Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Netherlands

Multiview card of Utrecht in central Netherlands, which was for most of Dutch history the most important city in the country until eclipsed by Amsterdam in the Dutch Golden Age. The larger picture shows the Dom Tower, the symbol of the city and the tallest church tower in the Netherlands.

I finally get my hands on one of the official Dutch Postcrossing stamps!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Russian Federation II

Postcard showing Mamaev Kurgan in Volgograd, a memorial complex commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad (Volgograd's Soviet-era name), a decisive but terribly bloody Soviet victory over the Axis powers in 1942-1943. With some sources putting the number of casualties as high as two million, it was one of the most lethal battles ever. On Russia's tentative list for world heritage.

Self-adhesive stamp of one of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic mascots, the hare. The two other mascots are strange choices: the polar bear, whose range is several thousand kilometres away from Sochi, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, and the leopard, which was extirpated from Russia in the 1960s. Maybe hares are common enough around Sochi to make up for the lack of the other two?

Spain

Postcard from the Government of Andalusia's Tourism Promotion Board. Andalusia is famous for its many Mediterranean beaches, but there was no other information on the back of the card. 
The card arrived in an envelope with no stamp to feature either.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Canada – Alberta III

With the start of the Olympics this week, a card courtesy of Glenn from another Olympic city, Calgary, which hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics, having previously bid for the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Winter Olympics, losing out to Innsbruck, Grenoble and Sapporo, respectively. Perseverance pays off in the end! In that honour, I'm introducing an Olympic Cities label to commemorate all the places that have hosted that great event.

The card, as you can see, has nothing to do with the Calgary Olympics, of course, but rather features a chuck wagon race at the Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo and festival that celebrates its hundredth birthday this year. My thanks to Glenn for the card.

Three stamps from a set of four featuring Canadian "Difference Makers". Rick Hansen is a celebrated Canadian Paralympian who circled the world in his wheelchair to raise awareness and funds for spinal cord research. He's also from my dad's small hometown! Louise Arbour is a war crimes prosecutor who later served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Michael J. Fox is an actor who was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson's disease and has since dedicated himself to increasing research into the disease. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

France VI

Postcard sent to me by group of my dancer friends in Paris. The card, showing a Belle Époque Parisian clothier in 1907, is a humorous allusion to the times we would often get together to pull together the costumes for our shows. Un super-gros merci à toutes et tous les Dindes!

It would seems as though the stamp unfortunately fell off somewhere along the way. I have a feeling it was probably the Mariane definitive, so I'm not too shaken up about it. The Paris Popincourt post office was just a few minutes from my old apartment, although not my designated neighbourhood post office which was Paris Goncourt.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Canada – Newfoundland and Labrador

Cabot Tower at Signal Hill National Historic Site at the harbour entrance to Saint John's, Newfoundland. Cabot Tower was built, like its sister Cabot Tower across the Atlantic Ocean in Bristol, England, in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the voyage of John Cabot who, under the commission of Henry VII of England, landed in Newfoundland and claimed the east coast of North America for the British Crown.

Many thanks to Glenn.

Long stamp commemorates the fateful maiden sailing of the Titanic, who's story is closely linked to Canada because Halifax became the final resting place of many of the people who lost their lives in the disaster.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sweden

Although Sweden certainly doesn't seem like a faraway or unusual country, this is only the second card from Sweden in my collection! The first card being rather unlovely, I was quite happy to receive this one. It shows the Södermalm district of central Stockholm.

Both stamps are permanent rate, first class mail stamps. The one on the left features an acorn (could not find more info), and the one on the right features King Carl Gustaf XVI, who is a familiar face from Nobel Prize ceremonies, where he personally hands out the awards.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Nicaragua

I was very excited when a coworker friend announced he was going home to Nicaragua on holiday, as it's been a hard country to crack for my collection. Unfortunately, the postcards were sent in an envelope, so my search for a stamped card sent from Nicaragua continues, but certainly very sincere thanks to Carlos for taking time out of his holiday to track down some postcards for me.

The first card shows the crater of Masaya Volcano, an active volcano not far from the nation's capital, Managua. It was added to the World Heritage Tentative List in 1995 as the Volcán Masaya National Park.

Multiview card of Granada, founded in 1524, ostensibly making it the first European city in mainland America. Built on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, the "City of Granada and its natural environment" was added to the World Heritage Tentative List in 2003 because of its rich colonial heritage and the exceptional natural heritage of the lake.

Card shows the Park entrance, the Cathedral and Independence Square, mango-pickers in the park, and some of the Islets of Granada, an archipelago in the lake formed when a nearby volcano erupted 20,000 years ago.

Multiview showing a scarlet macaw, the Presidential Palace, the Islets of Granada, and another shot of the crater of Masaya Volcano.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Uzbekistan IV

The final three-in-one-day card come from Gala, and, of course, many thanks to her as well for sending this card. It shows the kala bag, a typical woman's bag from the Samarkand region of the country.

The stamp features a pearl gourami, Trichogaster leeri, a common aquarium fish that comes originally from Southeast Asia.

Uzbekistan III

The second three-in-one-day Uzbekistan postcard comes from Igor, so many, many thanks to him as well. The card shows the National Bank of Foreign Economic Activities. It is the tallest building in the national capital, Tashkent.

 Previously featured stamps of the Uzbek National Academic Drama Theatre.

Uzbekistan II

After years of trying, I was happy to finally find someone to send me a postcard from Uzbekistan. When I received the card, it was indeed very lovely, but had unfortunately been sent from neighbouring Kazakhstan. My hunt for an Uzbekistan stamped, sent card continued. Then, today, as I opened up my mailbox, I was more than thrilled to find not one, but three Uzbekistan postcards, sent by three different people!

The first card shows the Kalyan Mosque in the Historic Centre of Bukhara World Heritage site. The minaret was built in 1127 and so impressed Genghis Khan that he ordered it to be spared when all around was destroyed by his men.

Many, many thanks to Alena for agreeing to swap cards.

Stamp on the left commemorates Berdaq, an Uzbekistani poet from the nineteenth century. The pair on the right are from a definitive series from 2008, showing the Uzbek National Academic Drama Theatre in the capital, Tashkent.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Russian Federation

Postcard of the insanely large Tsar Cannon (Царь-пушка) on the grounds of the Moscow Kremlin. The barrel diameter is 1.2 metres, making it the largest cannon-type weapon ever. It was cast in 1586 and was never actually used in warfare. Part of the Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow World Heritage site.

A number of stamps including two, the fox and the rabbit, from a 2008 definitive series on animals of Russia. The centre stamp features the Zhivopisny Bridge in Moscow, the highest cable-stayed bridge in Europe. The stamp on the right commemorates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Marina Raskova, a celebrated Soviet aviatrix who broke several flying records in the 1930s and went on to found three female air regiments during the Second World War.

Philippines

 Postcard of a three-wheel motor-rickshaw commonly used to cover short distances the Philippines, known as a tricycle. Usually they carry three or four passengers.

Stamps from a 2011 definitive set of marine life featuring the blue-faced angelfish, Euxiphipops xanthometapon, the polyclad flatworm, Pseudoceros dimidiatus, and the picasso trigger, Rhinecanthus aculeatus, which are all found in the coral reefs ringing the 7,000 islands of the Philippine Archipelago.

Special thanks to James who was in Manila on business.

Uzbekistan

Postcard from the UNESCO World Heritage city of Samarkand showing the Registan complex, a public square flanked by monumental Islamic buildings. Construction of the buildings was begun Emperor Tamerlane in the fifteenth century. Shown here is the Sher-Dor Madrasah, or Islamic school, which cemented Samarkand's role as a centre of learning in Central Asia.

Many thanks to Dela who was travelling in the region! 

The card was sent from Kazakstan with the Kazakhstani coat of arms stamps featured in a previous post. My hunt for a stamped card sent from Uzbekistan continues! 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

United States of America – New York II

Statue of Atlas holding the world on his shoulders in front of Rockefeller Centre in New York City. Interestingly, when the statue was unveiled in 1937, some people protested, claiming that it looked like Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini. – Having seen photos of Mussolini, I would have said it looks more like what Mussolini imagined he looked like in his dreams!

Lovely assortment of stamps, the first two from a series honouring American craftsmanship, the centre one commemorating celebrated American poet, E. E. Cummings, and the last in honour of this year's Year of the Dragon Chinese New Year.

Special thanks to Susan for putting such effort into this lovely card! :-)

Friday, July 6, 2012

New World Heritage sites

Congratulations to the 26 newly inscribed World Heritage sites as this year's World Heritage Committee meeting wraps up in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Among the new sites is Canada's first new site in five years, the Landscape of Grand Pré, in Nova Scotia. The cultural landscape site bears witness to the development of agricultural farmland by Acadians in the seventeenth century and is a memorial to their way of life and tragic deportation at the hands of the British in 1755, known as the Grand Dérangement.

The Landscape of Grand Pré now joins 15 other World Heritage sites in Canada. The full list of new sites can be found here.

The Committee also adopted a decision strongly condemning the terrible desecration of heritage sites in Timbuktu, Mali at the hands of armed Islamic rebels. It called on all stakeholders to mobilise against such action and called for an end to these "repulsive acts". Hopefully, the situation will stabilise before further destruction is wrought on these shrines and monuments dating from as far back as the thirteenth century.

New sites 2012
Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley (Malaysia)
Bassari Country: Bassari, Fula and Bedik Cultural Landscapes (Senegal)
Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine)
Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications (Portugal)
Gonbad-e Qābus (Iran)
Landscape of Grand Pré (Canada)
Margravial Opera House Bayreuth (Germany)
Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan (Iran)
Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük (Turkey)
Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin (France)
Rabat, modern capital and historic city: a shared heritage (Morocco)
Site of Xanadu (China)
Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot/Wadi el-Mughara Caves (Israel)
Chengjiang Fossil Site (China)
Lakes of Ounianga (Chad)
Lena Pillars Nature Park (Russian Federation)
Rock Islands Southern Lagoon (Palau)
Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy (Indonesia)
Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland (Sweden)
Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija (Slovenia, Spain)
Historic town of Grand-Bassam (Côte d'Ivoire)
Major Mining Sites of Wallonia (Belgium)
Pearling, testimony of an island economy (Bahrain)
Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea (Brazil)
Sangha Trinational (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo)
Western Ghats (India)

I hope the trend of increasingly longer site names comes to an end with the almost preposterous "Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy". The earliest sites had names like "Galápagos Islands", "Chartres Cathedral", and "Persepolis". A long name almost does the site a disservice as people will most certainly get the name wrong and create confusion about the importance of the thing being protected. "Chengjiang Fossil Site", now there's a nice, short, effective name that spells out where and what it is. Let's hope for more like that in the future!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Greece II

Postcard of Elafonisi Island, Greek for "Deer Island". The island is a protected nature reserve that can be reached from the neighbouring island of Crete by wading through shallow water when tides and weather cooperate.

Many thanks to Iustin, who's working in Crete for the summer. – Doesn't seem like too shabby a place to spend the summer! :-) 

Information about Greek stamps is hard to come by; both of these stamps were issued last year, the one on the left inviting you to visit Greece, and the one one the left inviting you to plant a garden, it would seem.

After years and years and years with a single Greece card in my collection, it's funny to get two within days of each other! When it rains, it pours. :-)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Kazakhstan

Postcard featuring Hotel Kazakhstan, in that country's largest city, Almaty. Being one of its tallest buildings, it's a popular landmark, and is even featured on the Kazakhstani 5,000 tenge note. It was the place to stay during the Soviet period.

Special thanks to Dela from Germany who is doing volunteer service in Almaty.

Stamp features the coat of arms of Kazakhstan. The coat of arms represents the dome-like upper portion of a yurt, against a sky blue background which irradiates the roof supports like sunbeams, and is set off by wings of mythical horses. It's somewhat reminiscent of the flag of neighbouring Kyrgyzstan. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Canada – Ontario

In honour of Canada Day today, a card from the capital, Ottawa, showing the changing of the guard in front of the Parliament Buildings. Construction of buildings on Parliament Hill began in 1859 after Queen Victoria chose the small mill town of Ottawa over the much larger cities of Toronto and Montreal as capital of Canada.

Thanks to Paul, who was visiting for work.

Previously featured self-adhesive, permanent domestic rate stamps commemorating the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics.