Nov 27, 2010

Naxos island | Greece

I visited Naxos island many many years ago, but I still remember the vivid blue of its seas. Naxos is a beautiful island with amazing beaches and friendly people!
Naxos (in Greek, Νάξος) is a Greek island, the largest island (429 km2 (166 sq mi)) in the Cyclades island group in the Aegean. It was the centre of archaic Cycladic culture. The largest town and capital of the island is Hora or Naxos City, with 6,533 inhabitants (2001 census). The main villages are Filoti, Apiranthos, Vivlos, Agios Arsenios, Koronos and Glinado. Naxos is a popular tourist destination, with several easily accessible ruins. It has a number of beautiful beaches, such as those at Agia Anna, Agios Prokopios, Alikos, Kastraki, Mikri Vigla, Plaka and Agios Georgios, most of them near Hora. Naxos is the most fertile island of the Cyclades. It has a good supply of water in a region where water is usually inadequate. Mount Zas (999 metres) is the highest peak in the Cyclades, and tends to trap the clouds, permitting greater rainfall. This has made agriculture an important economic sector with various vegetable and fruit crops as well as cattle breeding, making Naxos the most self sufficient island in the Cyclades. Naxos is also known within Greece for its potatoes. [wikipedia]


 This is the third card from Magin, showing Miag-ao Church in Philippines. On the back of the card it is printed: "Miag-ao Church officially known as Santo Tomas de Villanueva is a prime example of Philippine rococo style. Church resembling fortress dates back to 1787 and is included in the Unesco's world heritage list."
Magin also writes: "Miag-ao church is one of the most beautiful churches in Philippines. Majority of the Philippinos are Roman Catholics, so churches abound in every town. In my hometown, Cebu, the most popular church is the Basilica del Santo Nino."

She also tells me that the stamps were issued by Philpost as a tribute to Galeon Andalucia, which visited Philippines last month.

City of Vigan

The second card from Magin, this time a card of the beautiful City of Vigan in Philippines, her favorite Unesco World Heritage Site in Philippines. On the card it is printed: "Vigan is the capital city of Ilocos Sur and is located on the west coast of Northern Luzon. It is the oldest surviving Spanish colonial city in Philippines. It is well-known for its cobblestone streets, colonial houses made of bricks and the unique European atmosphere."
Magin also writes me that there is a legend about this old Spanish city. "According to the legend, the reason why this town survived during World War II was because one of the Japanese soldiers fell in love with a local girl, so he radio to their base saying that there was no need to bomb the Vigan town, since there were no longer American soldiers in the town. So, the city of Vigan was spared." I hope this legend is true, too, Magin :)

Nov 26, 2010

Banaue Rice Terraces | Philippines

This card was sent to me by Magin from Philippines as a direct swap! In the back of the card it says: "These 2000 years old terraces were carved into the mountains by Ifugao's indigenous people. The terraces start from the base of the Cordillera mountains and reach up to a thousand feet high. If stretched from end to end, would encircled half of the globe. It is tagged as one of the wonders of modern world and are a Unesco World Heritage Site."
Magin also mentions that strawberries grow in the region, too.

Nov 25, 2010

Bellinzona | Switzerland

This is from another private swap! It was sent to me by Pam from wintery Switzerland! As she writes me, she was at Bellinzona in May and it was amazing!

Bellinzona is the capital city of the canton Ticino in Switzerland. The city is famous for its three castles (Castelgrande, Montebello, Sasso Corbaro) that have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2000. Bellinzona is home to twelve buildings or areas that are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance. Finally, entire old city of Bellinzona is listed on the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. In addition to the Three Castles and the city walls, the medieval and early modern city is included on the list. Three religious buildings, the Church of S. Maria delle Grazie, the Collegiata dei Ss. Pietro e Stefano and the Church of S. Biagio a Ravecchiai are on the list. The Cantonal Archives, Bagno Pubblico, the secondary school (Italian: Scuola media) on via Lavizzari 28 and the Teatro sociale are the rest of the buildings on the list.

The Three Castles, officially listed as the Three Castles, Defensive Wall and Ramparts of the Market-Town of Bellinzone, have been an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. The group is composed of Castelgrande, castle Montebello, castle Sasso Corbaro and fortified walls. The Castelgrande is located on a rocky peak overlooking the valley, with a series of fortified walls that protect the old city and connect to the Montebello. The third castle (Sasso Corbaro) is located on a isolated rocky promontory south-east of the other two.

Palm Jebel Ali Island | Dubai

This impressive card was sent to me by Lorena from Dubai as a private swap. I have always wanted to visit those giant manmade islands!

The Palm Islands are artificial archipelago in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on which major commercial and residential infrastructure will be constructed. They are being constructed by Nakheel Properties, a property developer in the United Arab Emirates, who hired Belgian and Dutch dredging and marine contractor Jan De Nul and Van Oord, some of the world's specialists in land reclamation. The islands are the Palm Jumeirah, the Palm Jebel Ali and the Palm Deira.
Each settlement will be in the shape of a palm tree, topped with a crescent, and will have a large number of residential, leisure and entertainment centers. The Palm Islands are located off the coast of The United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf and will add 520 kilometres of beaches to the city of Dubai.
The first two islands will comprise approximately 100 million cubic meters of rock and sand. Palm Deira will be composed of approximately 1 billion cubic meters of rock and sand. All materials will be quarried in the UAE. Among the three islands there will be over 100 luxury hotels, exclusive residential beach side villas and apartments, marinas, water theme parks, restaurants, shopping malls, sports facilities and health spas.
The creation of the Palm Jumeirah began in June 2001. Shortly after, the Palm Jebel Ali was announced and reclamation work began. The Palm Deira, which is planned to have a surface area of 46.35 square kilometres, was announced for development in October 2004. Construction was originally planned to take 10–15 years, but that was before the impact of the global credit crunch hit Dubai.

Nov 22, 2010

Ayutthaya historical park | Thailand

This card was sent to me by Su as a private swap! Thailand is one of my dream-destinations, so I was excited when I saw this card in my mailbox! The image is so amazing! I can't wait to visit it someday!! :)

This card is actually showing Wat Yai Chai Mongkol, which is part of Ayutthaya historical park. The park covers the ruins of the old city of Ayutthaya in Thailand, which was founded by King Ramathibodi I in 1350 and was the capital of the country until its destruction by the Burmese army in 1767. In 1969 the Fine Arts Department began with renovations of the ruins, which became more serious after it was declared a historical park in 1976. The park was declared a UNESCO World heritage site in 1991. According to "Tourism Asia," thirty-three monarchs including King Rama IV governed from Ayutthaya. [wikipedia]

As Su tells me, the stamps show different Thai World Heritage Sites!

Nov 20, 2010

Krak des Chevaliers | Syria

Krak des Chevaliers, transliterated Crac des Chevaliers, is a Crusader castle in Syria and one of the most important preserved medieval military castles in the world. In Arabic, the fortress is called Qal'at al-Ḥiṣn (Arabic: قلعة الحصن‎), the word Krak coming from the Syriac karak, meaning fortress. It is located approximately 40 km west of the city of Homs, close to the border of Lebanon, and is administratively part of the Homs Governorate.
Known to the Arabs as Hisn al Akrad (Arabic: حصن الأکراد‎), the Castle of the Kurds, it was called by the Franks Le Crat and then by a confusion with karak (fortress), Le Crac. The modern Arabic name for the castle is Qalaat el Hosn; this derives from the name of an earlier fortification on the site called Hosn el Akrad, meaning "stronghold of the Kurds".
The castle is located east of Tartus, Syria, in the Homs Gap, atop a 650-metre-high hill. It sat along the only route from Antioch to Beirut and the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of many fortresses that were part of a defensive network along the border of the old Crusader states. The fortress controlled the road to the Mediterranean, and from this base, the Hospitallers could exert some influence over Lake Homs to the east to control the fishing industry and watch for Muslim armies gathering in Syria. 


This is Spetses, a beautiful small island near Athens. I have only been there once 5 years ago! It has many beautiful beaches and the Village of Spetses is amazing!

Spetses (Modern Greek: Σπέτσες, Ancient/Katharevousa: Σπέτσαι, Spetsai) is an island of Greece, sometimes included as one of the Saronic Islands. Until 1948, it was part of the old prefecture of Argolidocorinthia, which is now split into Argolis and Corinthia. In ancient times, it was known as Pityoussa, and later as Petses. The town of Spetses (pop. 3,846 in 2001) is the only large settlement on the island, and was one of only two provinces in Greece with fewer than five settlements and two municipalities. The island is presently an independent municipality (pop. 3,916), with no local boundaries within the municipality. The other settlements on the island are Moní Agíon Pánton (pop. 32), Ligonéri (16), Ágioi Anárgyroi (11), Kouzoúnos (3). Also part of the Municipality of Spetses are the islands of Spetsopoula (pop. 11) and Velopoula (uninhabited).

Nov 19, 2010

Images of Gers

Another private swap, this time with Anthony who was on vacations in France. He was visting his family in Gascogne Region in the South-West of France. As he writes me, Gascogne is famous for its gastronomy like foie-gras or armagnac wine. It is also, as he informs me, the birthplace of Mosquateer D'Artagnan.

Gascony was historically inhabited by Basque-related people who appear to have spoken a language similar to Basque. The name Gascony comes from the same root as the word Basque. From medieval times until the nineteenth century, the Gascon language was spoken, which is a regional variant of the Occitan Language. It is also home to the hero of the play Cyrano de Bergerac (though this character has little in common with the real Cyrano de Bergerac, who was a Parisian) and to Henry III of Navarre who later became king of France as Henry IV.
Gascony is also famed for its douceur de vivre ("sweetness of life"): its food, its medieval towns and villages locally called bastides nested amidst green rolling hills, its sunny weather, the beauty of its landscape, with the occasional distant views of the Pyrenees mountain range, all contribute to the popularity of Gascony as a tourist destination. Due to rural exodus, Gascony is one of the least populated areas of western Europe, and so it has recently become a haven for stressed urbanites of northern Europe (chiefly France, England, and the Benelux nations) who, in search of quiet and peace of mind, are increasingly buying second homes in Gascony. [wikipedia]

Finnish Sauna

This art card was sent to me by Virpi from Finland via postcrosing [FI-947881].  She writes me that in Finland "even small children bath in the sauna" and there are over 3 million saunas for 5,5 million people!

According to wikipedia, a sauna is a small room or house designed as a place to experience dry or wet heat sessions, or an establishment with one or more of these and auxiliary facilities. A sauna session can be a social affair in which the participants disrobe and sit or recline in temperatures typically between 60°C (140 °F) and 100°C (212 °F). This induces relaxation and promotes sweating. Saunas can be divided into two basic styles: Conventional saunas that warm the air or infrared saunas that warm objects. Infrared saunas may use various materials in their heating area such as charcoal, active carbon fibers, and other materials.

The word sauna is an ancient Finnish word referring to the traditional Finnish bath as well as to the bathhouse itself. The proto-Finnic reconstruction is savńa. There are etymological equivalents in the Baltic-Finnic languages such as the Ingrian and Votic word sauna, Estonian saun and Livonian sōna. The word suovdnji in Sámi means a pit dug out of the snow, such as a hole for a willow grouse. In Baltic-Finnish, sauna does not necessarily mean a building or space built for bathing. It can also mean a small cabin or cottage, such as a cabin for a fisherman. There still exists an old saying, "saunassa ollaan kuin kirkossa" – you should sit in the sauna as in a church.

She haw also put some beautiful stamps, two of them are cross-shaped :D

Nov 18, 2010

Churches of the Eastern Salvadorean Towns

Multiview card sent by Claudia from El Savador. It shows picturesque churches at Eastern Salvadorean towns.Clockwise you can see Conchagua, San Alejo, Jocoro and Moncagua.
El Salvador (Spanish: República de El Salvador, literally meaning "Republic of The Savior") is the smallest, and also the most densely populated country in Central America. It borders the Pacific Ocean between Guatemala and Honduras. It lies on the Gulf of Fonseca, as do Honduras and Nicaragua further south.
It has a population of approximately 5,744,113 people, as of 2009. The capital city of San Salvador is the largest city of the Republic. The colón was the currency of El Salvador between 1892 and 2001, when El Salvador adopted the U.S. Dollar. The Colón continues to be legal tender. [wikipedia]

Novodevichy Convent | Russia

Another beautiful postcard from Russia. It was sent by Nadin via postcrossing. This one is one of my favorites! I love the colors and the whole scenery! Nadin writes to me that temperature in Moscow can reach -25 degrees and the funny thing is that the day I received this it was 23 degrees :) Time for some facts:

"The Convent provides an example of the highest accomplishments of Russian architecture with rich interiors and an important collection of paintings and artefacts."
UNESCO World Heritage

"A cluster of 16 sparkling domes behind turreted walls."
Lonely Planet

"A quiet walk through this cemetery is most rewarding."
The Economist
Located on the Moscow River, Novodevichiy Monastyr (New Maiden's Convent) is a peaceful retreat from the bustling city of Moscow. The site includes a beautiful 17th-century convent complex that is once again in use and an atmospheric cemetery where many of Russia's most famous writers, poets, politicians and public figures are buried.

Nov 9, 2010

Müritz, Germany

A Müritz card sent from Klaus via postcrossing [DE-746490].

The Müritz (from slavic "little sea") is a lake in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, northern Germany. Its area is 117 km², which makes it the second largest lake of Germany (after Lake Constance). Its maximum depth is 31 metres. It is fed and drained by the river Elde. Part of the Müritz and adjacent forests and wetlands are protected by the Müritz National Park. The Müritz district was named after the lake. The biggest cities bordering the lake are Waren (Müritz) and Röbel, both major centers of tourism in the Mecklenburg Lake District. [wikipedia]

In the center you can see the Church of Saint Mary and on the right the church of Saint George.

Novosibirsk | Russia

This was sent to me by Valerie from Russia as "I was born there" tag! It shows Novosibirsk State Museum of Local Lore.

Novosibirsk is Russia's third-largest city, after Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and the largest city of Siberia. It is the administrative center of Novosibirsk Oblast as well as of the Siberian Federal District. The city is located in the south-western portion of the federal district and occupies an area of 477.2 square kilometres (184.2 sq mi). On September 2, 1962, Novosibirsk reached a population of one million. At that time, it was the youngest city in the world with over a million people. Novosibirsk took fewer than seventy years to achieve this milestone.[wikipedia]

Kaohsiung Harbor | Taiwan

 This amazing card was sent by Hsin Yu from Taiwan as a private swap! The card has the shape you see!

It pictures Kaohsiung Harbor in southwestern Taiwan. Kaohsiung is the most densely populated and the second largest city in Taiwan, with a population around 1.5 million. It is a center for manufacturing, refining, shipbuilding, and other light and heavy industries. A major port, through which pass most of Taiwan's marine imports and exports, is located at the city but is not managed by the city government.
Kaohsiung International Airport serving the city is the second largest airport in Taiwan. The Port of Kaohsiung is the largest harbor in Taiwan. Kaohsiung is the terminal of the Sun Yat-sen Freeway. [wikipedia]

The tall building that stands out is named Tuntex Sky Tower, or the T & C Tower or 85 SKYTOWER, and is an 85-floor skyscraper. The structure is 347.5 m (1,140 ft) high. An antenna pushes the building height to 378 m (1,240 ft). Constructed from 1994 to 1997, it is the tallest skyscraper in Kaohsiung, and was the tallest in Taiwan until the completion of Taipei 101.

Nov 7, 2010

Syros, η αρχόντισσα των Κυκλάδων

Syros is one of my favorite Greek islands! As you can see, Ermoupoli [the capital of Syros] is built on two hills. Each hill has a church built on top of it. On the right hill there is the Greek Orthodox Church and on the left there is the Cappuccine Catholic Church. Ermoupoli used to be a small village, called Syros. When there was the destruction of some Greek islands such as Chios, Psarra etc, the fugitives came to Syros. Syros' inhabits didn't want the refugees to live near them, so they gave them the beach beneath Syros. The refugees tried very hard to built their houses on the sand and year after year the small village started to grow. They built a harbor, hospital and many goverment buildings. The mail road was named after Ermis, the ancient Greek god of commerce. Later, as the harbor became the biggest in Greece, the whole city was renamed after him, Ermoupoli [literally meaning the city of Ermis]. Ermoupoli is -in my opinion- one of the most beautiful Greek cities. Every building has its history and every time I walk around the small alleys, I feel I am travelling back in time!

Nov 6, 2010

Suomi, Finland

A lovely card from Tuja, who lives in Tampere, Finland, sent via postcrossing [FI-938697].

Nov 4, 2010

Happy 1949 | England

When I received the postcard from David, I remembered that I also had this postcard of England! It shows Buckingham Palace from St. Jame's Park. On the right you can see the Queen Victoria Memorial.

The card was sent on 14 December 1948 from Kostas to Alice. He writes: "Dear Alice, thanks a lot for your letter and your wishes, I also wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for your baby girl. I salute you, Kostas"

Christchurch Mansion

A card of Christchurch Mansion, sent by David from England via postcrossing [GB-180791]. As he writes to me, Christchurch Mansion was built in 1548/49 and it stands in a beautiful, big park near the center of Ipswich. Now it is a museum.

I found more information in wikipedia:
Christchurch Park was originally the grounds of the Priory of the Holy Trinity, with an area of many square miles, coming up to the medieval town walls. During Henry VIIIs dissolution of the monasteries, the monastery was dissolved and the land was purchased by Sir Edmund Withipoll, who built the mansion in 1548-50, the ground floor of which remains largely as he left it. His granddaughter, Elizabeth Withipoll, married Leicester Devereux, 6th Viscount Hereford and the mansion passed to the Devereux family, who rebuilt the upper floors after a fire in about 1670, when the main porch was also added. In 1734, Claude Fonnereau purchased the mansion from Price Devereux, 10th Viscount Hereford. A road next to the park is named after the family.
The mansion was bought by Felix Cobbold from a syndicate of property developments 1894 to save the building from demolition. Cobbold, a weathly local businessman and philanthropist, then offered to give it to the Ipswich Corporation to establish a Museum and Art Gallery, together with a further £20,000 in Ipswich Stock for the purchase of artworks. His offer was on condition that the corporation buy the surrounding parkland for the people of Ipswich. It took Cobbold three attempts to get the corporation to agree to this, but in February 1895 the mansion was transferred to the town and in April 1895 the corporation purchased the central part of the park. The corporation acquired the upper arboretum in 1928.
The Grade I listed building mansion houses a collection of pottery and glass, a contemporary art gallery and a collection of paintings by artists including John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough. There are rooms preserved as past inhabitants would have known them, complete with original items of fine clothing.


Ios is one of the most famous Greek islands. It is situated halfway between Naxos and Santorini. Back in the '70s and '80s it was mostly famous for drugs and sexual orgies. Nowadays it still has a vivid nightlife, but it is very safe. Tourists have discovered the islands' beautiful beaches and picturesque villages. As most of the Cyclades, it has white, small houses and many windmills. Many scenes from the film Big Blue where shot at Maganari, the most famous beach of the island.

Nov 3, 2010


Euboea (Greek: Εύβοια, Évia; Ancient Greek: Εὔβοια, Eúboia) is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. It is separated from the mainland of Greece by the narrow Euripus Strait. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about 150 kilometres (93 mi) long, and varies in breadth from 50 kilometres (31 mi) to 6 kilometres (3.7 mi). Its general direction is from northwest to southeast, and it is traversed throughout its length by a mountain range, which forms part of the chain that bounds Thessaly on the east, and is continued south of Euboea in the lofty islands of Andros, Tinos and Mykonos. [wikipedia]

The truth is that Eubea is so close to Athens and so easy to get to, that we go there often. Either for excursions or to swim to its beautiful beaches. This postcard is rather old.. My parents have bought it back in 1982.

Statue of Liberty

This card was sent by Craig from USA as a private swap. As he writes, he bought this card on his first trip to New York back in 1995. He also tells me that he went to the Statue of Liberty (Unesco World Heritage Site) first thing in the morning and was actually the first in line to walk up! Must have been pretty awesome to be the first person up there :)

The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World [French: La Liberté éclairant le monde]) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue has become an iconic symbol of freedom and of the United States.  [wikipedia]

As for the stamps, Postal Service wanted to honor the organizations that gave black players a chance to show their talents before the major leagues were integrated. A pair of 44-cent commemorative stamps will be dedicated in ceremonies at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo. One stamp shows a close play at home plate, while the other commemorates Andrew "Rube" Foster, founder of the leagues that operated from 1920 to 1960. []

Nov 1, 2010

Yu Garden, Shanghai

An amazing card from the Shanghai Expo 2010 sent by Maki! On the card there is Yu Garden, one of the most famous tourist attractions in Shanghai. So excited that I got a card from the Expo :D

Yu Garden, located at No. 132. Anren Street in the center of the Old City next to the Chenghuangmiao area in Shanghai, China, is considered one of the most lavish and finest Chinese gardens in the region. The garden is accessible from the nearby Yuyuan Garden station on the Shanghai Metro line 10. There is also a hotel with the same name, between the metro station and the garden. The garden was first established in 1559 as a private garden created by Pan Yunduan, who spent almost 20 years building a garden to please his father Pan En, a high-ranking official in the Ming Dynasty, during his father's old age. Over the years, the gardens fell into disrepair until about 1760 when bought by merchants, before suffering extensive damage in the 19th century. In 1842, during the Opium Wars, the British army occupied the Town God Temple for five days. During the Taiping Rebellion the gardens were occupied by imperial troops, and damaged again by the Japanese in 1942. They were repaired by the Shanghai government from 1956–1961, opened to the public in 1961, and declared a national monument in 1982. [wikipedia]


Amazing postcard sent by Xueqian Zhu from China as a private swap! I really love this one! It shows Nakhi people  playing ancient music in Lijiang County, China.

The Nakhi are an ethnic group inhabiting the foothills of the Himalayas in the northwestern part of Yunnan Province, as well as the southwestern part of Sichuan Province in China. The Nakhi are thought to have come originally from Tibet and, until recently, maintained overland trading links with Lhasa and India. They were brought to the attention of the world by two men: the American botanist Joseph Rock and the Russian Taoist doctor Peter Goullart, both of whom lived in Lijiang and travelled throughout the area during the early 20th century. Peter Goullart's book Forgotten Kingdom describes the life and beliefs of the Nakhi and neighbouring peoples, while Joseph Rock's legacy includes diaries, maps, and photographs of the region. The Nakhi form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China.
 Nakhi music is 500 years old, and with its mixture of literary lyrics, poetic topics, and musical styles from the Tang, Song, and Yuan dynasties, as well as some Tibetan influences, it has developed its own unique style and traits. There are three main styles: Baisha, Dongjing, and Huangjing, all using traditional Chinese instruments. [wikipedia]

The stamp shows two little birds on a branch.

 Thanks Xueqian Zhu for the beautiful card :)