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.

The Pink City

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The last one of Smitha’s cards pictures some of the main sights in the city of Jaipur. Jaipur is the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan in Northern India. It was founded on 18 November 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber, after whom the city has been named. The city today has a population of 3.1 million. Jaipur is known as the Pink City of India.

Top left: Jal Mahal (meaning “Water Palace”) is a palace located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur city. The Jal Mahal palace is considered an architectural beauty built in the Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture (common in Rajasthan) providing a picturesque view of the lake, and the surrounding Nahargarh hills. The palace, built in red sandstone, is a five storied building out of which four floors remain under water when the lake is full and the top floor is exposed.

Top right: City Palace, Jaipur, which includes the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal palaces and other buildings, is a palace complex in Jaipur. It was the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur, the head of the Kachwaha Rajput clan. The Chandra Mahal palace now houses a museum but the greatest part of it is still a royal residence. The palace complex incorporates an impressive and vast array of courtyards, gardens and buildings. The palace was built between 1729 and 1732.

Bottom left: Hawa Mahal (“Palace of Winds” or “Palace of the Breeze”), is a palace in Jaipur. It was built in 1798 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, and designed by Lal Chand Ustad in the form of the crown of Krishna, the Hindu god. Its unique five-storey exterior is also akin to the honeycomb of the beehive with its 953 small windows called jharokhas that are decorated with intricate latticework. The original intention of the lattice was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen, since they had to observe strict “purdah” (face cover). Besides this, the lattice also provides cool air caused by the Venturi effect (doctor breeze) through the intricate pattern and thereby air conditioning the whole area during the high temperatures in summers.

Bottom, in the middle: Raj Palace is Jaipur’s formal royal residence and now functions as a hotel.

Bottom right: The Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century. It includes a set of some 20 main fixed instruments. This is the most significant, most comprehensive, and the best preserved of India’s historic observatories. It is an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period. It has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Gadisar Lake

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Another card from my big swap with Smitha. 🙂

Gadisar Lake is one of the most important tourist attractions in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, North India. Its charm lies in the fact that it was the only source of water for the Jaisalmer city in the olden days. A manmade reservoir, the Gadisar Lake in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan was constructed by Raja Rawal Jaisal, the first ruler of Jaisalmer. In the later years Maharaja Garisisar Singh rebuilt and revamped the lake.

The Cock of Barcelos

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The Rooster of Barcelos (Portuguese, “Galo de Barcelos”) is one of the most common emblems of Portugal. The legend of the Rooster of Barcelos tells the story of a dead rooster’s miraculous intervention in proving the innocence of a man who had been falsely accused and sentenced to death.

This card came as a surprise from Libania. 🙂