Friday, February 19, 2010

RUSSIA - Saint Petersburg : the Summer Gardens

Postcard :

Russia location
Russia flag

Russia stamp

Saint Petersburg location

The Summer Garden (Letny Sad) is reached by leaving Nevsky Prospekt near Gostinny Dvor and turning north up Sadovaya Street. Then after passing the Mikhailovsky (Engineer's) Castle, the Summer Garden comes into view on the right. The Garden sits on an island formed by the Fontanka, Moika and the Swan Canal and has the railings of its northern perimeter running along the left bank of the Neva. It occupies a plot of almost 12 hectares, although it originally stretched down nearly as far as Nevsky Prospekt.

Often favored by Petersburgers for romantic walks, and summer siestas, it is a place that also attracts many city visitors all the year round. The Garden was created in 1704 by the direct decree of Peter the Great and it became an exclusive urban park for the elite. For over a century only the nobility and those with court privileges were allowed to use the Gardens, until Tsar Nicholas I permitted the public to enter, but only by adhering to a strict dress code which continued right up to the Revolution.

J-B. LeBlond, who also played a big part in the design of the Nevsky Prospekt, was given the remit from Peter to plan the Summer Garden, but it was the combined efforts of several architect-designers, such as I. Matviev, I. Zemtsov and C. Schroeder, as well as the numerous unknown gardeners, laborers and serfs, who created Russia's first public Garden.

The Garden was laid out in the formal French style, mimicking Versailles - the geometric paths were flanked with rows of finely trimmed oak and elm trees, whilst numerous fountains adorned the open areas. Those fountains were probably the first park fountains in Russia. They were made of colored marble, Poudozh stone and wood.

The Fontanka was so named after water was pumped from it to feed the fountains. Apart from the abundance of fountains in the Summer Garden at the time of Peter the Great, there were many other amusements including music from a water-propelled organ. The whole area was a labyrinth of lanes surrounded by the walls of bushes, the embellishment of 32 fountains, plus various Italian-made statues based on Aesop's fables. Unfortunately, a disastrous flood in 1777 wrecked the garden, uprooted trees and destroyed the fountains. Reconstruction took place during the reign of Catherine the Great, who preferred the less formal English-style garden that survives until today. Sadly, of the original 250 statues and sculptured busts, only 89 have survived the rigors of floods, severe winters and war. Each winter now, the statues are protected from the elements by what bizarrely appear to be individual upright wooden coffins. In the southern part of the Summer Garden was the Swan Lake (Karpiev Pond) with a multi-jet fountain in the middle, plus there were several reservoirs for the breeding of water fowl and various kinds of fish.


Postcard sent by Alexey, as "andreychuk" - Postcrossing - Reference RU-114960

Saint Petersburg - The Summer Gardens


Thursday, February 18, 2010

UKRAINE - Cold beet borsch (Whitsunday)


is a soup of Ukrainian origins that is popular in many Eastern and Central European countries. In most of these countries, it is made with beetroot as the main ingredient, giving it a deep reddish-purple color. In some countries tomato may occur as the main ingredient, while beetroot acts as a secondary ingredient. Other, non-beet varieties also exist, such as the tomato paste-based orange borscht and the green (zelioni) borscht (sorrel soup).

There are two main variants of borscht, generally referred to as hot and cold. Both are based on beets, but are otherwise prepared and served differently.

Hot borscht (mostly Ukrainian and Russian), the kind most popular in the majority of cultures, is a hearty soup with many common optional ingredients, depending on the cuisine, including various vegetables (beans, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, onions, or tomatoes), mushrooms, and meats (chicken, pork, or beef). It is more akin to a stew than most soups, and may be eaten as a meal in itself, usually with thick dark bread.

Cold borscht exists in many different cultures. Some of these include Lithuanian (šaltibarščiai), Polish (Chłodnik, literally 'cooler'), Belarusian, Ukrainian and Russian cultures. As a traditional European cold soup, it is akin to preparations like gazpacho, Hungarian cold tomato and/or cucumber soups and meggyleves.

The recipe on the postcard :

2-3 beets, 2 hard-boiled eggs, 2 cucumbers, 3-4 potatoes, spring onions, dill, parsley, salt.

Peel the beets, cut into stripes and put into salted and boiling water. Boil twice and pour off half of the beet-liquid, pour more water and add peeled and diced potatoes and simmer until cooked. Sprinkle chopped dill, parsley and spring onion and add chopped hard-boiled eggs and cucumbers. Pour the quenched beet-liquid and add salt, if needed. Serve cold with sour cream.


Postcard sent Val , as "Sedumnia"
Postcrossing - Reference UA-20719

Recipe : Cold beet borsch (Whitsunday)


Saturday, February 13, 2010

BRAZIL - Rio de Janeiro : Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado


Christ the Redeemer is a statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; considered the largest art deco statue in the world. The statue stands 39.6 metres (130 ft) tall, including its 9.5 metre (31 ft) pedestal, and 30 metres (98 ft) wide. It weighs 635 tons (700 short tons), and is located at the peak of the 700 metres (2,300 ft) Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park overlooking the city. It is one of the tallest of its kind in the world. A symbol of Catholicism, the statue has become an icon of Rio and Brazil. It is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone.

The idea for erecting a large statue atop Corcovado was first suggested in the mid-1850s, when Catholic priest Pedro Maria Boss requested financing from Princess Isabel to build a large religious monument. Princess Isabel did not think much of the idea and it was completely dismissed in 1889, when Brazil became a republic, with laws mandating the separation of church and state. The second proposal for a landmark statue on the mountain was made in 1921 by the Catholic Circle of Rio. The group organised an event called Semana do Monumento ("Monument Week") to attract donations and collect signatures to support the building of the statue. The donations came mostly from Brazilian Catholics. The designs considered for the "Statue of the Christ" included a representation of the Christian cross, a statue of Jesus with a globe in his hands, and a pedestal symbolizing the world. The statue of Christ the Redeemer with open arms was chosen.

Local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa designed the statue; it was sculpted by French sculptor Paul Landowski. A group of engineers and technicians studied Landowski's submissions and the decision was made to build the structure out of reinforced concrete (designed by Albert Caquot) instead of steel, more suitable for the cross-shaped statue. The outer layers are soapstone, chosen for its enduring qualities and ease of use. Construction took nine years, from 1922 to 1931. The monument was opened on October 12, 1931. The cost of the monument was $250,000.

The statue was struck by lightning during a violent electrical storm on Sunday, February 10, 2008. The storm caused havoc in Rio, but the statue was left unscathed because soapstone, the material forming the outer layers of the statue, is an insulator. In October 2006, on the statue's 75th anniversary, Archbishop of Rio Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid consecrated a chapel (named for the patron saint of Brazil—Nossa Senhora Aparecida, or "Our Lady of the Apparition,") under the statue. This allows Catholics to hold baptisms and weddings there.


Postcard sent by Karlianne , as "karlianne"
Postcrossing - Reference BR-91425

Rio de Janeiro - Corcovado
Monument to Redeeming Christ


CHINA - Rocky Cave Temple at Gongyi

CHINA stamp

GONGYI location in CHINA

Gongyi (Chinese 巩义市), formerly Gong County (巩县), is a county-level city belonging to the city of Zhengzhou in Henan province, China

Gongyi is located at in the middle of Henan province, on the northern side of Mount Song. The Yellow River runs through the northern part of the city. Zhengzhou city proper lies 82 kilometres to the east and Luoyang 76 kilometres to the west.

The celebrated Song tombs are scattered through the towns (zhen) of Xicun, Zhitian, and Huiguo. They are the resting place for 7 emperors of the Northern Song dynasty and the father of the dynasty's founder. There are also the graves of loyal ministers of the Song.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Gongyi was placed under the jurisdiction of Zhengzhou but came under the control of Kaifeng in January 1955 before reverting to Zhengzhou in August 1983. In 1991, Gongyi became a county-level city, still under the jurisdiction of Zhengzhou.

Gongyi is thought to be the birthplace of the Tang-dynasty poet Du Fu, often considered China's greatest poet.


Postcard sent by Wang Gang , as "WangGang2"

Postcrossing - Reference CN-162831

Rocky Cave Temple at Gongyi


Thursday, February 11, 2010

RUSSIA - Beautiful and funny baby

RUSSIA stamps :


Postcard sent by Irina, 13 years old, as "irisska"

Postcrossing - Reference RU-112169

Beautiful and funny baby.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

TAIWAN - River biking, Dajia Riverside Park Taipei

Postcard from Taiwan

Taiwan location

Taipei location

ROC stamp

TAIWAN - Taipei

Taipei (台北) is the largest city in Taiwan and has served as the de facto capital (provisional capital) of the Republic of China (commonly known as "Taiwan") since the Chinese Civil War in 1949. It is the political, economic, and cultural center of the country.

Situated at the northern tip of the island, Taipei is located on the Danshui River, and is about 25 km southwest of Keelung, its port on the Pacific Ocean. Another coastal city, Danshui, is about 20 km northwest at the river's mouth on the Taiwan Strait. It lies in the two relatively narrow valleys of the Keelung (基隆河) and Xindian (新店溪) Rivers, which join to form the Danshui River along the city's western border.

Considered to be an alpha world city, Taipei is part of a major industrial area. Railways, high speed rail, highways, airports, and bus lines connect Taipei with all parts of the island. The city is served by Songshan Airport (domestic and cross-strait flights) and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (international and cross-strait flights).

Taipei was founded in the early 18th century and became an important center for overseas trade in the 19th century. The Japanese acquired Taiwan in 1895 after the First Sino-Japanese War and made Taipei the island's capital. The Republic of China took over the island in 1945 after Japan's defeat in World War II. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek declared Taipei the provisional capital of the Republic of China in December 1949 after the Kuomintang (KMT) government was defeated by the Communists who took over most of Mainland China during the Chinese Civil War.


Postcard sent by Winnie, as "lovepooh" - Postcrossing - Reference TW-118987

River Biking, Dajia Riverside Park Taipei


Monday, February 8, 2010

NETHERLANDS (& MEXICO) - Popocatepetl Maxicaans Cafe Restaurant

Popocatepetl café/restaurant stands for delicious food in a Mexican ambiance and has been a success for 25 years.

In 1983, the first Popocatepetl establishment opened its doors in Utrecht, followed by establishments in Nijmegen, Rotterdam, The Hague, Haarlem and Eindhoven.

Popocatepetl serves authentic Mexican food, including a large selection of tortilla dishes. The enchiladas are our most popular dish. The menu also includes various options for meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, the quality of which is extremely high. Our nachos are freshly baked every day, the table sauce is prepared according to a traditional recipe and we do not use canned beans, but beans directly imported from Mexico! Our desserts are also delicious; cakes and mousse are homemade.

Popo’s interior is extremely colourful, and the cantina ambiance is created by simple furniture combined with brightly coloured walls, also adorned by a multicoloured collection of decorations and paintings of typical Mexican tableaux. Candles, geraniums, bird cages and religious knickknacks are found at each Popo establishment.. The music at Popo is a blend of South American styles such as salsa, merengue, mariachi and bachata, which contributes to the cheerful, warm and carefree atmosphere.


Postcard sent by Elsbeth, as "Elsbeth80"
Postcrossing - Reference NL-284385

Mexicaans Cafe Restaurant Popocatepetl
Add card with pictures of Mexicans females costumes.

dank je wel

Saturday, February 6, 2010

JAPAN - The Beautiful Scenery of Hokkaido - Sapporo

JAPAN stamps

Location of SAPPORO in JAPAN

JAPAN - Sapporo, on Hokkaido Island

Sapporo (札幌) is the fifth-largest city in Japan by population. It is the capital of Hokkaidō Prefecture, located in Ishikari Subprefecture, and an ordinance-designated city of Japan.

Sapporo is best known outside Japan for hosting the 1972 Winter Olympics, the first ever held in Asia, and for the annual Yuki Matsuri in the city, internationally referred to as the Sapporo Snow Festival, which draws more than 2 million tourists from around the world. The city is also home to Sapporo Brewery.

Hokkaidō (北海道), formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island and the largest, northernmost of its 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaidō from Honshū, although the two islands are connected by the underwater Seikan Tunnel.

The Sapporo TV Tower (さっぽろテレビ塔), built in 1957, is a 147.2 metre high TV Tower with an observation deck at a height of 90.38 metres. Located on the ground of Odori Park, in the northern city of Sapporo, Hokkaidō, Japan, the tower is open to tourists. Tourists can take panoramic pictures of Sapporo and Odori Park.


Postcard sent by Ayumi, as "ayu2007"
Postcrossing - Reference JP-95134

Sapporo, capital of Hokkaido Pefecture,
with the TV Tower back to the view

Thursday, February 4, 2010

ISRAEL - Masada

Postcard from Israël

Israël location

Israël flag

Israël stamps

ISRAEL - Masada

Date of inscription on WHS list : 2001

Masada is a rugged natural fortress, of majestic beauty, in the Judaean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a symbol of the ancient kingdom of Israel, its violent destruction and the last stand of Jewish patriots in the face of the Roman army, in 73 A.D. It was built as a palace complex, in the classic style of the early Roman Empire, by Herod the Great, King of Judaea, (reigned 37 – 4 B.C.). The camps, fortifications and attack ramp that encircle the monument constitute the most complete Roman siege works surviving to the present day.


Postcard sent by Daniel, 7 years old, as "Daniel7" - Postcrossing - Reference IL-6374

Views of the World Unesco Site : Bird's eye view, the store rooms, the Byzantine church, the Synagogue, the Bath House, Wall paintings, the Cable-car.

Thanks Daniel ! Shalom.

Monday, February 1, 2010

CROATIA - Greetings from the homeland of the cravat

Young men and girls tied kerchiefs around their loved onses' necks as a sign of fidelity. This spontaneous act of love spread around the world like wildfire, and these kerchiefs became known as cravats in the 17th century after the Croatian soldiers whore wore them. At all contemporary weddings in the world a tie is a vital fashion accessory in all its variations (a cravat, a bow tie, a starched shirt front, a formal tie, etc ...). The kerchief, wich the fiancée of wife tied around her husband's fiancé's neck was a sign of a lasting relationship. Today therefore, the clothes worn by a bride and groom are deeply related. In the tradition of that original tie, Croata is recognized as the supreme expression of the fidelity, beauty and dignity of those entering into marriage, and as a symbol of the future before them. Croata ties, always so unique, personal and spontaneous, are tied around an excellent shirt and framed by a top quality Croata suit.


Postcard sent by Zeljko, as "zvasilik"
Postcrossing - Reference HR-10233