Monday, January 12, 2009

Malaysia - Kek Lok Si Temple (MY-13806)

It's my 1st official card from Malaysia :) It shows the Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang, Malaysia. I'm really interested in places of worship of any religion, because people have always been putting much effort to make their temples look beautiful and special. I haven't been to any Buddhist temple and I don't know much about Buddhism (of course, I have some theoretical knowledge, because I like reading about different beliefs, but I don't even know any follower of this religion), but I find it very interesting, even though I'm Christian myself.

The Kek Lok Si Temple (Penang Hokkien for "Temple of Supreme Bliss"; Simplified Chinese: 极乐寺; Traditional Chinese: 極樂寺) is a Buddhist temple situated in Air Itam in Penang and is one of the best known temples on the island.

Mahayana Buddhism and traditional Chinese rituals blend into a harmonious whole, both in the temple architecture and artwork as well as in the daily activities of worshippers.

The construction of the temple began in 1890 and was inspired by the chief monk of the Goddess of Mercy Temple at Pitt Street. With the support of the consular representative of China in Penang, the project received the sanction of the Manchu Emperor Guangxu, who bestowed a tablet and gift of 70,000 volumes of the Imperial Edition of the Buddhist Sutras.

In 1930, the seven storey main pagoda of the temple or the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas, was completed. This pagoda combines a Chinese octagonal base with a middle tier of Thai design, and a Burmese crown; reflecting the temple's embrace of both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism.


Finland - Rauma (FI-439964)

Last time I've been receving many city/town views from Finland and I feel really glad about it :) I appreciate cards with Finnish landscapes too, but I'm always interested in architecture and the way people live in different countries. When it comes to this card, I love it's colors and contrast! It shows the oldest part of Rauma town, which is a UNESCO site (I didn't realize it, until I looked for some info about Rauma on Wikipedia).


Old Rauma (Vanha Rauma in Finnish) is the wooden city centre of the town of Rauma, Finland. It is listed as a Unesco world heritage site.

The area of Old Rauma is about 0.3 km², with approximately six hundred buildings (counting both proper houses and smaller buildings like sheds) and about 800 people living in the area. The town of Rauma expanded outside the Old Rauma proper only in the early 1800s. The oldest buildings date from the 18th century, as two fires of 1640 and 1682 destroyed the town. Most buildings are currently inhabited and owned by private individuals, although along the two main streets and around the town square they are mainly in business use.

Lithuania - Vilnius

I haven't received any Lithuanian cards through Postcrossing yet, but I have some from my penpals and I think it's time to share some old (well, not so old - I've received all of them during the last 4 years) cards with you :) I haven't been to Lithuania, but I've heard a lot about Vilnius, because Polish people have quite sentimental attitude to this city (it's the same as with Ukrainian city Lviv).
You can see Old Vilnius, Cathedral Bell Tower, Towers of the churches, paupio street and Pasazo street on this card. The Vilnius Old Town is also a UNESCO WHS.

Vilnius Old Town, the historical centre of Vilnius, is one of the largest in Europe (3.6 km²). The most valuable historic and cultural sites are concentrated here. The buildings in the old town — there are nearly 1,500 — were built over several centuries, creating a blend of many different architectural styles. Although Vilnius is known as a Baroque city, there are examples of Gothic (e.g. St Anne's Church), Renaissance, and other styles. The main sights of the city are Gediminas Castle and Cathedral Square, symbols of the capital. Their combination is also a gateway to the historic centre of the capital. Owing to its uniqueness, the Old Town of Vilnius was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994

Belarus - Minsk

I received this card in the Slavic countries RR :) According to the sender, that's the most multiview card that can be find there :) Actually, I've noticed myself, that in East European countries (like Russia or Ukraine) it's much easier to find single view cards than any multivew.
As I've written here some months ago, I'd like to go to Belarus someday... But that would be much easier if I didn't need a visa.

Germany - Kalkar

I received this card from my penpal about 2 years ago. I've never been to Kalkar, but I know it's quite close to the Dutch border.

Kalkar is a municipality in the district of Kleve, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located near the Rhine, approx. 10 km south-east of Cleves. The most famous building of Kalkar is its church St. Nicolai, which has one of the most significant sacral inventory from the late Middle Ages in Europe.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ukraine - Mt Ai-Petri, Crimea

Earlier this week I complained about having no cards from Crimea, which is probably the most beautiful part of Ukraine, when it comes to the nature. I haven't been to Crimea and I don't have friends there and that's why I hadn't had any cards from this region.
On Thursday I went to the post office to receive an unexpected parcel. I had no idea, what it could be, but I was very curious :)) At the post office I saw that it was something sent from Ukraine, Sevastopol city in Crimea. "I don't know anyone from Sevastopol!" - I thought. I got extremely curious :)) And it was kind of euphoria, when I saw that I received 15(!) wonderful cards from Crimea, a souvenir map of Crimea and a calendar with pictures of Sevastopol! :)))) I still had no idea, who was so kind to send me all these things... The answer was quite simple: it was because of the "New Year elephant" project. It's orgainsed by Russians and works a bit like postcrossing - you send a small New Year gift to one random person and you receive something from another one. Last year I was a bit disappointed, because I sent my gift, but didn't receive any. This year I wasn't expecting anything as well. So just try to imagine, how happy I was at that post office :)))

I think it's going to take me a long time to share all the 15 cards with you, but here's the first one:

Information from the back side of the card:

Mt Ai-Petri (Saint Peter) is one of the most beautiful Crimean mountains which serves as a giant shield protecting the Southern Coast from the cold and piercing wind from the north. It shoots up 1 233 m above sea level. The mountain is crowned by giant scalloped edges that look like the towers of a fairy tale castle, or the teeth of a mythical dragon. The plateau on top of it is popular with tourists and climbers. This is a true "kingdom close to heavens" with its Alpine meadows, fantastic scenery, steep rocks, deep gorges, and mysterious caves. There are pine trees with flag-like heads, grand beeches and hornbeams, and hundred year-old yew-trees. The air is a delightfu blend of herbal and flowery scents. A majestic view opens from the top of Mt Ai-Petri - coastal villages sunk in the lush green of the parks and gardens, sparkling pearls of palaces and villas scattered along the shoreline, the endless sea and the hovering clouds above. It only takes a few minutes to reach the top of Mt Ai-Petri by cableway.

Finland - From the Arctic Circle to the Noth Cape (FI-428191)

Actually, this beautiful postcard shows not only Finland, but also part of Norway (the North Cape is in Norway), Sweden and Russia, but as it was published in Finland, I decided to label it as a Finnish one. I really hope to visit Lapland someday and to see it's beautiful nature myself. But I don't think I could go there during the winter, because I can hardly stand temperature of -20 degrees and it's probably much colder there :)


Czech Republic - Plzeň (CZ-19667)

Out of 3 official Czech cards that I've received, 2 are from Plzeň (and the senders of both cards are colleagues), but this one is completely different than the previous one :) I love city views with a lot of snow :) Here's some information about the Great Synagogue in Plzeň, which you can see on the right side of this card:

The Great Synagogue (Czech: Velká Synagoga) in Plzeň (Pilsen), Czech Republic is the second largest synagogue in Europe.

A Viennese architect called Fleischer drew up the original plans for the synagogue in Gothic style with granite buttresses and twin 65-meter towers. The mixture of styles is truly bewildering; from the onion domes of a Russian orthodox church, to the Islamic style ceiling, to the distinctly Indian looking Aron kodesh. The synagogue was used without interruption until the Nazi occupation of World War II, and the Jewish community that retook possession of the synagogue at the end of hostilities had been decimated by the Holocaust. The last regular service was held in 1973, and then the synagogue was closed down and allowed to fall into disrepair under communist rule. Restoration was undertaken from 1995-98, and the synagogue was reopened on February 11, 1998 at a cost of 63 million Kč. The synagogue is still used for worship, but only in what was formerly the winter prayer room. The present number of Pilsner Jews is a little over seventy.


Belgium - a funny map :) (BE-26136)

I received this card just 4 days after coming back from Belgium :)))
Of course, first I thought it was an American card... But then I saw the writting "Greetings from Belgium" and names of Belgian cities (by the way, I've received almost all of them) :)) So, as you can see, Belgium isn't a small country anymore! ;)


USA - Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island (US-304907)

I think this card is kind of ad of the Grand Hotel, but also lets you see a bit of the Mackinac Island in Michigan, USA.

The Grand Hotel is a historic lodging facility located on Mackinac Island, Michigan, a small island located at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac within Lake Huron between the state's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Constructed in the late 19th century, the facility advertises itself as having the world's largest porch. The Grand Hotel is well known for a number of notable visitors, including five U.S. presidents, inventor Thomas Edison, and author Mark Twain.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ukraine - New Year and Christmas card (UA-4996)

After sending 171 and receiving 169 official cards, after 246 days of waiting for this moment, having nearly lost my hope for it, I've finally received an official card from UKRAINE! :)))

This card, being a great surprise for me, arrived on the Christmas Eve (I celebrate Christmas on 7th of January, so the Christmas Eve is 6th of January) :) Very nice coincidence :)
As you can see, it's a Christmas / New Year card and the text "З Новим роком та Різдвом Христовим" ("Z Novym rokom ta Rizdvom Khristovym") means "Happy New Year and Merry Christmas" :)

I also want to wish Merry Christmas to everyone, who celebrates it today! :)


Estonia - map of Harjumaa region (EE-38042)

This wonderful card shows the map of Harjumaa region and the Jägala waterfall, which is located in this region. harjumaa is one of the regions of Estonia and used to be one of the ancient Estonian counties existing since the 1st century AD until 1224.

Harju County (Estonian: Harju maakond), or Harjumaa, (Latin: Harria), nowadays one of 15 counties of Estonia. It is situated in northern Estonia, on the south coast of Gulf of Finland, and borders Lääne-Viru County to the east, Järva County to the south-east, Rapla County to the south, and Lääne County to the south-west.

38.8% of the total population of Estonia live in Harju County.

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is included in the county. The City Council of Tallinn has applied to the Government to be given a special status with its own law.


Russia - Moscow

I received this card in the Slavic countries RR :) It shows the Kremlin and the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge in Moscow. The moscow Kremlin is also a UNESCO site.
the interesting thing about the Moskva (Moscow) river (the city was named after the river) is that Russian people don't call it just "Moskva", but always "Moskva-reka" (Москва-река) which means Moscow-river and even pronounce it as one word: "Moskvareka".

Spain - Tenerife

Here's the last of 3 cards from Tenerife sent to me by my dad in November :) I don't really know, what "Paisaje Lunar", but it's located in Vilaflor in the central part of the island.

Vilaflor (Spanish for "Village of Flowers") is the name of a Spanish municipality and a village in the south central part of the island of Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, and part of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife (province).

Vilaflor, with an altitude of 1,400 m, is the highest village of Tenerife (though the highest municipality is La Orotava because the summit of Teide, of 3,718 m -highest point of the Islands and the whole Spain-, is within its area).

The population is 1,798 , its density is 151/km² and its area is 33.92 km². Farmlands are in the valley areas while Teide lies to the northeast. Grassland covers the south and the valley areas with forests and within Teide, the forests cover the north central part. The area also features Paisaje Lunar and the mineral springs of Fuente Alta, which can be found at 1400 meters above sea level in a protected nature reserve. The bottled water company Fuentealta derives from this mineral spring.

Finland - Turku (FI-440945)

This nice postcard shows Turku in South-West of Finland. According to the sender, they don't have many old buildings there because of the great fire in 1827. You can also see the river Aura on this card.

Turku (Swedish: Åbo) is a city situated on the southwest coast of Finland at the mouth of Aura river. It is located in the region of Finland Proper in the Province of Western Finland. It is believed that Turku came into existence during the end of 13th century which makes it the oldest city in Finland. Turku was for a long time the most important population center in Finland: it was the first capital city of Finland from 1809 to 1812 and continued to be the largest city by population in Finland until the end of 1840's. Nowadays its significance nationwide isn't the same as it used to be, but Turku is still a regional capital and important location for business and culture.


Monday, January 5, 2009

USA - map of Florida (US-301869)

This wonderful card shows the map of only American state that I've been to :) I've visited Key West, Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando and Cape Canaveral. I have great memories especially about the summer weather in February, which was something very unusual for me :) Still, I prefer Europe, but I don't regret visiting USA at all. I think it's one of life adventures that I'll always remember, even if I was only 13 then :)


Germany - Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin (DE-252592)

I still haven't been to Berlin :( And I really regret it, because it's closer than Warsaw. I already have 3 cards from Berlin, they all show different places that are definitely worth visiting.
Here's some information about the Charlottenburg Palace:

Charlottenburg Palace (German: Schloss Charlottenburg) is the largest palace in Berlin and the only building in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family.It is located in the Charlottenburg district of the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf area.

The palace was built at the end of the 17th century and was greatly expanded during the 18th century. It includes much exotic internal decoration in baroque and rococo styles. A large formal garden surrounded by woodland was constructed behind the palace. In the grounds of the palace various buildings were erected, including a belvedere, a mausoleum, a theatre and a pavilion. During the Second World War the palace was badly damaged but has since been reconstructed. The palace, its gardens and the buildings in the grounds are major visitor attractions.

I'm sorry for the poor quality of scan. Sometimes there are vertical stripes on the picture and even though I scan again in such cases - there are stripes again. Maybe someone could explain it to me or give some advices?


Finland - Lapland (FI-433958)

I'm always so happy to receive multiview cards with MANY pictures :) This one is just wonderful, because it shows the beauty and diversity of Lapland... Oh, and I'd love to have more cards showing the polar lights :)


UK - Tower Bridge in London (GB-45888)

This postard travelled to me for more than 100 days :) Well, that's the official travel time on postcrossing site, actually it arrived in just several days. It shows a place, where I've been to - the Tower Bridge in London :) Receiving cards from places that I've visited always makes me recall my journeys, even if it was quite a long time ago. I was in London in 2004 on a school trip. We lived with English families near London, but I wouldn't call it an exchange, because they didn't come to Poland later. Of course, that was a great opportunity to practise the language and to see something new... But getting out of our Polish bus on the middle of London's street (because they drive on the left side in UK) was a terrible experience :))

Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London, England, over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, which gives it its name. It has become an iconic symbol of London. Tower Bridge is one of several London bridges owned and maintained by the City Bridge Trust, a charitable trust overseen by the City of London Corporation.

The bridge consists of two towers which are tied together at the upper level by means of two horizontal walkways which are designed to withstand the horizontal forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge to the left and the right. The vertical component of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the two walkways are carried by the two robust towers. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower. Its present colour dates from 1977 when it was painted red, white and blue for the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Before this, it was painted a chocolate brown colour.


Italy - Udine (IT-31877)

This postcard comes from Udine in Friuli region of Italy and shows an angel indicator (the small one on the tower) on Piazza Maggio.

Udine (Friulian Udin, Slovene Videm, German Weiden, Latin Utinum) is a city in northeastern Italy, in the middle of Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, between the Adriatic sea and the Alps (Alpi Carniche), less than 40 km from the Slovenian border. Its population was 99,030 in 2008, and that of its urban area was 172,000.

Udine is the historical capital of Friuli. The area has been inhabited since the Neolithic age, and was later, most likely, settled by Celts. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the area increased of importance after the decline of Aquileia and afterwards of Cividale also. In 983 AD Udine is mentioned for the first time, with the donation of the Utinum castle by emperor Otto II to the Patriarchs of Aquileia, then the main feudal lords of the region. In 1223, with the foundation of the market, the city became finally the most important in the area for economy and trades, and also became the Patriarch's seat.

In 1420 it was conquered by the Republic of Venice. In 1511 it was the seat of a short civil war, which was followed by an earthquake and a plague. Udine remained under Venetian control until 1797, being the second largest city in the state. After the short French domination which ensued, it was part of the Austrian-puppet Lombardy-Venetia Kingdom, and was included in the newly formed Kingdom of Italy in 1866.