similar, but the one in Savonlinna has been closed for years now. I don't know if things have changed since I moved away, but I remember when they closed it, it became very difficult to buy train tickets as the Finnish state-owned railway company refused to install a ticket machine there. You could buy tickets from a kiosk there if I remember correctly, but they charged a fee to do that, and it had to be done a few days in advance, same as with buying a ticket online (and what were you supposed to do if you didn't have a printer?!). I would usually just buy my ticket on the train as it still cost the same, but that wasn't always ideal as that way you couldn't get a guaranteed seat in the second, much busier train. I'm SO glad I don't live in Savonlinna anymore, although overall I much prefer the Finnish railway network to the system here in the UK, over here it's a total mess and I can hardly ever afford trains over here.

Anyway, back to the postcard... The stamp is from a set of 6 stamps issued in 2009 with the theme Tourism. The stamp here shows Stottafjorden in Meloy, Nordland.

Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, Denmark

I don't have many postcards from Denmark, which is a little strange considering it's so near to Finland. I know in Sweden postage is really expensive, which has to be one of the reasons why there aren't many postcrossers there, but I don't know what the case with Denmark is? Maybe the stamp prices again - I just did a quick online conversion and it seems like it cost almost one pound to mail this card. Geez...! Well, this very nice official arrived earlier this week, thank you Rita!


Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse in Jutland Denmark started life on December 27, 1900 (construction started in 1899). The lighthouse is on the top of Lønstrup Klint (cliff), 60 metres above sea level. Until 1908 it operated on gas which it produced from a gasworks on the site. It ceased to operate on August 1, 1968.

Shifting sands and coastal erosion led to the buildings being abandoned in 2002. Prior to their abandonment, the buildings had been used as a museum and coffee shop. The small buildings are now partially buried in sand, and by 2009 the small buildings had been severely damaged by the pressure of the sand.

The stamp is from a set of 2 stamps issued in 2010, depicting Nordic Coastlines. This one here is the Port of Aarhus.

Warsaw, Poland

And now, a slightly different postcard from Warsaw, Poland...

The title on the card translates as "Greetings from Warsaw". This card shows monuments and buildings all over the city. Most of them are in Old Town and near it. Mermaid is a symbol of the city. The legend says she promised to protect the city, which is why she has a sword and shield.

The stamp is from 2001, representing Farms.

Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, Dunsborough, Western Australia

Another gorgeous viewcard, this time from Australia, sent by the lovely Heather.

Three views from Cape Naturaliste: Sugarloaf Rock (left), Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, height 20 metres, elevation 123 metres above sea level (middle), and sunset viewed from walk trails at Cape Naturaliste (right), Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park.

Cape Naturaliste is a headland in the south western region of Western Australia at the western edge of the Geographe Bay. It is the northernmost point of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge which was named after the cape.

Cape Naturaliste is also the site of a lighthouse which was activated in 1904. It is a 20 m high cylindrical tower built of limestone that still uses its original first order Fresnel lens made by Chance Brothers. The lighthouse was constructed of limestone quarried from nearby Bunker Bay, which was also known as the "Quarries".

Great stamps, too! They are from a set of 4 stamps issued in 2010, showing Macquarie Island, a sub-antarctic island of the Australian Antarctic Territory. Listed as a World Heritage Area, the island plays host to a range of marine wildlife in spring and summer each year. There is also a permanently occupied station run by the Australian government.

The Southern Alps, New Zealand

Another week gone by.. and it's been a pretty good week, too. I've been to aikido and am actually enjoying it, I hope it'll last...! I've also been working on my crazy rainbow-striped crochet bag and got addicted to Being Human again - I've been watching season 2 and love it, I'm really excited about the third season. :) Mmmmm, yes, and I have also received some very nice postcards. :) This one from New Zealand arrived a couple of weeks ago, and I really like it. Isn't it a gorgeous view? I love the light here, and the full moon in the sky.

Here you can see moonrise over Mt Tasman (left) and Aoraki/Mt Cook, the two highest peaks in the Southern Alps at 3498 metres and 3754 metres respectively, seen here above the rainforest south of Okarito on the West Coast.

The Southern Alps is a mountain range which runs along the western side of the South Island of New Zealand. It forms a natural dividing range along the entire length of the South Island. The term "Southern Alps" generally refers to the entire range, although separate names are given to many of the smaller ranges that form part of it.

The range is often known in New Zealand as the Main Divide, as it effectively separates the more heavily populated eastern side of the island from the west coast. Politically, the peaks of the Southern Alps form the boundary of the Canterbury and West Coast Regions.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Dominican Republic

One more card for today, a map card of the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic is divided into thirty–one provincias (provinces; singular provincia), while the national capital, Santo Domingo, is contained within its own Distrito Nacional ("National District"). The division of the country into provinces is laid down in the constitution and enacted by law. The latter is currently Law 5220 on the Territorial Division of the Dominican Republic, issued 1959 and frequently amended to create new provinces and lower–level administrative units.

The provinces are the first–level administrative subdivisions of the country. The headquarters of the central government's regional offices are normally found in the capital cities of provinces. The president appoints an administrative governor for each province but not for the Distrito Nacional. The provinces are divided into municipalities (municipios), which are the second–level political and administrative subdivisions of the country.

What makes this card so interesting is that it was actually mailed from Haiti! There's no actual stamp but you should be able to read the cancellation. It took this card almost three months to arrive, but to be honest, I'm surprised it arrived at all, considering all the problems and issues Haiti has been having (and still has). I do hope things will get better there soon.

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada

This is one of the first official postcrossing cards I've received this year, and also one of my favourites. I always love receiving postcards from Canada (not sure why.. maybe because it's one of those countries that I think I would like living in?), AND this one also has a lighthouse on it. :)


Peggys Cove (2009 population: approx. 46), also known as Peggy's Cove from 1961 to 1976, is a small rural community located on the eastern shore of St. Margarets Bay in Nova Scotia's Halifax Regional Municipality. Peggy's Cove is 43 kilometres southwest of downtown Halifax and comprises one of the numerous small fishing communities located around the perimeter of the Chebucto Peninsula. The community is named after the cove of the same name, a name also shared with Peggys Point, immediately to the east of the cove. The village marks the eastern point of St. Margaret's Bay.

Peggy's Cove is one of the busiest tourist attractions in Nova Scotia and is a prime attraction on the Lighthouse Trail scenic drive. The community's famous lighthouse marks the eastern entrance of St. Margarets Bay and is officially known as the Peggys Point Lighthouse. Peggy's Cove has a classic red-and-white lighthouse still operated by the Canadian Coast Guard. The light station is situated on an extensive granite outcrop at Peggys Point, immediately south of the village and its cove.

SUCH nice stamps, too! The small one on the left is from a set of 5 stamps from last year, showing Historic Watermills in Canada. The other two stamps were issued earlier this month to commemorate the Year of the Rabbit.

Tavira, Portugal

I've done a few quite big postcard swaps with Miceu in Portugal before and did one again not long ago. This card is from this latest swap.

I have a soft spot for Algarve as that was the first place abroad I've been to. I think I was about six or seven years old when my grandma took me there. Ahh, sun and ice cream.. I also remember spending a lot of time in the hotel's swimming pool, visiting a water park where I didn't feel so good, and a trip to 'Land's End' with some other people, and for some reason I still remember eating jelly babies on my way there. O_o I do wonder sometimes how my brain works... :P

I don't think I ever went to Tavira... It is a small town in Tavira Municipality, Algarve, with ca. 10 607 inhabitants. I love the colours on this card - the blue sky, white and red/brown buildings and the purple, blossoming trees. So pretty!

The stamps on the envelope are from a set of 4 stamps issued in 2008 under the theme 'International Year of Planet Earth'.

Baltic Sea

A slightly different map card I received in a swap from Finland...

The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and the Little Belt. The Kattegat continues through Skagerrak into the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The Baltic Sea is connected by man-made waterways to the White Sea via the White Sea Canal, and to the North Sea via the Kiel Canal. The Baltic Sea might be considered to be bordered on its northern edge by the Gulf of Bothnia, on its northeastern edge by the Gulf of Finland, and on its eastern edge by the Gulf of Riga. However, these various gulfs can be considered to be simply offshoots of the Baltic Sea, and therefore parts of it.

The small stamps are from a set of 6 definitives issued in 2008, with the theme 'water & landscape views'. The bigger stamp is from 2008 as well and shows a snowflake. The stamp is actually transparent, although you can't really see that here.

tea pause

I must have already mentioned that I love tea, so it's probably quite obvious that I collect tea-related postcards. This card had been in my favourites for a while, and I recently received it as a complete surprise from a very nice postcrosser, Liisa, in Finland. Thank you so much, this is a real treat (also because of the stamps, but more about those later)!

I've been drinking even more tea lately as I've been working on that big translation assignment, and I don't seem to be able to translate without tea. :P I tend to have stronger black teas in the morning and earlier on in the day, and when it gets later I often switch to green or white tea. It's probably more a mental thing but I do need black tea in the mornings, I just don't consider myself as having properly waken up without it. ...and even when I don't have many breaks during translating, at least I have to take short breaks to make myself more tea. :)

...and here is why this card is even more special - it was mailed from Åland! I honestly have no idea how Liisa does this or how she got me a special Christmas cancellation so many days AFTER Christmas, but I'm very impressed. And she used the Inge Löök Christmas stamp!! The stamp next to it is from a set of 3 stamps issued in 2004, depicting animals. This one here is the Stoat. The stamp underneath is from a set of 2 stamps issued in 2002, representing Batrachians and Reptiles. This one shows the Smooth snake.

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

I don't normally have any luck in lotteries and such, which is also why I never buy scratch cards - what's the point when I'm not going to win anything? :P ..sooo, I was really surprised when I recently won a lot of goodies in a lottery on the postcrossing forum. ..and it was hosted by Shinta, a wonderful Indonesian postcrosser. :) To celebrate, I started my own lottery today. It's here if you want to join. :) Well, that lottery is also to celebrate the fact that I finally finished my big translation assignment yesterday. Or I hope I did, if the client doesn't want any extra work done and is happy with what I've done...

This is one of the many postcards Shinta sent me. This is one of my favourites - I love seeing street views and ordinary life on postcards (wish I could find such cards here, too...).

Yogyakarta is renowned as a centre of classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, and puppet shows. It is also famous as a centre for Indonesian higher education and the seat of Gadjah Mada University, one of the three most prestigious universities in Indonesia. Yogyakarta was the Indonesian capital during the Indonesian National Revolution from 1945 to 1949. It has a population of roughly 388,000.

...and here's another card from Shinta, showing a typical Indonesian market where you can (=must) bargain over the price, and have a chit-chat with the seller. :)

There were so many pretty, colourful stamps on the envelope! The one on top left is from a set of 6 stamps issued in 2010, showing Indonesian Cultural Heritage. The one next to it is from a set of 2 stamps from 2009, a joint issue with Iran. The stamp on the right is from a set of 7 stamps issued in 2008, with the theme "Road to Jakarta". The bird stamp was issued in 2008 and comes from a set of 11 (or 12?) stamps depicting Indonesian flora and fauna. The stamp at the bottom is from a set of 3 stamps issued in 2009 to commemorate the Year of the Ox.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Asunción, Paraguay

One more card for today... and it's a new country to me! It was all quite spontaneous, too; Ana in Paraguya sent me a message asking if I'd like to swap with her, and of course I said yes. :) now I have not one, but two written and stamped postcards from Paraguyay! I hope mine will reach her soon, too.

This is a view of the capital city of Paraguay, Asunción, and the Paraguay river, which is the one that gives the name to the country. The river divides the country into two regions, the eastern and western region. The city of Asunción is one of the oldest in South America, it was founded on August 15, 1537 by Spanish conquerors. In 2007 and 2008 the city of Asunción was found to be the world's least expensive city.

Population is approximately 520,000 people in the city proper. Roughly 30% of Paraguay's 6 million people live within Greater Asunción. Sixty-five percent of the total population in the city are under the age of 30. The population of Asunción has increased greatly during the last few decades as a consequence of internal migration from other Departments of Paraguay, at first because of the economic boom in the 1970s, and later because of economic recession in the countryside. The adjacent cities in the Gran Asunción area, such as Luque, Lambaré, San Lorenzo, Fernando de la Mora and Mariano Roque Alonso, have absorbed most of this influx due to the low cost of the land and easy access to Asunción.

The stamp is a Christmas stamp from 2010.

Prince Edward Island, Canada

My cards for today are a bit of a mixed batch... but I don't always need a theme, do I?

Prince Edward Island is a Canadian province consisting of an island of the same name, as well as other islands. The maritime province is the smallest in the nation in both land area and population (excluding the territories). According to the 2009 estimates, Prince Edward Island has 141,000 residents.

The island's landscape is pastoral. Rolling hills, woods, reddish white sand beaches, ocean coves and the famous red soil have given Prince Edward Island a reputation as a province of outstanding natural beauty. The provincial government has enacted laws that attempt to preserve the landscape through regulation, although the lack of consistent enforcement and absence of province-wide zoning and land-use planning recently resulted in aesthetically displeasing development.

The island's lush landscape has a strong bearing on its economy and culture. Author Lucy Maud Montgomery drew inspiration from the land during the late Victorian Era for the setting of her classic novel Anne of Green Gables. Today, many of the same qualities that Montgomery and others found in the island are enjoyed by tourists who visit year-round. They enjoy a variety of leisure activities, including beaches, various golf courses, eco-tourism adventures, touring the countryside, and enjoying cultural events in local communities around the island.

I have to confess my interest to Prince Edward Island comes mostly from Anne of Green Gables... I haven't read it before but I recently bought the first book in the series (I love the 1p secondhand books on!) and hope to read it soon. Emma, who sent me this card, also sent me an Anne postcard amongst all the other cards. :)

On this card you can see the Confederation Bridge (on the top) and Park Corner Fields (bottom), and on the bottom right corner you can see the Cap-Egmont Lighthouse.

The card came in an envelope - with many, many gorgeous stamps! The large stamp in the middle is from a set of 2 stamps issued in 2005, depicting Mammals. The stamps on the right are from a set of 5 stamps issued in 2007, depicting Insects. The Queen Elizabeth stamp in the middle is a definitive from 2009, and the stamps on the left are from a set of 5 stamps issued in 2010, showing Insects (again).

Shanghai, China

This beautiful card of Shanghai is from a swap with Lily in China. Thank you so much!

On the forefront you can see the Chenghuang Temple, or 'City God Temple' in Shanghai. It forms the core of the old city of Shanghai. Today the "City God Temple" not only refers to the large temple complex, but also the traditional district of commerce in the city, surrounding the temple. There are over a hundred stores and shops in this area, and most of these store buildings are nearly a century old. The temple connects to the Yuyuan Garden, another landmark of the old city.

The three high buildings in the background, from left to right, are The Shanghai Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the JinMao Building and the Shanghai World Financial Center, all famous landmarks of Shanghai.

The stamp on the left was issued in 2009 and has the Chinese word 'inverted' (meaning "Good Fortune and Happiness") in it. This word has the same pronunciation as another Chinese character that means 'come'. The small stamp in the middle is from a set of 6 definitives issued in 2002 with the theme "Protecting the common homeland", and the stamp on the right is a New Year's stamp from 2009.

Dedushka Moroz, Russia

I wasn't going to post any Christmas cards here but I dediced to make an exception with this card I received from my friend Katya in Russia. Firstly because Russian Christmas traditions interest me, and secondly because I want to show you the cool stamps and cancellation on the card. :D

Russians actually celebrate New Year instead of Christmas. I quite like the idea - wishing friends and family all the best for a happier, better new year. :)

Dedushka Moroz or "Grandfather Frost" plays a role similar to that of Santa Claus, and is said to bring presents to children, however, unlike the secretive Santa Claus, the gifts are often delivered "in person", at New Year's Eve parties and other New Year celebrations. (This is from Wikipedia - The Finnish Father Christmas also often delivers presents to children "in person"!)

Such nice Russian Christmas stamps from 2010, and with a special cancellation, too! ...although annoyingly they had to add a normal cancellation on top of the special one, grrr!

Lviv, Ukraine

This very pretty card is from a swap with Viktoria in Ukraine. Don't you just love the colours and all the little details?! Viktoria says that you can't get bored with Lviv with its pretty, narrow streets, and sometimes the city's compared with Paris or Krakow. Well, it certainly does look very nice!

Lviv is a city in western Ukraine. The city is regarded as one of the main cultural centres of today's Ukraine and historically also for Ukraine’s neighbour, Poland, as the city before WWII and the following population transfers was the second most important Polish cultural centre. The historical heart of Lviv with its old buildings and cobblestone roads has survived World War II and ensuing Soviet presence largely unscathed. The city has many industries and institutions of higher education such as the Lviv University and the Lviv Polytechnic. Lviv is also a home to many world-class cultural institutions, including a philharmonic orchestra and the famous Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet. The historic city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lviv celebrated its 750th anniversary with a son et lumière in the city centre in September 2006.

The two stamps on the left are from a set of 7 (or 8?) stamps issued in 2008, representing Ukrainian Handicrafts, while the other two stamps are from a set of 13 (?) definitives, also issued in 2008.

Skopje, Macedonia

I have a thing for panoramic postcards, there's something quite special about them I think. More room for the picture for one thing, but it's not just that, I can't quite explain it though. One thing is for sure - they are nice to send to friends because there's a bit more room for the writing! :D Anyway, this lovely panoramic card is from the lovely Ana in Macedonia. Thank you so much!

The Orthodox Cathedral Church on this card is situated in the centre of Skopje and is where the main religious events take place, particularly during Christmas and Easter. Oh, and incidentally, Eastern Orthodox national churches celebrate Christmas on 7th January, something I only learned since joining Postcrossing... This really is an educational hobby! :)

It looks like it is The Church of Saint Clement of Ohrid. Built in 1972, the Orthodox church in one of few in the world to be designed in modern contemporary architecture. The main Macedonian orthodox cathedral church was consecrated in 1990, on the 1150th anniversary of the birth of the church patron, St. Clement of Ohrid. The iconostasis icons were painted by Gjorgi Danevski and Spase Spirovski and the frescoes were painted by the academic painter Jovan Petrov and his collaborators.

The stamp is from a set of 4 commemorative stamps issued in 1999 with the theme Flowers.

Zagreb, Croatia

The last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic - I got a big translation assignment to do and have been really busy and stressed with it. It's so much bigger than anything I've done before so I think that's the main reason why I have been feeling so nervous about it. Anyway, I'm almost done now so I wanted to update this blog again. :)

I've been having lots of weird dreams recently. Mostly work-related and some rather unpleasant ones, but a couple of nights ago I had this really beautiful dream where I was taking photos of magnolia blossoms in the snow (as in, there were lots of magnolia trees blossoming but it was also snowing O_o). The part of spring with blossoming trees is one of my favourite times of year, I've been thinking about it recently actually, looking forward to lighter days and spring. We've had some nice, sunny days recently and it's giving me hope. Anyway, that's why I like this card from the lovely Nives so much. It has a blossoming magnolia tree on it! ...or at least it looks like one. I really like the yellow light here, too, so pretty!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Hua Hin Railway Station, Thailand

My last card for today was sent to me by my grandma last year. She's actually in Thailand at the moment again, staying there for a while. She told me she needed to go somewhere warm and apparently Thailand is one of the only places where you get guaranteed sunshine. :D (That, and it's not overly expensive over there. I don't think grandma could afford the Caribbean...) So yeah, I might have another postcard coming from Thailand soon. :)

The Hua Hin Railway Station is one of the oldest railway stations in Thailand. Its most striking feature is the unique Royal Waiting Room in Thai architectural style. The Royal Waiting Room was built in the reign of King Rama VI in order to welcome the King and his entourage. The outstanding feature of the station is the pavilion constructed in in the reign of King Rama VI; it was originally named as "Plub Pla Sanamchan", and it was initially situated at Sanacham Palace in Nakorn Pathom Province. The Royal Waiting Room, the original building built in the same architectural style as Maruekkhathayawan Palace, stands adjacent to the station, and is a favourite spot for taking pictures for both Thai and foreign tourists. [source]

The smaller stamp is from a set of 6 "Greetings" stamps issued in 2010. The bigger stamp is from a miniature sheet of 12 stamps issued in 2008, with the subject Chatukham Rammathep.

Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

This card is from a swap with SL Liew in Malaysia. I just love the colourful rooftops here!

Georgetown is the capital of the state of Penang in Malaysia. Named after Britain's King George III, Georgetown is located on the north-east corner of Penang Island and has about 220,000 inhabitants, or about 400,000 including the suburbs. The inner city of Georgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Georgetown has the largest concentration of pre-war terracotta rooftop double storey terrace houses which are shops on the ground floor, with air wells and residential on top floor. Due to rent control after war set by the British administration, there was no urban renewal, thus indirectly preserving them. The rent control was repealed a decade ago.

The stamp is from a set of 3 stamps issued in 2009, depicting palm trees.

The Peak Tram, Hong Kong

This card is from a swap with a very nice postcrosser, but it reminds me more of friends. One of my best friends here in England is from Hong Kong, and she once sent this same card (or at least I think it's the same) to two other friends of ours when she was visiting home, in fact I think they still have the card over their fireplace. ;)

Hong Kong's oldest form of mechanical transport, the Peak Tram opened in 1888. Originally run by steam it converted to electricity in 1926 and then to microprocessor control in 1989. The upper terminus is 397 metres above sea level and the single journey takes 8 minutes from the lower terminus in St John's Building.

Trakai, Lithuania

I seem to be sending quite a lot of official postcrossing cards to Lithuania but haven't received many from there. It's a shame, I'd like to see more of this country!

This card had been in my favourites for a while, and last year I finally got it via a tag on the postcrossing forum. Isn't it a gorgeous view?! It sort of reminds me of Savonlinna where I used to study, except that Trakai looks a little more beautiful. :)

Trakai Island Castle is located in Trakai, Lithuania on an island of Lake Galvė. The castle is sometimes referred to as "Little Marienburg". The construction of the stone castle was begun in the 14th century by Kęstutis, and around 1409 major works were completed by his son Vytautas the Great, who died in this castle in 1430. Trakai was one of the main centers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the castle held great strategic importance.

Vladivostok, Russia

I thought I'd post a few older cards for a change. I've got so many nice ones I received before starting this blog and it would be a shame to leave them all aside.

I'm starting with this lovely card from Russia I received through a swap. I totally adore it - the old house looks very charming and the black cat just adds to the charm. ...AND the card is from Vladivostok, a place I find fascinating due to its remote location.

Vladivostok is Russia's largest port city on the Pacific Ocean and the administrative center of Primorsky Krai. It is situated at the head of the Golden Horn Bay, not far from Russia's border with China and North Korea. It is the home port of the Russian Pacific Fleet. The population of the city, as of 2010, is 578,000.

From 1958 to 1991, only Soviet citizens were allowed to live in Vladivostok or visit it (and even then had to obtain an official permission). Before this closure, the city had large Korean and Chinese populations. Some Koreans who were deported during Stalin's rule from the Russian Far East have since returned, particularly to Vladivostok.

The Trans-Siberian Railway was built to connect European Russia with Vladivostok, Russia's most important Pacific Ocean port. Finished in 1905, the rail line ran from Moscow to Vladivostok via several of Russia's main cities. Part of the railroad, known as the Chinese Eastern Line, crossed over into Manchuria, China, passing through Harbin, a major city in Manchuria. During the Soviet era, Vladivostok's status as a closed city meant that ferry-passenger tourists arriving from Japan to travel the Trans-Siberian railway westbound had to embark in Nakhodka. Today, Vladivostok serves as the main starting point for the Trans-Siberian portion of the Eurasian Land Bridge.

The picture on this card is from the Old City (Millionka) in Vladivostok. ...and could you have guessed that this is an ad card? I sure couldn't if I didn't know! Just goes to show that there are nice ad cards around so I don't think people should be so negative about all ad cards. (The card advertises a café and Vladivostok TAXI.)

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Galo de Barcelos, Portugal

Most of the cards I got from Wanda for Christmas were from Spain, but there were a few Portuguese ones there as well. This one is probably my favourite.

There is some info at the back of the card:

In the town of Barcelos there is a very famous symbol called o Galo de Barcelos in Portuguese. The legend says that a rich man made a big party. When the party was over, the rich man noticed that his sterling cutlery was stolen by a guest. He accused a pilgrim and let him go to court. He protested his innocence, but the judge didn't believe him. The judge was about to eat a roasted cock and the pilgrim said: If I am innocent, this cock will crow. When the pilgrim was about to be hanged, the cock crowed. The judge released the pilgrim. The story ends and a few years later when the pilgrim returned and made a statue over the event. This legend became famous all over Portugal.

Elche, Spain

One more card from Spain for today. This one's from Elche, in Costa Blanca in Valencia.

Elche is a city located in the comarca of Baix Vinalopó, in the Alicante province which, in turn, is a part of the Valencian Community, Spain. According to the 2008 census, Elche has a population of some 228,300 inhabitants, ranking as the third most populated city in the Valencian Community (after Valencia and Alicante) and the 20th largest Spanish city.

Part of the municipality is coastal but the main city is some 11 km from the Mediterranean Sea. A small creek called Vinalopó flows through the city splitting it in two parts.

El Huerto del Cura ('the Curate's orchard') is part of El Palmeral - an ancient grove of palm trees (Phoenix dactylifera) said to have been planted by the Phoenecians. The orchard grows both fruiting species and ornamental species. The garden has two ponds. [source]

Costa Blanca, Spain

Let's move on, to the west coast of Spain. This is another card I got from Wanda. I'm so excited she got me a map card as well!

Costa Blanca refers to the over 200 kilometres of coastline belonging to the Province of Alicante in Spain. The name "Costa Blanca" was devised as a promotional name used by British European Airways when they launched their air service between London and Valencia in 1957. It has a well developed tourism industry and is a popular destination for British and German tourists. It extends from the towns of Denia in the north, beyond which lies the Costa dels Tarongers, to Pilar de la Horadada in the south, beyond which lies the Costa Calida. It includes the major tourist destinations of Benidorm, Alicante, Denia and Xàbia.

Cíes Islands, Spain

One more Galician card...

The Cíes Islands are an archipelago off the coast of Pontevedra in Galicia, in the mouth of the Ría de Vigo. They belong to the parish of San Francisco de Afora, in the municipality of Vigo. They were declared a Nature Reserve in 1980 and are included in the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park (Parque Nacional Marítimo-Terrestre das Illas Atlánticas de Galicia) created in 2002. In the year 2007, the British newspaper The Guardian chose the beach of Rodas, in the island of Monteagudo, as the "most beautiful beach of the world".

The Cíes consist of three islands, Monteagudo ("Sharp Mount" or North Island), do Faro ("Lighthouse Island", or Isla do Medio, "Middle Island") and San Martiño ("Saint Martin" or South Island).

Due to the high natural value of this area and to the deterioration it was suffering by human activity, it was declared a Nature Reserve in 1980. The level of legal protection varied until November 21, 2000, when the Galician Parliament unanimously agreed to apply for the status of National Park to the central Government. The Spanish Congress of Deputies signed a definite agreement in June 2002, creating the National Land-Marine Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia, formed by a number of archipelagos, islands and cays, namely the Cíes, Ons, Sálvora, Noro, Vionta, Cortegada and the Malveiras.

Vigo, Spain

More cards from Wanda...

Vigo is a city and municipality in Galicia, Spain. The city is located on the ria of the same name on the Atlantic Ocean.

It is the largest city in Galicia with a population of 297,332, with an extended metropolitan population of 468,654, making it the 14th-largest metropolitan area of Spain. Vigo is the largest city in Spain which is not a provincial capital.

The urban area of Vigo is built over both a hill-fort (Castro) and a Roman settlement. It is generally accepted that the name Vigo is derived from the Latin word Vicus.

Vigo is one of the leading industrial areas in Galicia, with car factories, shipyards, and auxiliary industry. Vigo has the largest fishing port in Europe as well, and the home port of the world's largest fishing company, Pescanova. The headquarters of the European Fisheries Agency are placed in here.

Conxuro da Queimada

Happy New Year 2011! I hope you all will have a lovely year with lots of great postcards. :) 2010 was pretty good for me postcard-wise, I'm hoping 2011 will be the same. I got some Spanish and Portuguese postcards for Christmas from my friend Wanda. Yeah, my friends know I like postcards :D There were some really nice ones amongst those cards so I wanted to post about a few of them here. The first one is a very cool recipe card. :)

'Conxuro da Queimada' translates as 'Queimada's Spell'. It is an alcoholic beverage of Galician tradition. Queimada is a punch made from Galician aguardente (Orujo Gallego) - a spirit distilled from wine and flavoured with special herbs or coffee, plus sugar, lemon peel, coffee beans and cinnamon.

Typically, while preparing the punch a spell or incantation is recited, so that special powers are conferred to the queimada and those drinking it. Then the queimada is set alight, and slowly burns as more brandy is added. Wanda very helpfully included an English translation on the back of the card:

Owls, barn owls, toads and witches. Demons, goblins and devils, spirits of the misty vales.

Crows, salamanders and mages, charms of the folk healer(ess). Rotten pierced canes, home of worms and vermin. Wisps of the Holy Company, evil eye, black witchcraft, scent of the dead, thunder and lightning. Howl of the dog, omen of death, maws of the satyr and foot of the rabbit. Sinful tongue of the bad woman married to an old man.

Satan and Beelzebub's Inferno, fire of the burning corpses, mutilated bodies of the indecent ones, farts of the arses of doom, bellow of the enraged sea.

Useless belly of the unmarried woman, speech of the cats in heat, dirty turf of the wicked born goat.

With this bellows I will pump the flames of this fire which looks like that from Hell, and witches will flee, straddling their brooms, going to bathe in the beach of the thick sands. Hear! Hear the roars of those that cannot stop burning in the firewater, becoming so purified.

And when this beverage goes down our throats, we will get free of the evil of our soul and of any charm. Forces of air, earth, sea and fire, to you I make this call: if it's true that you have more power than people, here and now, make the spirits of the friends who are outside, take part with us in this Queimada.