December 31, 2015

2172 BENIN - Fruit market

The economy of Benin is dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. About half the population is engaged in agriculture, and traditional systems of internal trade still function to move food from one area to another. Historically, women have played an important role in trade, and many women attempt to engage in commerce in addition to household or wage-earning labor.

2171 GERMANY (Schleswig-Holstein) - Hanseatic City of Lübeck (UNESCO WHS)

2171 Lübeck Town Hall

Founded in 1143 on an island on the river Trave, not far from the Baltic coast, Lübeck became around 1200 the main point of departure for colonists leaving for the Baltic territories conquered by the Livonian Order and, later, by the Teutonic Order. In 1226 Emperor Frederick II elevated the town to the status of an Imperial Free City, by which it became the Free City of Lübeck. In the 14th century Lübeck became the "Queen of the Hanseatic League", being by far the largest and most powerful member of that medieval trade organization.

0518, 2170 UNITED STATES (Hawaii) - Hawaii map

0518 Hawaii map (1)

Posted on 24.02.2013, 31.12.2015
"These island were born of the night, sired by the sun, cradled in the sea, with clouds and trade-winds for playmates, and a hula-moon for godmother", write on this postcard. I don't know who is the godmother of this archipelago, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, at 3,200km southwest of the North American mainland, but the godfather was James Cook, who discovered it in 1778 and named it the Sandwich Islands, in honor of his sponsor John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. Can't be said that Europeans were even a blessing for the Polynesian locals, because by 1820, Eurasian diseases, famine, and wars among the chiefs killed more than half of them. In nowadays only 10.0% of the inhabitants are Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, and less than 0.1% of the total population are native speakers of the Hawaiian language.

2170 Hawaii map (2)

The Kingdom of Hawaii was sovereign from 1810 until 1893 when the monarchy was overthrown by resident American businessmen, because it opposed to integration in the United States. In 1993, the President Bill Clinton gave a formal apology for the American role in the revolution and the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. The archipelago was an independent republic from 1894 until 1898, when it was annexed by the United States as a territory, becoming a state in 1959. As is known, Hawaii was the target of the attack on Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japan on December 7, 1941, which brought the United States into WWII.

December 30, 2015

2167 CANADA (Quebec) - Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal

Located next to the Saint-Sulpice Seminary and faces the Place d'Armes square, the Roman Catholic Notre-Dame Basilica was built between 1824 and 1829 after a plan of the Irish-American Anglican architect James O'Donnell, and on its completion was the largest in North America. The first tower was finished in 1841, and the second in 1843. Victor Bourgeau worked on interior from 1872 to 1879. Chapelle du Sacré-Cœur (Chapel of the Sacred Heart) was completed in 1888 built behind it, along with some offices and a sacristy.

2166 UNITED STATES (Rhode Island) - The lighthouses in Block Island

Located in the Atlantic Ocean about 21km south of the coast of Rhode Island, and 23 km east of Montauk Point on Long Island, Block Island (or Manisses) is a popular summer tourist destination, and hosts two historic lighthouses: Block Island North Light, on the northern tip of the island, and Block Island Southeast Light, on the southeastern side.

December 29, 2015

2165 RUSSIA (Tyva Republic) - A shaman woman from Tuva

The Tuvans are historically known as one of the Uriankhai, from the Mongolian designation. The Tuvans' recent ethnic history is rooted in Mongol, Turkic, and Samoyedic groups of peoples. They have been cattle-herding nomads, tending to their herds of goats, sheep, camels, reindeer, cattle and yaks for the past thousands of years. In spite the fact that Tuva was ruled by different empires and influenced by their cultures, the tuvans managed to preserve its unique peculiarities, traditions and customs till present days.

2164 MEXICO (Mexico City) - Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNESCO WHS)

2164 Central University City Campus of the Universidad
Nacional Autónoma de México - Estadio Olímpico

The ensemble of buildings, sports facilities and open spaces of the Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), was built in Coyoacán borough in the southern part of Mexico City from 1949 to 1952 by more than 60 architects, engineers and artists who were involved in the project, the main architects being Mario Pani and Enrique del Moral. At the time of its completion it was the largest single construction project in Mexico since the Aztecs.

December 28, 2015

2163 TAIWAN - Pingxi Line in Shifen

The Pingxi Line is a 13km long, single-track narrow-gauge railway branch line, one of three remaining open from the Japanese era. It was completed in July 1921 and originally was aimed to the transport of coal. In nowadays it runs through Ruifang and Pingxi District in New Taipei City, and is used only in touristic purposes. The towns along the line were all once thriving mining towns, all feature “old streets” selling tourist paraphernalia and old Japanese buildings.

2145, 2162 FRANCE (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) - Dent de Crolles

2145 Dent de Crolles in winter time

Posted on 24.12.205, 28.12.2015
The Dent de Crolles is a karstic mountain (2,062m) of the Chartreuse Mountains range, 17 km north east of Grenoble. It has a characteristic "tooth-like" profile and is easily recognizable in the Isère Valley. Its name is derived from the town of Crolles, located next to the mountain. It is known to include more than 58 km of labyrinthic passageways. The two major entrances are the "trou-du-Glaz" and the "Guiers-Mort" cave.

2162 Dent de Crolles in summer time

The Dent de Crolles hosts one of the most complex and vast cave systems in Europe. It is considered to be one of the birth places of modern caving. Its first detailed exploration was during WWII by a small team of French cavers. Their explorations saw it become the deepest cave in the world (-658m) at the time, and it still ranks sixth deepest in France today.

2161 THAILAND (Phetchaburi) - Phra Ram Ratchaniwet Palace

In 1860 was completed, on top of a mountain, Phra Nakhon Khiri, as a summer palace for King Mongkut (Rama IV). Because over time was found that the palace experienced problems during heavy rains, in 1909 King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V) bought a piece of land on the Petchaburi river, just a few kilometers away from Phra Nakhon Khiri, and ordered to build another palace there.

2160 POLAND (Lesser Poland) - Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines (UNESCO WHS)

Located in southern Poland, the deposit of rock salt in Wieliczka and Bochnia has been mined since the 13th century, this major industrial undertaking being the oldest of its type in Europe. It illustrate the historic stages of the development of mining techniques in Europe from the 13th to the 20th centuries: both mines have hundreds of kilometers of galleries with works of art, underground chapels and statues sculpted in the salt, making a fascinating pilgrimage into the past.

December 27, 2015

2159 FRANCE (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) - Isère Department

Isère, named after the river Isère, is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790, from a part of the former province of Dauphiné. Its area has been reduced twice, in 1852 and again in 1967, on both occasions losing territory to the department of Rhône. Now it is part of the region of Rhône-Alpes. The capital of the department is Grenoble, known as the "Capital of the Alps". The  Grande Chartreuse, located 14 miles north of Grenoble, is the mother abbey of the Carthusian order

2156-2158 ROMANIA (Braşov) - Borica dance, a Christmas custom of the Csangos in Săcele area

2156 Borica dance

The Csangos (Hungarian: Csángók, Romanian: Ceangăi) are an ethnographic group of Roman Catholic faith, living mostly in Moldavia (especially in Bacău County), and speaking an archaic Hungarian dialect. Some Csangos live also in Burzenland, in Săcele area (once called Şapte Sate, which means Seven Villages), but they are of Evangelical Lutheran faith.In three of these villages (Ţărlungeni, Purcăreni and Zizin) was preserved an ancient dance named borica, in the past a rite of fertility addressed to the family, the homestead, the earth, the animals, and also a practice of initiating the young men.

2157 Borica dance - Kuka

The dance is performed in the third day of Christmas, the Day of the Holy Children, at the performance participating young men from 15-16 years of age (in even numbers), best dancers and connoisseurs of the traditional customs.They wear the traditional costume of Csangos: fur hat adorned with a red carnation and a nagara (a red feather), white shirt, black cloth waistcoat, black pants and boots with sleigh bells. In the past, during the dance they kept in his right hand a hatchet, replaced in modern times with a little wooden shovels named lapocka (in Purcăreni and Ţărlungeni) or pyrographed sticks (in Zizin).

2158 Borica dance - little wooden shovel (lapocka)

Above all, they form a procession after a well-established order. In front are the fiddlers, then follows the vatáf (the usher), the two rudas (the main dancers), one or two kuka (a masked man), and then the rest of the dancers. The vatáf holds a bull leather whip (bikocsok), a symbol of power, with which coordinates the movements of the dance. The kuka bears a zoomorphic wooden mask, adorned with feathers. At the waist has bells, and in the right hand a leather whip, with which frighten the people. He is a speechless character, all his actions being linked to the pantomime.

The lads stop at each house, and the kuka and one of the dancers ask permission to perform in the yard. The dancers are arranged in half circles, with the vatáf at one end, and at the other with the two rudas, who go backwards. The dance is composed of four distinct moments. While the lads dance, the kuka try to attract attention to himself, walking in the yard and collecting various objects, which the host must redeem them. In the past, the dancers were rewarded with meat, sausages, sauerkraut and bacon, which they put on a long stick or in baskets. Today they only get money and drink.

December 26, 2015

2155 UNITED STATES (California) - Seaport Village and some skyscrapers in San Diego

Seaport Village is a waterfront shopping and dining complex adjacent to San Diego Bay in downtown San Diego, at the intersection of Harbor Drive and Kettner. It was developed by Morris Taubman on landfill over Punta de los Muertos (Spanish for Point of the Dead), where the Spanish expedition of 1782 buried those who had died of scurvy. It houses more than 70 shops, galleries, and eateries, and contains several freestanding buildings in an assortment of architectural styles, from Victorian to traditional Mexican.

2153 NAURU - Flying to Nauru

Nauru, formerly known as Pleasant Island, is the smallest state in the South Pacific and third smallest state by area in the world. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, 300km to the east. Nauru has one airport, Nauru International Airport, which flies to Brisbane, Australia; Majuro, Marshall Islands; Nadi, Fiji; and Tarawa, Kiribati. Nauru Airlines in the only airline to fly in the airport. There are five airplanes in service, four Boeing 737-300, and one Boeing 737-300F.

2152 BELGIUM (Antwerp) - Antwerpen-Centraal railway station

Antwerpen-Centraal (Antwerp Central) is the main railway station in Antwerp, the most populous city in Flanders. In 2009 the American magazine Newsweek judged Antwerpen-Centraal the world's fourth greatest train station, and in 2014 the British-American magazine Mashable awarded it the first place for the most beautiful railway stations of the world, even if the extraordinary eclecticism of the design had led to a difficulty in assigning it to a particular architectural style.

December 25, 2015

2149-2151 FRANCE (Saint Martin) - Orient Bay

2149 Saint Martin - Orient Bay (1)

Known as the "Saint Tropez of the Caribbean", Orient Bay (French: Baie Orientale) is a coastal community and beach on the French side of the island of Saint Martin, on the east coast. Until 1985 the area was undeveloped. Damage caused by Hurricane Luis in 1995 was quickly repaired, and since then the beach has become the most popular on the island.

2150 Saint Martin - Orient Bay (2)

The two mile long, white powdered sand beach is protected from the Atlantic waves by a reef, and the bottom has a very gradual slope. There's a constant hum of activity on Orient, from the parasailing and windsurfing, to the eating and drinking, to the live music and people gazing. There is also great snorkeling off nearby Caye Verte (Green Key), one of the small beautiful islands dotting the coast, such as Tintamarre and Pinel Island do.

2151 Saint Martin - Saint Barthélemy seen from Orient Bay to sunrise

What the beach isn't good for, however, is mere swimming, because the strong undertow and raucous waves. A section of the beach at the south end is used by naturists. From the beach can be seen not only the islands of Green Key, Little Key and Pinel, located nearby, but also Île Tintamarre, placed slightly offshore, and even Saint Barthélemy, which lies about 35km southeast of Saint Martin.

2148 FRANCE (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) - Eugene B., the innocent from Beaufort

December 24, 2015

2147 TAIWAN - Jiufen

Jiufen (also spelled Jioufen or Chiufen; literally: "nine portions") is a mountain area in the Ruifang District of  New Taipei City near Keelung. During the first years of the Qing Dynasty, the isolated village housed nine families, thus the village would request "nine portions" every time shipments arrived from town. In 1890, workmen discovered flakes of gold while constructing the new Taipeh-Kelung railway, and in 1893 a rich placer district was discovered in the hills of Kau-hun.