Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Hội An, Vietnam

I've posted about Hội An before, but I just *had* to post this one here as well, even if it's quite similar (lanterns, people, a street view) to the other card. I really like these postcards from Vietnam, I think they are gorgeous and I like the fact that they are a bit bigger than your standard postcard.

Hội An is a city of Vietnam, on the coast of the East Sea in the South Central Coast region of Vietnam. It is located in Quảng Nam Province and is home to approximately 120,000 inhabitants. It is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Hội An Ancient Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Its buildings and its street plan reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that have combined to produce this unique heritage site.

The city possessed the largest harbour in Southeast Asia in the 1st century and was known as Lâm Ấp Phố (Champa City). Between the seventh and 10th centuries, the Cham (people of Champa) controlled the strategic spice trade and with this came tremendous wealth. The former harbour town of the Cham at the estuary of the Thu Bồn River was an important Vietnamese trading centre in the 16th and 17th centuries, where Chinese from various provinces as well as Japanese, Dutch and Indians settled. During this period of the China trade, the town was called Hai Pho (Seaside Town) in Vietnamese. Originally, Hai Pho was a divided town with the Japanese settlement across the "Japanese Bridge" (16th-17th century). The bridge (Chùa cầu) is a unique covered structure built by the Japanese, the only known covered bridge with a Buddhist temple attached to one side.

Napa Valley, California, USA

A lovely springtime view from the USA I received last year from a Year of the Horse stamp swap. Just look at the colours here!

Napa Valley AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in Napa County, California, United States. Napa Valley is considered one of the premier wine regions in the world. Records of commercial wine production in the region date back to the nineteenth century, but premium wine production dates back only to the 1960s.

The combination of Mediterranean climate, geography and geology of the region are conducive to growing quality wine grapes. John Patchett established the Napa Valley's first commercial vineyard in 1858. In 1861 Charles Krug established another of Napa Valley's first commercial wineries in St. Helena. Viticulture in Napa suffered several setbacks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including an outbreak of the vine disease phylloxera, the institution of Prohibition, and the Great Depression. The wine industry in Napa Valley recovered, and helped by the results of the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, came to be seen as capable of producing the best quality wine – equal to that of Old World wine regions. Napa Valley is now a major enotourism destination.

Greetings from Poland

This is the third Polish 'Greetings from' postcard. I wonder if there's going to be a fourth one one day... :D

The Tatra Mountains are a mountain range that form a natural border between Slovakia and Poland. They are the highest mountain range in the Carpathian Mountains. The Tatras should be distinguished from the Low Tatras which are located south of the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia.

The Tatra Mountains occupy an area of 785 square kilometres, of which about 610 square kilometres (77.7%) lie within Slovakia and about 175 square kilometres (22.3%) on the territory of Poland. The highest peak called Gerlach, at 2,655 m is located north of Poprad. The highest point in Poland, Rysy, at 2,499 m is located south of Zakopane.

Turning Torso, Malmö, Sweden

A slightly different postcard from Sweden... I must admit, I hadn't realised you could find something like this in Sweden!

HSB Turning Torso is the tallest skyscraper in Sweden and the Nordic countries, situated in Malmö, Sweden on the Swedish side of the Öresund strait.

The project was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and officially opened on 27 August 2005. The tower reaches a height of 190 metres with 54 stories - 147 apartments, relax/lounge/spa/gym, wine cellar followed by around-the-clock concierge service 365 days a year.

Malmö is the capital and most populous city in Skåne County, and the third largest city in Sweden. Together with Copenhagen, it constitutes the transnational Øresund Region, the most densely populated area in Scandinavia. Malmö is classified as a global city, placed in the gamma- category by the GaWC, ranked 5th in Scandinavia by the Global Cities Index in 2012. It is ranked the fourth-most inventive city in the world based on the number of patent applications per 10,000 residents and the 7th-most bicycle friendly city in the world, according to the Copenhagenize Index in 2013.

Malmö was one of the earliest and most industrialized towns of Scandinavia, but it struggled with the adaptation to post-industrialism. Since the construction of the Øresund Bridge, Malmö has undergone a major transformation with architectural developments, and it has attracted new biotech and IT companies, and particularly students through Malmö University, founded in 1998. The city contains many historic buildings and parks, and is also a commercial centre for the western part of Scania. Malmö was ranked #4 in Grist Magazine's "15 Green Cities" list in 2007.

The administrative entity for most of the city is Malmö Municipality which, as of 31 March 2013, has 309,105 inhabitants in eight different localities. Malmö is also a bimunicipal locality, as part of it is formally situated in Burlöv Municipality. The total population of the urban area was 280,415 in December 2010.

Greater Malmö is one of Sweden's three officially recognized Metropolitan areas (storstadsområden) and since 2005 is defined as the municipality of Malmö and 11 other municipalities in the southwestern corner of Scania. On 31 March 2012, its population was recorded to be 664,428. The region covers an area of 2,522 square kilometres. The municipalities included, apart from Malmö, are Burlöv, Eslöv, Höör, Kävlinge, Lomma, Lund, Skurup, Staffanstorp, Svedala, Trelleborg and Vellinge. Together with Lund, Malmö is the region's economic and education hub.

Bavarian Zugspitze Railway

So... I wasn't going to send any more officials on Postcrossing until the system is back to normal (i.e. 'send a card, receive ONE back'), but I caved in and sent a few earlier this year. I haven't actually received as many back as I thought I would, so that's good. This is one of the officials I've received this year, a train postcard from Germany.

The Bavarian Zugspitze Railway is one of four rack railways still working in Germany, along with the Wendelstein Railway, the Drachenfels Railway and the Stuttgart Rack Railway. The metre gauge line runs from the Garmisch-Partenkirchen suburb of Garmisch to the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. The line culminates at 2,650 metres above sea level, which makes it the highest railway in Germany and the third highest in Europe.

Kočo Racin's Memorial House, Veles, Macedonia

I've written about Postcard United here a few times before. Well, I STILL occasionally receive postcards through that website! This one arrived earlier this month. The postcard IDs on that website look so weird... this one is 'MKD-1'! O_o

This is Kočo Racin's Memorial House in Veles, Macedonia. Kosta Apostolov Solev, primarily known as poet Kočo Racin (22 December 1908 – 13 June 1943), was a Macedonian partisan and author who is considered a founder of modern Macedonian literature. His poem collection White Dawns (Zagreb, 1939) is one of the most important masterpieces in Macedonian modern literature. Racin wrote in prose too and created some significant works with themes from history, philosophy, and literary critique.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Palestine breakfast

I was really lucky earlier this year and was one of the winners in a Palestine postcard lottery in the Postcrossing group on Facebook. This postcard makes me hungry!!

This is the typical Palestinian breakfast, consisting of humos, foul, falafel and olive oil (and some sort of flat bread and vegetables). It looks really yummy, I'd love to try this! Those falafels look quite different to the ones I've had before, though, I hadn't realised you could make them in this kind of shape as well.

Mong Kok, Hong Kong

This is one of the many beautiful postcards I've received from the 'Choose a country' RR on the Postcrossing forum. If I remember correctly, group #500 was a special group, too, and this card is from that group.

Mong Kok is an area in the Yau Tsim Mong District, on the western part of Kowloon Peninsula in Hong Kong. The Prince Edward area occupies the northern part of Mong Kok.

The area is characterized by a mixture of old and new multi-story buildings, with shops and restaurants at street level and commercial or residential units above. Major industries in Mong Kok are retail, restaurants (including fast food) and entertainment. It has been described and portrayed in films as an area in which triads run bars, nightclubs, and massage parlors. With its extremely high population density of 130,000/km2 or 340,000 per square mile, Mong Kok was described as the busiest district in the world by the Guinness World Records.

Dayan the Cat, Japan

A rare non-viewcard for this blog... I really like these Dayan the Cat illustrations, though, so I just *had* to post this here.

This postcard is from Michelle in Japan. I swapped 'Greetings from' postcards with her and received the Japan version from her, but mine was taking ages to arrive and it seemed like it had got lost so I sent her another one. ...and then the first one arrived pretty much straight after I had posted the second card, so Michelle sent me this as a thank you.

Michelle also asked me about my Sunday morning traditions. I don't really have any... I normally sleep late if I can, but once a month I try to go to an Aikido class in Birmingham.

Dayan the Cat is a character designed by Akiko Ikeda. There are quite a few books in the series, I think. I first came across this cat a few years ago when a Japanese penpal of mine sent me a Dayan the Cat book. It's in Japanese, though, and even though it's a children's book so supposedly the text is fairly simple, I don't understand too much of it. I did study the basics of Japanese in university, but it's been years and I haven't used the language since then so have forgotten most of it. I do think these illustrations are absolutely adorable, though. I've been lucky enough to receive a few postcards with Dayan. :)

Greetings from Luxembourg

I was so happy when Anne was offering these cards on Facebook - I thought it would be impossible to get this card sent from Luxembourg! Thank you ever so much, Anne!

I might have to look up a recipe for bouneschluppp, it sounds yummy! I don't really know too much about Luxembourg and must confess I hadn't heard of any of the people mentioned on this card before.

Skellig Michael, Ireland

A lovely Unesco card from Ireland I received three years ago. ...and it has a Europa stamp on it, too! :)

Skellig Michael (Irish: Sceilig Mhichíl), or Great Skellig (Irish: Sceilig Mhór), is an island (the larger of the two Skellig Islands) in the Atlantic Ocean, 11.6 km west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. A Christian monastery was founded on the island at some point between the 6th and 8th century, and was continuously occupied until its abandonment in the late 12th century. The remains of the monastery, along with most of the island itself, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Ulcinj, Montenegro

I received a bunch of postcards of Ulcinj, Montenegro from dear Snježana last month. It looks like such a pretty little town! Here are a few of the postcards.

  old town
Ulcinj is the southernmost town in Montenegro. The town of Ulcinj has a population of 10,707 (2011 census) of which the majority are Albanians. Ulcinj is the centre of Ulcinj Municipality and the centre of the Albanian community in Montenegro. The Day of Ulcinj is held every first Saturday of April. It symbolizes the end of the collection of olives, the output of the sailors at the sea, and the beginning of the tourist season. Ulcinj is founding member of National Assembly of Albanian Municipalities created in 26 November 2012.

  Klezna River Bridge
Mendra lighthouse

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Greetings from the USA

One more card for today, another 'Greetings from' one. I've actually received a few of the new countries already but I thought I'd post the older ones here first.

It must have been really difficult to choose the 'famous Americans' for this one as there are so many. ...which is why it's a bit weird that Pocahontas is included. As the sender points out, she's more of a famous legend than a famous American.

 ...also, I guess technically you could say this is a Unesco card as well as the Statue of Liberty is a Unesco site..?! :D

Saskatchewan, Canada

Another Lunar Year swap card, this time from Canada. This was officially a Year of the Horse swap, but the sender, Deanna, used older Lunar Year stamps as well. ...and managed to get me a wonderful special cancellation from Love! :)

Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has a total area of 651,900 square kilometres and a land area of 592,534 square kilometres, the remainder being water area (covered by lakes/ponds, reservoirs and rivers). Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by the Province of Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota. As of December 2013, the population of Saskatchewan was estimated at 1,114,170. Residents primarily live in the southern half of the province. Of the total population, 257,300 live in the province's largest city, Saskatoon, while 210,000 live in the provincial capital, Regina. Other major cities include Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, Swift Current, and North Battleford.

Saskatchewan has been inhabited for thousands of years by various indigenous groups, and first explored by Europeans in 1690 and settled in 1774. It became a province in 1905, its name derived from the Saskatchewan River. The river was known as kisiskāciwani-sīpiy ("swift flowing river") in the Cree language. In the early 20th century the province became known as a stronghold for Canadian democratic socialism. Tommy Douglas, who was premier from 1944 to 1961, became the first social-democratic politician to be elected in North America. The province's economy is based on agriculture, mining, and energy. Saskatchewan's current premier is Brad Wall and its lieutenant-governor is Vaughn Solomon Schofield.

 In 1992, the federal and provincial governments signed a historic land claim agreement with Saskatchewan First Nations. The First Nations received compensation and were permitted to buy land on the open market for the tribes; they have acquired about 761,000 acres, now reserve lands. Some First Nations have used their settlement to invest in urban areas, including Saskatoon.

South Korea

I finally got a postcard from South Korea with a Year of the Sheep stamp! :) This is one of the few Instagram swaps I've done this year.

I have no idea what this place is called or where in South Korea it's located, there's no information at all on the back of the card. I assume it's some sort of temple - is that a Buddhist swastika on it? I wouldn't have thought it would be a place for Nazi supporters anyway :S

Israel map

Another postcard that arrived in an envelope... but this one is a lot older - I received this one over seven years ago! This is one of my older official Postcrossing cards, and the sender wrote a lovely letter to go with it, too.

Israel is a country in Western Asia, situated at the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip on the east and southwest, respectively, and Egypt and the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea to the south. It contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel's financial center is Tel Aviv, while Jerusalem is both its designated capital and the most populous individual city under the country's governmental administration. Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is internationally disputed.

The population of Israel, as defined by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, was estimated in 2014 to be 8,146,300 people. It is the world's only Jewish-majority state; 6,212,000 citizens, or 74.9% of Israelis, are designated as Jewish. The country's second largest group of citizens are denoted as Arabs, with 1,718,400 people (including the Druze and most East Jerusalem Arabs). The great majority of Israeli Arabs are Muslims; the rest are Christians and Druze. Other minorities include Maronites, Samaritans, Dom people, Black Hebrew Israelites, other Sub-Saharan Africans, Armenians, Circassians, Roma, Vietnamese boat people, and others. Israel also hosts a significant population of non-citizen foreign workers and asylum seekers from Africa and Asia.

 In its Basic Laws, Israel defines itself as a Jewish and Democratic State. Israel is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system, proportional representation and universal suffrage. The Prime Minister serves as head of government and the Knesset serves as Israel's legislative body. Israel is a developed country and an OECD member, with the 43rd-largest economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product as of 2012. The country has the highest standard of living in the Middle East and the fifth highest in Asia, and has the one of the highest life expectancies in the world.

Descent of the Holy Spirit Church, Potelych, Ukraine

I received a few Ukrainian Unesco cards in an envelope a while back, this is one of them, one of the Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine.

Located at the eastern fringes of Central Europe within the Polish and Ukrainian Carpathian mountain range, the sixteen wooden tserkvas (churches) are outstanding examples of the once widespread Orthodox ecclesiastical timber-building tradition in the Slavic countries that survives to this day. The architectural forms of the tserkvas with tri-partite plans, pyramidal domes, cupolas and bell towers conform to the requirements of Eastern liturgy while reflecting the cultural traditions of the local communities that developed separately due to the mountainous terrain. They include Hutsul types in the Ukrainian south-eastern Carpathians at Nyzhniy Verbizh and Yasynia; Halych types in the northern Carpathians either side of the Polish/Ukrainian border at Rohatyn, Drohobych, Zhovkva, Potelych, Radruż and Chotyniec; Boyko types either side of the Polish/Ukrainian border near the border with Slovakia at Smolnik, Uzhok and Matkiv, and western Lemko types in the Polish west Carpathians at Powroźnik, Brunary Wyźne, Owczary, Kwiatoń and Turzańsk. Built using the horizontal log technique with complex corner jointing, and exhibiting exceptional carpentry skills and structural solutions, the tserkvas were raised on wooden sills placed on stone foundations, with wooden shingles covering roofs and walls. The tserkvas with their associated graveyards and sometimes free-standing bell towers are bounded by perimeter walls or fences and gates, surrounded by trees.

Helsinki, Finland

I'm trying to go through the pile of postcards I'm hoping to post in this blog and my plan is going pretty well - the pile has gone down quite considerably. I should really take a photo... A lot of the cards are now ones I've received this year, such as this one from last month that mum and dad sent me from their holiday.

I have a bit of a soft spot for these trams in Helsinki. I think they are lovely and I vastly prefer them to buses, they are so much nicer. I have no idea yet whether I'll be going to Finland at some point this year. I hope I'll get to go, fingers crossed! My sister has just moved in Helsinki and I'd love to see her new flat as well.

This picture is from 1974 and well, the adverts on the trams do look a bit old. ;)

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Pitcairn Island

I should think it's safe to post the first of my Pitcairn Island postcards here now as at least one of the others has arrived safely. (You know who you are ;)) I ordered a bunch of these and had them mailed from Pitcairn Island, four to myself and one each to three other people. I still don't know if the other two have arrived yet... *fingers crossed* I suppose you could call this cheating as I didn't visit the place myself to mail these postcards, but I don't think there's any way I would ever get one from there otherwise. ...although apparently they are looking for new residents but not with much luck...

The Pitcairn Islands, officially named the Pitcairn Group of Islands, are a group of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean that form the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific. The four islands – Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno – are spread over several hundred miles of ocean and have a total land area of about 47 square kilometres. Only Pitcairn, the second largest island measuring about 3.6 kilometres from east to west, is inhabited.

The islands are inhabited by the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians (or Polynesians) who accompanied them, an event retold in numerous books and films. This history is still apparent in the surnames of many of the islanders. With only about 56 inhabitants, originating from four main families, Pitcairn is the least populous national jurisdiction in the world. The United Nations Committee on Decolonization includes the Pitcairn Islands on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Saint Kitts and Nevis

This postcard is unwritten, but since I'm not expecting to receive a written and stamped one any day now, I'm really glad to at least have this one in my collection.

The Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis; also known as the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, located in the Leeward Islands, is a federal two-island country in the West Indies. It is the smallest sovereign state in the Americas, in both area and population. The country is a Commonwealth realm, with Elizabeth II as its head of state.

The capital city and headquarters of government for the federated state is Basseterre on the larger island of Saint Kitts. The smaller island of Nevis lies about 3 km southeast of Saint Kitts, across a shallow channel called "The Narrows."

Historically, the British dependency of Anguilla was also a part of this union, which was then known collectively as Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla. Saint Kitts and Nevis are considered to be geographically part of the Leeward Islands. To the north-northwest lie the islands of Sint Eustatius, Saba (the Netherlands), Saint Barthélemy, Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten and Anguilla. To the east and northeast are Antigua and Barbuda, and to the southeast is the small uninhabited island of Redonda, and the island of Montserrat, which currently has an active volcano.

Saint Kitts and Nevis were among the first islands in the Caribbean to be settled by Europeans. Saint Kitts was home to the first British and French colonies in the Caribbean, and thus has also been titled "The Mother Colony of the West Indies."

Greetings from Italy

Today's 'Greetings from' postcard comes from Italy. I also just realised that I hadn't posted any Italian postcards here for quite a while... ooops!

I was asking my Italian penpal Marta about the selection of pasta in Italian supermarkets a while back. Apparently it's pretty good. ;) I would love to visit an Italian supermarket... I realised a while ago that if you buy good-quality pasta, you can really taste the difference. The normal supermarket pasta here isn't that great, but the pasta I bought was very nice indeed. Mmmm... Haha, and whenever my sister visits London (she's coming over this weekend actually and I'll be going to see her next weekend. Can't wait!), she always visits this one Italian deli and buys pasta to take home. :D

Is it weird that one of the main reasons I'd love to visit Italy is because of the food? I love Italian gelato, too, mmmmm...!! ...and I'd love to try proper pizza, and other dishes as well. I'd probably gain quite a bit of weight if I was to visit Italy.. :P

Saransk, Republic of Mordovia, Russia

A few years ago I was fairly actively trying to get a postcard of all the different Russian regions. This is one of those cards. I'm still missing a few regions, maybe I should start looking for them again...?

Saransk is the capital city of the Republic of Mordovia, Russia, as well as its financial and economic center. It is located in the Volga basin at the confluence of the Saranka and Insar Rivers, about 630 kilometers east of Moscow. Population: 297,415 (2010 Census).

Saransk has a relatively chilly version of the humid continental climate with warm but not hot summers and cold winters, that averages well below freezing for five months of the year.

Industrial activity in Saransk includes the production of electrical cables, chemical production, textile manufacturing, food processing, machine building, and metallurgy. The city has two thermal power stations. The city has the confectionary plant Lamzur.

Saransk is by far the largest city in Mordovia and accounts for 34.3% of the total population of the republic (as of the 2002 Census). Ethnic Russians form the majority of the population (about 85%), and Russian, rather than any of two co-official Mordvinic languages, is the common language of communication in the city. As with many provincial capitals in Russia, the population of Saransk has decreased since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, primarily as a result of economic migration to larger cities, made especially attractive by the downsizing, or outright collapse, of many smaller, regional, industrial enterprises.

Olga used a matching stamp!

Alice in Wonderland

I don't normally post non-viewcards here, but I just *had* to make an exception with this one as it's so adorable. ^_^

Alice in Wonderland AND tea! I have a bit of a soft spot for Alice in Wonderland. ...and it's kind of relevant at the moment as well as this year is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s classic book. I was so happy that the Royal Mail issued a set of stamps to celebrate this anniversary, too. :)

Obzor, Bulgaria

A swap card I received last week from Bulgaria. This looks like a pretty typical view from the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, not quite as touristy as some of the main resorts, though.

Obzor is a small town and seaside resort on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. It is part of Nesebar municipality, Burgas Province.

The Thracian and ancient Greek name of Obzor was Naulochos, a small port on the coast of Thrace, a colony of Mesembria. The ancient Romans named it Templum Iovis (Temple of Jupiter); Pliny called it Tetranaulochus. During the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria, it was known as Gözeken. The modern name was introduced in 1936; Obzor obtained town privileges on 9 September 1984.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Anse Intendance, Mahé, Seychelles

One more card for today. ...from a tropical paradise! :D Thank you a million for this postcard, Iain! Ahhh, to be on a beach like this...!

Anse Intendance is located in Takamaka, one of the 22 administrative regions of Mahé, Republic of Seychelles. Takamaka is located on the southern part of the island of Mahé. (3 other districts cover the two other main islands of the Republic, Grand' Anse and Baie Sainte Anne on the island of Praslin and the inner islands district which comprise the 3rd largest island, La Digue). Its population is estimated at around 3,000.