Hawaii

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This great map card came from, surprise, surprise, Arnold, who lives in Texas. 😀

Hawaii is the most recent of the 50 U.S. states (joined the Union on August 21, 1959), and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean.

Hawaii’s diverse natural scenery, warm tropical climate, abundance of public beaches, oceanic surroundings, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists, (wind) surfers, biologists, and volcanologists alike. Due to its mid-Pacific location, Hawaii has many North American and Asian influences along with its own vibrant native culture. Hawaii has over a million permanent residents along with many visitors and U.S. military personnel. Its capital is Honolulu on the island of Oʻahu.

The state encompasses nearly the entire volcanic Hawaiian Island chain, which comprises hundreds of islands spread over 1,500 miles (2,400 km). At the southeastern end of the archipelago, the eight “main islands” are (from the northwest to southeast) Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui and the island of Hawaiʻi. The last is the largest and is often called “The Big Island” to avoid confusing the name of the island with the name of the state as a whole. The archipelago is physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian subregion of Oceania.

Nu, pogodi!

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— Заяц! ЗА-АЕ-ЕЦ, ТЫ МЕНЯ СЛЫШИШЬ?
— Слышу, слышу.
— Ну, заяц, – погоди!

How many of you remember this legendary Soviet animated series? 😀 And for those of you who have never heard of “Nu, pogodi!” – that was the “Tom and Jerry” on the other side of the Iron Curtain. My parents grew up with Volk and Zayats, I grew up with them too, even though I was born after the fall of communism. That’s how big they were! And this card, well, it’s one of my all time favorites. Big thanks to Natalya, who sent it to me. 😀

Kukeri

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Yu-huuu! My first stamped Bulgarian card. 😀 It came from Aneta who lives in Sofia, and it reached me after the very impressive 2 weeks of traveling. 😀

The card pictures a traditional Bulgarian ritual. Men dress up in scary costumes, put some huge (and very heavy) bells on their belts, and dance to scare the evil spirits away. The costumes are slightly different in the different regions, but one thing always remains unchanged – it’s always very noisy and very colorful. 😀

Ha Long Bay

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This gorgeous card, my first one from Vietnam, comes from Yi Ting who lives in Saigon.

Ha Long Bay (literally: “descending dragon bay”) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a popular travel destination, located in Quang Ninh province, Vietnam. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes.

According to local legend, when Vietnam had just started to develop into a country, they had to fight against invaders. To assist the Vietnamese in defending their country, the gods sent a family of dragons as protectors. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. Under magics, numerous rock mountains abruptly appeared on the sea, ahead of invaders’ ships; the forward ships struck the rocks and each other. After winning the battle, the dragons were interested in peaceful sightseeing of the Earth, and then decided to live in this bay.

Berat – The Town of a Thousand Windows

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My very first postcard from Albania comes from the very sweet Nevila. 🙂

Berat is a town located in south-central Albania and the capital of both the District of Berat and the larger County of Berat. As of 2009, the town has an estimated population of around 71,000 people. In July 2008, the old town (Mangalem district) was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.  The town is still renowned for its historic architecture and scenic beauty and is known as the “Town of a Thousand Windows”, due to the many large windows of the old decorated houses overlooking the town. It is unclear whether it really means “Thousand” (një mijë) or “One over Another” (një mbi një) windows. Indeed, the quarter is built in a very steep place and windows seem to be one over another. Actually, on this particular picture it reminds me very much of the way houses in Veliko Turnovo look like.