Ticket to Siberia Please

Altai Mountains, Siberia, Russia

Altai Mountains, Siberia, Russia

I received this postcard from Anna in Siberia, Russia. The Altai Mountains are situated between Russia, China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. In what reads like a tourism ad, Anna proudly tells me how beautiful the region is and that apparently the word “Altai” means rich and is derived from the Russian word for gold. She also tells me that this is one of the richest parts of the world but I’m not sure if she’s referring to monetary wealth or bio-diversity. But I’m guessing the money that tourism brings in could lead to it being both. I certainly want to get on a plane right now and check this amazing place out. Thank you Anna for a very informative postcard.

From Africa’s Largest Country

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From Abdelkader who lives in Algeria, I received 5 postcards of Africa’s largest country. It measures an impressive 2 381 741 square kilometers, making it almost double the size of my own country of South Africa. It also has an impressively large military, coming only 2nd on the continent, after Egypt. This oil-rich nation has over its very long history changed hands many times, as most nations of the Mediterranean did. The last time it changed hands was in 1962, which was rather late in comparison to a lot of African countries but I’m not sure how accurate the listing is, as the post says that South Africa gained independence in 1961, which definitely not the case. Right after its independence a wore broke out between it and Morocco over territory in Western Algeria. Thankfully Algeria won the war but Morocco just went and claimed other people’s land to satisfy its expansionist appetite. Anyway, it is one of the African countries that I have to see before I kick the bucket. Thanks Abdelkader!

 

Hungry for Hungary

Mátra, Hungary

Mátra, Hungary

Gyöngyös, Hungary

Gyöngyös, Hungary

Julia from Gyöngyös in Hungary sent me these 2 lovely postcards showing where she lives. I must say that I was so glad when I got them as both Julia and I thought that they had gone missing after taking over 3 months to reach me. The postcard at the top shows Mátra, which is a mountain range in the North of the country. The country’s peak at 1014 meters is found in this range. The area at Mátra has a number of volcanic cones which reach between 250 and 400 meters high. Most of the land is also cultivated for agricultural purposes. At the bottom you’ll see the town of Gyöngyös which is home to about 34 000 people. The name of the town means “Made of Pearls” and a different way to interpret it would be the Hungarian word for mistletoe, which can apparently be directly translated to “wood pearls.” This only makes sense if you take into account that mistletoe is abundant in this area. Mistletoe, check… Now to find some pretty girls to take with me… Anyway, thank you Julia!

Old Line State

Maryland, United States of America

Maryland, United States of America

Christie from Maryland, USA sent me my favourite type of postcard of the USA. A postcard showing the name of the state, that is. The state is the 5th most densely populated state in the USA, has the highest median household income of any state and of course, is home to Baltimore, the city that we all wanna sing Hairspray songs to. Well, at least I do. It is believed that Maryland is named after the Virgin Mary but that is not certain. Maryland is known for low unemployment, high income and generally good governance. Don’t you just wanna sing about Baltimore now? Still not? Okay… I never knew much about Maryland, still don’t but from what I’ve seen it’s not a bad place at all. Thank you Christie, for a lovely postcard!

Patron of Hanged Men

St. Coloman Church, Bavaria, Germany

St. Coloman Church, Bavaria, Germany

This postcard comes to me from Michael in Germany. This little pilgrim’s church in Schwangau, Germany is dedicated to Saint Coloman of Stockerau. He was an Irish pilgrim on his way to the Holy Land, when he was hanged in Stockerau, Austria in 1012 because he looked a bit funky and thus had to be a spy. He also could not give any account as to who he was or what he was doing, as he could not speak any German. Poor guy. He was later made a saint of the catholic church and he was declared the patron saint of hanged men, horned cattle and horses. He is invoked against plague, husbands by marriageable girls, hanging and gout. Now that all seems pretty cool but I have no idea what all that’s supposed to mean or how you invoke a dead person. Love the postcard though. Thanks Michael.

Islas Canarias

Canary Islands

Canary Islands

From Monte, a friend who is from Hilversum in The Netherlands, I got this awesome postcard of the Canary Islands. The Canary Islands are one of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions, which is located just off the West Coast of mainland Africa, between Morocco and Western Sahara. Despite the name in English creating the impression of a particular kind of animal, it actually means “Dogs Islands” when directly translated. The Canary Islands were used by the Spanish as a stopover during colonial times on their way to the Americas because of the favourable easterly winds. The picture today is vastly different, however, as the islands are now known as an altogether amazing tourist destination. It receives up to 12 million tourists per year on average, 72% of which come from Great Britain, Spain and Germany. There are a total of 4 national parks on the islands and with a great variety of marine life and wonderful beaches, it is not surprising that people flock to these islands in their millions. Definitely looks pretty darn inviting! Dank je Monte!

Historic Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Bulgaria

From the awesome Dilyana in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, I received this multi-view of a bunch of magnificent historical sites in the country. The top picture is of Rila Monastery, which is the most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in the country. It was named after its founder, Ivan of Rila. It was originally built in the 10th century, later destroyed and rebuilt in the 15th century. Even so, it out-dates anything standing in my country. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The stunning building at the bottom left is the Great Basilica of Pliska, which was completed in 875 AD. It was the largest christian cathedral built in medieval Europe, outside of Constantinople with an impressive size of 2920 square meters. At the bottom in the middle is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak. The tomb is part of a Thracian necropolis and dates back to the 4th centrury BC. The pieces in the tomb are Bulgaria’s greatest preserved artworks from the Hellenistic period. Last but not least one can see Asen’s Fortress at the bottom right. The fortress dates back to the time of the Thracians and has seen many conquerors being both repelled by it and raze it. It really does seem like a country very rich in history, full of great people and wonderful scenery. Now for my favourite line: Definitely a place I want to visit someday! Thank you Dilyana!

Some Kid’s Palace

The Second Children's Palace

The Second Children’s Palace

This postcard comes to me from Yaowen who normally resides in Canada but was visiting his hometown in China. Oh, Yaowen… Yaowen… Yaowen… While, I do not dislike this postcard, nor do I dislike any Chinese postcard I’ve ever received, I must say that it would seem as though the universe has conspired against me to keep Canada out of my postcard collection. Anyway, this postcard is of the Second Children’s Palace. Whatever that is. Every source I’ve consulted is either written in Mandarin or is just about how pretty it is. I mean, yes, it’s pretty but what is it? Would anybody care to shed some light on the matter? I thank you in advance! Thanks Yaowen!

Popular Polish Palace Postcard

Popular Polish Palace

Popular Polish Palace

Marta in Koszalin, Poland sent me this postcard of a popular polish palace. That’s it. I don’t know anything more. Neither the postcard or Marta says anything more about the palace, so I’m relying on you, dear reader to tell me what the name of this palace is and maybe why it’s important. I Googled it but could not find any palace looking like this one. Leave me a comment if you know something that I clearly don’t. I look forward to your replies!