Saturday, May 20, 2017

Taormina - Italy

Beautiful cards from Taormina, a city located on the east coast of Sicily about halfway between Messina and Catania on the Ionian Sea.

 © SIME * ph. Antonino Bartuccio
 Settled on a hill of the Monte Tauro, Taormina dominates two grand, sweeping bays below and on the southern side, the top of Mount Etna, the European highest active volcano, often capped with snow, offering to the visitors a breathtaking, dramatic and memorable view over almost one hundred miles of Mediterranean sea. Taormina really seems to be born as a tourist resort since past times, when ancient people like the Sicels, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Saracens, Arabs, Normans and Spaniards chose it as their residential site thank to its favourable position, mild climate and magic atmosphere. - in:

 © SIME * ph. Demetrio Carrasco
Isolla Bella is tiny island located in a small bay on the coast just below Taormina. The island is connected to the mainland by a small and narrow path that depending on the tide may be submerged. The island itself was actually private property up until 1990 when the owners went bankrupt and auctioned the island, which was bought by the Region of Sicily. Since then it has been designated as a nature reserve and is home to numerous species of birds and lizards. - in:

© SIME * ph. Alessandro Saffo
One of the main attractions of the city is the Ancient Theatre. Built for the most part of brick,  is therefore probably of Roman date, though the plan and arrangement are in accordance with those of Greek, rather than Roman, theatres; whence it is supposed that the present structure was rebuilt upon the foundations of an older theatre of the Greek period. With a diameter of 109 metres (358 ft) (after an expansion in the 2nd century), this theatre is the second largest of its kind in Sicily (after that of Syracuse); it is frequently used for operatic and theatrical performances and for concerts. - in: wikipedia


This cute little badger lives in the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park in Spain. I've never seen a badger and this is my 1st card with this cute animal. 

Editora y Distribuidora, El Olivo S. L. L. 
ES-456442, sent by Lisca.
This natural park is located in the eastern and northeastern part of the province of Jaén, Spain, established in 1986. With an area of 2,099.2 square kilometres (810.5 sq mi), it is the largest protected area in Spain and the second largest in Europe. It was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1983 and also a Special Protection Area for migratory birds in 1988. - in: wikipedia

Alcúdia - Spain

Last march Heidi participated in a parabadminton tournament in Mallorca. The results weren't the best but it was a good opportunity to practice and enjoy a few days on this spanish island. 

Tullio Gatti Photo Gallery
The port and holiday resort of Alcudia lies on the north east coast of Mallorca, and is one of the most attractive areas on the island. It is considered as the favorite resort with families. 
Alcudia has a fantastic 10km stretch of soft sandy beach, ideal for all the family and there are plenty of attractions around the resort. 
For the tourist there are clean beaches and quiet calas (bays) near by, as well as peaceful Aucanada pine forests. - in:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Pueblos Blancos - Spain

Andalucía was my 1st option for my holidays last month. Unfortunately I didn't make it and instead of spending a week in southern Spain, I spent a week in southern Portugal, which was also great. 
When searching for ideas of what to visit in Andalucía, I discovered the beautiful Pueblos Blancos, White Towns, which are a series of towns and large villages in the northern part of the provinces of Cádiz and Málaga. Setenil and Olvera, both in the province of Cádiz, were the towns I wanted to visit. 
I didn't get to visit Andalucía but Celina gave me these 2 cards from there. 

© Ediciones A. M. * Fotografia: A. Murillo
Setenil de las Bodegas grew out of a collection of cave dwellings, and many of the present-day dwellings were hewn from rock. Entire rows of whitewashed buildings seem to be submerged under massive rocky overhangs. Setenil de las Bodegas has been settled since the Moorish Almohad period of the 12th century. A legacy of the Islamic heritage, the ruins of a Moorish castle overlook the medieval village. - in:

© Ediciones A. M. * Fotografia: A. Murillo
Olvera is a small village located in the heart of the Cadiz mountains, Spain. The village’s main monument is the city itself, with its whitewashed houses, steep narrow streets all running up towards the impressive silhouette of its church and castle at the top of the hill.
The hills surrounding Olvera are full of olive tree plantations that provide the best extraction of olive oils in Andalusia. It’s believed that the name of the town is related to the amount of olive trees in the area. - in:

La Alberca - Spain

I've discovered and have been to many places thanks to postcards. I've never heard about La Alberca before but because of this postcard I googled it and now I want to go there. The village is not that far from my city, only an hour and a half.
The postcard was a gift from Celina.

© Ediciones A. M. * Fotografia: A. Murillo
La Alberca is a village in the province of Salamanca, autonomous community of Castile and Leon.
In 1940 La Alberca was declared an historic artistic ensemble due to its architecture, typical to the Sierra de Francia. It is part of the network of the Most Beautiful Villages in Spain.
Built on granite and wooden columns, the Plaza Mayor de La Alberca features a typical mountain architecture. Its façades are crossed by a series of balconies, illuminated by the luster of whitish lime, maintaining a perfect balance and harmony through the combination of wood and granite.
The originality of its streets, squares and houses is the result of a popular architecture that has been maintained throughout the centuries.

São João Baptista Fortress - Terceira Island

This year the Europa stamps have a wonderful theme, castles. One of the portuguese stamps depicts São João Baptista Fortress in Angra do Heroísmo, on Terceira island, Azores. Lurdes, who lives on the island, sent a few cards of the fortress with the matching stamp. 

This military monument of big dimensions is located on the Brasil Mount, an ancient extinct volcano that forms a small peninsula on the south coast of the town, and two lovely bays (Angra and Fanal). The Fortress would have been part of a set of fortifications built for the protection of the rich Angra do Heroísmo coast. 

© Grafipost - Editores e Artes Gráficas, Lda
Built over the Spanish occupancy of the territory (1580-1640) the forts were built in order to protect the coast from the aggressive Pirate attacks and also for the Spanish troops barracks. 
Angra do Heroísmo was by then a very important town for the international trading, as it was situated in a strategic point in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and provided a very good port. 
The construction of the Fortress began in 1593, and here were lodged the Spanish troops for eleven months when the Portuguese Restoration happened. 
Already in the 20th century, during the Dictatorship period, the Fortress was used as a Political Prison. 
The São João Baptista Fortress has a defensive wall area of about 4 km long, surrounding the Brasil Mount, housing in its interior the São João Baptista Church, the Santa Catarina Chapel and the Governor Palace , and is even considered to be the biggest fortress built by Spain in the world. - in:

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Angra do Heroísmo - Portugal

Nice views from Angra do Heroísmo on Terceira island, Azores. The 1st card arrived yesterday and it was sent by Lurdes, the 2nd was sent by Luís two years ago. 

Both these cards show nices views of Angra do Heroísmo with Monte Brasil in the background. 
Monte Brasil is an extinct volcano that emerged from the sea to join the city of Angra do Heroísmo. It is a protected landscape and the city's natural park. Monte Brasil has excellent viewpoints and tree and shrub species that are of special interest. - in:

I've been to the Terceira island in 2012 and this was pretty much the view I had from my hotel room in Angra do Heroísmo. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Caretos of Podence - Portugal

I must say I really like this postcard. I bought it a few times and I've it now, written and stamped sent by Ana Rita.
There are very different carnivals all around the world, with more or less tradition, with masks or almost no clothes. In Podence, a village in the county of Macedo de Cavaleiros, in northern Portugal, Fat Sunday and Carnival day are the entire responsibility of the Caretos. These magical creatures who wear masks and exuberant costumes, invade the streets of the village, run, jump, dance and chase single girls.

Forways Lda
Nowadays they are a tourist attraction but the tradition was in danger of being lost in the 60s, because of the colonial war and the immigration. Fortunately, the tradition is still alive.
According to the official web site of the Caretos de Podence, the Caretos use rudimentary masks, whith a pointy nose, made of leather, wood or ordinary brass, painted in red, black, yellow or green. 
Color is one of the most visible attributes of their garments: bedspreads fringed with red, green and yellow wool, with waist-rattled straps and bell-bottomed bollards. They also use a stick to help them running and jumping.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Schist Villages - Portugal

The 27 villages spread across the Lousã and Açor ranges, and quite close to Serra da Estrela, are called schist villages because this is the stone used in the construction of houses and is abundant in the region. The various shades of this rock, also used for paving the narrow winding streets, mingle seamlessly into the colours of the natural landscape. - in:

I've to confess that I don't know much about these 27 villages and I've only been to one of them. 

Foto: Danilo Pavone
The village of Pena has a clear water stream with the same name which brings it to life. Used for baths and watering, this stream also offers you the pleasure of enjoying waterfalls and lakes, surrounded by green landscape among which you will discover one-hundred-year-old chestnuts which are a part of this place’s natural heritage. Surrounded by the Góis Rocks, this is a privileged place to take the routes that, through more or less winding paths, take you exploring Serra da Lousã. - in:

Foto: Rui Martins
 Água Formosa (Fair Water) received its name because of the pure liquid which streams out of its fountain and is as relaxing as the fade sound of the water flow. That is why it has been attracting so many people who are running away from the stress in the city find their haven here. Thanks to the recovery works in the village, clearly visible on the pedestrian bridge over the Galega Stream, the number of residents has been increasing. Orchards grow and stone houses come to life with everyday life sounds. It is worth your while to take a visit and feel the warmth of the neighbours and a certain feeling of hope in the air in this sunny slope ten kilometres away from the Portuguese Geodesic Centre. - in:

Foto: Danilo Pavone
 Aigra Nova is a privileged meeting point for those who wish to know what is best done in recovering memories, traditions and heritage at Serra da Lousã. - in:

Foto: Danilo Pavone
Benfita is one of the "white villages" of the Schist Villages Network. This is the only village in the world that exalts peace with a tower, a bell and a clock. The bell tower of this "white village" celebrates the end of World War II with 1620 hits every May 7. 

Foto: Danilo Pavone
 In Gondramaz, schist has its own unique color, as if it wants to highlight the unique personality of its inhabitants. With its remodelled buildings, according to the Schist Villages network plan, Gondramaz is now the home for recognized international plastic artists. 
It is a pleasure to stroll through the streets where everything is made out of schist and the floor you step on is a true work of art. - in:

Monday, May 8, 2017

Our Lady of Mó Chapel, Arouca - Portugal

As I already said many times before, I like churches, from the big cathedrals to the smaller chapels, of any religion and I liked this super cute and chapel, located 7 kms from Arouca.

Fotografia: Filomeno Silva
The Chapel of Our Lady of the Mó (millstone), of very characteristic contours, is presumed to date back to the 16th century.
Legend has it that the chapel was erected in honor of Our Lady who saved a Christian from the slavery of the Moors. Trapped inside a box, with a millstone on top, he used the knots of the rope to pray, achieving his freedom.

Crato Castle - Portugal

I already been to Crato area but did not know that there was a castle there. In fact, today it resembles more like a fort than a castle. Anyway, this is a new castle in my collection.
This was one of many postcards sent by Paulo.

Fotografia: Raul Ladeira
The castle of Crato dates from the 13th century and is situated at the highest point of the village. It was donated in the thirteenth century to the Order of the Hospital. In 1330, the Town of Crato was head of the Order of Malta, and in century XV the reconstruction of the castle and edification of the urban fence was carried out. In century XVII it underwent a great alteration, when it gained the fort like features and endowed platforms for the installation of artillery. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Vila Nova de Milfontes - Portugal

The district of Beja will probably one of my next discoveries in Portuguese lands. I think it's the only district I've never been to. 
Vila Nova de Milfontes is located in the district of Beja, on the north bank of the mouth of the river Mira. It is located in the Natural Park of Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina.
This card was sent by my penpal and friend Vera.
Vila Nova de Milfontes has been named as the “Alentejo’s Princess”, due to its very own charm and attractiveness. 
This small village is located in the Odemira department, in the Alentejo coastline, and is a fishing village with a strong connection to the ocean, in the estuary of the Mira river, in the heart of the wonderful Sudoeste Alentejano (Alentejo’s Southwest) and Costa Vicentina Natural Park. 
Its wide and beautiful beaches, the crystalline waters and the golden dunes are the region main highlights. 
Contrasting with the beautiful coastline panorama, the inland landscape is markedly known for the typical Alentejo’s plain grounds with cork oak trees, among other species traditional of this region. 
In Vila Nova de Milfontes the discovery of the amazing Mira river estuary is highly recommended, where many centuries ago Celts, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians and, of course, Romans and Arabs passed through. 
The mild weather, the charming typical architecture, the Alentejo’s famous delicious gastronomy, among other leisure activities that the region offers, are more that enough features that easily justify an amazing visit to this locality. - in:

Church of St. Mary of the Castle, Tavira - Portugal

As I said before, I went on holidays to Algarve last week. I've been to many places and Tavira was where I started to explore this portuguese region. It was also in Tavira that I had a mini postcrossing meeting. Well, it wasn't exactly mini, we were 5 postcroossers, me, Tiago, Celina, Paulo & Ana, the postcrossing founders, and Celina's friend. It was a meeting and every meeting has cards to sign. I decided to send myself a card with the Church of St. Mary of the castle. It posting it here with a card that Ninocas sent me 2 years ago. 

© Edição Vistal * Foto © Art & Concept: Gustav A. Wittich
Standing alongside the castle, Tavira's parish church incorporates the minaret of the town's Moorish mosque, remodelled to form the clock tower.

© Edição Vistal Foto * © ART & CONCEPT: Gustav A. Wittich
Inside are the fine 13th-century tombs of seven knights of the crusading Order of Saint James, whose ambush and murder prompted the Christian reconquest of the city. In addition to the fine tilework and gilded alter surrounds, the sacristy has a small museum displaying vestments and chalices. - in:

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Monthly Fav. Surprise RR - March'17

After the March RR I still didn't join this RR again. I don't know if I'll join it again any time soon. 
Anyway, in March I got cards from Czech Republic, Germany, Belarus and France. 

Foto: Ivan Rilich
I had a card of Liberec's Town Hall in my favorites. Radana couldn't find the same card but sent me this one that is even prettier than the other. 
Liberec Town Hall is a large building in the town of Liberec, Czech Republic.
Liberec town hall is a Neo-Renaissance building, which was built from 1888 till 1893 by design of the Viennese architect, Franz Neumann, replacing earlier structures dating to 1602.
The building has a richly decorated façade, integrated artwork, and very rare stained glass windows. Above the entrance portal is a sculptural relief by Viennese sculptor Theodor Friedl, showing the establishment of the old and new town hall. At its center is a female figure symbolizing the city; on the left side, figures associated with the original town hall, and figures associated with the emergence of a new town hall on the right, including the architect Neumann.
The front of the building is a bronze monument in the shape of a tank strip, commemorating nine victims of the invasion of the Warsaw Pact armies in August 1968.
The tower is 65 metres tall. Liberec town hall is similar to Vienna town hall. Today Liberec Town Hall is the seat of The Municipal Authority. - in: wikipedia

Foto: Klaus Ender
This cute little wooden chapel is located in Ralswiek, Rügen Island, Germany but it was actually built in Sweden. From there all the pieces were taken to this island and rebuilt there in 1907. 
The card was in my favorites and it was sent by Ina. 

 Photo by Rahmel-Archiv D
I really like when I get cards from places that I've already visited. In this case I've already received this card twice. I got it as an official in 2012 and Stefanie sent me another one.
 I didn't really visited the Stolzenfels Castle but i've seen it in 2011 when I went on a boat trip along the Rhine from Koblenz to Braubach.
Stolzenfels Castle is a castle near Koblenz on the Rhine, Germany.
Finished in 1259, Stolzenfels was used to protect the toll station at the Rhine, where the ships, back then were the main transport for goods, had to stop and pay toll. Over the years it was extended several times, occupied by French and Swedish troops in the Thirty Year’s War and finally, in 1689, destroyed by the French during the Nine Years' War. For 150 years the ruins decayed, until in 1815 they were given as a present to Frederick William IV of Prussia by the city of Koblenz. Following the romantic traditions, the prince started to completely rebuild the castle after 1826 as a summer residence. Supported by famous neoclassic architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, the castle was completely remodeled in the then fashionable neo-Gothic style, aiming to create a romantic place representing the idea of medieval knighthood - the architects even created a tournament site. - in: wikipedia

Iconic Minsk Victory Square is both a famous tourist attraction in Belarus and a place of pilgrimage for Belarusians remembering those who died in the Great Patriotic War (World War II)
One of the most important places in Belarus, Minsk Victory Square (ploshchad Pobedy) is dominated by the huge 40m obelisk, a memorial to the country’s war dead.  
Previously known as The Circus, Victory Square was renamed and made into a memorial in 1954 when the obelisk was erected. - in:
Card sent by Nika.

Ulla surprised me with a card from a missing UNESCO site, which, obviously made my day!!
The Champagne wine region is a wine region within the historical province of Champagne in the northeast of France. The area is best known for the production of the sparkling white wine that bears the region's name. - in: wikipedia
Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars are on the UNESCO list since 2015.
The property encompasses sites where the method of producing sparkling wines was developed on the principle of secondary fermentation in the bottle since the early 17th century to its early industrialization in the 19th century. - in:

Bijagós Archipelago - Guinea Bissau

I'm back from my holidays and with lots of new cards. Most of them were both in southern Portugal and yesterday I also got a few cards for free in a tourism fair in my city. 
Leninha also went to a tourism fair a few weeks ago, a big one in Lisbon. Next year I want to go there. 

João Vieira and Orango Grande are only 2 of the 88 islands belonging to the Bijagós archipelago in Guinea-Bissau. These islands are part of a protected area, classified by UNESCO in 1996 as a biosphere reserve. This reserve has a diverse fauna that includes, among other species, monkeys, hippos, crocodiles, wading birds, sea turtles and otters.

© Photos: Maurice Ascani
 João Vieira Island together with Poilão Island, form one of the two national parks of this archipelago. These islands are one of the most important breeding sanctuaries of sea turtles.

© Photos: Maurice Ascani
On the island of Orango lies the largest colony of marine hippopotamuses in the world. According to the religious beliefs of the local population, the hippopotamus is a sacred animal, so it can not be killed or injured.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Kahuzi-Biega N. P. - Democratic Rep. of Congo

The stamped doesn't match with the card but I don't really care. I was really happy when Jennifer accepted to trade with me this card from an UNESCO site in Democratic Republic of Congo. This is my very 1st card from there!

The Kahuzi-Biega National Park is a protected area near Bukavu town in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is situated near the western bank of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border. Established in 1970 by the Belgian photographer and conservationist Adrien Deschryver, the park is named after two dormant volcanoes, Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega, which are within its limits. With an area of 6,000 square kilometres (2,300 sq mi), Kahuzi-Biega is one of the biggest national parks in the country. Set in both mountainous and lowland terrain, it is one of the last refuges of the rare species of Eastern lowland gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri), an endangered category under the IUCN Red List. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, inscribed in 1980 for its unique biodiversity of rainforest habitat and its eastern lowland gorillas. - in: wikipedia

Luang Prabang - Laos

In January Ana has been to Cambodia and in February she has been to the amazing Laos. She sent me the 1st card and the other was sent by Verena a couple of years ago.  
Town Of Luang Prabang is a World Heritage Site since 1995.

Luang Prabang is located in northern Laos at the heart of a mountainous region. The town is built on a peninsula formed by the Mekong and the Nam Khan River. 
Luang Prabang is exceptional for both its rich architectural and artistic heritage that reflects the fusion of Lao traditional urban architecture with that of the colonial era. Its remarkably well-preserved townscape reflects the alliance of these two distinct cultural traditions. - in:

Photography: Song Phonepaseuth
On the grounds of the Royal Palace Museum is the Haw Pha Bang, one of Luang Prabang’s most attractive monuments. A very ornate temple, the Haw Pha Bang which translates to “Royal temple” is also known as the Wat Ho Pha Bang. It was built to house Laos’ most sacred Buddha image.
Although the temple appears old at first glance, it is a fairly new structure completed in 2006, built in traditional Laos style. Construction of the temple started in 1963. The works were halted when the communist Pathet Lao party came to power and resumed in the 1990’s.

The very ornate structure with extensive glass and gold decoration is set on a multi level raised platform. Its multi tiered roof is adorned with stylized Naga finials at the roof’s ends. At the center top of the roof is a “Dok so faa”, an ornamental element consisting of 17 spires found on many Laos temples. The very ornate wooden front façade is carved with Buddhist depictions in green and gold colors. Stairways with multi headed mythological Naga serpents lead to the entrance, the body of the snake extending all across the balustrades. Inside the Haw Pha Bang is a large, very elaborate gilded alter where the Phra Bang Buddha image is to be enshrined. - in:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Phnom Penh - Cambodia

If I ever travel to Asia, Combodia will be one of the countries I'll visit. Ana has been there last January. 

Photo © 2008 by Kraig Lieb * © 2015 Purple Moon Publications
The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh is a complex of buildings which serves as the royal residence of the king of Cambodia. The Kings of Cambodia have occupied it since it was built in 1860s, with a period of absence when the country came into turmoil during and after the reign of the Khmer Rouge.
The palace was constructed after King Norodom relocated the royal capital from Oudong to Phnom Penh in the mid-19th century. It was built atop an old citadel called Banteay Kev. - in: wikipedia