06. 04. 2015.

Moldavan National Cuisine

This lovely card was send to me by dear Nastia, complete with fantastic stamps of the same theme :) The dish on the green plate is called mămăliga and is a porridge made out of yellow corn flour, cooked in a special-shaped cast iron pot called ceaun or tuci. It is usually served with cheese. What is hiding in that unique flask I wonder..? Perhaps Moldovan brandy called divin :)
The stamps show a bean stew with thyme, and fried fish with garlic sauce.

Martello Tower, Barbuda

Martello towers are small defensive forts that were built across the British Empire during the 19th century, from the time of the French Revolutionary Wars onwards. They stand up to 12m high (with two floors) and typically had a garrison of one officer and 15–25 men. Their round structure and thick walls of solid masonry made them resistant to cannon fire, while their height made them an ideal platform for a single heavy artillery piece, mounted on the flat roof and able to traverse, and hence fire over, a complete 360° circle.

My friend was in Antigua a number of times but it is only last year that he managed to also visit Barbuda - which is situated north of Antigua and has a population of about 1638. He managed to find one single view card - literally! how lucky for me :)) 

05. 04. 2015.

Vanuatu Underwater Post Office

Now here is something that I really thought would be one of the last missing countries/wanted postcards on my list! But as it happens, my friend went to a few 'hard to get' Caribbean countries, and I was able to swap for equally htg countries. Many many thanks to Denise! Not only is it from Vanuatu, one of the smallest and remotest countries - it is a waterproof postcard sent from their Underwater Post Office :)) (only the cancellation doesn't seem to be waterproof ;))
Situated within the Hideaway Island marine sanctuary, the Underwater Post Office sits in around three metres of water and both divers and snorkellers are able to post special “waterproof postcards”. If snorkellers cannot duck-dive down that far, Hideaway Island staff will be on the spot to help out. During opening hours the cards will be cancelled/embossed by the postal staff in the Underwater Post Office. Instead of being stamped with ink to show that the card has been sent, the Post office has developed a new embossed cancellation device.
If you check Vanuatu stamp issues you will for sure start ooh-ing and aah-ing, such beautiful and unique designs! This particular stamp was issued in 2008, in a set of 4 self-adhesive stamps titled Xtreme Underwater Postmen.

Mail Around The World!

It is only recently that I've started considering special postmarks - I used to get them from time to time on some of the postcards and covers, but I am not living near any philately office, sadly. When I checked the programme of issuing special cancellations on the official Croatian Mail site, I realised most of them are being used in the central post office in Zagreb...I was hoping there would be at least a bit more variety re: locations. Even when there are other locations, they are still quite far away. But I was in Zagreb last autumn just in time to ask for this special cancellation on the new stamp of the same theme - celebrating 100 years of birth of Ivan Generalić, a notable Croatian naïve art painter :)
I love naïve art! Perhaps not in every form, but this kind originating in a small village of Hlebine in northern Croatia really appeals to me. My great wish is to have one of those paintings on my wall someday :)
The choice of the card was purely accidental - once in the PO I was browsing their postcards to see if there is anything I'd like to have in my collection, a single example of this card was hidden behind many that I didn't like, and I LOVE it! <3 p="">

04. 04. 2015.

UNESCO - Arles Amphitheatre, France

The full name of the UNESCO site is 'Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments', so this is one of those sites that cannot be justly presented with just one view - but this postcard is a bit special :) I have swapped with Sébastien for this card in June last year. He has sent me a photo of the back with all those gorgeous stamps, so I was eagerly awaiting it...for days, weeks...in the end months even. As it was approximately the time when my 'stamps thief' got activated, I started to believe that the card was permanently lost. And this week, what a surprise!! It has travelled from Cadillac, France to Murter, Croatia for exactly 9 months and 3 weeks. Where has it been for all that time, it really makes you wonder...but yay for the happy ending :)))
Arles is a good example of the adaptation of an ancient city to medieval European civilization. It has some impressive Roman monuments, one of the oldest being the Arènes d'Arles, dating from 1st cent. AD. This two-tiered Roman amphitheatre is probably the most prominent tourist attraction in the city of Arles, which thrived in Roman times. The pronounced towers jutting out from the top are medieval add-ons. It was capable of seating over 20,000 spectators, and was built to provide entertainment in the form of chariot races and bloody hand-to-hand battles. Today, it draws large crowds for bullfighting during the Feria d'Arles as well as plays and concerts in summer.
Bullfights? Adds a sad note...:(

03. 04. 2015.

Spring Is Coming

And what does it mean for my blog? It means that also the new tourist season is on its way, and I am back at my work desk and have a scanner at my disposal...normally I'd use three smilies to finish that thought, BUT as it happens the old almost-kaputt scanner still hasn't been replaced, sniff.
Over the last five months I've managed to post ocassionally because I had (and indeed still have) older scans, many of them representing UNESCO sites - and what I've learnt is, I need more different views of many sites that I already 'have' and have crossed off my wishlist. Oh my! It just doesn't seem right to show only one view when there are like a dozen (or more) interesting features to be presented under one UNESCO site description. Right? :)
Moreover, once again I was surprised at the number of cards I've swapped for/received over the winter, as I had the feeling I was making quite a few pauses...I am happy to say, that number comes near a few hundred :D There was the unfortunate story with stamps being torn off the postcards/envelopes in my mailbox, and I was on the verge of sending out all of my postcards and call it quits...honestly! My complaints to the head PO seemed futile, and the person I was dealing with in the whole matter didn't seem to care much...And then I went away for a month. To my surprise, the mail I received and was waiting for me at home was all intact. Is the stamp thief really gone for good?! I do not dare to rejoice, not even after a month...But my faith in the postal system has (if only temporarily) been restored, and I have arranged many new swaps lately. Fingers crossed ;)
Oh yes, my brief plunge into the statistics has shown that 1 in every 10 cards was damaged.