Friday, June 28, 2013

Gateway Arch, Saint Louis - MO - USA

An official card -  it's so nice to receive them! This came from a Saint Louis postcrosser that has chosen a very nice card showing the amazing Gateway Arch. Thanks a lot David, I would love to get up there, the view must be breathtaking - maybe one day you could "Meet me in St Louis"! This postcard took 20 days to arrive!

Gateway Arch, Saint Louis - MO - USA
 
The Gateway Arch is a 630-foot (190 m) monument in Saint Louis, Missouri. Clad in stainless steel and built in the form of a flattened catenary arch, it is the tallest man-made monument in the United States, Missouri's tallest accessible building, and the world's tallest arch. Built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States, it is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and has become an internationally famous symbol of St. Louis.



Eiffel Tower, Paris (Banks of the Seine) - FRANCE - UNESCO #600

Paris, the magnificent Paris, probably the most well know city in the world - everybody wants to visit it and many achieve that wish! I've been there several times and every time I find something new. Walking along the banks of the Seine fills your eyes and spirit - there's so much to see and absorb! This is my first card of Paris, sent by Sabrina (merci beaucoup!) with a reproduction of a vintage photo of the Eifel Tower - definitively the best way to start a Paris collection! Since the banks of the Seine are a UNESCO site, my counting rises to 70, only 911 (again the porsche) to go. This postcard took 4 days to arrive!

UNESCO #600 - Eiffel Tower, Paris - FRANCE
 
From the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, from the Place de la Concorde to the Grand and Petit Palais, the evolution of Paris and its history can be seen from the River Seine. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the Sainte Chapelle are architectural masterpieces while Haussmann's wide squares and boulevards influenced late 19th- and 20th-century town planning the world over.



Monastery of Alcobaça - PORTUGAL - UNESCO #505

On the same trip to Lisbon in which I sent to myself the Batalha Monastery card, I made another detour, this time for passing in Alcobaça and send a postcard of the beautiful monastery (this time with normal colors - sorry Catia, but your card is really strange!).  The counting remains but now I have two cards of this beautiful UNESCO site. This postcard took 8 days to arrive! 
 
UNESCO #505 - Monastery of Alcobaça - PORTUGAL
  
The Monastery of Santa Maria d'Alcobaça, north of Lisbon, was founded in the 12th century by King Afonso Henriques (Alfonso I). Its size, the purity of its architectural style, the beauty of the materials and the care with which it was built make this a masterpiece of Cistercian Gothic art. The monastery is also an outstanding example of a great Cistercian establishment with a unique infrastructure of hydraulic systems and functional buildings. Deservedly renowned, the 18th-century kitchen adds to the interest of the group of monastic buildings from the medieval period.
 


Castle of Heidelberg - GERMANY - UNESCO TENTATIVE

This beautiful card shows the ruins of the castle of Heidelberg in Germany. Like with the abbeys in France and England, when I see a place like this I always wish I could travel back in time to see them in full splendor. This site is a UNESCO candidate and according to Sabrina, the sender of this postcard (thanks!) it's a awesome place. This postcard took 5 days to arrive!

Castle of Heidelberg - GERMANY - UNESCO TENTATIVE

Heidelberg is situated in an unique landscape in the valley of the River Neckar. The castle is a chef d'oeuvre of German renaissance architecture. With the ruins of the castle, the baroque style architecture based on a ground plan of the middle ages and the surrounding landscape Heidelberg became the centre of the German romanticism in the l9th century.



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Tenerife - SPAIN - UNESCO #929

This is the second card from Tenerife. I've been in this beautiful Island a long time ago (maybe 15 years), but I hadn't the chance to visit La Laguna... got to go there one day. Muchas gracias Alfonso - now I have 69 (olé!) sites, only 912 to go. This postcard took 6 days to arrive!

UNESCO #929 - San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Tenerife - SPAIN
 
The historic ensemble of San Cristóbal de La Laguna in the Canary Islands (Tenerife) has outstanding universal value is an urban design that represents the concept of the 'town-territory' as the first example of an unfortified town laid out and built according to a complete plan based on navigation, the science of the time, and as the organized space of a new peaceful social order inspired by the millenary religious concepts of the year 1500. As the first non-fortified Spanish colonial town, its layout was the model for many colonial towns in the Americas.



Teide National Park, Tenerife - SPAIN - UNESCO #1258

Alfonso is a Spanish postcrosser and we swapped two UNESCO sites - the cards he sent me from Tenerife arrived today. I already had one from the Teide (so the counting remains the same), the big old volcano that dominates thar beautiful island, but this one gives a different perspective. Thanks a lot! This postcard took 6 days to arrive!

UNESCO #1258 - Teide National Park - Tenerife Island - SPAIN
 
Situated on the island of Tenerife, Teide National Park features the Teide-Pico Viejo stratovolcano that, at 3,718 m, is the highest peak on Spanish soil. Rising 7,500 m above the ocean floor, it is regarded as the world’s third-tallest volcanic structure and stands in a spectacular environment. The visual impact of the site is all the greater due to atmospheric conditions that create constantly changing textures and tones in the landscape and a ‘sea of clouds’ that forms a visually impressive backdrop to the mountain. Teide is of global importance in providing evidence of the geological processes that underpin the evolution of oceanic islands.
 
 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Borea Jezuchi Bajilika, Goa - INDIA - UNESCO #234

What a glorious day this was, after the cards from Malaysia, the last on the mail pile was this amazing card from Goa, India (my first from India!) with the Bom Jesus Basilica (Borea Jezuchi Bajilika), another example of the Portuguese architecture and a truly awesome memory of a time when Portugal was one of the greatest nations on this planet. Thank you so much Dessai for this really special card. Goa is the 68th site in my UNESCO collection, only 913 to go! This postcard took 8 days to arrive!
 
UNESCO #234 - Borea Jezuchi Bajilika, Goa - INDIA

The Portuguese explorer Alfonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa in 1510 and the Portuguese ruled the territory until 1961. The colony of Goa, which has its centre in Old Goa, became the capital of the vast eastern Portuguese Empire, sharing the same civic privileges as Lisbon. The churches and convents of Goa – particularly the Church of Bom Jesus, which contains the tomb of St Francis-Xavier – illustrate the evangelization of Asia. These monuments were influential in spreading forms of Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque art in all the countries of Asia where missions were established. 



Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca - MALAYSIA - UNESCO #1223

Being a Portuguese and proud of the glorious historic past of my nation (let's not talk about present days please) this two cards are obviously very special to me, mainly the first. Portuguese conquer Melaka 500 years ago and establish there a stronghold controlling the trade in that region; the ruins of "A Famosa" (The Famous - the oldest European building in Asia) reminds us of a time when we rule the oceans and half the world. Thank you very much Shaliza, with this two cards I have another UNESCO site added to my collection - 67 done, only 914 to finish. This postcards took 8 days to arrive!
  
UNESCO #1223 - Porta  de Santiago, A Famosa, Malaca - MALAYSIA

UNESCO #1223 - George town, Penang - MALAYSIA

Melaka and George Town, historic cities of the Straits of Malacca have developed over 500 years of trading and cultural exchanges between East and West in the Straits of Malacca. The influences of Asia and Europe have endowed the towns with a specific multicultural heritage that is both tangible and intangible. With its government buildings, churches, squares and fortifications, Melaka demonstrates the early stages of this history originating in the 15th-century Malay sultanate and the Portuguese and Dutch periods beginning in the early 16th century. Featuring residential and commercial buildings, George Town represents the British era from the end of the 18th century. The two towns constitute a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.



Kinabalu Park (Low's Peak) - MALAYSIA - UNESCO #1012

Today I received three cards from a UNESCO collector that lives in Malaysia (the first cards I get from there!)... In this one we have the highest mountain in the Malay Archipelago, located in the island of Borneu (well known, among other things, for the gorillas sanctuary). Thanks a lot Shaliza - now I have 66 sites, only 915 to go. This postcard took 8 days to arrive!

UNESCO #1012 - Kinabalu Park (Low's Peak) - MALAYSIA
 
Kinabalu Park, in the State of Sabah on the northern end of the island of Borneo, is dominated by Mount Kinabalu (4,095 m), the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. It has a very wide range of habitats, from rich tropical lowland and hill rainforest to tropical mountain forest, sub-alpine forest and scrub on the higher elevations. It has been designated as a Centre of Plant Diversity for Southeast Asia and is exceptionally rich in species with examples of flora from the Himalayas, China, Australia, Malaysia, as well as pan-tropical flora.



Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - HI - USA - UNESCO #409

My  first card from Hawaii! This awesome postcard pictures the Kilauea volcano that has been spewing lava since 1983 - in Hawaiian mythology Kilauea  is the body of the deity Pele, goddess of fire and lightning, in permanent battle with Nāmaka, the goddess of the sea - who's going to win, place your bets! Thanks a lot Julia, I love this card and since it is a UNESCO site, I now have 65 and only 916 to the end. This postcard took 13 days to arrive!

Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii - USA - UNESCO #409
 
The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park contains two of the most active volcanoes in the world, Mauna Loa (4,170 m high) and Kilauea (1,250 m high), both of which tower over the Pacific Ocean. Volcanic eruptions have created a constantly changing landscape, and the lava flows reveal surprising geological formations. Rare birds and endemic species can be found there, as well as forests of giant ferns. The calderas of Kilauea are one of most studied in the world: in fact there is a geologic station dating from 1912.



Gdansk, town of Memory and Freedom - POLAND - UNESCO TENTATIVE

This beautiful postcard came from Poland (a country I really want to know better - only been to Warsaw) from the historic town of Gdansk in the north and, as far as I recall the main producer of amber (I love amber, just went nuts in Warsaw in some shops). Thank you very much Natalia for sending me this card that engrosses my collection of UNESCO tentatives - let's cross fingers and hope it will become a UNESCO site soon. This postcard took 6 days to arrive! 

Neptune's Fountain, Dlugi Targ (the Long Market), Gdansk - POLAND
 
The historical heart of the city of Gdansk is formed by the Main Town and the Royal Route (between the High Gate and Green Gate) by which are sited the most valuable examples of municipal architecture: the Town Hall of the Main Town, Arthur's Court, the Court of the Brotherhood of St.George, the Arsenal and burghers houses. In the Main town there are also to be seen examples of richly decorated medieval sacral architecture: the churches of the Holy Virgin, St John, St Nicholas, as well as many towers and gates of the medieval fortifications.



The Dazu Rock Carvings - CHINA - UNESCO #912

This second card from China is from an amazing UNESCO site I confess I didn't knew before this swap -  the Dazu Rock Carvings are made up of 75 protected sites containing some 50,000 statues, with over 100,000 Chinese characters with influence of 3 different religions... and that is what amazes me, the pacific coexistence of 3 religions and their worshipers (just think of Jerusalem, a sacred place to 3 religions and in permanent war for more than 2000 years!). Thank you very much Broogood, my collection is now richer and the counting rises to 64 down, 917 to go. This postcard took 24 days to arrive!

UNESCO #912 - Dazu Rock Carvings - CHINA
 
The steep hillsides of the Dazu area contain an exceptional series of rock carvings dating from the 9th to the 13th century. They are remarkable for their aesthetic quality, their rich diversity of subject matter, both secular and religious, and the light that they shed on everyday life in China during this period. Dazu Rock Carvings not only underline the harmonious coexistence in China of three different religions, namely Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, but also provide material proof that cave temple art has increasingly shed light on everyday life.



Site of Xanadu - CHINA - UNESCO #1389

 Today I received two cards from a UNESCO swap with China. This first one shows the site where Shangdu (known in the west as Xanadu) existed  - a legendary town described by Marco Polo in his journeys from Venice to Mongolia and part of imaginary since I've read that book many years ago. Thanks a lot Broogood - now I have  63 sites, 918 to finish the great task. This postcard took 24 days to arrive!

UNESCO #1389 - Site of Xanadu, Mongolia - CHINA
 
North of the Great Wall, the Site of Xanadu encompasses the remains of Kublai Khan’s legendary capital city, designed by the Mongol ruler’s Chinese advisor Liu Bingzhdong in 1256. Over a surface area of 25,000 ha, the site was a unique attempt to assimilate the nomadic Mongolian and Han Chinese cultures. From this base, Kublai Khan established the Yuan dynasty that ruled China over a century, extending its boundaries across Asia. The religious debate that took place here resulted in the dissemination of Tibetan Buddhism over north-east Asia, a cultural and religious tradition still practised in many areas today. The site was planned according to traditional Chinese feng shui in relation to the nearby mountains and river. It features the remains of the city, including temples, palaces, tombs, nomadic encampments and the Tiefan’gang Canal, along with other waterworks.



Monday, June 24, 2013

Historic Centre of Sighişoara - ROMANIA - UNESCO #902

The city of Sighişoara was one of my favorite places when I visited Transylvania in 2008 (I've stayed with my wife in a haunted hotel - we kept remembering Polanski's movie "The Fearless Vampire Killers" all night). Superstitions apart, it is a truly amazing city in a wonderful region of Europe. This card was sent to me by Janiek - thank you very much, now I have 62, only 919 to the end. This postcard took 19 days to arrive!

UNESCO #902 - Historic Centre of Sighişoara, Transylvania - ROMANIA
 
Founded by German craftsmen and merchants known as the Saxons of Transylvania, Sighişoara is a fine example of a small, fortified medieval town which played an important strategic and commercial role on the fringes of central Europe for several centuries. The historic centre of Sighişoara is composed of a fortified site spread over a steeply sloping plateau and dominated by City Hill, and the Lower Town with its woody slopes lying below. These two sectors form an indissociable group corresponding to the historic boundaries of the medieval town.



Monastery of Batalha - PORTUGAL - UNESCO #264

On my way to Lisbon I made a small detour and passed by Batalha to buy some postcards and I've sent this one to myself - a beautiful vintage photo that reminds me the days I used to go there with my parents (it was one of the favorite places of my late father). The counting remains the same. This postcard took 4 days to arrive! 
  
UNESCO #264 - Monastery of Batalha - PORTUGAL
 
The Monastery of the Dominicans of Batalha was built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese over the Castilians at the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. It was to be the Portuguese monarchy's main building project for the next two centuries. Here a highly original, national Gothic style evolved, profoundly influenced by Manueline art, as demonstrated by its masterpiece, the Royal Cloister.
 

Monastery of the Hieronymites, Lisbon - PORTUGAL - UNESCO #263

The UNESCO entrance in the list is just one, but to be fair there are two distinct properties, the Belém Tower (from which I already have a card) and the amazing Monastery of the Hieronymites (in Portuguese we say Jerónimos that sounds so much better). Thanks to the Ninocas that offered me this card, I now have both in my collection - thank you my dear! The counting stands at 61 down, 920 to go. This postcard took 7 days to arrive!
 
UNESCO #263 - Monastery of the Hieronymites - PORTUGAL

Standing at the entrance to Lisbon harbour, the Monastery of the Hieronymites – construction of which began in 1502 – exemplifies Portuguese art at its best. The nearby Tower of Belém, was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defense system at the mouth of the Tagus river and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon, built to commemorate Vasco da Gama's expedition, is a reminder of the great maritime discoveries that laid the foundations of the modern world.
  

Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh - BELARUS - UNESCO #1196

An official card! To be honest I'm a bit disappointed with the pace of the official POSTCROSSING cards - I really wish I could send more cards at the same time, in order to maximize the number of days I send/receive official cards... anyway this nice card came from Belarus - my first from there! - sent by Juliya that have chosen a UNESCO site for my collection. Thanks a lot for your care, now I have 61 sites, only 920 to go (according to the new 2013 list). This postcard took 34 days to arrive!

UNESCO #1196 - Nesvizh Castle Bridge - BELARUS

The Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh is located in central Belarus. The Radziwill dynasty, who built and kept the ensemble from the 16th century until 1939, gave birth to some of the most important personalities in European history and culture. Due to their efforts, the town of Nesvizh came to exercise great influence in the sciences, arts, crafts and architecture. The complex consists of the residential castle and the mausoleum Church of Corpus Christi with their setting. The castle has ten interconnected buildings, which developed as an architectural whole around a six-sided courtyard. The palaces and church became important prototypes marking the development of architecture throughout Central Europe and Russia.



Sunday, June 23, 2013

New Inscribed Properties in UNESCO list

 After the meeting at its 37th session, held in Cambodia, the World Heritage Committee added 19 sites to the World Heritage List:

    Al Zubarah Archaeological Site - Qatar
    Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora - Ukraine
    Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe - Germany
    Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces - China
    Fujisan, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration - Japan
    Golestan Palace - Iran
    Hill Forts of Rajasthan - India
    Historic Centre of Agadez - Niger
    Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong - North Korea
    Levuka Historical Port Town - Fiji
    Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany - Italy
    Red Bay Basque Whaling Station - Canada
    University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia - Portugal
    Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region - Poland and Ukraine
    El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve - Mexico
    Mount Etna - Italy
    Namib Sand Sea - Namibia
    Tajik National Park (Mountains of the Pamirs) - Tajikistan
    Xinjiang Tianshan - China
    Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines - Poland
    Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest - Kenya
    Maloti Drakensberg Tranboundary World Heritage Site - Lesotho and South Africa

 I've just updated the list with this new sites - it now totals 981 sites, including 759 cultural, 193 natural and 29 mixed properties in 160 States Parties.
 As for my collection, I have at the moment 76 postcards from 60 of 981 sites, meaning 6,12% done!... I'm almost there! :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Phoenix Islands, Outer Islands - KIRIBATI - UNESCO #1325

My friend Hugh spent some time with a NGO in the remote islands of Kiribati. I asked for a postcard showing the Phoenix Islands (the UNESCO site) but he couldn't find any - they're almost inaccessible and tourist structures in Kiribati are just starting. He send me a postcard issued by the  Kiribati government with a picture from a sweet little girl in the Outer Islands (a group that includes Phoenix Islands) and a sentence so amazing I think I'm going to make a T-Shirt with it... Thanks a lot Hugh and congratulations for your project - thanks to you I now have a rare postcard written, stamped and sent from Kiribati! I'm going to put it in the UNESCO collection as well, so I now have 58 sites (and a new country complete!), 904 to go. This postcard took 29 days to arrive!

UNESCO #1325 - Phoenix Islands - KIRIBATI

Kiribati is an island nation in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The permanent population is just over 100,000 on 800 square kilometres. The nation is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, i.e. Banaba, dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometers. Beyond Tarawa (Kiribati capital), packaged Western products are a rarity and life is more relaxed. People live off fish and coconuts, and occasionally earn revenue by selling copra abroad. Women sit by thatched huts weaving pandanus or salting clams to send to Tarawa. People don't have much, and they share what they do have.


The Phoenix Island Protected Area (PIPA) is a 408,250 sq.km expanse of marine and terrestrial habitats in the Southern Pacific Ocean. The property encompasses the Phoenix Island Group, part of the Outer Islands, one of three island groups in Kiribati, and is the largest designated Marine Protected Area in the world.



Laurisilva of Madeira - PORTUGAL - UNESCO #934

Today I had a very nice surprise in my mailbox - a postcrossing forum user sent me a card with the Laurisilva Forest in the island of Madeira, the only UNESCO site in that island... thanks a lot Ninocas, I really love it and thanks to you I'm almost done with portuguese sites and my counting in the list rises to 57 , 905 to go. This postcard took 8 days to arrive!

UNESCO #934 - Laurisilva Forest (Levada), Madeira - PORTUGAL
 
The Laurisilva of Madeira is an outstanding relict of a previously widespread laurel forest type. It is the largest surviving area of laurel forest and is believed to be 90% primary forest. It contains a unique suite of plants and animals, including many endemic species such as the Madeiran long-toed pigeon.



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kraków - POLAND - UNESCO #29

This is my first postcard from Poland, sent by Ania, and it shows the Main Market Square with the Town Hall Tower in Kraków - this is one of the largest town square in Europe (40.000m2) and all the historic center is a UNESCO site since 1978 (date of the first reunion). Thanks a lot Ania, now I have 56 sites, only 906 to finish. This postcard took 10 days to arrive!

UNESCO #29 - Historic Center of Cracow - POLAND
 
The historic centre of Cracow, the former capital of Poland, is situated at the foot of the Royal Wawel Castle. The 13th-century merchants' town has Europe's largest market square and numerous historical houses, palaces and churches with their magnificent interiors. Further evidence of the town's fascinating history is provided by the remnants of the 14th-century fortifications and the medieval site of Kazimierz with its ancient synagogues in the southern part of town, Jagellonian University and the Gothic cathedral where the kings of Poland were buried.



Arrábida Natural Park - PORTUGAL - UNESCO TENTATIVE

Not far from Lisbon, Arrábida Natural Park is a very beautiful area, and a UNESCO candidate since 2004; maybe next year it will join the list. This card came from Cátia who lives right in the heart of this park - Thank you! This postcard took 11 days to arrive!

Arrábida (XVI century monastery) - PORTUGAL - UNESCO TENTATIVE
 
Between Setubal and Sesimbra lies the Arrábida Natural Park, a beautiful protected area covered with pines and rich Mediterranean vegetation, including many rare species. Perched up on the hills overlooking the sea is a dazzling white 16th century Franciscan monastery, and along the slope of the hillside are five round chapels once used for solitary meditation. Down below, the crystal-clear waters of the sheltered beach of Portinho da Arrábida Monastery in Arrabida Natural Park are relatively warm and popular with scuba divers and underwater fishermen.



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mont St Michel - FRANCE - UNESCO #80

Two more cards of my favorite french monument, Le Mont Saint Michel in Normandy France, this time sent by my sweet sister-in-law that went there with her husband and son. Merci Belita, Eric and Benoit! Since I already have this site, the counting remains the same, but now I own 3 cards of this trully awesome place. This postcards took 5 days to arrive!
  
UNESCO #80 - Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay - FRANCE

UNESCO #80 - Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay - FRANCE
 
Perched on a rocky islet in the midst of vast sandbanks exposed to powerful tides between Normandy and Brittany stand the 'Wonder of the West', a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel St Michael, and the village that grew up in the shadow of its great walls. Built between the 11th and 16th centuries, the abbey is a technical and artistic tour de force, having had to adapt to the problems posed by this unique natural site.
 

The Rila Monastery - BULGARIA - UNESCO #216

Built more than a 1000 years ago, the Rila Monastery is probably the most representative cultural UNESCO site in Bulgaria, according to Borislava, the nice postcrosser from Sofia that sent me this beautiful card. Thanks a lot Borislava, thanks to you I now have 55 sites, 907 more and I'll be a very happy collector. This postcard took 24 days to arrive!

UNESCO #216 - Rila Monastery - BULGARIA
 
Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by St John of Rila, a hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. His ascetic dwelling and tomb became a holy site and were transformed into a monastic complex which played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. Destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century, the complex was rebuilt between 1834 and 1862. A characteristic example of the Bulgarian Renaissance (18th–19th centuries), the monument symbolizes the awareness of a Slavic cultural identity following centuries of occupation.



Arco de Almedina, Coimbra - PORTUGAL

Last week my mother went to Coimbra, her birthplace, and sent me this beautiful card of the Arco de Almedina (Almedina Arch) the entrance gate into the oldest part of that amazing town - a true live museum. That little shop you see near the arch has the cheapest postcards in town, and a nice selection of secondhand books - worth a visit! Thanks a lot mum... when are you going abroad again? This postcard took 7 days to arrive!

Arco de Almedina, Coimbra - PORTUGAL
 
The Arco de Almedina in Coimbra is the gateway to the old city and is part of the 11th century wall built by the Arab conqueror Almansor. The tower over the arch has had many uses and in the 14th and 15th centuries was the Casa da Câmara, the equivalent of the town hall. It is presently the Municipal archive. The street leading uphill from the arch, the Rua de Quebra-Costas, translates aptly as ‘backbreaker’ street.


 

Wild Hollyhock - BARBADOS

Today I received my first card from Barbados, a place I would really like to visit one day - Suzi send me a special edition postcard released in 1989 to celebrate one of the indigenous wild plant of that amazingly beautiful island. Thanks a lot Suzi, I loved the card, the stamp and the nice message you wrote. This postcard took 28 days to arrive!

Wild Hollyhock(Iliamna rivularis) - BARBADOS

Wild Hollyhock (Iliamna rivularis), is a perennial plant species in the family Malvaceae. The plant grows 3 to 6 feet tall from a woody caudex and produces dense racemes of soft lavender-pink flowers. Plants blooms from June through August. They have five to seven lobed, cordate leaves. Seeds have a very hard coat and can remain viable in the soil for more than 50 years, seed germination is often triggered after a wildfire.



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bardhev, Kathmandu - NEPAL

Back in April, after registering in POSTCROSSING, the first official card I sent was to a chinese girl called Zevy. Today I've received a very beautiful card that she sent me from Nepal... my first from there. Thanks a million Zevy - I really loved it! This postcard took 14 days to arrive!
 
Small Children, Bardhev Village (Kathmandu Valley) - NEPAL

Bhardev is a village development committee in Lalitpur District in the Bagmati Zone of central Nepal (Kathmandu Valley) with a population of only 2200. Attractions around Bhardev includes Phulchoki Temple, Herbal Production Farm, Gupteshwori School, St. Xavier's School Godawari, Godavari Forest, Godawari Marble Factory and Newktm.



Pico Island Vineyards - AZORES - PORTUGAL - UNESCO #1117

Pico island is one of the nine pieces of heaven called Açores (or Azores if you prefer) and famous for the black volcanic earth that allows a unique wine culture; it's also an amazing spot for whale-watching. This postcard came from a very funny member of the postcrossing forum who gently offered me this UNESCO site to my collection - thanks a lot Joana (even without practice, you still know how to do it!). Now I have 54, only 908 to the end. This postcard took 7 days to arrive!

UNESCO #1117 - Landscape of Pico Island Vineyard Culture - PORTUGAL
 
The 987-ha site on the volcanic island of Pico, the second largest in the Azores archipelago, consists of a remarkable pattern of spaced-out, long linear walls running inland from, and parallel to, the rocky shore. The walls were built to protect the thousands of small, contiguous, rectangular plots (currais) from wind and seawater. Evidence of this viniculture, whose origins date back to the 15th century, is manifest in the extraordinary assembly of the fields, in houses and early 19th-century manor houses, in wine-cellars, churches and ports. The extraordinarily beautiful man-made landscape of the site is the best remaining area of a once much more widespread practice.



Monastery of Alcobaça - PORTUGAL - UNESCO #505

This card was a special edition made in 2007 for the election of Portugal Seven Wonders. It has a peculiar (to say the least) choice of colors, but the important thing is that it celebrate one of the most important portuguese building and a UNESCO site - the 53th in my collection, 909 remaining. Thanks a million Catia for this double swap. This postcard took 6 days to arrive! 

UNESCO #505 - Monastery of Alcobaça - PORTUGAL

The Monastery of Santa Maria d'Alcobaça, north of Lisbon, was founded in the 12th century by King Afonso Henriques (Alfonso I). Its size, the purity of its architectural style, the beauty of the materials and the care with which it was built make this a masterpiece of Cistercian Gothic art. The monastery is also an outstanding example of a great Cistercian establishment with a unique infrastructure of hydraulic systems and functional buildings. Deservedly renowned, the 18th-century kitchen adds to the interest of the group of monastic buildings from the medieval period.



Palmela Castle - PORTUGAL

This postcard was sent a portuguese postcrosser from Palmela - a very nice town near Setúbal and not far from Lisbon... it's famous for the cakes and cheese (Azeitão), for the wonderful wine and of course this beautiful casle that dominates all the area including the Arrabida Natural Park (UNESCO tentative) - thank you very much Catia for this beautiful postcard, a special edition released in 2012 to celebrate the wine (Moscatel... hummm!). This postcard took 6 days to arrive!

Castle of Palmela (European Municipality of the Wine 2012) - PORTUGAL
 
The Palmela Castle has existed since the 8th Century, when it was occupied by the Moors. In 1147 and the first Portuguese King, D. Afonso Henriques conquered the castle from the Moors. Ever since this castle has been an asset of significant geo–strategic value, because of its unique location.



Stonehenge - ENGLAND - UNESCO #373

This is my 100th postcard! In just a couple of month I've received one hundred cards from thirty countries - I'm very happy with my new hobby and looking forward for the next hundred or even thousand cards. This one is from one of my favorite sites on earth - since I was a young boy that Stonehenge has been a mysterious and mystical place that attracted me and when I finally went there it felt like a dream come true (specially at sunset... it's really magical). Thanks a lot Adam for swapping this card with me. Now I have 52 UNESCO sites, only 910 to the end. This postcard took 5 days to arrive!  

UNESCO #373 - Stonehenge, Wiltshire - ENGLAND
 
Stonehenge and Avebury, in Wiltshire, are among the most famous groups of megaliths in the world. The two sanctuaries consist of circles of menhirs arranged in a pattern whose astronomical significance is still being explored. These holy places and the nearby Neolithic sites are an incomparable testimony to prehistoric times. Stonehenge is one of the most impressive prehistoric megalithic monuments in the world on account of the sheer size of its megaliths, the sophistication of its concentric plan and architectural design, the shaping of the stones, uniquely using both Wiltshire Sarsen sandstone and Pembroke Bluestone, and the precision with which it was built.



Monday, June 17, 2013

Ir.D.F. Woudagemaal - NETHERLANDS - UNESCO #867

This the second card Moniek sent me (and I just realized that those are the first I receive from the Netherlands) with another UNESCO site, this time a steam powered water pumping station that still works after 90 years keeping the lands nether! Thanks a lot for this swap Moniek, now I have 51 sites, only 911 (like the porsche) to go.  This postcard took 3 days to arrive!

UNESCO #867 - D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station - NETHERLANDS
 
The Wouda Pumping Station at Lemmer in the province of Friesland opened in 1920. It is the largest steam-pumping station ever built and is still in operation. It represents the high point of the contribution made by Netherlands engineers and architects in protecting their people and land against the natural forces of water.



Rietveld Schröderhuis - NETHERLANDS - UNESCO #965

I've made a double swap with a UNESCO collector in Netherlands, they arrived both today, with very nice stamps - thanks Moniek! This one shows the Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht and I have to be honest, even if it was a major architectural breakthrough in the 1920s I really don't see in it value for being in the list; historic place sure, need to be preserved intact and original has a important reference of course, but a world heritage site among less than 1000 spots - I can't get it, but of course the problem must be mine. Nevertheless it's a site and now I have it and that brings my collection to 50 down, 912 to go. This postcard took 3 days to arrive!

UNESCO #965 - Rietveld Schröder House - NETHERLANDS

The Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht was commissioned by Ms Truus Schröder-Schräder, designed by the architect Gerrit Thomas Rietveld, and built in 1924. This small family house, with its interior, the flexible spatial arrangement, and the visual and formal qualities, was a manifesto of the ideals of the De Stijl group of artists and architects in the Netherlands in the 1920s, and has since been considered one of the icons of the Modern Movement in architecture.



OHIO Map

Today I received my first Map-Card! I know I'm just starting the UNESCO collection, but why don't start another immediately? So, from now on, I'll be thankful to everyone who send me a map card (country, region, US state, etc...) - soon I'll make a list to easily keep track of the collection (Gosh, I'm such a nerd!) - the first entry on my list is this card from the Buckeye State, OHIO, sent by Phay... thank you! This postcard took 5 days to arrive!
 
OHIO Map and Symbols - USA
  
Ohio is a state in the Midwestern United States, the 34th largest (by area), the 7th most populous and the 10th most densely populated of the 50 United States. The state's capital and largest city is Columbus. The name "Ohio" originated from Iroquois word "ohi-yo’", meaning "great river" or "large creek". The state, originally partitioned from the Northwest Territory, was admitted to the Union as the 17th state on March 1, 1803. Ohio is historically known as the "Buckeye State" (relating to the Ohio buckeye tree) and Ohioans are also known as "Buckeyes".
 
 
 

A lovely cat from PORTUGAL

And after almost 100 cards, I finally got a card from my wife! Like the old saying... "If you can't beat them, join them!" - thank you very much Eva, for this card and specially for giving a true meaning to my life - I love you! Ok now, back to the card - we both share a special affection with cats and we have a "wild beast", very much alike the one in the picture, a beautiful and cute thing that looks calm and nice, but only when she wants... try to cuddle her when she's not in the mood - she really owns our hearts (and house) since 2006. This postcard took 4 days to arrive!

European Shorthair Cat - PORTUGAL
 
The European shorthair (or Celtic shorthair) is a breed of short-haired cat originating in Sweden. It is a recently recognised breed, established to preserve the naturally occurring cats that have lived in European villages and cities for ages. Because the breed has been developed from ordinary domestic cats, which have very different temperaments, the character of the European Shorthair is impossible to summarise. Members of this breed may be very affectionate but there are others that prefer to be out mousing.



Tower Bridge, London - ENGLAND

The second card Ana sent me from London is a very nice pic of the famous Tower Bridge (I asked for Tower of London, but no stresses Ana - it may not be a UNESCO site but it's a wonderful place and you've picked a beautiful card - thanks a lot). Let's sing all together "London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down"!... This postcard took 7 days to arrive!
 
Tower Bridge, London - ENGLAND

Tower Bridge (built 1886–1894) is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London, over the River Thames. It consists of two towers tied together at the upper level by means of two horizontal walkways and it is close to the Tower of London (therefore its name). The bridge The bridge's present colour scheme dates from 1977, when it was painted red, white and blue for the Queen Elizabeth II's silver jubilee. Originally it was painted a mid greenish-blue colour. It has become an iconic symbol of London.



Palace of Westminster, London - ENGLAND - UNESCO #426

A friend of mine went to London and I asked her to post me some postcards, they arrive today - thanks Ana! This one shows the Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, not only the greatest icon of London but also part of a UNESCO site that includes Westminster Abbey and St Margaret's Church... I need those two to properly complete this WHS, but I'll check this site on the list right away! Checking my maths I now have 49 sites (one more to half a hundred), 913 to go. This postcard took 7 days to arrive!

UNESCO #426 - Westminster Palace (Houses of Parliament) - ENGLAND
  
Westminster Palace, rebuilt from the year 1840 on the site of important medieval remains, is a fine example of neo-Gothic architecture. The site – which also comprises the small medieval Church of Saint Margaret, built in Perpendicular Gothic style, and Westminster Abbey, where all the sovereigns since the 11th century have been crowned – is of great historic and symbolic significance, encapsulating the history of one of the most ancient of parliamentary monarchies of present times and the growth of parliamentary and constitutional institutions. The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, commonly known as the Houses of Parliament.



Friday, June 14, 2013

Rideau Canal - CANADA - UNESCO #1221

Today arrived one more official POSTCROSSING card (6 in a week, not bad!), this time from Zack, number one postcrosser in Canada - he picked a postcard of the UNESCO site in his city Ottawa, the Rideau Canal: a postcard very similar to one Jason had sent me May 20th, but this time a summer view... I loved it, I know that many people don't want to get duplicated UNESCO sites, I really don't mind as long as the cards are different. Thanks a lot Zack! The card is great, but the countdown still remains at 48/914. This postcard took 7 days to arrive!

UNESCO #1221 - Rideau Canal, Ottawa - CANADA
 
The Rideau Canal, a monumental early 19th-century construction covering 202 km of the Rideau and Cataraqui rivers from Ottawa south to Kingston Harbour on Lake Ontario, was built primarily for strategic military purposes at a time when Great Britain and the United States vied for control of the region. The site, one of the first canals to be designed specifically for steam-powered vessels, also features an ensemble of fortifications. It is the best-preserved example of a slackwater canal in North America, demonstrating the use of this European technology on a large scale. It is the only canal dating from the great North American canal-building era of the early 19th century to remain operational along its original line with most of its structures intact.


Venice - ITALY - UNESCO #394

It's here - after more than one and a half month this card managed to find it's way between Venice and my mailbox. It was sent by my mother (one of the two she mailed there) before the departure of her cruise to Greece. Venice is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, and even with the permanent flood of tourists it 's a wonderful place and a city everybody should visit at least one time or two... I really want to go there again - Grazie Mama, now I have 48 UNESCO sites (four dozens, yeah!), only 914 to finish! This postcard took 48 days to arrive!

UNESCO #394 - Venice (Rio de la Toletta) - ITALY
 
Founded in the 5th century and spread over 118 small islands, Venice became a major maritime power in the 10th century. The whole city is an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building contains works by some of the world's greatest artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and others.