Friday, October 24, 2008

Card #21, Aloha from Finland?

Vaasa, Finland seems like a nice town on the west coast of Finland. It's a bilingual town, with a quarter of the population speaking Swedish. I'm getting that Sweden has had a huge impact on the history of Finland, which I didn't know before beginning this postcard project. Vaasa has about 52,000 residents. An important event in Finnish history took place in Vaasa during the Finnish War, The Massacre of Vaasa. The Swedish troops were defeated by the Russian troops occupying Vaasa. As punishment for taking up arms against the Russians, Russian soldiers were allowed to pillage the city for several days, killing 17 people and generally wreaking havoc. This was in 1808. Things seem a little more peaceful now. This postcard arrived October 16 from user Xpaula after 4 days of travel.

Card #20, Amber Waves of Ukraine

I am so excited to get a card from Kiev, Ukraine! Kiev has a population of 2.6 million, and it is approximately 1500 years old. I wasn't aware of this, but apparently the Ukraine has its own Slavic language, but Russian is the more commonly spoken language in the city. During its long history it has been an important city amongst the Slavic nations, and it has changed hands among empires many, many times. This card came from user oksanka on October 16 after 17 days of travel.

Card #19, Scherpenheuvel Pilgrimage

This card arrives from the fascinating little town of Scherpenheuvel, Belgium. The town is located in the Flemish region of Belgium, which I believe is nearer to the Netherlands than France, and has been a very important Roman Catholic pilgrimage spot since the mid-16th century. Scherpenheuvel literally means steep hill, and perched atop this steep hill was a crucifix-shaped tree that was an important idol from times of pagan worship. As more conversions to Christianity occurred, the tree remained an important religious symbol. The virgin Mary is said to have visited this spot and performed a miracle, and since then other miraculous events have occurred, including a statue of the virgin weeping blood. Thanks to user Dimige for this fascinating card from Belgium!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Card #18, Nature's Abundance

This is the first card I received on my second Postcrossing account! I decided I wasn't sending and receiving as many postcards as I really wanted to, so I created a second account under the alias "Charlotte May." This is really just to differentiate postcards so I know which account to register them under. After much to-do and Google translation of the info on the back of the card, I discovered that this is a postcard image of a red elderberry. The sender, Vellu, comes from Kuopio, Finland. The city has 91,000 inhabitants and is well-known for its kalakukko, a traditional Finnish fish pastry. This postcard arrived on October 10 after 4 days of travel.

Card #17, Such a Pretty Face...

As far as I can tell, this postcard comes from the town of Papendrecht in the Netherlands. Because Wikipedia doesn't have much to say about this small town, I will talk about Dutch agriculture instead, in the spirit of the postcard I received. The Netherlands ranks third worldwide in the value of agricultural exports, behind the US and France. Much of that value comes from fresh-cut flowers and bulbs. Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are also big business. The cow on this postcard is a Holstein cow, a breed that was developed in the Netherlands. Dairy farming is an important part of Dutch agriculture. This card arrived after 4 days on October 10 from user maroni.

Card #16, Supreme Gorgeousness

This postcard comes from one of the cities I want to visit most in the world, Prague. It is the capital city of the Czech Republic, and has a very ancient and varied history. The city has over 1.2 million inhabitants and sits along the Vltava River. The history of this city is so extensive that I can't possibly discuss it any length here. Prague suffered comparatively little damage during the World Wars, so it is home to some of the world's most pristine art and architecture from every period of architectural history. This card came to me on October 8 after 8 days of travel, from user Misulenka.

Card #15, The Holiest Place on Earth?

This is one of the coolest cards I've received so far. Here is an example of a fascinating cultural landmark that I've never heard of before, Kryžių kalnas, or Hill of Crosses. If you only read one of the Wikipedia articles I link on this site, read this one! It's short, and fascinating. This hill exists as a site of hope and peaceful resistance in a country that has been taken over multiple times in its history. Despite attempts to bulldoze the site, it still exists, and estimates place about 50,000 different crosses and crucifixes at this site. User Laume who sent me this card is from the city of Panevėžys, Lithuania. This is one of the larger towns in the country, and it celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2003. Before World War II its population was 36% Jewish; sadly, very few Jews from Panevėžys survived the Holocaust.

Card #14, Finland is a Chilly Place

This card hails from a 10-year-old boy from Jyväskylä, Finland. This city of some 83,000 inhabitants was founded in 1837 by Czar Nicholas I of Russia. Interestingly, Jyväskylä is called the "Athens of Finland" because of its history of educational progressiveness. It boasts a number of educational firsts in Finland, including the first Finnish-speaking high school, first Finnish-speaking teacher training college, and first Finnish-speaking school for girls. Today it is the home of the University of Jyväskylä, which is one of the most popular universities in Finland. The sender of this lovely winter scene is user sebu725, who urged me to check out his really cool website about his pup, which I think you'll enjoy. This also happens to be the coolest stamp I've received. You can't see the effect here, but it's actually a holographic stamp.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Card #13, Halifax, eh?

This postcard hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia, my first card from Canada. The user, ckaye, seems particularly fond of Anne of Green Gables, as the card was decorated in stickers with that theme. I believe the author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, comes from that part of the world. Before receiving this card, I didn't know much about Nova Scotia, except that people who live there have pretty funny accents. Now I know that Halifax is home to five major universities and is a major cultural hub in Canada. It is a major port city located on a natural harbor, and was settled for many centuries by the Mi'kmaq aboriginals, who were displaced by the arrival of Europeans. This was the settling place for the well-known Acadians (French tranplants), who were largely forced out of the area at a later time; their culture still influences the area, however. Acadians were forced in quantity to the Mississippi gulf area and morphed into the culture we refer to as "Cajun" in America today. Cool huh? I think Nova Scotia would be a cool place to visit. This postcard is a photograph taken by local photographer Kendall Worth. It arrived on October 3 after 9 days.

Card #12, Ooey Gooey Cuteness

This adorable, gushy postcard arrives from Helsinki, Finland. The message means, more or less, "Greetings to You!" Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It was founded in 1550 and apparently struggled as a city for centuries. Its original name is Helsingfors, which was given by the Swedes. Although it hasn't gone by that name for quite some time, I think it's interesting that the postmark on the stamp still says Helsingfors. The city didn't begin to thrive until Russian czar Alexander I moved Finland's capital from Turku to Helsinki in the early nineteenth century. This was a move to reduce the Swedish influence on Finland, as Turku is closer to Sweden than to Russia. Today, Helsinki has over 500,000 inhabitants and is the location of Finland's largest university. It is a major seaport located on the Gulf of Finland off the Baltic Sea. I received this card October 2 after 3 days of travel. It comes from user Tunde.

Card #11, Neigh to Non-Postcards :(

This card is actually a card that arrived in an envelope, which is a habit I have heard is common amongst the Dutch. This card is of British origin, but the sender, Lijntjuh1981, is a Netherlands native. She is currently living in the English city of Yeovil, in southwest England. It has about 41,000 people and is well-known for its aircraft and defense industries. I think its history is most interesting. The name of the town is derived from the Celtic word gifl, which means "forked river." There are indications that the region has been populated since paleolithic times, and had a Roman road passing through the area during the Roman empire. This card reached me on September 25 after 16 days of travel.

Card #10, All Aboard the Taiwan Train

This postcard depicts a train station in Taiwan. The sender, d00115, comes from the city of Taichung in central Taiwan, which literally translates into "central Taiwan." Very creative. Taiwan has had a very long and chaotic history. For instance, I was unaware that the island had its own aboriginal peoples, but in fact, it did. It was colonized by China during the Qing dynasty in the seventeenth century. It experienced a period of Japanese colonial rule in the late nineteenth century, but the Republic of China more or less "relocated" to Taiwan when the Cultural Revolution occurred in mainland China in the mid-twentieth century. While I found all this information very fascinating, I'm embarrassed to admit that I was even more excited that bubble drinks were invented in Taichung at Chun Shui Tang teahouse (this is uncited information on Wikipedia). I received this card September 24 after 9 days of travel.

Card #9, Fruity and Delicious

Syksyisin terveisin literally translates into Autumn Greetings. This lovely autumn arrangement reaches me from Tampere, Finland from user Leja99. Tampere is unique in that it is the only European city from which I have received a postcard that has a relatively short history. Tampere was founded in 1779 as a market village. It has since grown to a city of 208,000 inhabitants, and has played important roles in recent history, with events leading at point to universal suffrage in Finland, and later on as an important location during the Civil War in Finland. (I didn't even know Finland had a Civil War.) The city is located between two lakes, which differ in elevation by 18 meters. The rapids that run between the lakes have always been an important power source in Finland. This card reached me on September 22 after 6 days of travel.

Card #8, Sesimbra: Fishes and Beaches

This postcard appears to be a reproduction of an oil painting by Josefina de Jesus Ferreira Guedes, depicting the Castelo de Sesimbra, which was built by the Moors in the early second millennium. The postcard comes from the Portuguese town of Sesimbra, which is a beautiful and temperate town known for its beaches and its fishing. Not surprisingly, fishing and tourism are its two main sources of income. I'm always interested in getting a taste of the towns my postcards arrive from, and I will often pull them up on Google Earth so that I can see photos from Panaramio. Sesimbra looked particularly beautiful. I strongly urge you to take a moment to check this photo out. Thank you from user luisacarvalho, whose postcard arrived on September 20 after 5 days of travel.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Another one bites the dust

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 1) Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
So it's embarrassing to admit, but I did like this book. I would definitely recommend this as a book to read for those suffering from Twilight withdrawal (like me). It was funny, quick reading. There's great vampire sex and some really funny moments, and a great, kick-ass heroine with the horrible, grating name "Sookie Stackhouse." But I would recommend it.

View all my reviews.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Card #7, Walloping Wallabies!

This postcard from Down Under is called a Maxi card, a postcard that is issued with prepaid postage affixed that is meant to correspond with the postcard image. This maxi card was issued on January 16, 1997! A vintage card! User Tealby resides in Australia's capital city, Canberra. Canberra is roughly the size of Pittsburgh in population, and it is Australia's only planned city. The plan was designed by a Chicago city planner 1913. The design was influenced by the "garden city movement," and consequently is well-known for its extensive green space.

Card #6, Turning Japanese

The sender of this postcard, user jennica, comes from Hamamatsu City in Japan. This city, which I had never heard of before, is the location of the headquarters for Suzuki and Yamaha, and the founding city of Honda. It would seem that it is a fairly industrial city. Hamamatsu Castle is located here, which was built by Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa at the beginning of the Edo Period in the 16th century. Over 800,000 people live there. This postcard actually shows Nakagawa Village in the Nagano region of Japan. This village has a population of about 5000. I received this card on September 13 after a journey of 5 days.

Card #5, A Delicious Sip of Porto

This lovely card hails from Porto, Portugal, known for its production of its own lovely variety of dessert wine. Of the Wikipedia articles I've read so far, Porto seems to be the most fascinating city I've heard from so far. The structures on this card are the Clerigos Tower and St. Bento's Station (which is sadly unrepresented on Wikipedia). Porto has had a long and storied history through its combination of being a major shipping port and being on the Iberian peninsula, which has undergone many major cultural transformations in its history. The city is also known for its cuisine, and its city center has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a very well-respected designation. This card comes from user blu, arriving on September 12 after 10 days of travel.

Card #4, Holy Penguins, Batman!

This postcard originates from the glorious city of Buenos Aires, Argentina! Very few postcards emerge from the South American continent, so I was thrilled when this one showed up in my mailbox. Buenos Aires is home to over 13 million people and was founded in 1536 under the original name of "Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre." My father has always had a particular fondness for Argentina, and in particular, the people of that nation. He finds them among the kindest people on the planet. These are Magellanic Penguins, from the Patagonia region of Argentina, in the far south. This is where my father embarked on his sea voyage to Antarctica. This incredible postcard is from user KarmenS, a Slovenian currently living abroad in Buenos Aires. She recognized my last name as Slovenian.

Card #3, Normandie!

This beautiful map card shows the Normandy region of France, and user Fylo comes specifically from the city of Caen. Caen is a very old city, well-known for the architecture built during the reign of William the Conqueror around the turn of the first millennium. Caen received heavy damage during fighting from World War II. This map card seems to indicate that this region of France is famous for several commodities, including particular varieties of cheese, apples, cider, and shellfish. Map cards generally seem to be among the most coveted types of postcards available. This postcard reached me after 8 days of travel on September 10.

Card #2, Ferocious Beasts

My second postcard arrives from the lovely city of Groningen, Netherlands. Groningen is apparently the largest city in the northern part of the Netherlands, and dates as far back as 3950 BC. It is a large university town, with approximately 45,000 students. It was sent by user Christoffel, who is employed by a green political party in her country. This is the most popular card I have received so far, according to the lovely people at Flickr.

First card, Moose-alicious

My first postcard arrives from the chilly town of Oulu, Finland. Amazingly, this city is the home of the Air Guitar World Championships, which is a big enough deal that the winner is generally on David Letterman for a performance. I hope you'll read more about the lovely woman who sent this card here.

The Beginning

After having received 16 international postcards, and being thrilled by every single one of them, I've decided to keep a blog about them. I'd like to learn more about the places they come from, speculate and daydream about the faraway places from which they arrive. I have 16 postcards to catch up on, and I will make an individual entry for every postcard until I'm caught up. This is a personal project, but I hope you will enjoy it with me!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Girls Nights

I feel the need to update the hungry masses, people beating down the door to read the next installment of my riveting blog. :) I wanted to document that I have had two evenings so far which I believe qualify as "girl nights." The first was with Megan at the house on Friday Sept. 26, and it involved a jug of wine and take out. The second was last night, Oct. 2 at Rock Bottom with Dana and Megan. It was a good time! Below are old photos of myself with Megan and with Dana, both at Duke's bar in Homestead.