Thursday, May 28, 2009

Brazil - Railway Curitiba - Paranaguá

I'm sorry for not making any updates on my blog for quite a long time. When my final exams finished, my Ukrainian friend came here for a week and we had a great time travelling in Poland (that was one of not very numerous opportunities to see some other cities in my own country for me) :) Today I'm going to take my favorite 24 hours train trip in about 2 hours... So, like it or not, it's a railway day on my blog! :) I decided to take you on a train trip on 5 continents... And I hope you'll enjoy it at least a bit :) I understand that some of you may not enjoy travelling by trains as much as I do, but I really feel there's something fascinating about the railways and I want to share it with you :)

Actually, I saw this card for the first time on Ana's blog. I'm not one of those people who must have what others have, but in this special case I decided to ask Karina from Brazil if she had one more card like this ;)

Of course, Ukrainian raliways aren't so breathtaking... But I'm looking forward to taking an Ukrainian train tomorrow very much,it's always a great pleasure for me :)) I'm sure I'll enjoy my stay in Kyiv... But first I have to catch the Polish train to get to the border (just 520 kms away from here) ;) So see you next week! :)

Australia - Pichi Richi Railway (AU-41145)

It's already 2nd Australian train in my postcards collection :) Actually, when I was choosing cards for this update yesterday, I thought I had to write that I receive really wonderful (and fitting my wishlist very well) cards from Australia - including maps, flag cards and trains, but I still don't have any view card from this country :) But this has already changed, as I found a beautiful and rare viewcard from Australia in my mailbox today :) I'll show it to you later :) Today you can enjoy this card showing the Pichi Richi Railway :)


According to the sender, Pichi Richi Railway is now a tourist train that runs during school and public holidays. It closes in summer as the grass by the railway line gets so dr that the sparks from the engine might start a grass fire.
By the way, I really love the name of this railway :) It is believed to come from the native plant, pituri, which grows in the area, and was traditionally chewed by Australian Aborigines.

Japan - A train (JP-67606)

I received this wonderful card showing a Japanese train just a few days ago and it was a great surprise (that's what I love about the official postcrossing) :) Of course, Japan is better known for the modern trains, which belong to the fastest one in the world, but it's very interesting to see, what were the Japanese railways like many years ago :)


There's some information about this train on the back side of this card, but unfortunately I can't understand or even translate it, because it's written in Japanese :( I just guess that "1936" means that this locomotive was created in that year? I would be very thankful, if anyone of my dear readers could help me with this text:

Thanks in advance!

USA - Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad

I received this card in the railway tag, which unfortunately isn't very popular. It's a pity that I can't find any card showing trains here, but this tag allows also sending cards showing railway stations and it really helps me :) Still, I wouldn't like anyone to be dissapointed by the cards I send (and myself I prefer receiving cards showing trains much more than railway stations), so I've participated in this tag just once so far. It shows the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad in Ohio, USA.

Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad
is located 1 mile South of Nelsonville, Ohio. This tourist attraction operates throughout the summer months on Saturdays, Sundays and major holidays.

The Netherlands - Medemblik Family and trains (NL-162481)

I find this Dutch card very interesting, because I like old photographs, papers and of course trains (that's the reason to place this card in today's update) ;) Unfortunately, I'm not sure what it shows. The text on the back side of this card tells that it's about the Medemblik Family, which is presented in several museums, including Museumstoomtram Hoorn - Medemblik (This text was bold, so I guess it must be the name of railway museum? My knowledge of Dutch is very limited) :(


Of course, I tried to google for some information about the Medemblik Family, but I just found out that Medemblik was the name of municipality in the Netherlands. So I still wonder, if that was a family, which enjoyed travelling by trains very much (that's the version I want to believe in) or if "Medemblik Family" is just a common name for people that used to live in Medemblik? Anyway, the railway was definitely important for them and that's what matters :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hong Kong - Mong Kok (HK-3459)

Here's my first card from Hong Kong! :) Receiving cards from new countries or territories as officials is the most exciting for me, because it's always so unexpected :) Hong Kong was already included in the number of countries and territories that I have postcard from I told you last week, so it's still 68 :) I'm expecting a card from one more country, but who knows, maybe I'll get so nicely surprised by another official again? :)

This card shows the entrance to Ladies' market in Mong Kok area. It's one of the most popular night markets of Kowloon (it's a peninsula and urban area in Hong Kong) , where one can buy almost everything from exotic lingerie to sophisticated electronics. My first thought about this card was that these crowded streets are something very typical for Hong Kong (the skyscrapers and crowd are the first things that come into my mind when I think of this territory). Today I was googling for some more information about the Mong Kok area and I learned that it was the place with highest population denesity in the world! 130 000 people per km2 - can you imagine that?!


Mong Kok or Mongkok (Chinese: 旺角; the English name is a transliteration of its older name 望角 or 芒角 which is pronounced "Mong Gok". Its present Chinese name "旺角" is pronounced "Wong Gok") is an area in the Yau Tsim Mong District on Kowloon Peninsula, Hong Kong, China.

The name in Chinese means "flourishing/busy corner". Recent road works revealed some antique potteries, indicating that there might be settlements that early as Jin Dynasty (265-420).

The district is characterized by a mixture of old and new multi-story buildings, with shops and restaurants at street level and commercial or residential units above. Major industries in Mong Kok are retail, restaurants (including fast food) and entertainment.

Croatia - Samobor

I received this beautiful card from Rumiko in the Slavic countries RR :) I haven't heard of Samobor before, but it seems to be a nice and cosy town, although it's very close to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. According to the sender, Samobor is famous for Croatian cakes called kremšnite, made of custard and flaky pastry - that's where they come from :)
And I have one more reason to like this card... You want to guess what it is? ;) Of course, I love the old train that they have in Samobor! :)

Thank you very much, Rumiko, for sending me this card:)

To the east of Zagreb is the town of Samobor, established in the 13th century. The narrow cobble stone streets and the beautiful Trg Kralja Tomislava main square are great places to stroll and sightsee. Although the town has a long history, a fire in 1797 destroyed large sections and many buildings. Consequently most of the architecture is from the 1800s. The fortress ruins on Tepic Hill known as Stari Grad, date to the late 13th century. Samobor grew up at the base of the fortress. Today Samobor is a popular getaway destination for locals and travelers who enjoy hiking and good food. It is regarded as one of the best centers for Croatian gastronomy.

Finland - a painting by Martti Ranttila (FI-519535)

I'm a complete ignorant when it comes to art, but I find it interesting to see pieces of art from different countries sometimes. It gives me a bit better idea about this country's culture and sometimes also history. Unfortunately, sometimes it's hard to find any further information about the artists (like in this case), probably because they're not really known outside their countries.


The only info I could find about this card is that it's a painting called "Maisema" (according to the google translator it means "landscape" or "scenery"). It was painted by Martti Ranttila in 1944 and can be found in the Riihimäki Art Museum.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Czech Republic - Prague

This card, received in the Slavic countries RR, shows one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to. I've visited Prague for 3 or 4 times (I'm not sure now) and I hope to go there again soon. I'd like to show this wonderful city to my Ukrainian friend, who is going to come here for several days next week. Actually, it's much closer to Prague than to Warsaw from my city. I live only 216 kms away from the Czech capital (I know it exactly thanks to postcrossing - I've sent an official to Prague once) ;)

This city has a really unique atmosphere and it's even hard to describe it. I just love it's narrow streets, hills, old churches, houses, bridges... Sometimes, especially during the summer, there are way too many tourists, many of them coming from Japan, but it's not strange - Prague is definitely one of those cities you really should visit, if you decide to go to Europe. It's much more beautiful than many famous West European cities, at least in my opinion. I hope this card, showing the Prague Castle, will encourage you to visit this city, if you ever have such opportunity :)

Prague Castle (Czech: Pražský hrad) is a castle in Prague where the Czech kings, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have had their offices. The Czech Crown Jewels are kept here. Prague Castle is one of the biggest castles in the world (according to Guinness Book of Records the biggest ancient castle) at about 570 meters in length and an average of about 130 meters wide.

The castle buildings represent virtually every architectural style of the last millennium. The Prague Castle includes gothic St Vitus Cathedral, Romanesque Basilica of St. George, a monastery and several palaces, gardens and defense towers. Most of the castle areas are open to tourists. Nowadays, the castle houses several museums, including the National Gallery collection of Bohemian baroque and mannerism art, exhibition dedicated to Czech history, Toy Museum and the picture gallery of Prague Castle.

Brazil - Brasília

I received this fantastic card in a swap from Karina :) As I've written in my previous post about Brazil, most of cards coming from this country show São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro and that I'm always glad to see another Brazilian cities :) But Brasília isn't just another "not so popular" place in Brazil - it's actually the country's capital!

I find this city very interesting, because it was planned and built to be the capital of Brazil. The previous capital of Brazil was Rio de Janeiro (until 1960), but the government decided to relocate the capital to the interior of the country to increase population of that area. Brasília was supposed to be a nearly ideal city - it's shape resembler a bird, butterfly or airplane, when seen from above. Even the streets were planned in such way that there would be no need for traffic lights and transit would flow smoothly. In fact, now there are traffic lights, because the city grew quicker than it was expected. Some people criticize the city, because it's plan was an utopia not meeting the real needs of people and find it boring, even though it's a city with quite high quality of life. On the other hand, building a new city, designed to be a capital, was a very interesting experiment and therefore Brasília was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Brasília is the capital of Brazil. The city and its District are located in the Central-West region of the country, along a plateau known as Planalto Central. It has a population of about 2,557,000 (3,599,000 in the metropolitan area), making it the fourth largest city in Brazil. It is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

As the national capital, Brasília is the seat of all three branches of the Brazilian government. The city is a world reference for urban planning. The locating of residential buildings around expansive urban areas, of building the city around large avenues and dividing it into sectors, has sparked a debate and reflection on life in big cities in the 20th century. The city's planned design included specific areas for almost everything, including accommodation.

The city was planned and developed in 1956 with Lúcio Costa as the principal urban planner and Oscar Niemeyer as the principal architect. In 1960, it formally became Brazil's national capital.

UK - Hitchin (GB-74207)

It's always nice to receive cards from places that aren't very well-known, because it's a good opportunity to improve my knowledge in geography and history :) Well, I've already written my final exams in these subjects, but I hope I'll never lose my desire to learn something new :)
According to the sender, Hitchin is a little town with lots of live music, pubs and places to eat. Hitchin is also known for the Rhytms of The World festival, which takes place there every year.

There are two more things that I really like about this card - the orange frame and wonderful railway related stamp :)


Hitchin is a town with 30,000 inhabitants 35 miles north of London in the county of Hertfordshire. Hitchin is an old market town first mentioned 1,000 years ago.

Hitchin has its own character and several historic buildings can be found around the town centre, historic market place, Bancroft, Bucklersbury and Sun Street. Although this part of Hertfordshire is fairly heavily populated there is still plenty of scenery with rolling hills, lots of small villages and single track lanes to be found.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ukraine - Donetsk

I usually choose cards that may be interesting for the readers of my blog (at least I hope so) for the top of my updates :) This time some of you may think that I've chosen card that isn't very special in any way... But for me it's very special and I can explain you the reasons ;) I received this card from Aleksandra, who has made her best to find a nice postcard showing her city.

I was just 13 years old when I fell in love with Ukraine and obviously I wasn't allowed to go abroad myself. Therefore I was visiting just West Ukraine, because that's where Polish people usually go, if they decide to visit Ukraine. I also went to Kyiv once. But when I was 17, I decided it was already the right time to travel myself and to discover some new places in Ukraine. I wasn't sure if it was a good idea to go to Donetsk (even though a very good friend of mine lives there, so I felt absolutely safe) because I had some stereotypes concerning East Ukraine, connected with political, historic and language issues. But I don't regret going there at all and I hope I'll be able to visit this city again :)

If you're interested in the boring story on "What happens if Orange Dreamers goes to East Ukraine", you can read it below. If not, just enjoy this card showing the Central Indoor Market and the Orthodox Cathedral in Donetsk (this photo was taken in 2002 - now the cathedral is already completed).

What happens if Orange Dreamer goes to East Ukraine?
(This story is 100% true and based on this blog's author's real experience)

If you're never been to Ukraine and don't know much about this country, but you'd like to go there at least once, I wouldn't recommend you visiting East Ukraine. If you want to have some general idea about Ukraine, it's history and culture - visit Kyiv. If you'd like to see an old city, which has been on crossroads of different cultures and religions for many centuries - visit Lviv. If you'd like to have nice holidays on the seaside, with Mediterrean climate and mountains just next to the sea - visit Crimea. If you love mountains and unspoiled nature - you should choose the Carpathian Mountains. If you're not really interested in Ukraine, a trip to Donetsk won't tell you much about this country and it's beauty. It's just a big city with approximately 1 million inhabitants, not very old (it was founded in 1869, if I remember well) and it's the centre of a large industrial region called Donbass. There are many coal mines and steelworks.

Orange Dreamer also wasn't really planning going to Donetsk. She was more than satisfied with her trips to West Ukraine. When she went to Kyiv for the first time (she was 16 at that time) and looked at the Dnipro river, which is said to divide Ukraine into Eastern and Western part (that's connected with history - Ukraine used to be divided between Poland and Russia, the border was on Dnipro) she thought that there was nothing really worth her attention on the East bank of that river. She had some stereotypes and her attitude to East Ukraine wasn't really good, because people spoke Russian and voted for pro-Russian politicians there (oh yes, she was - and still is - very interested in politics). And she thought nothing could change it. But in November 2008 she was talking to her friend from Donetsk on ICQ (they had met before in Poland) and she joked that maybe she should go to this city. That was supposed to be a funny joke :)) But, as it often happens in our lives, jokes may become reality, so be careful while joking! ;)

On 19 January 2009 she took a train from Ternopil (West Ukraine) to Donetsk. Fortunately, Orange Dreamer loves trains almost as much as she loves Ukraine, otherwise it would be hard to stand this 22 hours long trip. There was an elderly lady from Ternopil sitting next to her. She was going to visit her son, who lived in Donetsk. Orange Dreamer told her that she was going to East Ukraine for the first time.
- Be careful - the lady said very quietly - This train is owned by the Donetsk Railways, so we have to speak quietly. Remember not to say any of the things I'm telling you now in East Ukraine. They can throw you down to the river from 19m high bridge, if you tell the truth! And don't even try to speak Ukrainian there! In the best case they'll just ignore you, but much worse things can also happen!
Then she started telling her theories on how Russians and Jews are planning to destroy Ukraine and then whole Europe. She advised Orange Dreamer not to talk to dark-haired and dark-eyed people. Her views started to seem similar to the nazi ideology and finally she said "If uncle Adolf won that war - we would have order here!" Orange Dreamer realized that there was no point in continuing this conversation and she went to sleep. Next morning she decided to pretend she was sleeping as long as possible. But before her train arrived in Donetsk, she had to get some final advices.
- I'm going to Donetsk just for 4 days, because the air is so polluted that staying there any longer is very dangerous. Remember not to talk to anyone about the things you've heard from me. And call me, if you get into trouble!
Orange Dreamer was very sceptical about all the theories of that lady, but as the train was reaching it's final destination, she felt some fear and actually wasn't sure if she should get out of the train or wait until it goes back to West Ukraine. But she didn't have ticket for the way back anyway. As the train stopped, she realized there was no way back. She was in East Ukraine. Her friend, who was already waiting on the platform, was unfortunately black-haired. The lady from the train noticed it, so she asked Orange Dreamer to talk to her alone for a while.
- Remember, if you get into trouble, you know my phone number!
- the lady seemed to be rather sure that there would be some trouble. Orange Dreamer decided not to lose her faith that there are good people everywhere and that nothing bad should happen.

Orange Dreamer was right. Actually, she's always right, just not everyone realizes that ;) She saw a big and modern city, which was not scary at all (And there was no 19m high bridge... Or she just didn't see that one). People were speaking Russian there, but each time she was talking to them in Ukrainian (for example at the post office), they were answering kindly in Ukrainian :) Orange Dreamer went also to Svyatohirsk, an Orthodox sanctuary located on picturesque hills next to a river, about 140km north from Donetsk. There was a lot of snow and it was one of the most beautiful landscapes that Orange Dreamer still has in her memory. Then she was finally able to say that she really loves Ukraine - not only it's Western part. She hasn't changed her political views, but she understood that sometimes it's better just not to touch some topics that have been reasons of conflict for many years. It's a pity that many people in Ukraine still follow stereotypes and don't trust each other. Orange Dreamer hasn't noticed any real difference between people that live in Lviv and Donetsk. Political, ideological, religious and language differences are not what really matters. The people that she has met in different regions of Ukraine are probably the nicest people on this planet and going to East Ukraine hasn't changed her opinion about this country :)

She still prefers Lviv and Kyiv, just because she loves cities with long and fascinating history and because she can hear Ukrainian language more often in those cities, but she's already looking forward to going to East Ukraine again :) Her plans include visiting some new cities - perhaps Kharkiv and Dnipropertovsk :)

China - Fragrant Hills in Beijing

This card is one more proof that participating in the postcrosing forum activities is a good way to receive wonderful card :) Actually, I really love the idea of official postcrossing, the surprise factor, the thrill each time I request a new address... But I've noticed that the cards tht I receive in unofficial exchange (froum & private swaps) are often of much better quality and that people put more effort to choose a card fitting my wishlist and to write a nice message. Of course, I've received many wonderful officials too and I like the huge majority of them, but some are a bit disappointing. I wonder, what's the reason... Maybe it's beacause unofficial exchange isn't so anonymous and people would be ashamed to send some trash to someone that they've agreed on swap with? Or maybe because people participating in the unofficial exchange are more serious about collecting cards? Anyway, I'm not going to give up sending officials, because that's what's actually postcrossing about, the forum is just a nice addition. And just because I love being surprised :)

I love this card, because I generally find mountains and hills in autumn time very beautiful. And the elements of traditional Chinese architecture hidden between the trees give some Asian feeling to this view :)

The stamps are also very interesting :) I still don't know, if it's just normal in China that you always get many huge stamps with a whole variety of pictures or if Chinese postcrossers are so kind to look for nice stamps, when they send cards abroad :) But I've already received quite a lot of Chinese cards sent by different people, so I think that getting nice stamps on China Post must be much easier than here :)

Fragrant Hills Park (Xiangshan Park; simplified Chinese: 香山公园; pinyin: Xiāngshān Gōngyuán) is a public park at the foot of the Western Mountains in the Haidian District, in the northwestern part of Beijing, China. It covers 1.6 km² (395 acres) and consists of a natural pine-cypress forest, hills with maple trees, smoke trees and persimmon trees, as well as landscaped areas with traditional architecture and cultural relics.

Fragrant Hills Park is recognized as one of the major tourist attractions in Beijing. When autumn arrives, the natural scenery in the park turns spectacular, with fiery red smoke tree leaves covering the mountain side. Every year, thousands of tourists ride the cable cars through the park in order see the hills in autumn colors. The grand opening of the annual Red Leaf Festival of Beijing takes place there.

Finland - Oulu Cathedral (FI-513587)

It's definitely time for anotherFinnish postcard on my blog :) I haven't had any card from Oulu in my collection before, although it's the biggest and most important city of Northern Finland with population of 137,360. This card shows the interior of Lutheran Oulu Cathedral, which was originally built in 1777. The church that you can see in Oulu now was built in the 19th century in neoclassical style. I like this interior, because it seems to be very bright. I think it's neccessary in Northern Finland, because there's probably not enough light during the winter (Oulu is not so far away from the Arctic Circle).


The Oulu Cathedral (in Finnish Oulun tuomiokirkko) is an Evangelical Lutheran cathedral and the seat of the Diocese of Oulu, located in the centre of Oulu, Finland. The church was built in 1777 as a tribute to the King of Sweden Gustav III of Sweden and named after his wife as Sofia Magdalena's church.

The wooden structures burned in the large fire of the city of Oulu in 1822. The church was built again on top of the old stonewalls with famous architect Carl Ludvig Engel as the designer. The restoration works were completed in 1832, but the bellfy was not erected until 1845.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur

I received 3 wonderful Malaysian cards in a private swap from imajica :) This one is my first card from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. Did you know that the name of this city means "muddy confluence" in Malay language?

More precisely, this card shows the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, which was designed by Anthony Norman and constructed in 1897. It features a 40-metre high clock tower which is flanked by two smaller towers that each contains a winding staircase. I've seen some potos of this buildign taken in the daylight, but I must say that it looks even more beautiful at night :)

The Sultan Abdul Samad Building is located in front of the Dataran Merdeka - literally the Independence Square - and the Royal Selangor Club, by Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The structure takes its name from Sultan Abdul Samad, the reigning sultan of Selangor at the time when construction began.

Topped by a shiny copper dome and a 40m high clock tower, it is a major landmark in the city. It serves as the backdrop for important events such as the National Day Parade on August 31 and the ushering in of the New Year. The Sultan Abdul Samad Building now houses the Commercial Division of the High Court of Malaya.