29. 02. 2016.

Dal Lake, Kashmir, India

Over 15km around, Dal Lake is Srinagar's jewel, a vast, mirror-flat sheet of water reflecting the carved wooden balconies of the houseboats and the misty peaks of the Pir Panjal mountains. Flotillas of gaily painted shikaras (gondola-like taxi boats) skiff around the lake, transporting goods to market, children to school and travellers from houseboat to shore.
Picturesque indeed, thank you Swati :)

21. 02. 2016.

Pai is...

...a small town in the hills of northern Thailand, that I have visited exactly a year ago :) Its a very relaxing place, and the 'crime scene' of my first ever (and maybe last) tattoo, done with bamboo sticks. 
Ok I am having a bit of a travel-withdrawal syndrome...I have to wait for at least 7 more months to embark on some major type of journey, and I can only hope I'll be able to squeeze in a city break or two in the meantime. Fingers crossed!

Donkeys Still Carry The Goods

Poor donkey, so much to carry! This seems like a scene from days of yore, though possibly it can still be seen in the rural parts of the Mediterranean. This is a card from the Tras-os-Montes region of Portugal, in the far north of the country. A lovely surprise from Marta :))

18. 02. 2016.

Preparing Tea In Algeria

It's been a while since I've received this card with lovely stamps to match...and a lovely invitation from Algeria, thank you Riyad (once again) :)

Market Florist, Senegal

A wonderfully colourful card from Senegal, courtesy of Sebastien :) Somewhere along the way a bit of perfume was spilt on the card and the whole bunch from the mailbox was smelling for days.. How apt, I guess..!

15. 02. 2016.

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka must be one of the more interesting and widely known literary figures of the last century - he was born into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He trained as a lawyer, and after completing his legal education he was employed with an insurance company, forcing him to relegate writing to his spare time. Over the course of his life, Kafka wrote hundreds of letters to family and close friends, including his father, with whom he had a strained and formal relationship. He died in 1924 at the age of 40 from tuberculosis.

His work, which fuses elements of realism and the fantastic typically features isolated protagonists faced by bizarre or surrealistic predicaments and incomprehensible social-bureaucratic powers, and has been interpreted as exploring themes of alienation, existential anxiety, guilt, and absurdity. His best known works include Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis), Der Process (The Trial), and Das Schloss (The Castle). The term Kafkaesque has entered the English language to describe situations like those in his writing.

I have to admit I have only ever read parts of two of his books, 'the metamorphosis' and 'in the penal colony' (I believe they were part of obligatory reading in highschool/uni) as back then it was a bit heavy on my brain. I should definitely try to rectify that...also, as I've learnt his work is not so easily translated from German, I thought maybe I should try reading the original - now thats a challenge!! In any case I love this collage postcard and stamp, thank you Anna :)

14. 02. 2016.

Cattleya Mossiae, Venezuela

Ok, not to completely undermine the meaning of today, I give you these beautiful orchids to behold :) Many thanks to Luis Alberto, who introduced me to the national flower of Venezuela - Cattleya mossiae or more commonly known as flor de Mayo ("May flower") or easter orchid.
Enjoy your Valentines ;)

UNESCO - Area De Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica

This is Playa Naranjo, part of Santa Rosa National Park, which is again part of the Area de Conservación Guanacaste in northwest Costa Rica. Many thanks to Marco :)

The Area de Conservación Guanacaste comprises 147,000 hectares of land and sea in the Northwest of Costa Rica. Encompassing several contiguous protected areas of various categories, the property is a mosaic of diverse ecosystems. 
The visually dramatic landscape mosaic is home to an extraordinary variety of life forms. Next to the approximately 7,000 plant species, more than 900 vertebrate species have been confirmed. Some notable mammals include the endangered Central American Tapir, at least 40 species of bat, numerous primate species and several felids, namely Jaguar, Margay, Jaguarundi and Ocelot. Among some 500 bird species are the endangered Mangrove Hummingbird and Great Green Macaw, as well as the vulnerable Military Macaw and Great Curassow. Diversity of reptiles and amphibians is likewise high with charismatic representatives like the vulnerable American Crocodile and Spectacled Caiman. Several species of sea turtles occur in the property, with a nesting population of the critically endangered Leatherback and a massive breeding population of the vulnerable Olive Ridley. Invertebrate diversity is extraordinary with an estimated 20,000 species of beetles, 13,000 species of ants, bees and wasps and 8,000 species of butterflies and moths.

Oh man if I could only have a glimpse of this fantastic world! At least in the form of postcards...! 

UNESCO - Struve Geodetic Arc, Hammerfest, Norway

Finally the time has come to introduce the curious Struve Geodetic Arc, an UNESCO site stretching through no less than 10 European countries, and here is the northernmost of them. Thank you Tone :)

The Struve Arc is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through 10 countries and over 2,820 km. These are points of a survey, carried out between 1816 and 1855 by the astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve, which represented the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian. This helped to establish the exact size and shape of the planet and marked an important step in the development of earth sciences and topographic mapping.
In 2005, the chain was inscribed on the World Heritage List as a memorable ensemble of the chain made up of 34 commemorative plaques or built obelisks out of the original 265 main station points which are marked by drilled holes in rock, iron crosses, cairns, etc.
Some cards representing them have been received, many are still missing, of which again many probably were never put on a postcard...its a challenge ;)

11. 02. 2016.

Iguana Sunbathing In Trinidad

This is a special postcard...a photo taken by the sender, fitting perfectly into my lizard collection. I am also envious of such closeness to these supercool creatures. Thanks a lot Nalini :))

The Arches Of Guadalajara, Mexico

Los Arcos de Guadalajara were erected as entrance to the city following the inauguration of the Mexico-Morelia-Guadalajara highway in 1938. Each arch, built in neoclassical style, is 14 meters high and 8 meters wide.
This is one of the few swaps I arranged via Interpals site, many months ago while I was still active there - gracias to Adriana.

10. 02. 2016.

Iglesia San Miguel Arcángel In Ilobasco, El Salvador

After a long while, another postcard sent from El Salvador, thanks to William Guillermo :)
Ilobasco is a municipality in the Cabañas department of El Salvador, located 48 kilometers northeast of the capital San Salvador. This town is known country wide, and internationally, for its clay craftsmanship or pottery.
The snow-white colonial church depicted is Iglesia San Miguel Arcángel, whose construction begun sometime around 1880, and was built mainly thanks to donations and hard labour of local people. The church was damaged in the earthquake of 2001 but luckily no major damages were done to the facade. As the patron saint, San Miguel Arcángel is vigorously celebrated during the second half of September.

09. 02. 2016.

Tibetan Folk Costume

One card from the set of ethnic people in China, I found this a very interesting headwear :) There are no details on the back but mention of Tibetan peoples living in Chinese provinces, I wish I had more info about this, but am nevertheless happy to have this card in my collection, thank you Hanna :)

08. 02. 2016.

Akha Hilltribe Woman, Thailand

The lady is puffing it up...The Akha are an indigenous hill tribe who live in small villages at higher elevations in the mountains of Thailand, Burma, Laos, and Yunnan Province in China. They made their way from China into Southeast Asia during the early 20th century.
Women wear broad leggings, a short black skirt with a white beaded sporran, a loose fitting black jacket with heavily embroidered cuffs and lapels. Akha women are known for their embroidery skills.  
I haven't been to any of the northern Thailand villages...though I did want to, very much so. It requires more time and more chilling way of travel, which hopefully will happen one day :)

The Hill Of Crosses, Lithuania

A card that was in my favourites and was sent to me for vacation RR on the forum many many months ago...many thanks to Ieva :) 
The Hill of Crosses (Kryžių kalnas) is a site of pilgrimage about 12 km north of the city of Šiauliai, in northern Lithuania. The precise origin of the practice of leaving crosses on the hill is uncertain, but it is believed that the first crosses were placed on the former Jurgaičiai or Domantai hill fort after the 1831 Uprising. The exact number of crosses is unknown, but estimates put it at about 100,000 in 2006. I guess putting a cross there is believed to give you blessings..!

07. 02. 2016.

Valldemossa, Mallorca, Spain

One absolutely adorable place, this is...Valldemossa is a village and municipality on the island of Majorca, part of the Spanish autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. With a population of around 2,000, it is a quiet and traditional town with narrow streets and lanes constructed with blonde stone, as are the houses. Many doorways of houses feature a religious symbol of Mallorca's patron saint, Saint Catalina Thomàs to protect their houses from harm, a tradition set many years ago.
In the 1830s the Spanish government confiscated monasteries, and the historic estate was sold to private owners, who have since hosted some prominent guests. These have included the Polish composer Frédéric Chopin and his lover the pioneering French writer George Sand, who wrote a notable account of A Winter in Majorca, describing their 1838–39 visit. 

Valldemossa is surrounded by fertile land where olive and almond trees are grown and it has changed very little since it was first inhabited, despite the increase in tourism trade - it is part of Cultural Landscape Of The Serra De Tramuntana unesco whs, with the terraces also visible on these postcards. But I have covered that in a separate post :) And here is a photo of me posing smugly heh :)

05. 02. 2016.

Some More Stockholm

Today I was looking into cheap Ryanair flights to Stockholm...as the line opens in april, but there are uncertainties in the air...ah excuse the pun! In the meantime I'll let this great card inspire me, thank you Tiina :)

Valid While In Svalbard

...is a rough translation of this sign :) One of those desired getaway places, if only if it was easier to get to, but then again thats the point! Thanks to Tone for matching stamp and lovely cancellation :)

02. 02. 2016.

Sipandan Island, Malaysia

Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, rising 600 metres from the seabed. It is located in the Celebes Sea off the east coast of Sabah, East Malaysia (which is on the island of Borneo). It was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone that took thousands of years to develop. Sipadan is located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin, the centre of one of the richest marine habitats in the world. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem.
Fantastic! Thanks Aileen :))

01. 02. 2016.

Montserrat, Leeward Islands, The Caribbean

Montserrat is a Caribbean island—specifically in the Leeward Islands, which is part of the chain known as the Lesser Antilles, in the British West Indies. It is a British Overseas Territory,  measuring ca 16 km in length and 11 km in width, with approximately 40 km of coastline. Montserrat is nicknamed The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean both for its resemblance to coastal Ireland and for the Irish ancestry of many of its inhabitants.
Oh my...a year has passed without me posting the Montserrat cards...what is happening? Heh. A short fuse someplace, somehow. Many thanks to my friend who made a great effort!