November 30, 2011

0056 UNITED STATES (Oregon) – The Fairy Falls

Oregon, located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, became the 33rd state of the union on February 14, 1859 (and the 3rd in my collection in November 25, 2011, thanks to Reggie). The capital is Salem, and Portland is the most populous city. I will write about these cities when I will receive postcards from there, which certainly will happen. But I must say that I love Portland, because it's the hometown of one of my favorite bands, Agalloch, which I had the happyness to see it on stage in Bucharest. Also of Oregon are Pinto Colvig (the voice of Disney's Goofy) and Matt Groening (creator of the Simpsons), so that in any case can't be said that the oregonians lack humor.

Columbia River, the fourth largest river in the U.S.A., originates in two lakes that lie between the Continental Divide and Selkirk mountain ranges in British Columbia (Canada), flows northwest and then south into the state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between the states of Washington and Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. It first appeared on European maps in the early 17th century as "River of the West", when a Spanish maritime explorer Martin de Auguilar located a major river near the 42nd parallel.

An especially dramatically scenic portion of the river cuts through the Cascade Mountain Range, creating the 100-mile-long and 3,000-foot-deep Columbia River Gorge, holds federally protected status as a National Scenic Area. The wide range of elevation and precipitation in the gorge creates a diverse collection of ecosystems, a large variety of endemic wildflowers thriving there.

The gorge also contains many waterfalls (over 90 only on the Oregon side), including the notable 190 m high Multnomah Falls. Fairy Falls, the one from the image, a veil type cataract along an unnamed spring-fed side-creek, is located upstream from the much larger Wahkeena Falls and is rather beautiful than spectacular, being a destination for photographers because of the scenic view.

“For some hikers too eager to turn around at Lemmon's Viewpoint, but perhaps too unsure to travel too much further uphill, Fairy Falls makes for a nice compromise as a spot to about-face”, say a travel guide. “But don't return before resting on the nearby bench, snapping some photos, and taking in the splendor of the lush landscape all around.”

About the stamp, which shows The Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming), I wrote here.

sender: Reggie (walltype)

November 29, 2011

0055 JERSEY (Island of Jersey) - La Corbière Lighthouse

Jersey, officially the Bailiwick of Jersey, is one of the British Crown dependencies (as also Guernsey and Isle of Man), and form, together with Bailiwick of Guernsey, the Channel Islands, an archipelago in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. It consists of the island of Jersey (the largest of the Channel Islands), along with the surrounding uninhabited islands and rocks, and isn't part of the United Kingdom, having an international identity separate. It was part of the Duchy of Normandy, whose dukes went on to become kings of England from 1066. After Normandy was lost by the kings of England in the 13th century, and the ducal title surrendered to France, Jersey and the other Channel Islands remained attached to the English crown.

November 28, 2011

0054 CANADA (Alberta) - A 190 meters height torch

If the previous post was dedicated to the Milad Tower, the sixth tallest tower in the world, now I will write a few lines about the Calgary Tower (originally called the Husky Tower - a more interesting name, in my opinion), which, with its only 190m height, it's not at least in the list with the World's 150 tallest towers, but that doesn't make it less interesting. But I must say first that, although I'm not a sports fan, mainly of the winter sports, Calgary remained in my mind associated with the 1988 Winter Olympics. Maybe because on that occasion I first heard about it, God knows. Memory works as it wants, not as we wants.

Appeared as a post of the North-West Mounted Police in 1875, Calgary was incorporated as a town in 1884, to one year after the Canadian Pacific Railway reached the area, but its development really began in 1947 (when huge reserves of oil were discovered in area), with an substantially increase after 1973, once with the Arab Oil Embargo. From 1951 onwards the city's population has dramatically grown, with at least 100,000 and at most 200,000 inhabitants every 10 years.

I feel a special empathy for Calgary, because Ploiesti, the city where I live, also owes its development to the oil industry. Unfortunately Ploiesti was, Calgary is. In addition, you can't be indifferent to a town located at the transition zone between the hills and the prairies, at about 700 km from ocean, and which was named Calgary, from the Gaelic Cala ghearraidh, meaning "beach of the meadow".  

After a (too) long introduction, I finally reached at the Calgary Tower, about which I add only that "it was conceived as a joint venture between Marathon Realty Company Limited and Husky Oil as part of an urban renewal plan and to celebrate Canada's centennial of 1967". But also that "the structure was designed by W.G. Milne & A. Dale and Associates", and "the construction was completed in 15 months". Lastly, "a natural gas-fired cauldron was constructed at the top for 1988 Winter Olympics" and one torch is ignited for special events. A 190 meters height torch it’s very cool.

In the left of tower can be seen one of the two office towers of Bankers Hall (East and West), designed by the architectural firm Cohos Evamy in postmodern style. I can't say which one can be seen in the picture, but the two buildings are anyway twins, both with the same hight (197m), only that one was completed in 1989 and the other one in 2000. At the top right edge can be seen the last floors of the Scotia Centre (the building with four vertical ribs) completed in 1976 and having 155m hight. Unfortunately I couldn't identify other buildings in the image.

I received this postcard from a new pal from beyond the seas, Glenn, who is one of more than 1.23 million residents of Calgary's Metropolitan Area. I highly recommend his blog, Gem’s World Postcards, one of the most interesting found so far by me. Many thanks, Glenn, and I wish you to cover all the white spots on your map.  

The stamp is part of a series of two entitled Royal Wedding 2011, issued on April 29, 2011. Of course its about the wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton, which took place on that day at Westminster Abbey in London. To mark this momentous occasion, Canada Post will issue two commemorative stamps on the Royal Couple’s wedding day. One stamp will be released at the domestic rate (PERMANENT™), and another at the international rate (acesta se află pe cartea poştală). The PERMANENT™ stamp bears a picture taken when the couple announced their engagement in November 2010. The international stamp features the official engagement picture taken by Mario Testino, one of the world’s most well known fashion photographers. In the latter picture, against Miss Middleton’s white dress, the beautiful sapphire and diamond engagement ring first worn thirty years ago by Lady Diana Spencer, who became Princess of Wales, Prince William’s mother, is highly visible. Isabelle Toussaint, the Montreal-based graphic artist is the designer of the stamp products.

sender: Glenn Moores (direct swap)

November 27, 2011

0053 IRAN (Tehran Ostān) – Milad Tower

When I received this postcard I wondered if is home-made and who sent it to me, because on the back is written only a first name. To the first question I don't know either now the answer (I'm still inclined to believe that it's home-made), but the second I solved it browsing about 20 minutes through the hundreds of messages sent and received in the last two months (more sent). “I would love to have some postcards from Iran, with historic buildings (ancient or mosques) and/or people in traditional clothes, something specific for your country”, I wrote in a first message.

Milad Tower is neither a historic building nor (yet) "something specific" for Iran, but in a certain sense satisfies my requirements, because on the one hand by its architecture, incorporating traditional Iranian-Islamic symbols, the structure is a fusion of the country’s past with modern technology, and on the other the authorities wanting to replace the long-time symbol of Tehran, the Borj-e Āzādi (or Azadi Tower - Freedom Tower, formerly Shahyād Āryāmehr - King Memorial Tower), with a new one, which fully reflect the current situation.

With 435 meters height from base to the tip of it's antenna, Milad Tower was the fourth tallest tower in the world in 2008, when it was inaugurated, after several postponements, and it has cost the iranians 11 years of efforts and 194 million dollars. Even if it had been completed more quickly, it would have been also the fourth, because the first three were built long time before (CN Tower / Toronto – 1976, Ostankino Tower / Moskow – 1967, Oriental Pearl Tower / Shanghai – 1994). Meanwhile two others have surpassed its height: Canton Tower / Canton inaugurated in 2009 and Tokyo Sky Tree / Tokyo, which is still under construction and will be completed in 2012. The 315-metre shaft is topped by a 12-story glass and metal head of 60 meters.

The tower is a multi-purpose skyscraper, being designed to function as a communication and television tower, but also helping with many other applications such as weather forecast and traffic control. Iranians have why be proud, especially since the tower was entirely designed, projected and built by their own forces. Furthermore, the tower has been fitted with an ultramodern aircraft warning system which exceeded International Civil Aviation Regulations.

The stamp, shows Chaetodontoplus septentrionalis (1000 rls) is part of a definitive set, Fish, issued on 2010 and containing 11 wonderful stamps. But I found on the Internet many other stamps with the same characteristics, so I guess that  the set is part of a bigger series.

Sender: Mahdi Delbari (direct swap)

November 26, 2011

0052 IRELAND (Leinster) - Brú na Bóinne, Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne (UNESCO WHS)

The celts whom the Romans found in the Great Britain 2000 years ago knew almost nothing about the numerous henges, meghalits and other constructions scattered about everywhere through their lands, just that they were built long before the arrival of their ancestors from the continent. In Ireland, the romans didn't reached, but if they had done it, would be heard the same thing, the constructions being, in the irish mythology, the abode of the Tuatha De Danann, the fifth group settled in this realm, after conquering the island from the Fir Bolg. What do I mean? Only that these mysterious constructions, the purpose of which was not yet fully understood, are older than the history.

November 25, 2011

0051 NETHERLANDS (Netherlands / Gelderland) - The Nijmegen railway bridge

Much could be said about Nijmegen, city located in the east of the Netherlands, near the German border, on the Waal river (the main distributary branch of river Rhine who connecting the Rotterdam harbor and Germany). In 2000 years of history (celebrated in 2005), Nijmegen was always in the middle of events, but only one of its is now to my attention, namely Operation Market Garden, conducted by Allied armed forces between 17 and 25 September 1944. A lot is known about this operation, at least from the excellent book A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan (1974) and from its screening of 1977, which remains a movie worthy to watch, despite the obsolete vision who exhibit only the heroic side of the war, so it's pointless to go into details.

November 24, 2011

0050 FINLAND (Uusimaa) - Nicholas's I cathedral and the statue of Alexander II

The third postcard that I received from Finland shows the same building as the second one, namely Helsinki Cathedral, about that I wrote already. The cathedral was captured from the same angle, but this time the photographer was placed in the Senate Square, so can be seen the colonnade and the pediment of the main entrance (actually the building has a Greek-cross plan and is symmetrical in each of the four cardinal directions). I would add that it was designed by German-born architect Carl Ludvig Engel (as Hilkka also says) as part of the XIXth century reconstruction of Helsinki, destroyed by a fire after the Finland's annexation by the Russian Empire.

On the left can see the statue of Tsar Alexander II (also King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland), known as Alexander the Liberator for reforms that he adopted in attempt to modernize the feudal Tsarist Empire. The statue was erected în 1894, 13 years after the assassination of Tsar, to commemorate his reforms that increased Finland's autonomy from Russia. The pedestal is surrounded by figures representing the Law (Lex), the Light (Lux), the Work (Labour) and the Peace (Pax). 

The stamp belongs to the Mail Boxes set, issued on January 24, 2011, designed by Päivi Vainionpää and illustrating "5 different kind of mailboxes typical for Finns". The five stamps have the same denomination, 2nd class € - Euro.

Sender: Hilkka Sandberg (postcrossing)

November 23, 2011

0049 BELGIUM (East Flanders) - Saint Bavo Cathedral - part of The historic medieval core or 'tank' of Ghent, and the two abbeys that are to its origin (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)

"Until the 13th century Ghent was the biggest city in Europe after Paris; it was bigger than London, Cologne or Moscow", Wikipedia claims. Very true, but only if we don't consider Moorish Spain and Constantinople as part of Europe. Today, Ghent (Gent in Duch, Gand in French and formely Gaunt in English) has nearly a quarter million of inhabitants (which makes it Belgium's second largest municipality) and is the capital of the East Flanders province.

November 21, 2011

0048 AUSTRALIA (New South Wales) - Disaster Bay and Green Cape Lightstation

"Disaster Bay is in the beautiful Ben Boyd National Park wilderness area of far south coast of New South Wales. The Bay is the site of many shipwrecks and tragedies. Green Cape Lighthouse is a fully operational light station to this days," is written on the postcard received from Sharon. Concise and comprehensive. Besides, can't be added too many other things.

0047 VIETNAM – Fish cages, fish traps, bamboo and Vovinam


When I saw for the first time this picture, I didn't realize what is. I saw only a huge and mobile bundle of merchandise, which I suspect that goes to the market. I knew that in Vietnam bike is a very commonly means of locomotion, maybe as much as the boat, so it doesn't surprised me, but the huge volume of don't-know-what who hides almost completely the man it did. When the postcard has reached on my desk (many thanks, Lyra), things have cleared a little: on the back writes "bamboo products" and Lyra specifies "a vendor selling fish cages". Hence what I thought they are some cornets and bags with an undefined goal are actually "bamboo fish cages".

November 20, 2011

0046 ICELAND - Young and restless islands

If here I shared with you a postcard illustrating a little more quiet area of Iceland, behold now I come with a volcano that erupted in 1973. Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) is an archipelago off the south coast of Iceland, consisting of 15-18 islands and about 30 skerries sandrock pillars, located off the mainland’s south coast. The largest island, Heimaey, has 13.4 km2 and 4,135 inhabitants, living from fishing, hunting and some agriculture. The rest of the islands have steep sea cliffs, and are well vegetated, but are uninhabited.

November 19, 2011

0045 PAKISTAN (Gilgit-Baltistan) - Central Karakorum National Park (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)

0045 Rakaposhi mountain

 Eric Shipton, the distinguished British Himalayan mountaineer (1907-1977), called the Hunza valley "the ultimate manifestation of mountain grandeur". Rakaposhi (7,768m) is valley's most famous peak, not necessarily because is the 27th highest in the world and 12th highest in Pakistan, but for its directly, uninterrupted rise over local terrain (5800m in only an 11.5 km horizontal distance) and also for its unearthly beauty. The peak is located in the Rakaposhi-Haramosh range which forms the south-western corner of the Karakorum and is part of Central Karakorum National Park.  

November 18, 2011

0044 CANADA (Ontario) - The colors of autumn in High Park in Toronto

"In Canada the autumn is the most beautiful season", sais Pompilian, the friend who sent me this postcard. And it seems that he is right. There's never a grey day when autumn sweeps over Ontario. Between mid-September to mid-October, the landscape becomes a fiery tapestry ablaze with golden hues, crimson reds and fiery oranges. And it seems that he is right, and High Park in Toronto is an example that could not be more appropriate.

November 17, 2011

0043 UKRAINE (Dnipropetrovsk Oblast) - A pleasure tram in the ballistic missile city

For me, as inhabitant of Ploieşti, Dnipropetrovsk has a special significance, because this city of Ukraine, administrative center of the province with the same name, is one of sister cities of Ploieşti, the others being Berat (Albania), Harbin (China), Hînceşti (Moldova), Lefkada (Greece), Maracaibo (Venezuela), Oral (Kazakhstan), Osijek (Croatia) and Radom (Poland). I will try to add to my collection at least one postcard from each of these cities, thing that proves to be more difficult than I thought initially when I had the idea.

November 16, 2011

0042 UNITED STATES (Oklahoma) - Oklahoma City downtown skyscrapers

Utah, the first state in the USA from which I received a postcard, was the 45th admitted in the Union, and the coincidence makes that the second to be Oklahoma, the 46th entered, with exactly 104 years ago, on November 16, 1907. I honestly swear that I don't chose deliberately this day to share with you this postcard, especially since until the morning I didn't know when has entered Oklahoma in the Union. It's an entirely coincidental. Indeed, from some time the coincidences follow me as a shadow, but about that with another occasion. 

November 13, 2011

0038 SPAIN (Murcia) - The Cathedral Church of Saint Mary in Murcia

The third postcard received from Spain by me is also from the region of Murcia, but this time from the capital of the region, which bears the same name. The city, located on the Segura River, in the Southeast of the Iberian Peninsula, was founded in AD 825 by Abd ar-Rahman II, the emir of Cordoba, and remained a Moorish city long time after its conquest by the Christians in the 13th century.

0037 NETHERLANDS - A mill in the moonlight

A windmill that has close its sails like a butterfly the wings and went to sleep, guarded by the shiny penny of the full moon and by the poplars sorrowful that the autumn has robbed their leafage. Only the owner is still awake, counting for the third time the earnings of the daytime to the light of the gas lamp, while his wife fell asleep waiting for him and dreams as she lost her slipper to the ball of the royal court. That's shown in the postcard.

November 12, 2011

0035 BELARUS (Minsk City) - A red church in a country still red

This red church is called quite so, Red Church, and is located in the center of Minsk, capital of Belarus. From the photos I’ve seen, the color of the building contrasts sharply with the gray of the other buildings in Independence Square, a gray that I know very well from Romania, because it’s typical for the buildings erected during the communist era in the Eastern Europe.

November 11, 2011

0034 ICELAND - A geothermal Hell

Volcanoes, glaciers and geysers, Vikings, Njáls saga, Irish monks, Althing, Björk and Sigur Rós, but also its rapid transformation from a nation of fishermen, the poorest in Europe, to a highly developed country with an enviable productivity, are just as many reasons to appreciate Iceland and its just 318,000 inhabitants. Permanently living between fire and ice, never sure neither of unstable land, nor of capricious sea, Icelanders (those who have survived the epidemics, disasters and hunger and haven't wanted to go to the other horizons) made from the one of the most inhospitable parts of Europe a prosperous country with a living standard above the European average, which places it not only in the top half but even on the first third (17th most developed country in the world).

November 10, 2011

0033 DENMARK (Hovedstaden) - A street called Strøget

The wet asphalt's gloss, the sunset extinguishing at the end of the street, the bicycles frozen in the middle of a dance, the almost empty street guarded by old buildings, suggesting the Germanic spirit, an unknown place, but a known feeling, all these things made me want to have this postcard. Behold I have it, and the way in which I have received it also delighted me, because, after I asked her, Daria said to me: "I understand what kind of postcards you want from me. I'll send one soon. If you would like to respond and send a postcard to me, I'll be glad to receive it. You can take a look at my profile and wishlist. You'll find my address on the postcard I'm going to send to you." Yes, in such moments, even I, with my misanthropic tendencies, can be convinced that the people are wonderful.

November 9, 2011

0032 AUSTRALIA (Northern Territory) - Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park (UNESCO WHS)

"The Mala men decorated a ceremonial pole, the Ngaltawata. A group of senior Mala men, then climbed to the top of Uluru and planted the pole at its highest point. You can see the Ngaltawata at the Rock's north-western corner as an almost detached curved pillar of stone. The ceremony had now begun. The women had gathered enough food for everybody. They prepared and stored it in caves at Taputji, a small separate outcrop at Ululru's north-eastern side. The Mala women and the nyuma, seed-cakes, that they made are visible as small stones on top of Taputji.

November 8, 2011

0031 RUSSIA (Yaroslavl Oblast) - Rostov Kremlin (UNESCO WHS - tentative list)

It’s known, a small country doesn’t have to enjoy by the neighborhood of a great power, and the Romanian Lands had the misfortune to be, for centuries, not near a great power, but between three: the Ottoman Empire, the Kingdom of Hungary (became afterwards the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and the Tsarist Empire. The first two have ceased to exist after WWI, but Tsarist Empire became the Soviet Union and continued a similar foreign policy. After WWII Romanians used to say that when it's raining in Moscow, are opened umbrellas to Bucharest. Very true, unfortunately. Meanwhile things have changed, and Russia is no longer our neighbor, a good news, because just when we haven’t been neighbors we have best understand, namely on the time of Ştefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great), who was married with Evdokia, daughter of Prince of Kiev, and later married his daughter, Elena, with Ivan the Young, son of Grand Prince of Moscow, Ivan III.

November 7, 2011

0030 MACEDONIA (Southeastern) - Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region - Saint Panteleimon Monastery (UNESCO WHS)

Historical and geographical region of Macedonia, is not a secret, includes the Republic of Macedonia and larger or smaller parts of Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia and Kosovo. Macedonia is... Macedonia, a distinct entity and not a province of another country. Even if over time its boundaries have changed considerably, as well as the ethnic composition (in the sixth century Slavs began to settle in the Balkans, and later, under Byzantine rule, but especially under the Ottomans, have occurred many population movements). Even if the current Macedonians have just as much connection with Alexander the Great as the French with Vercingetorix, Romanians with Decebal or Iranians with Xerxes. Its inhabitants self-identification, culturally and regionally, as Macedonians is sufficient. Have anything to do with the postcard all these things? Maybe or maybe not.

November 5, 2011

0027 SWITZERLAND - Alphorn players

Until recently I was confident that the bucium (also called tulnic in some areas) is an musical instrument used exclusively by Romanians. Behold, isn't it, even if its origins are however in the Carpathian mountains, where it was used by the Dacians more than 2,000 years ago and afterwards by the dwellers of Moldavia and Wallachia principalities as signaling devices in military conflicts, as well as for guiding sheep and dogs in the mountains. The name comes from the Latin bucinum (curved horn) and instrument is in fact a very long tube (a truncated cone, more precisely) made from limetree bark or wood.

November 2, 2011

0026 MOROCCO - The biggest mosque of Africa

"Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow but soon and for the rest of your life", told Humphrey Bogart (Rick Blaine) to Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa Lund). There is someone between 20 and 120 years on this planet who doesn’t know what I mean? I don’t think so. "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friends."

Well, yes, you guessed it, yesterday I received a postcard from Casablanca. Even if it’s the first one came to my address from Morocco, I'm not going to talk today not about the fascinating history of The Western Kingdom (al-al-Maghribiyyah Mamlakat) or about the revolt in February this year, not even about the soccer player Zakaria Zerouali, who died after he swallowed three packs of paracetamol in 24 hours. I don’t have the mood now. I will speak only about the mosque in the image.