Thursday, 28 April 2011

Volcan de Izalco, El Salvador

One more card for today.. and it's from a new country so it's even more special to me! :)

The sender, Fernando, tells me that this volcano can be seen from his window. Wow! That's a pretty impressive view to have, although I'd imagine it might be a bit unnerving to live so close to a volcano that might still erupt one day... For comparison, if I look straight out of my bedroom window I just see the next door house. To the right the views are nicer, and sometimes we get really nice sunsets. This is from October 2009. To the left, I can see the big road and houses across the road, and the hill behind those houses. I couldn't find any recent photos (although I'm sure I've taken some not too long ago) so here's one from December last year, when it snowed. Obviously it doesn't look like that at the moment. :P

Anyway, back to the postcard... Izalco is a parasitic stratovolcano of the Santa Ana Volcano, which is located in western El Salvador. It is situated on the southern flank of the Santa Ana volcano. Izalco erupted almost continuously from 1770 (when it formed) to 1958 earning it the nickname of "Lighthouse of the Pacific", and experienced a flank eruption in 1966. During an eruption in 1926, the village of Matazano was buried and 56 people were killed. The formation of the volcano actually occupied highly arable land on the southern slope of the Santa Ana volcano which was used for the production of coffee, cacao and sugar cane.

A hotel was built on the nearby Cerro Verde to provide accommodation with a view of the erupting volcano, but the volcano ceased to erupt shortly before the hotel was completed.

Today, Izalco experiences only fumarolic activity in the form of rainwater seeping into the volcano and contacting hot rocks, rather than steam emissions from underground gases. The volcano is visited and climbed regularly by tourists to El Salvador via the Cerro Verde National Park and is a national icon of the country, even featured on the 10 colón bank note (US dollars replaced the colon in 2001, so the bank note is no longer in circulation). The volcano is currently quiescent but may erupt again.

The stamp is from a set of 2 stamps issued in 2008 under the theme "82 years of radio communication".

Seattle, USA

Another postcard from the 'Choose a Country RR'...

I'm not usually hugely fond of postcards showing cityscapes of huge US cities, but this one is really nice. I like the touch the flowers at the front add to the atmosphere, and the mountain in the background is pretty impressive as well. Seattle seems like a city I might actually like, too. It seems like a pretty open-minded place and I also have the impression that there are lots of cafés there. I would love to spend more time in them, sitting next to a table in some quiet corner sipping hot chocolate or tea (since I don't like coffee :( ), writing a letter or a postcard to a friend. Mmm... it's just a shame that at least over here, cafés are pretty expensive so I can't afford to go in them much.

The big stamp is from earlier this year, showing Ronald Reagan. The stamp on the left is the well known definitive stamp from 2003, showing the American Clock. The dog stamp, then, is from a set of 10 stamps issued last year, under the title 'Adopt a shelter pet'.

Istanbul, Turkey

A nice view of Istanbul, Turkey I received from the 'Choose a Country' RR a while ago. I have to say I really like this RR, people participating in it all seem so nice and I've received some lovely postcards through it. :)

I love it how blue this card is. I really wouldn't mind living somewhere where there would be a sea/lake nearby.. *sigh* Anyway. In the background you can see the famous Blue Mosque, and the building on the front is Leander's (or Maiden's) Tower. It sits on a small islet located at the southern entrance of Bosphorus strait 200 m off the coast of Üsküdar in Istanbul, Turkey.

Maiden's Tower was first built by the ancient Athenian general Alcibiades in 408 BC to control the movements of the Persian ships in the Bosphorus strait. Back then the tower was located between the ancient cities of Byzantion and Chrysopolis. The tower was later enlarged and rebuilt as a fortress by the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus in 1110 AD, and was restored and slightly modified several times by the Ottoman Turks, most significantly in 1509 and 1763. The most recent facelift was made in 1998. Steel supports were added around the ancient tower as a precaution after the 17 August 1999 earthquake.

Used as a lighthouse for centuries, the interior of the tower has been transformed into a popular café and restaurant, with an excellent view of the former Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman capital.Private boats make trips to the tower several times a day.

There are many legends about the construction of the tower and its location. According to the most popular Turkish legend, a sultan had a much beloved daughter. One day, an oracle prophesied that she would be killed by a venomous snake on her 18th birthday. The sultan, in an effort to thwart his daughter's early demise by placing her away from land so as to keep her away from any snakes, had the tower built in the middle of the Bosphorus to protect his daughter until her 18th birthday. The princess was placed in the tower, where she was frequently visited only by her father.

On the 18th birthday of the princess, the sultan brought her a basket of exotic sumptuous fruits as a birthday gift, delighted that he was able to prevent the prophecy. Upon reaching into the basket, however, an asp that had been hiding among the fruit bit the young princess and she died in her father's arms, just as the oracle had predicted. Hence the name Maiden's Tower.

The stamp is very nice, too. I couldn't find any info about it, though, and I don't understand Turkish. :/

Venice, Italy

If everything had gone like it was supposed to, I wouldn't be updating this blog right now. I really wanted to go to my Aikido class after missing it last Thursday and there not being practice this Tuesday, but I got ill yesterday. :( Not sure if it's a flu but my head feels like a balloon and I feel so tired and achey. I didn't want to fall ill during a holiday!! Grrr. Anyway, I've spent lots of time in bed now, drinking tons of tea and mostly feeling very useless. I wanted to do something nice as well, however, so, hi blog! Here are a few random postcards I've received earlier this year.


This is such a lovely, lovely card! I absolutely adore the view and the atmosphere. It probably wouldn't be much fun to live in one of those houses in the long run but I prefer to imagine just visiting them. I used to have a penpal living near Venice for years when I was younger so it's kind of special place for me.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I love receiving postcards from other people who have moved to live in a different country - be it for love or something else. It's just really interesting to hear other people's experiences of it. The sender of this postcard is originally from Russia - and also a tea addict, and we seem to have lots of other things in common as well. :) I love it when that happens!

The bigger stamp has featured in this blog before, but since it's such a nice one, I'm putting it here again. It's Italy's contribution to the Europa stamp series, last year's theme being children's books. (I believe this year's theme is Forests. I'm really disappointed with the UK's contribution, it's one stamp of a rainforest type of thingy on a miniature sheet. What the hell?!? Yes I know the UK isn't exactly covered in forests, but there's still something here that could've been used instead. < / rant >) The smaller stamp is from a set of 7 definitives issued in 2002, depicting women.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Kaali lake, Saaremaa, Estonia

I know I posted about a postcard from Estonia not so long ago, but my interest to the country has been sort of renewed after reading 'Purge' by Sofi Oksanen. Ok, this book doesn't paint a particularly pretty picture of the country overall and it's a pretty gloomy and depressing book, but there is some beauty in it as well. ..and it's made me think of Estonia more in general. It's such a shame, I used to live so close to this country for most of my life but only visited Tallinn a couple of times. My parents and grandmother have been elsewhere in Estonia as well. Grandma has/had some closer connections there, my parents don't, they are just interested in the country and its language. The pictures they've shown me have been great, there is so much beautiful nature in Estonia! Some of those pictures have such a cozy feel to them, too, despite my not ever having visited those places. Saaremaa is one of those places, it just looks gorgeous and so lush. (If there are any Estonian people reading this blog who have postcards of local nature and would like to swap, do get in touch! I'm sure we'll be able to figure something out :))

Kaali is a group of 9 meteorite craters located on the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Formed in the 7th century BC, it is one of the most recent craters created by an impact event and the only known major impact event that has occurred in a populated area. Prior to the 1930s, the main crater was thought to have been a volcanic caldera. Its meteoritic origins were first conclusively demonstrated by Ivan Reinvald in 1937.

Saaremaa, then, is the largest island in Estonia, measuring 2,673 km². The main island of Saare County, it is located in the Baltic Sea, south of Hiiumaa island, and belongs to the West Estonian Archipelago. The capital of the island is Kuressaare, which has about 15,000 inhabitants; the whole island has over 39,000 inhabitants.

The island forms the main barrier between the Gulf of Riga and the Baltic Sea. To the south of it is the main passage out of the gulf, the Irbe Strait, next to Sõrve Peninsula, the southernmost portion of the island. In Medieval times islanders were crossing the strait to form fishing villages on Livonian coast, in particular Pitrags village. In those days it was easier and quicker to cross the strait towards nearby Kolka, Saunags or Mazirbe, than travel by horse large distances inland. The highest point on the island is 54 m above sea level. The island has lots of forested terrain. One of the symbols of the island is the juniper.

The stamp is from a mini sheet issued earlier this year, showing the peony.

Map of Russia

It feels like I'm posting about postcards from Russia all the time here.. but then how could I not when I have so many of them, and most of them are very, very pretty?! This one is no exception, although sadly it's been smudged with cancellations during its journey from Moscow to Sedgley. :(

I'm very fond of map postcards - I love all the little details and postcards like this with actual drawings are SO nice! I particularly like the reindeeer (?), bear and train on this one. ...and I can't help admiring the diversity of Russia and how huge it is. Russia occupies 11,46% of the Earth (Canada is on the 2nd place) and borders 18 countries. Forests cover 40% of the territory of Russia and has one fifth of the world's forests. There are 84 nature reserves and 35 national parks.

Such nice stamps, too! The one on the right was issued in 2006 under the theme '250 Years Altai to Russia'. The one next to it is from a mini sheet of 10 stamps issued in 2002, depicting 'eyes'. The stamp next to that one is from a souvenir sheet of 3 stamps issued in 2008, showing Russian wooden churches in Kizhi and World Cultural Heritage in Russia, this one here showing the Church of Preobrazheniya Gospodnya. The small stamp is also from 2008 and shows the Pokrovsk Cathedral.

Rybnitsa, Transnistria

Something I received from a swap with Jaroslav in Moldova recently...

Rybnitsa is a city in Transnistria, Moldova. According to the 2004 Census in Transnistria, it has a population of 53,648. Rybnitsa is situated in the northern half of Transnistria, on the left bank of the Dniester, and separated from the river by a concrete dam. The city is the seat of the Rîbniţa sub-district.

Rybnitsa was founded in 1628 as a Moldavian village. As early as 1657, Rybnitsa was mentioned in documents as an important town, at the time part of the Kingdom of Poland. Strong Western European influences can be seen in this formerly Polish town. In 1793, Rybnitsa passed from Poland to Russia.

Transnistria is a breakaway territory located mostly on a strip of land between the Dniester River and the eastern Moldovan border to Ukraine. Since its declaration of independence in 1990, and especially after the War of Transnistria in 1992, it is governed de facto as the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR, also known as "Pridnestrovie"), an unrecognized state which claims the territory to the east of the river Dniester, the city of Bender and its surrounding localities located on the west bank. The Republic of Moldova does not recognize the secession and considers territories controlled by the PMR to be part of Moldova's autonomous region of Stînga Nistrului ("Left Bank of the Dniester"). Transnistria's sovereignty is unrecognized by any United Nations member state and it has no diplomatic relations with them.

Transnistria has its own stamps but they are only used within Transnistria so Moldovan stamps have to be used for mail sent elsewhere. Shame, because it would've been interesting to see some local stamps. Anyway, the ones Jaroslav used are very pretty as well. The one on the right is from a set of 4 stamps issued in 1998, depicting Costumes. The other stamp is from a set of 2 from 2008 showing Deer, and also a joint issue with Kazakhstan.

Bamberg, Germany

I still have almost a week off from my volunteering job. It's so weird to have such a long holiday (almost two weeks!) but I sure am enjoying it. Good times, lazy days at home. I'm catching up on letter-writing and some other stuff. Sadly, the warm and sunny days seem to be over but at least this is a perfect excuse to stay at home... :P And I might actually catch up with this blog a little bit, too!


This is an official I received from Germany not so long ago. Such a lovely view of the Old Quarter of Bamberg! This card comes from the Harenberg postcard calendar series. I have a few of these postcards and I have to say, they are all pretty exceptional, with pretty, pretty images. I wish they would sell these calendars over here as well!

Bamberg looks like such a lovely place. The sender told me that her best friend from school got married there. Well, I could think of worse places to get married in! Bamberg is a city in Bavaria, Germany. It is located in Upper Franconia on the river Regnitz, close to its confluence with the river Main. Bamberg is one of the few cities in Germany that was not destroyed by World War II bombings because of a nearby Artillery Factory that prevented planes from getting near to Bamberg. No wonder then that it's also a Unesco site.

From the 10th century onwards, this town became an important link with the Slav peoples, especially those of Poland and Pomerania. During its period of greatest prosperity, from the 12th century onwards, the architecture of Bamberg strongly influenced northern Germany and Hungary. In the late 18th century it was the centre of the Enlightenment in southern Germany, with eminent philosophers and writers such as Hegel and Hoffmann living there.

...and the stamp has a Unesco site on it as well! The old town of Regensburg, to be specific. The stamp was issued earlier this year. Does anyone know why it has Japanese on it?? *curious*

Saturday, 23 April 2011


One more card for today.. and this one is more than special. Honestly, I was sooo excited to find this in my mailbox. It's not like I get mail from Guinea every day, and the card itself is pretty amazing, too!

I still can't quite believe I actually have this card. Madeleine, who is currently living in Guinea and teaching literacy teaching there, sent me a message asking me if I'd like to swap! I would've never expected anything like that as it's such a rare country and I would've imagined she gets tons of swap requests, but as she asked first, of course I wanted to swap. And she got me such a special card, too, a handmade painting by a local artist Oumar Diallo. It's a very typical Guinean painting, Madeleine tells me you won't find this style anywhere else. The painter is pretty amazing, too - his studio is tiny, with only one little (broken) table and a few chairs, but out of nothing, he creates these wonderful paintings. I'd say that really is something to admire!

Madeleine sent the card (and another, a vintage card of a waterfall) in an envelope because she said postmen in Guinea like postcards as much as she does, and if you tried to send a written and stamped postcard it most likely would just disappear. That is such a shame :( The stamps are very pretty but I couldn't find any info on them. Most Guinean stamps look *really* strange and don't seem to have any relation to the country. Take a look at these and you'll see what I mean. It seems like most of the stamp issues there are just pretty pieces of paper intended for collectors, never to be used as actual postage.

Trinidad, West Indies

A slightly different map card I received from Anna from Trinidad & Tobago earlier this year...

You can see several places from the island of Trinidad, one of the two main islands of Trinidad and Tobago (the other one being Tobago, what a surprise :P) Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the main islands; Tobago is much smaller, comprising about 6% of the total area and 4% of the entire population which is estimated at 1.3 million (2005).

Trinidad and Tobago was a Spanish colony from the times of Christopher Columbus until the capitulation of the Spanish Governor, Don José Maria Chacón, on the arrival of a British fleet of 18 warships on February 18, 1797. It was ceded to Britain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens. The country obtained independence in 1962, becoming a republic in 1976. & on a random note, I recently found out that one of my friends used to live in Trinidad when he was very young! :O

The stamp is from a set of 10 stamps issued in 2005, depicting local medical plants.

Broome, Western Australia

This card is from one of my favourite swappers, Heather, who is also on holiday at the moment. I'm dying to find out where, at the moment all I know is that it's a Unesco site.. I hope you've had a lovely holiday, dear!

These panoramic postcards in this series are absolutely breathtaking, the views are gorgeous and they are such a thrill to receive. :)

Broome is a pearling and tourist town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, 2,200 km north of Perth. The year round population is approximately 14,436, growing to more than 45,000 per month during the tourist season. Broome International Airport provides transport to several regional and domestic towns and cities.

Heather says she thinks these stamps are a bit 'grandma', but I still like them. They are from a set of 5 stamsp issued earlier this year with the theme 'Gallery Series', showing flower paintings from the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).

Hawaii, USA

Continuing on the theme of holidays (sort of), I certainly wouldn't say 'no' to Hawaii if I ever got the chance to go there. Having a sea so close would be fantastic, and warm temperatures would be nice, too.. ...although at the moment it's really warm here in England, too. It's probably been around or over +20 C all week and right now I'm almost *too* warm wearing just a skirt and a t-shirt! I do love this, though, and try to enjoy it while it lasts. Yeah, it probably wont' be like this for much longer :p

Isn't this a gorgeous view?! I mostly chose it due to the amazing colours of the sky, although the ocean does look gorgeous as well. It shows the Alligator Rock on the North Shore of O'ahu. The place was named after the distinct rock formation offshore and is a great place for snorkeling and scuba diving in the summer. Julia, who sent me this card, tells me that in winter the waves can get over 6 metres high and they hold famous surfing competitions there. She says she wouldn't go anywhere near the water at those times and I'm inclined to agree with her, it does sound pretty crazy!

The stamp on the left is quite a familiar one, a definitive stamp from 2003, showing the American Clock. The cute dog and cat stamps are from a set of 10 stamps issued last year, under the title 'Adopt a shelter pet'.

Map of Malta

This very nice map card arrived as a surprise from Leena of Malta. I've done a couple of swaps with her before and she decided to send me this postcard after seeing it in my favourites. I do love the thoughtfulness of some people! :)

This is a proper 'vintage' postcard from the 1980s. How cool is it that some shops still sell postcards like this?! It's *such* a nice card, too, I love all the little details and how many of them there are. This card sort of reminds me of my childhood when holidays abroad were still a bit more "special". ...or at least they were for me. I only had a holiday abroad two times when I was a kid, when my grandmother took me on holiday with her, once to Algarve, Portugal and the second time it was Rhodes, Greece. I haven't been abroad an awful lot since then, either.. I'm hoping to have a proper holiday (=not staying with family or relatives and somewhere other than the UK or Finland) at some point this autumn, but I have no idea yet where it might be. It probably wouldn't be a clichéd, lazy holiday lying on a beach in Spain, though. :P

The stamp is from a set of 3 issued earlier this year, with the them 'Treasures of Malta - Landscapes'. The one here shows Manoel Island.

The Posting Box, Yockenthwaite, England

I really haven't been too good with this blog recently :/ I'm not even sure where all the time has gone. Some of it has been spent writing letters and postcards to friends, reading and trying to sort out wedding stuff. Not so sure of the rest of it, though, and the pile of cards I want to post about is getting pretty big. Oopsies...

Anyway. In exactly two weeks I'll be in London, attending the International Postcrossing meet-up there (even if it looks like it's going to be slightly less international than was the plan initially, but there should still be people from several different countries attending). I went there last year and had such a good time, it was so nice how everyone was so friendly and welcoming to a newbie like me. I'm really looking forward to meeting some of the same people again, particularly Astrid and Wendy - and Andy (duplevista) who's organising the event again and who also sent me the postcard below two years ago. :)

I had to check Googlemaps for the location of the place on this card - it only says 'Yockenthwaite' on the back of the card and I'd never heard of the place again. It looks like it's in the middle of nowhere and yep, it is, in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales. Mmmmm, I do wonder whether this mailbox is emptied regularly.. Much as I keep complaining about the Royal Mail, at least they still provide a regular service for the whole of the UK. I'm not so sure what would happen if the postal services were privatised (apart from stamp prices probably going up quite a bit)...

The stamp is from a set of 8 stamps issued in 2009, with the theme 'Pioneers of the Industrial Revolution'. The one here shows James Watt, a strong contender for the title of father of the steam age because of his years of hard work in improving the Newcomen design created a ‘steam engine’.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

St. Nicholas' Church, Tallinn, Estonia

One more card for today, from the not so far away Estonia. My parents visited Tallinn last week and sent me a postcard from there. I was debating whether to post that card or this one from my friend Rita, but eventually decided on this one. Maybe I'll post the card from mum and dad at some point later...

St. Nicholas' Church (Niguliste kirik in Estonian) is a medieval church in Tallinn, Estonia. It is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the patron of the fishermen and sailors. Originally built in the 13th century, it was partially destroyed in Soviet Bombing of Tallinn in World War II. After restoration it is in use as an art museum and concert hall. I suppose I should ask Rita more about it - she's a guide and recently passed an important exam so she's now allowed to work as a guide in this church. :)

The stamp was issued last year with the theme 'Treasures from the Estonian Art Museum'

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

I have lots of postcards of Mostar now thanks to dear Snježana who visited the city not too long ago. I think I like this card the most as it shows a bit of the city other than just the Bridge. Now the Bridge is very impressive, I can't deny that, but it's nice to see some other parts of the place as well.

I've already written about Mostar here so I don't want to repeat myself too much here..

Mostar is the biggest and the most important city in the Herzegovina region and the center of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of the Federation. Mostar is situated on the Neretva river and is the fifth-largest city in the country. Mostar was named after "the bridge keepers" (natively: mostari) who guarded the Stari Most (Old Bridge) over Neretva river. The Old Bridge, which was destroyed in 1993 amid the war in Bosnia, was rebuilt in 2004 and it is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. Also, unless I'm very much mistaken, the mosque in the bottom picture is the Koski Mehmed pasa Mosque.

The stamps on the left were issued in 2006 in a set of 6 definitives representing vegetables, this one here being potato. The stamp on the right I'm not sure of, except that it was issued in 2007.

Čatež, Slovenia

Postcards from Slovenia are always very welcome in my collection - I don't have too many and it looks like SUCH a beautiful country. I did actually receive an official card from there last week and might post about it later (I received the same card from a friend a little earlier this year, what an interesting coincidence!) but for now, here's a nice multiview (!) I received from a tag not that long ago.

Čatež is the sender's hometown. I couldn't find much info about it, but it appears to be a small town in eastern Slovenia. Doesn't it look pretty?!

The stamp is from a set of 3 stamps issued last year, depicting snakes. The one here shows the Grass Snake.

Mondsee, Austria

Ok, I say I get behind with this blog and then I dig out old cards to post... :P This one is an official from about three years ago but I really, really like it. It's such a gorgeous view, looks like a perfect holiday destination. :)


Mondsee ('Moonlake' in English. How cool is that?!) is a lake in the Upper Austrian part of the Salzkammergut and neighbour to the larger Attersee. Its southwestern shore marks the border between the states of Upper Austria and Salzburg, and also between the Northern Limestone Alps in the South and the Sandstone zone of the Northern Alps. The Drachenwand (Dragonwall) at the southern shore of the lake is an impressive sight. In 1864, remains of neolithic pile dwellings were discovered in the lake.

The stamp is from a set of 3 stamps issued in 2007 and shows a Christmas Rose.

Valaam Monastery, Russia

Let's see whether I'll be able to update today.. the internet has been playing up quite a bit yesterday and today, really annoying although thankfully I don't need it *that* urgently as I'm not working on a translation assignment at the moment. Even without these disruptions, I'm getting a little behind with this blog.. I don't know how some people are able to update so often..?! I'm a little jealous sometimes :P

Anyway... This card arrived in a swap back in January. I had an envelope full of absolutely gorgeous postcards from Russia, thanks to Natalia. I thought I'd post about this particular card as it's a little closer to home than the rest, and also because the name of this place is so familiar. Some of my relatives have visited the Valaam Monastery (Valamo in Finnish) and it always sounded quite fascinating. I hadn't realised it's this pretty and colourful, though!

The Valaam Monastery is a stauropegic Orthodox monastery in Russian Karelia, located on Valaam, the largest island in Lake Ladoga, the largest lake in Europe. It is not clear when the monastery was founded. As the cloister is not mentioned in documents before the 16th century, different dates - from 10th to 15th centuries - have been expounded.

The Valaam monastery was a northern outpost of Eastern Orthodoxy against the heathens and, later, a western outpost against Catholic Christianity from Tavastia, Savonia and (Swedish) Karelia. The power struggle between Russians and Swedes pushed the border eastwards in the 16th century; in 1578 the monastery was attacked and numerous monks and novices were killed by the Lutheran Swedes. The monastery was desolate between 1611 and 1715 after another attack of the Swedes, the buildings being burnt to the ground and the Karelian border between Russia and Sweden being drawn through Lake Ladoga. In the 18th century the monastery was magnificently restored, and in 1812 it came under the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland.

In 1917, Finland became independent, and the Finnish Orthodox Church became autonomous under the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, as previously it had been a part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Valaam (Valamo) was the most important monastery of the Finnish Orthodox Church. The liturgic language was changed from Church Slavonic to Finnish, and the liturgic calendar from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. These changes led to bitter decade-long disputes in the monastic community of Valaam.

The territory was fought over by the Soviet Union and Finland during World War II. Due to the Winter War, the monastery was evacuated in 1940, when 150 monks settled in Heinävesi in Finland. This community still exists as New Valamo Monastery in Heinävesi. Having received evacuees from the Konevitsa monastery and Petsamo monastery, it is now the only monastery of the Finnish Orthodox Church.

From 1941 to 1944, during the Continuation War, an attempt was made to restore the monastery buildings at Old Valaam, but later the island served as a Soviet military base.

Since the original Valaam Monastery was bequeathed back to the Orthodox Church in 1989, it has been enjoying the personal patronage of Patriarch Alexey II. The monastery, whose buildings have been meticulously restored, has gained significant legal power over the island, in a push to return to a state of spiritual seclusion. After years of fruitless legal proceedings with the monastery, many residents of the island chose to leave, though a few still remain.

..and here's another reason why I wanted to post this card: the envelope was cancelled on 11/1/11! :D It makes for a pretty cool cancellation if you ask me. The big stamp on the left was issued in 2009 and commemorates the 75th Anniversary of the Birth of U.A. Gagarin (1934-1968), first Astronaut in the World. The other stamps are definitives. The one on the left was issued in 2008 in a set of 15 stamps, this one representing a Fox. The ones on the right are from a set of 12 definitives issued in 2009, depicting Russian Kremlins. The ones here show the Moscow Kremlin (top) and the Rostov Kremlin (bottom).