Saturday, July 17, 2010

GREAT BRITAIN - Scotland : Loch Broom at sunset

Location of LOCH BROOM in SCOTLAND :

Loch Broom (Scottish Gaelic : Loch Bhraoin, loch of rain showers) is a sea loch located in Ross and Cromarty, Scotland. The small town of Ullapool lies on the eastern shore of the loch. Alternatively, the reference to broom is thought to be derived from the spreading yellow gorse.

Ullapool (Ullapul or Ulapul in Gaelic) is a small town of around 1 300 inhabitants in Ross and Cromarty, Highland, Scotland. Despite its small size, it is the largest settlement for many miles around, and is a major tourist destination of Scotland. The North Atlantic Drift passes by Ullapool, bringing moderate temperatures. A few small palm trees grown in town.


Postcard sent by Karen , as "lawgle"
Postcrossing - Reference GB-151488

Loch Broom and Ullapool at sunset


USA - Utah : Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

USA stamp :


Delicate Arch is a 16 m tall freestanding natural arch located in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah.

It is the most widely-recognized landmark in Arches National Park and is depicted on Utah license plates and on a postage stamp commemorating Utah's centennial anniversary of statehood in 1996. The Olympic torch relay for the 2002 Winter Olympics passed through the arch.


Arches National Park is a U.S. National Park in eastern Utah. It is known for preserving over 2000 natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch, in addition to a variety of unique geological resources and formations.

The park is located just outside of Moab, Utah, and is 310 km2 in size. Its highest elevation is 1 723 m at Elephant Butte, and its lowest elevation is 1 245 m at the visitor center. Since 1970, forty-three arches have toppled because of erosion. The park receives 250 mm of rain a year on average.

Administered by the National Park Service, the area was originally designated as a National Monument on April 12, 1929. It was redesignated as a National Park on November 12, 1971.


Postcard sent by Angie, as "anjayrose"
Postcrossing - Reference US-740136

USA - Utah :
Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch is one of the most exceptional formations of Arches National Park.
It is one of more that 2 000 stone arches found within the park.


GERMANY - Cochem castle

GERMANY stamps :

Location of COCHEM in GERMANY :

Cochem is a town in Rhineland-Palatinate, western Germany, capital of the district Cochem-Zell. It is situated in the valley of the Mosel, at the foot of a hill surrounded by a feudal castle, the Reichsburg, dating from 1051. The town is surrounded by vineyards.

In 1688, King Louis XIV of France, during his invasion of the Rhine and the Moselle, swept in and captured Cochem Castle. His troops completely occupied the area and on May 19, 1689 they destroyed Cochem castle by setting it afire, undermining it and blowing it apart. The town of Cochem was almost destroyed also.

During World War II, the operations staff of the underground subcamp Zeisig of the Natzweiler concentration camp between the villages Bruttig and Treis was located here. At its height, 13 ,000 people were imprisoned. They provided slave labour for Bosch, which made war-important spark plugs, ignition systems and glow plugs under brutal conditions.

The castle of Cochem was first mentioned in 1130. It was destroyed in 1689. In 1868 Jakob Louis Ravené purchased it for 300 Gold Marks and built it in its present form. Since 1978 the city of Cochem owns it.


Postcard sent by Wilhelm , as "Willi"
Postcrossing - Reference DE-642042

Cochem castle


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

COSTA RICA - Montezuma : beaches and water falls

COSTA RICA postage :

COSTA RICA magnet :


Montezuma is a town in Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica which began as a remote fishing village and has gained popularity since the 1980s among tourists on a budget.

Montezuma is located near the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, 41 km southwest of Paquera and 8 km south of the town of Cóbano. Most services are in Cóbano.

The tiny beach haven features a mix of local "Ticos" as well as a foreign community with a lot of European influences. It’s a long-time favourite of backpackers and eco-tourists who come for the beaches, rivers and scenic waterfalls that surround the village. Nearby is the nature reserve of Cabo Blanco. The center of Montezuma consists almost entirely of accommodations, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Catering to the young and the budget-oriented crowd that makes up the bulk of its visitors, Montezuma offers a choice of good, inexpensive rooms.

Montezuma's most rewarding and inexpensive activity is hiking to the several waterfalls near town. The best one is also the closest, about a 7 minute walk along the road to Cabo Blanco. A smaller and less spectacular waterfall with good swimming (El Chorro Waterfall) is a 2 hour walk north along the coast. A trail that is sometimes hard to follow alternates between the beach and a flat path behind the rock formations.

The beach in the center of Montezuma is tightly bordered by imposing rock formations but swimming or sun bathing isn’t really recommended here as it’s not overly tidy and has a strong rip tide. A better option is just north of town, a hundred meters down to the left. It’s a vast expanse of beach which is usually less crowded and good for swimming.

Aside from Montezuma's natural beauty and opportunity for relaxation, there are many activities to enjoy in and around town. Several local companies provide horseback riding, kayaking, snorkeling, surfing, yoga, scuba diving, boat trips to Isla Tortuga, night time turtle egg laying tours (July - October), ATV rentals, Spanish classes, butterfly garden tours, fire dancing classes, and more. Montezuma is also famous for its healing arts & Yoga community. And every year in November, visitors from across the world flock to the village for the annual Costa Rica International Film Festival held in Montezuma and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.


Postcard sent by Laura, as "LauraCR"
Private swap - Reference CR003

Montezuma : beaches and water falls

Muchas gracias

Monday, July 12, 2010

RUSSIA - Poperechnoye Lake in Altai Mountains

RUSSIA stamps :

Poperechnoye (means "transverse") is the most beautiful of more than ten big lakes at a height from 1700 to 1860 m called Multinsky. Multa is a river and a village in Altai republic, Russia. Multinsky lakes means "Where a bird cherry tree grows".


Postcard sent by Katie, as "Spulhen"
Postcrossing - Reference RU-182504

Poperechnoye Lake


Thursday, July 8, 2010

JAPAN - Great Torii of Itsukushima Shrine

JAPAN stamp :


Itsukushima Shrine (Japanese : 厳島神社, Itsukushima Jinja) is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima (popularly known as Miyajima) in the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Japanese government has designated several buildings and possessions as national treasures.

The shrine is dedicated to the three daughters of the Shinto deity of seas and storms Susano-o no Mikoto, brother of the great sun deity, Amaterasu (the tutelary deity of the Imperial household). The first shrine buildings were probably erected in the 6th century, and the shrine has been destroyed many times. The present shrine dates from the mid-16th century, having been rebuilt in keeping with its earlier 12th century design.

The current sixteenth century shrine follows the design established in 1168, when funds were provided by the warlord Taira no Kiyomori. The shrine's construction, consisting of pier-like structures built over the bay, is due to the holy status that the island once commanded. Commoners were historically not allowed to set foot on the island, and had to approach by boat, entering through the gate that appears to float. Beside the shrine is a noh stage.

The dramatic gate (torii) of Itsukushima Shrine is one of Japan's most popular tourist attractions, and the view of the gate in front of the island's Mount Misen is classified as one of the Three Views of Japan (along with the sand bar Amanohashidate, and Matsushima Bay). The gate has existed since 1168, though the current gate dates back to 1875. The gate, built of camphor wood, is about 16 metres high and was built in a four-legged style to provide additional stability.

The gate only appears to be floating at high tide ; when the tide is low, the gate is surrounded by mud and can be accessed by foot from the island. It is common practice for visitors to place coins in the cracks of the legs of the gate and make a wish. Gathering shellfish near the gate is also popular at low tide. Many locals use the shellfish they gather for their miso soup. At night, powerful lights on the shore illuminate the gate.

Retaining the purity of the shrine is so important that since 1878, no deaths or births were permitted at the shrine. To this day, burials on the island are still forbidden.

On September 5, 2004, the shrine was severely damaged by Typhoon Songda. The boardwalks and roof were partially destroyed, leading to its temporary closure.

UNESCO World Heritage Site :


Date of inscription : 1996

UNESCO brief description :

The island of Itsukushima, in the Seto inland sea, has been a holy place of Shintoism since the earliest times. The first shrine buildings here were probably erected in the 6th century. The present shrine dates from the 12th century and the harmoniously arranged buildings reveal great artistic and technical skill. The shrine plays on the contrasts in colour and form between mountains and sea and illustrates the Japanese concept of scenic beauty, which combines nature and human creativity.


Postcard sent by Claus, as "elbe"
Postcrossing - Reference DE-630572

A Night View of the Great Torii
of Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima

Sunday, July 4, 2010

BELARUS - Minsk : the National Library of Belarus

BELARUS stamps :

Location of MINSK in BELARUS :

The National Library of Belarus (Belarusian : Нацыянальная бібліятэка Беларусі, Russian : Национальная библиотека Беларуси), founded on 15 September 1922, is a copyright library of the Republic of Belarus. It houses the largest collection of Belarusian printed materials and the third largest collection of books in Russian behind the Russian State Library (Moscow) and the Russian National Library (St Petersburg).

It is now located in a new 72-metre high building in Minsk, Belarus. The building has 22 floors and was completed in January 2006. The building can seat about 2 000 readers and features a 500-seat conference hall. Its main architectural component has the shape of a rhombicuboctahedron. The library's new building was designed by architects Mihail Vinogradov and Viktor Kramarenko and opened on 16 June 2006.

The National Library of Belarus is the main information and cultural centre of the country. Its depository collections include 8 million items of various media. In 1993 the National Library of Belarus started to create its own electronic information resources. It has generated a collection of bibliographic, factual graphic, full-text, graphic, sound and language databases that comprise more than 2 million records. The scope of databases is quite wide: humanities, social sciences, history, art and culture of Belarus. Library users also have access to databases of other libraries and academic institutions, including foreign ones.

The library service is in great demand. More than 90 thousand citizens of Belarus are library users, who annually request 3.5 million documents. Every day the library is visited by more than 2 200 people. The library delivers about 12 000 documents daily.

In addition to serving as a functional library, the National Library is a city attraction. It is situated in a park on a river bank and has an observation deck looking over Minsk. As of 2009 it is the only structure in Minsk with a public observation deck. The area in front of the library is used for many public concerts and shows.


Postcard sent by Clara, as "Clara89"
Private swap - Reference BY005

Minsk : the National Library of Belarus


BELARUS - Minsk : F. Skorina avenue / Independence avenue

This performance of the artist Vladimir SHARKOV shows the center of F. Skorina avenue in MINSK and especially the headquarters of the Belarus KGB.

The headquarters in Minsk of the Belarus KGB or Committee for State Security which has not changed its name since Soviet times. The initials are from the Russian-language name of the agency, the Committee for State Security. Its headquarters in Central Minsk was built after World War II, in which the city was almost completely destroyed.

The artist Vladimir SHARKOV
was born on April, 22nd, 1963 in Minsk.

1978 - study in Minsk art school it. A.K.Glebov. A honours degree.
1987 - study in the Belarusian Academy of Arts.
Since 1983 - the participant of art exhibitions.
1987 - it is accepted in youth association at the Union of artists of Belarusian.
1993 - a member of the Union of artists of Belarusian

Vladimir Sharkov since 1983, is the constant participant of regional and international art exhibitions.
Works of the master are exposed in many foreign museums and galleries.

Works of the master are:
In funds of the Museum of modern art Belarusian, in Art Fund Belarusian, and also in many private collections.


Postcard sent by Clara, as "Clara89"
Private swap - Reference BY004

Minsk : F. Skorina avenue / Independence avenue


BELARUS - 2010 calendar card with painting of Old Minsk

Painting from the belarussian artist Vladimir SHARKOV showing a panorama of the top and anciant part of Minsk.

In the center of the picture, the cathedral of the Holy Spirit :

Built in 1642 to serve Bernadine nuns, the convent’s consecration was delayed for 40 years because of the Muscovite invasions. In 1741 the original structure was damaged by fire but later reconstructed. The convent was liquidated in 1852 and the building given to the Russian church for use as a monastery - but half a century later it was closed altogether by the Bolsheviks. Today after ongoing renovations, the church is a pleasant stop.

Also on the picture, on right side, the city hall and the cathedral of Saint Virgin Mary.


Postcard sent by Clara, as "Clara89"
Private swap - Reference BY003

2010 Belarus calendar card with painting of Old Minsk


KAZAKHSTAN - Almaty, natural boundary Chimbulak


Location of ALMATY in KAZAKHSTAN :

Almaty (Kazakh : Алматы / Almatı / الماتى), also known by its former name Alma-Ata (Russian : Алма-Ата, until 1992) and Verny (Russian : Верный, until 1921), is the largest city in Kazakhstan, with a population of 1 348 500 (2008 estimation), which represents 9 % of the population of the country.

It was the capital of Kazakhstan (and its predecessor, the Kazakh SSR) from 1929 to 1997. Despite losing its status as the capital to Astana, Almaty remains the major commercial center of Kazakhstan.


Shymbulak (Kazakh : Шымбұлақ), also known as Chimbulak (Russian : Чимбулак) is a ski resort near Almaty, the largest city of Kazakhstan. It is located in the upper part of the Medeu Valley in the Zaiilisky Alatau mountain range, at the elevation of 2 200 meters above sea level. The resort area is about 25 km south of Almaty city by the Medeo road. It is popular for its mild climate, large quantity of sunny days and great amount of snow through the winter (from November till May).

Almaty is hosting the 2011 Asian Winter Games. Shymbulak is a venue for this event.


Postcard sent by Lyubov , as "Lyubov"
Private swap - Reference KZ001

Almaty. Natural boundary Chimbulak


Saturday, July 3, 2010

INDIA - Lambadi Girl

INDIA stamps :

History and Customs

Originating centuries ago in the Jodhpur and Jaisalmer desert areas of Rajasthan, the Banjaras (or Lambadis) were bullock transport carriers and builders of great monuments, who ranged throughout the subcontinent negotiating and maintaining expensive contracts to supply goods to important customers as the Moghal armies and the British. For centuries, they efficiently moved their enormous caravans through vast roadless tracts of all India, guarantying safe conduct for grain, salt and messages. Doing so they spread from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, from Orissa to Gujarat, spilling over into Sind, Pakistan, Iran and further west. Since they wore all their wealth, they were famed for their colorful dress and spectacular jewelry, and known for their lyricism, for song, poetry and dance, and for the maintenance of a unique aesthetic in their embroidery.

With the advent of the railway and the building of a road system, the Banjaras lost their primary occupation, but retained their tradition of monument buildings. Typical of peripatetic nomads, the Banjaras maintain strong boundaries so that they can interact with surrounding peoples and yet retain their cultural integrity. Such boundaries include the separate villages called tanda where the majority of the Banjaras still live today, situated near large cities where they work as construction laborers, or in remote rural areas where they farm, raise and herd animals. Their religion very different from the mainstream one. Their myths are origin, traditional taboos and social structure. The language they use is known as “ghormati” or “Banjaraboli”, related to Hindi, Rajasthani, Punjabi and Roma of the European gypsies, unintelligible to most outsiders, while learning, the regional languages of every part of India where they have settled. And their distinctive colorful clothing, jewelry and embroidery.

An endogamous ethnic people, the Banjaras prohibit marriage with outsiders. Among themselves, they are exogamous, marrying only with members of opposite clans, known as gotras. This Hinduized form of exogamy takes its model specifically from the cast system from the Rajputs of Rajasthan. The same gotras are used throughout the subcontinent, allowing Banjaras from distant places to identify themselves to one another by reciting their lineage.

Their religion is animistic and implies a deep respect for natural processes and a close alliance with ambiguities inherent to their life. The Banjaras have a high tolerance for irrationality, for teasing and mischievousness, for ambiguity. These dual aspects or contradictions contribute to the hostility and fear that mainstream people exhibit toward the Banjara…. Nationwide, they trace their origin through a complex lineage to cow-herding God Krishna and his consort Radha. At the same time, they retain allegiance to local and pan. Banjaras heroes, gods, goddesses, pilgrimage sites and rites interlaced with their particular history and pattern of wandering. Banjara deify ancestors and saints are worshipped and revered, their own priests, bhagats, interfacing with ancestors and interpreting omens, dreams, miraculous stories and magic.

Some materially wealthy or some impoverished, the Banjaras appear to feel at ease anywhere, either moving through the country side of Karnataka, or selling their wares on market day in Goa or at home in their tanda throughout the subcontinent. Synonyms for groups and subgroups of the Banjaras, usually having regional and occupational significance, include the following: banjara, banjari, brinjari, gauria, gavadia, laban, labhana, labhani, lamani, lambani, lambadi, sugali, bamania, charan, ghor, marwadi, and many other names…….

Embroidery and Dress

Signaling their ethnic membership, all Banjaras embroideries are designed for a nomadic life style and, while featuring geometric, floral and animal motifs used by a majority of India’s village peoples, Banjara embroidery design is strikingly different.

For dancing and ordinary ceremonial wear, women use traditional skirts, shawls and backless blouses generally made of commercial textiles, synthetic yarns and locally available mirrors and metal ornaments. The blouses usually are ornamented on the sleeves and fully embroidered with mirrors across the front. Embroidered flaps with metal ornaments are added to the blouses of married women. The shawls have embroidered borders along the top and bottom edges with a wider more elaborate strip of mirror embroidery at the center top that frames the face. The skirts, hanging low on the hips, are worn with the kodi sadak, a long rope of cowries; the waist bands are generally reinforced with sturdy embroidery, worked on a red quilted or twined ground. Particularly fine pieces are made for prospective brides.

Banjara women throughout India wear elaborate twisted and braided hairdos that support and display jewelry and textiles; those styles are typical of Rajasthan. The traditional dress is completed with rows of ivory or bone bracelets, nowadays made of white plastic, worn on the arms, with silver bangles, nose gold ring (bhuria), beads or silver coins necklaces.

Amongst the Banjaras, the single most important ceremonial textile is an embroidery approximately 50 cm. square, of many uses including wedding water pot cover or ritual table cover. It can pre folded to make up different kind of elaborately embroidered dowry bags.


Postcard sent by Aparna , as "Aparna_s24"
Private swap - Reference IN003

Lambadi girl


CROATIA - Mapcard of the country

CROATIA stamp :

Croatia is a Central European and Mediterranean country, bordering Slovenia in the west, Hungary in the north, Serbia in the east and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the south. Croatia also has a long maritime border with Italy in the Adriatic Sea. These borders total 2 028 km altogether. Croatia has a strange shape similar to no other country in the world - which comes as a result of five centuries of expansion by the Ottoman (Turkish) empire towards Central Europe (although Croatia was never conquered by the Turks).


Postcard sent by Jelena, as "NessaSaelind"
Private swap - Reference HR001

Mapcard of Croatia


Friday, July 2, 2010

COSTA RICA - Costa Rican animals

Keel billed tucan (Tucan pico iris)

This toucan is common from sea level to 1 200 m in forest, tall second growth, and pastures that contain some mature trees.
The Keel-Billed lives between southern Mexico and northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela. It is common on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, but less so on the Pacific side, and is rarer in the northern Pacific region of the country, such as in Valle Central. It can be found on the lower slopes of Cordillera de Guanacaste, Peninsula de Nicoya, and the southwest side of Valle Central. It does not live south of the Parita-Quepos region.
National Parks
: Tortuguero Nacional Park, Cahuita National Park, La Selva, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

The Keel-Billed Toucan is sometimes called the Rainbow-Billed Toucan, for the progression of yellow, orange, lime, and pale blue to the crimson tip of its exceptionally bright and enormous beak. This bill is deceptively light-being hollow and narrow-and a surprisingly adroit tool for plucking ripened fruits from awkward angles without trusting this large bird's weight to flimsy branches. The bill, white tail feathers, and bright blue legs contrast with the rest of the dark bird. Aside from yellow facial skin and bib lined in red, this large bird's body is mostly black with maroon on its back and neck, and olive on its lower back and underside.


The Green Iguana or Common Iguana (Iguana iguana) is a large, arboreal herbivorous species of lizard of the genus Iguana native to Central and South America. The green iguana ranges over a large geographic area, from southern Brazil and Paraguay to as far north as Mexico and the Caribbean Islands; and in the United States as feral populations in South Florida (including the Florida Keys), Hawaii, and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

A herbivore, it has adapted significantly with regard to locomotion and osmoregulation as a result of its diet. It grows to 1.5 metres in length from head to tail, although a few specimens have grown more than 2 metres with bodyweights upward of 9.1 kg.

Commonly found in captivity as a pet due to its calm disposition and bright colors, it can be demanding to care for properly. Space requirements and the need for special lighting and heat can prove challenging to an amateur hobbyist.

Scarlet Macaw (Lapa Roja)

The Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) is a large, colorful macaw. It is native to humid evergreen forests in the American tropics. Range extends from extreme south-eastern Mexico to Amazonian Peru, Bolivia and Brazil in lowlands up to 500 m (at least formerly) up to 1 000 m . It has been widely extirpated by habitat destruction and capture for the parrot trade, but locally it remains fairly common. Formerly it ranged north to southern Tamaulipas. It can still be found on the island of Coiba. It is the national bird of Honduras.

Strawberry poison dart frog (Rana Roja venenosa)

The strawberry poison frog or strawberry poison-dart frog, (Oophaga pumilio) is a species of poison dart frog found in Central America. It is common throughout its range, which extends from eastern central Nicaragua through Costa Rica and northwestern Panama. The species is often found in humid lowlands and premontane forest, but large populations are also found in disturbed areas such as plantations. The strawberry poison frog is perhaps most famous for its widespread variation in coloration, comprising approximately 15-30 color morphs, most of which are presumed to be true-breeding.

Blue morpho (Morfo azul)

The Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho menelaus) is an iridescent blue butterfly that lives in rainforests of South and Central America, including Brazil, Costa Rica, and Venezuela.

The Blue Morpho Butterfly is a species of neotropical butterfly that has brilliant blue wings (the females are are not as brilliantly colored as the males and have a brown edge with white spots surrounding the iridescent blue area). The undersides (visible when the butterfly is resting) are brown with bronze-colored eyespots. The Blue Morpho has a wingspan of about 6 inches (15 cm). Adults drink the juices of rotting fruit using their straw-like proboscis.

The caterpillar of the Blue Morpho is red-brown with bright patches of lime-green on the back, and it eats the plant Erythroxylum pilchrum nocturnally (at night).

Squirrel monkey (Mono Titi)

Squirrel Monkeys are some of the most commonly seen monkeys in the Central American rainforest's, even though they are very shy and skiddish. They average about 1 foot in length, with the their tails adding on another full foot. Squirrel monkeys weigh 1.5-2.5 lbs, and are diurnal, or active during the daytime.


Postcard sent by Laura, as "LauraCR"
Private swap - Reference CR002

Costa Rican animals :
Keel billed tucan, iguana, scarlet macaw,
strawberry poison dart frog, blue morpho, squirrel monkey

Muchas gracias