Monday, March 31, 2014

Nikko - JAPAN - UNESCO #913

In this card we have the main building of Nikko Futarasan Shrine and the Ghost Lanterns, one of the hundred religious constructions in this site. According to the sender that worked there until last month, several of them are now hidden by scaffolds because of the major renovations that will try to reestablish the original spectacularity. Thank you very much David, your card is the 333th in my collection, 648 more and I'm done. This postcard took 8 days to arrive!
UNESCO #913 - Nikko Futarasan Shrine and the Ghost Lanterns - JAPAN
The Shrines and Temples of Nikko form a single complex composed of one hundred three religious buildings within two Shinto shrines and one Buddhist temple located in an outstanding natural setting. The inscribed property is located in Tochigi Prefecture, in the northern part of Japan’s Kanto region.  The first buildings were constructed on the slopes of the sacred Nikko mountains by a Buddhist monk in the 8th century.

Lake Baikal - RUSSIA - UNESCO #754

This postcard has one of the most amazing pictures showing ice I've ever seen - it was made on Lake Baikal in Siberia, another of those destinations I have on my Bucket List specially after the Wild Russia Special I saw on National Geographic recently (yes, I know that my travel bucket list is huge, but I'm a irremediable dreamer and I like to believe that I'll manage to see them all).  Thanks a lot Masha for the awesome card and for using a Sochi 2014 stamp. My UNESCO collection grows to 332, 649 to finish. This postcard took 17 days to arrive!

UNESCO #754 - Lake Baikal, Siberia - RUSSIA
Situated in south-east Siberia, the 3.15-million-ha Lake Baikal is the oldest (25 million years) and deepest (1,700 m) lake in the world. It contains 20% of the world's total unfrozen freshwater reserve. Known as the 'Galapagos of Russia', its age and isolation have produced one of the world's richest and most unusual freshwater faunas, which is of exceptional value to evolutionary science.

Prospekt Mira Station, Moscow - RUSSIA

The Moscow metro stations are one of the most amazing things that several friends of mine recall from their journey to the capital of Russia - they all made the same advice to me, when you go to Moscow take a day only to visit the metro stations, geting out of the train in each stop and I'll definitely try to follow that advice (meanwhile I can always collect a postcard from each of the 194 stations - so 1 down, 193 to go!). Thank you so much Olesya, I really laughed out loud with your messsage. This postcard took 16 days to arrive!
Prospekt Mira Metro Station (1951), Moscow - RUSSIA
The Moscow Metro has 194 stations and its route length is 325.4 km serving Moscow, Russia and the neighbouring Moscow Oblast towns of Krasnogorsk and Reutov. The Moscow Metro was one of the USSR’s most extravagant architectural projects. Stalin ordered the metro’s artists and architects to design a structure that embodied svet (radiance or brilliance) and svetloe budushchee (a radiant future). With their reflective marble walls, high ceilings and grandiose chandeliers, many Moscow Metro stations have been likened to an “artificial underground sun”.

St.Petersbourg - RUSSIA - UNESCO #540

The wonderful city of Saint Petersburg is one of those places I dream to visit (among many in Russia) and this is another of the dozens of sites in the city centre classified by UNESCO as World Heritage - the Peter and Paul Fortress (the stared shape gains another dimension when we see it on a aerial view - it's the same with the Vauban Fortifications in southern Europe). Thank you very much Nastya. This postcard took 21 days to arrive!
UNESCO #540 - Peter and Paul Fortress, Sait Petersbourg - RUSSIA
The 'Venice of the North', with its numerous canals and more than 400 bridges, is the result of a vast urban project begun in 1703 under Peter the Great. Later known as Leningrad (in the former USSR), the city is closely associated with the October Revolution. Its architectural heritage reconciles the very different Baroque and pure neoclassical styles, as can be seen in the Admiralty, the Winter Palace, the Marble Palace and the Hermitage.

El Tajin - MEXICO - UNESCO #631

Much more that the colonial towns like the one on the previous post, pre-hispanic sites and civilizations are the first thing that normally comes to our mind when we think on Mexico (ok, ok... also Tequilla and Mariachis). El Tajin is a place I didn't new, I must admit, but according to the sender is a awesome place (she was there when she was a young girl), where the best vanilla in Mexico is produced and specially famous because of the amazing 'voladores de papantla' (if you don't know what it is, you must check them on youtube... it's extraordinary). Thank you so much Irene for this great double swap. Ok now 331 down, 650 to go. This postcard took 20 days to arrive!
UNESCO #631 - Pre-Hispanic City of El Tajin - MEXICO
Located in the state of Veracruz, El Tajin was at its height from the early 9th to the early 13th century. It became the most important centre in north-east Mesoamerica after the fall of the Teotihuacan Empire. Its cultural influence extended all along the Gulf and penetrated into the Maya region and the high plateaux of central Mexico. Its architecture, which is unique in Mesoamerica, is characterized by elaborate carved reliefs on the columns and frieze. The 'Pyramid of the Niches', a masterpiece of ancient Mexican and American architecture, reveals the astronomical and symbolic significance of the buildings.

Campeche - MEXICO - UNESCO #895

Two more cards from Mexico (both UNESCO) were waiting for me on my mailbox today - this one shows three different views of the historic town of Campeche, one of those places in South America where you feel like yiou were in a Europpean city (easy to explain, since it was founded by the Spanish 500 years ago). Thank you Irene, my collection reaches the nice number of 330 sites, only 651 to finish. This postcard took 20 days to arrive!
UNESCO #895 - Historic Fortified Town of Campeche - MEXICO
The Historic Fortified Town of Campeche, located in the State of Campeche, was founded in the 16th century on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, in the Maya region of Ah-Kim-Pech by Spanish conquerors. It was the most important seaport at the time and played a major role for the conquest and evangelization of the Yucatan Peninsula, Guatemala and Chiapas. Its commercial and military importance made it the second biggest town in the Gulf of Mexico, after Mérida.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ngorongoro - TANZANIA - UNESCO #39

The first card received from Tanzania arrived today! My good friend Jason from Canada went there on a hiking expedition with a group of friends and climbed the Kilimanjaro - in Arusha he found the time to write me this card under the African Sun (only more 50ºC than in Canada) and I'm really glad he managed to do it. Thanks a million Jason, first of all let me congratulate you for your successful climb and second for sending me this precious addition to my UNESCO collection, my first from that extraordinary country I had the luck to visit back in 2005 (without climbing the Kili, but spending some glorious days in Zanzibar). So, let's update the numbers to 329 WHS, 652 to reach the end. This postcard took 24 days to arrive!

UNESCO #39 - Ngorongoro Conservation Area - TANZANIA
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area spans vast expanses of highland plains, savanna, savanna woodlands and forests, with wildlife coexisting with semi-nomadic Maasai pastoralists practicing traditional livestock grazing, it includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest caldera. The property has global importance for biodiversity conservation due to the presence of globally threatened species, the density of wildlife inhabiting the area, and the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and other animals into the northern plains. Extensive archaeological research has also yielded a long sequence of evidence of human evolution and human-environment dynamics, including early hominid footprints dating back 3.6 million years.

Fujian Tulou - CHINA - UNESCO #1113

Almost a year ago I've received a card with one of this amazing buildings that only use earth, straw and bamboo as walls. Unfortunately the picture on that postcard didn't show well enough this peculiar constructions so I'm really happy with this second cards from the same site, this time with a aerial view that shows well the shape of this huge buildings (some with more than 500 years) where hundreds of people still live. Thank you very much Paula for this card and also for the two awesome stamps you've used. This postcard took 25 days to arrive!
UNESCO #1113 - Earth Buildings - Fujian - CHINA
Fujian Tulou is a property of 46 buildings constructed between the 15th and 20th centuries over 120 km in south-west of Fujian province, inland from the Taiwan Strait. Set amongst rice, tea and tobacco fields the Tulou are earthen houses. Several storeys high, they are built along an inward-looking, circular or square floor plan as housing for up to 800 people each. They were built for defence purposes around a central open courtyard with only one entrance and windows to the outside only above the first floor. Housing a whole clan, the houses functioned as village units and were known as “a little kingdom for the family” or “bustling small city.” They feature tall fortified mud walls capped by tiled roofs with wide over-hanging eaves. The most elaborate structures date back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Danube Delta - ROMANIA - UNESCO #588

The beautiful Blue Danube! Everybody knows it, at least from the Johann Strauss Waltz. One thing that probably lots of people don't know (I didn't!) is that the Danube river ends on the Black Sea, in the greatest Delta of Europe, a true paradise for birds and fishes. Thank you so much Daniela for another beautiful, you've been a major help to my collection, only 2 WHS remaining from your country - globally I now have 328, just 653 to go. This postcard took 11 days to arrive!
UNESCO #588 - Danube Delta - ROMANIA
The waters of the Danube, which flow into the Black Sea, form the largest and best preserved of Europe's deltas. The Danube delta hosts over 300 species of birds as well as 45 freshwater fish species in its numerous lakes and marshes. The reserve is vast in European terms with numerous freshwater Lakes interconnected by narrow channels featuring huge expanses of aquatic vegetation. This is the largest continuous marshland on Europe and the second-largest delta (the Volga being the largest), which includes the greatest stretch of reedbeds in the world.


The Centennial Hall, Wrocław - POLAND - UNESCO #1165

Today I've found four cards on my mailbox, all from UNESCO WHS. The first one comes from Poland and it shows a painting of the Centennial Hall and complex in Wroclaw, including the 96m tower called 'Iglica' built 35 years after the Hall and originally covered with mirrors.  Thank you very much Ningere, this important landmark of modern architecture is the 327th UNESCO in my collection, only 654 to the end. This postcard took 7 days to arrive.

UNESCO #1165 - The Centennial Hall, Wrocław - POLAND
The Centennial Hall, a landmark in the history of reinforced concrete architecture, was erected in 1911-1913 by the architect Max Berg as a multi-purpose recreational building, situated in the Exhibition Grounds. In form it is a symmetrical quatrefoil with a vast circular central space that can seat some 6,000 persons. The 23m-high dome is topped with a lantern in steel and glass. The Centennial Hall is a pioneering work of modern engineering and architecture, which exhibits an important interchange of influences in the early 20th century, becoming a key reference in the later development of reinforced concrete structures.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Belgrade Fortress - SERBIA

This is only my second card from Serbia, one of the countries that was formed after the disaggregation of Yugoslavia and a place I really want to visit one day (I loved Slovenia and Croatia, I'm looking forward to travel to the other former Yugoslavian republics). This card shows one of the main doors of the Belgrade Fortress (build in the 3rd century BC) - along with Kalemegdan Park it's a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance since 1979 (hello UNESCO... what are you waiting for?) Thank you very much Ratka and let me welcome you to Postcrossing, your new addiction. This postcards took 4 days to arrive!
Despot's Gate, Belgrade Fortress - SERBIA
Kalemegdan Park is the largest park and the most important historical monument in Belgrade. It is located on a 125-metre-high cliff, at the junction of the River Sava and the Danube. The Kalemegdan Park, split in two as the Large and Little parks, was developed in the area that once was the town field. It provides places of rest and entertainment. The Belgrade Fortress and the Kalemegdan Park together represent a cultural monument of exceptional importance, the area where various sport, cultural and arts events take place, for all generations of Belgraders and numerous visitors of the city.

Matterhorn - SWITZERLAND

The Matterhorn is one of those iconic symbols of Switzerland, almost as famous as the cows, the chocolate and the cuckoo clocks... speaking of chocolate, it is the trademark of the delicious sweet triangle 'Toblerone' (with a bear hidden in the Matterhorn mountain drawing). The picture in this postcard is so beautiful it almost look unreal, thank you very much Daniela, I love it (and now, thanks to your card I'm suddenly craving for one or two triangles of 'Toblerone'... there goes my diet!). This postcards took 4 days to arrive!
Matterhorn, Valais - SWITZERLAND
The Matterhorn (German), Monte Cervino (Italian) or Mont Cervin (French), is a mountain in the Pennine Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy. Its summit is 4,478 metres high, making it one of the highest peaks in the Alps. The mountain derives its name from the German words Matte, meaning "meadow", and Horn, which means "peak". The four steep faces, rising above the surrounding glaciers, face the four compass points. The mountain overlooks the town of Zermatt in the canton of Valais to the north-east and Breuil-Cervinia in the Aosta Valley to the south.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sana'a - YEMEN - UNESCO #385

My first cards from Yemen! This two amazing cards show the old city of Sana'a one of the oldest populated places in the world, founded by Noah son the legend say, famous for its multi-storey adobe buildings decorated with geometric patterns and home of the first mosque ever built outside Mecca. Thank you very much Mohammad, getting this two cards really made my day. My UNESCO collection grows to 326 WHS, only 655 to finish. This postcards took 23 days to arrive!

UNESCO #385 - Old City of Sana'a - YEMEN
Situated in a mountain valley at an altitude of 2,200 m, Sana’a has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years. In the 7th and 8th centuries the city became a major centre for the propagation of Islam. This religious and political heritage can be seen in the 103 mosques, 14 hammams and over 6,000 houses, all built before the 11th century. Sana’a’s many-storeyed tower-houses built of rammed earth (pisé) add to the beauty of the site.

Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes - BRAZIL - UNESCO #1100

This amazing vintage postcards show two of the most well known places in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The huge statue of Christ in Tijuca National Park that dominates all the city (it was recently considered one of the new seven wonders of the world) and Ipanema and Leblon Beaches (I wonder if the female on the sidewalk is the famous 'Girl from Ipanema') with Two Brothers Hill at the background. Thank you very much Luís, I already had one card from Rio, but this 2 cards will look great on my UNESCO collection and really increase my wish of visiting Rio one day.  This postcard took 12 days to arrive!
UNESCO #1100 - 'Cristo Redentor', Rio - BRAZIL

UNESCO #1100 - Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro - BRAZIL
The "Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea" site consists of an exceptional urban setting encompassing the key natural elements that have shaped and inspired the development of the city: from the highest points of the Tijuca National Park’s mountains down to the sea. They also include the Botanical Gardens, established in 1808, Corcovado Mountain with its celebrated statue of Christ, and the hills around Guanabara Bay, including the extensive designed landscapes along Copacabana Bay which have contributed to the outdoor living culture of this spectacular city. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Last week on Father's Day (in Portugal we celebrate it on March 19th) I went to Leiria where my father is buried and afterwards, while walking on the narrow streets of the historic center (a walk I made with him many times in the past) I've found this vintage card on a little shop... it doesn't say the date on the back, but I'm positively sure this picture was taken on the late 70s or early 80s, so at the time I lived there. Holding this card kind of moved me so I bought it and decided to send it to myself and now post it here in memory of the most important man in my life that unfortunately left this world 10 years ago. Thank you father for everything! This postcard took 6 days to arrive!

Leiria Castle, seen from Central Park (80s) - PORTUGAL
Leiria is a city and Municipality in the Centro Region of Portugal, a growing modern city on the banks of the Liz River. With a hilltop castle, an inviting old quarter, and good transportation links, it is a good place to stay for those who also want to explore Nazaré, Fátima, or the UNESCO classified abbeys of Batalha and Alcobaça. The imposing castle can be seen from any point in town. In the 14th century it served as a summer royal palace for King Dinis and his queen, and included a Gothic church now in ruins. 

Rubber Duck in Kaohsiung - TAIWAN

Only in recent years the little yellow rubber duck for children to play in the bath became popular here in Portugal so I don't have childhood memories of it, but I clearly remember the day this giant sculpture started its tour in Amsterdam because I watched it on TV back in 2007... it's been on a world tour since then and between September and October he was on display on the Kaohsiung harbor in Taiwan, where the picture on this card was made. Thank you very much Kagetsu. This postcard took 11 days to arrive!

Rubber Duck (Florentijn Hofman), Kaohsiung Harbor - TAIWAN

Rubber Duck is any of several giant floating sculptures designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. These were built in various sizes, including one created in 2007 that is the largest rubber duck in the world, measuring 26×20×32 metres and weighing over 600 kg. A tour named "Spreading joy around the world" established in 2007, aimed to recall everyone's childhood memories by exhibiting the duck in 14 cities, starting in his author's hometown Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Monday, March 24, 2014

El Escorial - SPAIN - UNESCO #318

This is the 5th and last postcard my good friend Ana sent me from her field trip to Spain with her students. The Royal Seat of 'San Lorenzo de El Escorial' is a historical residence of the King of Spain, not far from Madrid, famous for it's huge rooms and a magnificent library (one of the thing I remember the most from my visit there when I was still a young boy). Thank you so much Ana Paula, you took the time to send me 5 postcards in your 4 day trip, you're amazing! My UNESCO collection now have 325 sites, 656 to go. This postcard took 20 days to arrive!
UNESCO #318 - San Lorenzo de El Escorial Monastery - SPAIN
Built at the end of the 16th century on a plan in the form of a grill, the instrument of the martyrdom of St Lawrence, the Escorial Monastery stands in an exceptionally beautiful site in Castile. Its austere architecture, a break with previous styles, had a considerable influence on Spanish architecture for more than half a century. It was the retreat of a mystic king and became, in the last years of Philip II's reign, the center of the greatest political power of the time.

Nude, Markus Amon - GERMANY

I really think there's nothing more beautiful in nature than the human body and a high contrast black and white photography is for me the better way to celebrate that beauty. It's sad to live in a world where blood and violence is a constant presence in the media and a photo like this would probably be censored by many magazines (hopefully I won't have problems by posting it on my blog). This photo in particular was made by Markus Amon, a famous freelance photographer (I saw once a exhibit with some incredible photos he took on the Moroccan desert), but I couldn't find any more information available. Thank you very much Yvonne for this beautiful card. This postcard took 4 days to arrive!

photo by Markus Amon (2010) - GERMANY
Markus Amon is a German freelance photographer since 1988, based in Munich and Spain. He is working for different magazines like Vogue,Elle,Marie Claire,Stern,Geo and during the last 20 years has seen his work exhibited all over the world.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hilden - GERMANY

Along with the three UNESCO cards that I've chosen for this swap, Marcel kindly sent me this beautiful winter view of the Holst House in the small town of Hilden, near Düsseldorf, a place he often goes. Thanks again Marcel for sending me this postcards, you've been a major help to achieve my goal of getting all the WHS in Germany, I'm almost there! This postcard took 3 days to arrive!

Haus Holst, Hilden - GERMANY
Hilden is a city in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia just 15 km east of Düsseldorf on the right side of the Rhine. Hilden was named in written sources already in the 10th century. In the time of industrialization many factories especially in textiles, engineering and painting had been founded. Since the 1960s thousands of foreign migrant workers were employed in various industrial sections. An economical boom in the following decades contributed to further expansion of the town.


Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex - GERMANY - UNESCO #975

Another mining site in Germany that is classified by UNESCO as World Heritage Site, this time the Coal-mining complex of Essen, one of the major coal mines in continental Europe (the largest were, of course in Wales and South Britain), one of the most high polution insustries it declined on the second half of the XX century; unfortunately nowadays inth the increase of oil prices and the never stopping eastern demand thete are coal mines and plants opening again, mainly in China (it will be a environmental disaster). Thank you very much Marcel for another awesome card for my collection, now with 324 sites, only 657 till the end. This postcard took 3 days to arrive!

UNESCO #975 - Zollverein Coal Mining Complex, Essen - GERMANY
The Zollverein industrial complex in Land Nordrhein-Westfalen consists of the complete infrastructure of a historical coal-mining site, with some 20th-century buildings of outstanding architectural merit. It constitutes remarkable material evidence of the evolution and decline of an essential industry over the past 150 years. 

Mines of Rammelsberg - GERMANY - UNESCO #623

The secular craft of mining for ore extraction allowed mankind to evolve from a primitive state to a modern society and since the start of that industry, some parts of our planet look like a swiss cheese - water management in one of the major challenges in a mine (the other is preventing tunnel colapses). The water managment system of the Rammelsberg mines revolutionize the whole industry, solving not only the problem of draining water from the mine to prevent flooding but also finding a way to use the hydropower for enhance the mining process - a engineering masterpiece and a UNESCO WHS. Thank you Marcel, I now have 323 sites, only 658 to finish. This postcard took 3 days to arrive!
UNESCO #623 - Mines of Rammelsberg - GERMANY
The Upper Harz mining water management system, which lies south of the Rammelsberg mines and the town of Goslar, has been developed over a period of some 800 years to assist in the process of extracting ore for the production of non-ferrous metals.It is made up of an extremely complex but perfectly coherent system of artificial ponds, small channels, tunnels and underground drains. It enabled the development of water power for use in mining and metallurgical processes. It is a major site for mining innovation in the western world.

Frontiers of the Roman Empire - GERMANY - UNESCO #430

The UNESCO WHS Frontiers of the Roman Empire is a transboundary site. I already had a card from England (Hadrian's Wall) and today I've received this postcard from Germany with a photo of Saalburg Castle (a rebuilt Roman fortress with a very interesting museum, acording to the sender who went there last week) in the city of Bad Homburg, not far from Frankfurt. Thank you Marcel. This postcard took 3 days to arrive!
UNESCO #430 - Saalburg Castle, Bad Homburg - GERMANY
The ‘Roman Limes’ represents the border line of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent in the 2nd century AD. It stretched over 5,000 km from the Atlantic coast of northern Britain, through Europe to the Black Sea, and from there to the Red Sea and across North Africa to the Atlantic coast. The remains of the Limes today consist of vestiges of built walls, ditches, forts, fortresses, watchtowers and civilian settlements. Certain elements of the line have been excavated, some reconstructed and a few destroyed.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


My good friend Anita sent me another great card from her country, Macedonia - this time with a gorgeous multi-view  postcard with 11 photos that surround the map and flag of that little Balkan paradise (I know it's not a proper map, but at least until I get another, I'll put it on the Map-Card List). Thank you very much Anita. This postcard took 6 days to arrive!
Macedonia Multi-View, Map and Flag - MACEDONIA
Macedonia is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991. A landlocked country, the Republic of Macedonia is bordered by Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania. The country's capital is Skopje, with 506,926 inhabitants according to the 2002 census. Other cities include Bitola, Kumanovo, Prilep, Tetovo, Ohrid, Veles, Štip, Kočani, Gostivar, Kavadarci and Strumica. It has more than 50 lakes and sixteen mountains higher than 2,000 m.

Greetings from JERSEY

My first postcard from the Island of Jersey! It's always a amazing feeling when I have the chance to create a new label... And this card is simply beautiful (with that cool colour look that only vintage cards have) This one is from the 60s and I imagine that those photos are really outdated, probably nowadays the shore line of that popular touristic channel island is filled with big buildings and hotels. Thank you so much Rasa for the wonderful postcard. This postcard took 3 days to arrive! 
The Bailiwick of Jersey (Multiview) - JERSEY
The island of Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands. Jersey, officially the Bailiwick of Jersey, is a British Crown dependency just off the coast of Normandy, France. Jersey is part of the ancient Duchy of Normandy, and is ruled by the Duke of Normandy—a title held by the reigning Monarch of the United Kingdom, though unrelated to those duties as king or queen of the UK. Jersey is a self-governing parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy, with its own financial, legal and judicial systems, and the power of self-determination. It is not part of the United Kingdom, and has an international identity separate from that of the UK but the United Kingdom is constitutionally responsible for the defence of Jersey.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hüpassaare study trail - ESTONIA

The second card I've got from Estonia shows a beautiful view taken on the Hüpassaare Nature Reserve, a place I must confess didn't knew but after reading some information online made my wish of visiting Estonia increase a lot - me and my wife, we love hiking and we always include some natural parks in our holiday tours and dedicate a couple of days just to walk and walk and feel the energy of our beautiful planet.I really must do this 5km trail one day. Thank you so much Maili for this wonderful double swap. This postcard took 4 days to arrive!
Hüpassaare Nature Reserve - ESTONIA
The 5-kilometre long Hüpassaare hiking trail winds through stunning forest to the Kuresoo bog. The boardwalk passes through a landscape of unique, oval-shaped bog pools to a viewing platform where you can rest your legs and admire the tranquillity of the setting. The boardwalk then takes you to a bog island where you can observe the to-ings and fro-ings of the resident crows, and onto a meadow covered with a scattering of trees. At the end of the trail you will find the Mart Saar Museum and a camping area.

Tallinn - ESTONIA - UNESCO #822

Today I've received two cards sent by a postcrosser from Estonia, a little country I've planned to visit last year, but at the last moment decided to postpone. This shows the historic center of Tallinn the capital city, a UNESCO site! Thank you very much Maili, I already had one Tallinn card, but it's a vintage card still from soviet times, so I'm really glad you sent me this one showing a modern view. This postcard took 4 days to arrive!

UNESCO #822 - Tallinn Historic Center - ESTONIA
The origins of Tallinn date back to the 13th century, when a castle was built there by the crusading knights of the Teutonic Order. It developed as a major centre of the Hanseatic League, and its wealth is demonstrated by the opulence of the public buildings (the churches in particular) and the domestic architecture of the merchants' houses, which have survived to a remarkable degree despite the ravages of fire and war in the intervening centuries.

Siena - ITALY - UNESCO #717

Siena is a mythical place for me since I was a little boy and saw on TV images of the famous (and dangerous) horse races that are held in the giant Piazza del Campo that we can see in this aerial view postcard. I never managed to visit Siena and I don't know if I will ever go there during the Palio horse race, but it's one of the oldest entries I have on my bucket list. Thank you very much Edo for another great swap and for making my UNESCO collection grow to 322 WHS, only 659 to finish. This postcard took 14 days to arrive!
UNESCO #717 - Siena Historic Center - ITALY
Siena is the embodiment of a medieval city. Its inhabitants pursued their rivalry with Florence right into the area of urban planning. Throughout the centuries, they preserved their city's Gothic appearance, acquired between the 12th and 15th centuries. During this period the work of Duccio, the Lorenzetti brothers and Simone Martini was to influence the course of Italian and, more broadly, European art. The whole city of Siena, built around the Piazza del Campo, was devised as a work of art that blends into the surrounding landscape.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sun Moon Lake - TAIWAN (R.O.C.)

After so long time without receiving a card from Taiwan I get two official from that wonderful island spaced only by a couple of days, one last week and the other today with a beautiful photo of a sunset on the Sun Moon Lake (another example that explains the name "Formosa"). Thank you Roxanne, I liked your card and I really loved your message (you must visit Portugal one day, we have lots of medieval castles and maybe we can look for your ancestral portuguese roots). This postcard took 17 days to arrive!
Sunsetn at Sun Moon Lake - TAIWAN (R.O.C.)
Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of water in Taiwan as well as a tourist attraction. The east side of the lake resembles a sun while the west side resembles a moon, hence the name. Situated in Yuchi, Nantou, the area around the Sun Moon Lake is home to the Thao tribe, one of aboriginal tribes in Taiwan. Sun Moon Lake surrounds a tiny island called Lalu. While swimming in Sun Moon Lake is usually not permitted, there is an annual 3-km race called the Swimming Carnival of Sun Moon Lake held around the Mid-Autumn Festival each year. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Taizé - FRANCE

In Taizé there are massive gatherings of young Christians from all over the world for days of prayer, meditation and self enhancement. Every year a group of students from my school go there and for several times I thought of joining, even not being a believer I feel very curious about that place and the way they share their faith and try to follow ideals without caring much about all the differences and "political wars" between their religious leaders, a true ecumenical experience.  This card was sent from Portugal (by a postcrosser I've met just last week) but bought in Taizé in one of the many trips she made there. Thank you very much Claudia for your card and specially for your words, hopefully this is the first of many swaps between us. This postcard took 4 days to arrive!
Taizé - FRANCE
Taizé is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France; it lies near Mâcon. In Taizé lives the Taizé Community, a monastic, ecumenical, international community founded in 1940 by Frère Roger, which has today just over 100 brothers from many different countries and from different Christian traditions. Taizé is also known as a place of pilgrimage primarily for young adults: every week, hundreds and thousands of visitors, generally between the ages of 17 and 30, visit Taizé for an experience of prayer and community life. The asteroid 100033 Taizé is named in its honour.

"Birth of Venus" (1486) - ITALY

Almost celebrating its 530th anniversary, this iconic Renaissance painting by Botticelli is often referred as the most perfect painted representation of the female body. To be honest I prefer the Alexandre Cabanel version, but this is definitely one of those paintings I want to see live one day (when I finally had the chance to visit Firenze). Thank you very much Ale, hope that one day you can send me Michelangelo's David. This postcard took 3 days to arrive! 
Nascita di Venere (The Birth of Venus), Sandro Botticelli (1486) - ITALY
The Birth of Venus (Nascita di Venere) is a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli. Botticelli was commissioned to paint the work by the Medici family of Florence, specifically Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici under the influence of his cousin Lorenzo de' Medici, close friend to Botticelli. It depicts the goddess Venus, having emerged from the sea as a fully grown woman, arriving at the sea-shore (which is related to the Venus Anadyomene motif). The painting is on display at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Yehliu Geopark - TAIWAN (R.O.C.)

Today only one card was waiting for me in my mailbox - a official from Taiwan. When we think in Taiwan it's normal to immediately imagine the crowded cities and the high end technology factories, but there are lots of natural wonders in this island and that's why Spanish called it "Formosa" (beautiful). The Yehliu Geopark is well known because all the strange natural formations that almost look like man made statues, like the one we see in the postcard ("The Queen's Head").  Thank you very much tce, this is only my second card from Taiwan. This postcard took 14 days to arrive!
Yehliu Geopark (Queen's Head) - TAIWAN (R.O.C.)
Yeliu is a cape in the town of Wanli, New Taipei, Taiwan.The cape was formed as geological forces pushed Datun Mountain out of the sea. A distinctive feature of the cape is the hoodoo stones that dot its surface. These shapes can be viewed at the Yehliu Geopark operated by the North Coast and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area administration. A number of rock formations have been given imaginative names based on their shapes. The best known is the "Queen's Head" an iconic image in Taiwan and an unofficial emblem for the town of Wanli.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Palacio Legislativo, Montevideo - URUGUAY - UNESCO TENTATIVE

This card was also sent by Jacqueline from California, but it shows the magnificent Uruguay Parliament (Palacio Legislativo) in Montevideo. I've asked her for this card (even knowing it breaks my "country of origin" rule) because it shows this unique building much better than in the other card I've got (a Map-Card of Downtown Montevideo sent by Agus from Urugay last August). Thank you so much Jacqueline, this was the first time I've made such a big swap, and I really enjoy doing it. This postcard took 9 days to arrive! 
Palacio Legislativo, Montevideo - URUGUAY - UNESCO TENTATIVE
The Uruguay Parliament (Palacio Legislativo) is a reticle-shaped ground plan, 4 stories : basement, ground floor, 1st and 2nd stories. Surrounded by gardens, the Capitol, see of the Legislative Power, enjoys a privileged location that allows the best views of the city and of its historical Bay. The building was inaugurated on August 25th, 1925 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and was declared a National Historic Monument in 1975.

Yosemite National Park - CA - USA - UNESCO #308

The last postcard from California I received today has another awesome sunset photography (I know it's a bit "cliché" but sunset landscapes are really beautiful) showing the Half Dome from Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park. I already have a couple of cards from this park, but I really love this one. Thank you Jacqueline. This postcard took 9 days to arrive!
UNESCO #308 - Yosemite National Park - CA - USA
Yosemite National Park lies in the heart of California. With its 'hanging' valleys, many waterfalls, cirque lakes, polished domes, moraines and U-shaped valleys, it provides an excellent overview of all kinds of granite relief fashioned by glaciation. At 600–4,000 m, a great variety of flora and fauna can also be found here.

Santa Catalina - CA - USA

Leaving San Francisco but still in California, Jacqueline sent me this nice sunset in Santa Catalina Island, a little piece of paradise located only a few km from the coast of Los Angeles and a place famous for all the glamorous Hollywood parties in the early 20th century. Thank you very much Jacqueline, I don't know if you already went to Catalina, but I'm sure it must be a wonderful place. This postcard took 9 days to arrive!
Avalon Harbor, Santa Catalina Island - CA - USA
Santa Catalina Island, often called Catalina Island, or just Catalina, is a rocky island off the coast of the U.S. state of California in the Gulf of Santa Catalina. The island is 35 km long and 8 miles 13 km across at its greatest width. The island is located about 39 km south-southwest of Los Angeles, California. The first Europeans to arrive on Catalina claimed it for the Spanish Empire. Over the years, territorial claims to the island transferred to Mexico and then to the United States. During this time, the island was sporadically used for smuggling, otter hunting, and gold-digging, before successfully being developed into a tourist destination by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr.

Alcatraz, San Francisco - CA - USA

And the last postcard from San Francisco shows another of its iconic places... The Rock! The old prison on the Alcatraz Island is still the reference of American jailhouses, specially for those who grew up with all those prison movies set there (my favorite is definitely "Birdman of Alcatraz" with the great Burt Lancaster). I remember reading somewhere that there was a guy once that tried to install a hotel over here... what a crazy idea! Thank you Jacqueline. This postcard took 9 days to arrive!
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay - CA - USA
Alcatraz Island is located in the San Francisco Bay, 2.4 km offshore from San Francisco, California, United States. Often referred to as "The Rock", the small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison (1868), and a federal prison from 1933 until 1963. In 1972, Alcatraz became a national recreation area and received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. Today, the island's facilities are managed by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area; it is open to tours.

Chinatown, San Francisco - USA

Another trademark of San Francisco, Chinatown recently became a major touristic attraction and probably lost some of the mystery and secrecy that was associated with it, but still is a emblematic place I really would love to visit (and try to find that old man store that would sell me a mogwai or maybe drink a couple of beers with Jack Burton).  Thank you Jacqueline. This postcard took 9 days to arrive!
Chinatown, San Francisco - CA - USA
The Chinatown, centered on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street in San Francisco, California, is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia and is the oldest of the four notable Chinatowns in the city. Since its establishment in 1848, it has been highly important and influential in the history and culture of ethnic Chinese immigrants in North America. Chinatown is an enclave that continues to retain its own customs, languages, places of worship, social clubs, and identity. The place is a major tourist attraction, drawing more visitors annually than the Golden Gate Bridge.

Painted Ladies, San Francisco - USA

In this postcard we have another beautiful photography, this time giving us the strong contrast between classical and modern San Francisco - I've seen some of this famous Victorian Houses in the movies but I didn't knew the expression "Painted Ladies"(it makes sense when you think of the vivid colors they're painted) and had no idea that they were built almost 50000 on those hills! Thank you Jacqueline. This postcard took 9 days to arrive!
Victorian Houses (Painted Ladies) in San Francisco - CA - USA
"Painted ladies" is a term in American architecture used for Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings painted in three or more colors that embellish or enhance their architectural details. The term was first used for San Francisco Victorian houses by writers Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen in their 1978 book. About 48,000 houses in the Victorian and Edwardian styles were built in San Francisco between 1849 and 1915, and many were painted in bright colors.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco - USA

The San Francisco Bridge is probably the greatest symbol of this city  and I particularly like this photography where we can see the dense fog that rolls into the bay passing through the Golden Gate Bridge (something recurrent in that place). Thanks again Jacqueline for another awesome card. This postcard took 9 days to arrive!
Golden Gate Bride, San Francisco Bay - CA - USA
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait, the mile-wide, three-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States. It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. It opened in 1937 and had until 1964 the longest suspension bridge main span in the world, with 1,280 m.