The Dark Zone

Dark Zone

Dark Zone

My favourite postcard from Finland so far comes from Liisa, who lives in Helsinki. This postcard was kind of surprising in that I could not understand the context of it whatsoever, until I read a little about it. It was taken on 4 December 2009 at 22:11 by one, Hannes Heikura. Hannes is one of Finland’s most notable photo journalists, who in 2010 did an art exhibition in Helsinki, where he showcased this picture as part of his Dark Zone collection. This particular picture is located at Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art but unfortunately I cannot give you any further details on it, as I my Finnish has been rather rusty of late. Thank you so much Liisa, I love this postcard.

Kotel Jerusalem

Western Wall, Jerusalem

Western Wall, Jerusalem

This postcard comes from the ever-so-awesome Brazilian, Carlos, who went on a trip to Israel. The Western Wall is more popularly known as the Wailing Wall or also as Kotel. It is located at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount and is one of the most sacred sites in the Jewish faith. The Western Wall was built during the 17th century BC by King Herod but excavations show that the entire wall was not completed during his lifetime. The term “Wailing Wall” probably arose after the Roman Empire took control of Jerusalem and banned Jews from living there in the 1st century AD. After the Roman Empire became christian, Jews were allowed to go to Jerusalem on one day per year to visit the wall, at which point they would bewail the fate of their people. Something I certainly never knew or really thought about. Very interesting to learn. Thank you Carlos!

Who Stole the Vowels?

Szczecin, Poland

Szczecin, Poland

How on earth does one pronounce the name of this city?! Four consonants in a row is rather strange for me. Szczecin is the 7th largest city in Poland and is home to about 408 000 people. It is a major seaport and is the capital of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship. The city of Szczecin’s history began as far back as the 8th century, where the West slavs erected a stronghold where the castle of Szczecin stands today. Today the city’s economy is based mostly on its seaport and related industries, such as fishing and shipbuilding. The economy is, however, slightly diversified into the production of iron and foodstuffs as well. I have yet to be inspired to add the city to my list of must-see places but I’m sure that there must be a lot to see in a city with such a long history.

The Golden State

California, United States of America

California, United States of America

This all-Californian postcard comes all the way from Kim-Hoa who lives in Los Angeles. With a land area of 423 970 square kilometers, it is the USA’s 3rd largest state and with a population of over 38 million, it is the most populous state, with 1 in 8 Americans living within its borders. California became the 31st state to join the union in 1850 after Zorro saved the governor from a freight train carrying nitro-glycerin. This state is one of the more well-known ones, partially, I believe, due to the fact that it is home to the world’s largest movie industry. Los Angeles is the largest city in the state but contrary to popular belief (here at least,) it is not the state capital, as that would be Sacramento. Anyway, definitely a cool postcard!

Jersey’s Shore

Jersey

Jersey

This stunning postcard of the beautiful view of the coast of the Channel Island of Jersey came, once again from the awesome Monica. This tiny island spanning a mere 118.2 square kilometers has an incredibly high GDP per capita of $57 000 and the second highest Human Development Index (HDI) of any country in the world. Very impressive! Jersey is not part of the United Kingdom but has a special relationship with the UK nonetheless. From what I can gather, Jersey is a country in every sense of the word, except that it relies on the United Kingdom for defence. The island has had a long relationship with both the Norman-French and the English. Jersey has been self-governing since 1204, which is quite impressive for a place of its size and still today with a population of about 98 000 people. I love this beautiful postcard, thank you so much dearest Monaco!

Land of the Kalaallit

Greenland

Nuuk, Greenland

It was Arnold that blessed me with this great postcard of Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. I have never seen anything green about Greenland but upon doing some reading on the matter, I found that it had gotten this name thanks to a murderous exile from Iceland who set out to find the country and named it Greenland in the hopes that the pleasant name would attract many more settlers. With a population of less than 57 000 people, I am led to believe that he could have named it Eden and the inhospitable conditions of this country would not have drawn many more settlers. Evidence suggests that Greenland has been inhabited for 4500 years, the first 3500 odd year by Eskimos. In 946 AD, a number of Icelandic and Norwegian settlers arrived in the southwest of the country but these settlements vanished during the 14th and 15th centuries as a result of either famine, plague or armed conflicts with the Inuit. Since 1814 Greenland has been a part of the Kingdom of Denmark but more recently it has received far greater autonomy, along with a development subsidy, until the country can be self-sustainable through the extraction of natural resources. Very interesting, thanks Arnold.

A Sheep Card

Sheep

Sheep

Feé from Germany surprised me with this postcard of these sheep on world postcard day. Not my favourite thing to eat in the world but a cute animal indeed. I don’t like eating it because it always feels like I’m eating a heart attack. I always wished that I could have a sheep the size of a domestic cat. Wouldn’t that be the cutest thing ever. I think when genetic research reaches its peak, I’m going to go to Build-a-Pet and get me a cat-sized sheep. Thank you Feé for a great postcard and giving me a great idea!

The Sunflower State

Kansas, United States of America

Kansas, United States of America

This very appropriate postcard from the Sunflower State, Kansas, comes from Lisa. Lisa tells me that these are a few things that Kansas is known for. It’s unofficial nickname is The Wheat State, so that picture at the top right must be right. My ornithological is lacking. I can tell a pigeon from an ostrich and that’s about it. So, I have no idea what that bird is. Lisa tells me that her area is full of feed yards and for that reason is known as “Beef Country.” I’m assuming that it refers to Scott County but it might very well be a wider area than that, I’m not sure. She goes on to tell me that buffalo burgers are tasty and that the meat is leaner and healthier. It doesn’t look very tasty standing over there in the field. But then again, neither does an antelope or a giraffe or an ostrich but they definitely taste better than the look. I have started to realise why American States have this ridiculous names that make no sense in English. I’m seeing a pattern here that I never knew of. Kansas is also named after a Native American tribe which came from within its borders, the Kansa. Kansa apparently means: “People of the wind,” how appropriate. Kansas is the 15th largest state in the USA, spanning 82 277 square kilometers and is also home to around 2.9 million people. It was the 34th state to be admitted to the union in 1861 and has its capital in Topeka. Great postcard, thanks Lisa!

Gotta Catch ’em All!

Charizard

Charizard

A few weeks ago I went to the local Pokémon Centre and the ever-so-helpful Nurse Joy helped me get in touch with a Dutch trainer named Patrick. So, we connected and he traded me this powerful Charizard for some silly leopard postcard. Viridian Forest should be like a dream now! Those Caterpie, Weedle, Metapod and Kakuna should be child’s play with this fine monster I have here. Well, it depends whether I am going through Blue, Red or Green here. I think a Metal Claw or two should help me defeat Brock but how on earth am I going to control this high-level Charizard without my cascade badge from Misty? Hope he doesn’t singe my hair off. Darn, I’ve barely become a trainer and my headaches have already started. Maybe I should just quit while I am ahead!

Boy how I miss my childhood and my favourite TV show back then. The imagination I had about being a Pokémon Trainer. Singing to the theme song on my Pokémon CD. Scary thing? I can still do the PokéRap!

Pre-Islamic Tombs of Saleh

Mada'in Saleh

Mada’in Saleh

Ian from Saudi Arabia sent me this postcard as a result of a swap that would just confuse you. But I also need to thank Edwin from Bahrain. Mada’in Saleh dates back to the pre-Islamic period of Saudi Arabia. The site of the tombs have been inhabited (according to the Qur’an) since after the days of Noah but before Moses. That means that people have been living in this part of the world for approximately 5000 years. These 131 tombs have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008 and have enjoyed protection as archaeological sites since 1972. According to Islamic texts, the area is cursed by Allah and as a result, the government has struggled to overcome the stigma, as it is trying to develop the site as a tourist attraction. Quite interesting. Thank you Ian and Edwin!