Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bruges and Tulipa bakeri (Lilac Wonder) - a card from Belgium


Country: Belgium
Place: Zedelgem
Received: 21/01/2013
Distance: 1 676 km
Travelled: 17 days


Bruges (German: Brügge) is located in the northwest of Belgium with an area of 138,4 square kilometers. Its total population counts about 117,6 thousand habitants, including about 3.5% of foreigners.

Alongside with Amsterdam and some other cities, Bruges is sometimes called "The Venice of the North". The city has 54 bridges and numerous water channels. Due to the port, Bruges has a great economic importance and used to be the world’s "chief commercial city" previously.

The historic city centre is inscripted on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. The most famous landmark of Bruges is its 13th-century belfry with 48 bells. The city employs a carillonneur, giving regular free concerts. 

Tulipa bakeri (Lilac Wonder)

Tulipa bakeri (Lilac Wonder) is a tulip, common for the island of Crete as a wildflower. It was named after G. P. Baker to introduce it through the  Royal Horticultural Society in 1895.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Polar bear from the Columbus Zoo and Lancaster County - a card from the USA

THE POLAR BEAR - Columbus Zoo

Country: USA
Place: Bellefontaine
Received: 12/01/2013
Distance: 7 679 km
Travelled: 27 days

The polar bear

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is located in Powell, Ohio, USA and was opened on 1927. Its land area is about 234 ha with the number of animal about 6300 and species about 793. The Columbus Zoo is divided into exhibitions, each representing a particular region of the world. While observing the zoo, a visitor may choose an alternative way of transportation instead of walking – a train, circling the North America region, and a boat, riding around the Islands of Southeast Asia region. 

The North America region, the largest and the oldest one, contains 13 large exhibits and a migratory songbird aviary. The Polar Frontier region features animals from colder climates and includes a Conservation/Education Building. The pachyderm region features elephants and rhinoceros and an indoor facility to house the animals during inclement weather. The Asia Quest gives an opportunity to feel the entire atmosphere and visit a waterfall, a cave, a Chinese forest or an aviary. The shores region is famous for the fish and manatee aquariums ("Discovery Reef" and "Manatee Coast") and exhibits of flamingos, alligators, penguins. The Reptile Habitat is an indoor facility, containing snakes, turtles, tortoises and threatened reptile species. The African Forest region includes primates, hooved mammals, large cats, and birds in an aviary. The Australia region features kangaroos, koalas, kiwis, tigers, kangaroos… The Islands of Southeast Asia region creates the feeling of walking through one continuous exhibit with a waterway carrying a boat ride.

Lancaster County

This stamp honors the beauty of Lancaster County with its rolling fields, featuring a photograph by James Amos.

“Known for its breathtaking rural scenery, agricultural bounty and small towns with evocative names like Bird-in-Hand and Paradise, Lancaster County is perhaps most famous as part of the Pennsylvania Dutch country,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Manager, Stephen Kearney. “The Amish, with their horse-drawn buggies, one-room schoolhouses and traditional lifestyle, give the county an Old World charm. Their pristine family farms, surrounded by neatly cultivated fields, offer visitors a glimpse of another century and a quieter way of life.”

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Watercolor painting and the Brandenburg Gate - a card from Germany


Country: Germany
Place: Mannheim
Received: 9/01/2013
Distance: 1 390 km
Travelled: 36 days

Watercolor painting

Watercolor (aquarelle) painting appeared in China after the paper’s invention in the 2nd century. In the 12-13th centuries paper extended widely in Europe, first of all in Spain and Italy. 

Watercolor painting combines both painting (shapes and space are created by the use of color) and graphics (active role of paper) features. 

Watercolor paint consists of some principal ingredients including pigments, arabic gum (binder), some additives and solvent. 

In the beginning of the 19th century watercolor painters had buy the pigments and prepare the paint themselves. The earliest commercial paints looked like resinous blocks to be wetted and rubbed out in water. In 1781 William and Thomas Reeves invented the moist watercolor paint and were awarded the Silver Palette of the Society of Arts. 

To avoid confusions with different color names used by their producers, in 1990 the art material industry began to list the pigments on the paint packaging and use the common pigment name ("Copper Violet”) or proper identification code (PV for "Pigment Violet").

The Brandenburg Gate 

The Brandenburg Gate is the only remaining town gate of Berlin. The original name for the gate is the Gate of the World. The gate was built by Carl Gotthard Langhans in 1789-1791 with the facade originally painted in white.

The Gate consists of twelve Doric columns forming five passageways, but the citizens originally were allowed to use only two of them. Atop the gate is the Quadriga of four horses driven by Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Helga Torfs’ bears and Kisses Blown - a card from Finland


Country: Finland
Place: Turku (Abo)
Received: 26/12/2012
Distance: 795 km
Travelled: 12 days

Helga Torfs’ bears

The story of Helga Torfs’ bears started when her friend asked for a bear for his birthday. In her childhood Helga used to be very creative and decided to try. After a lot of unsuccessful attempts Pedro the Bear was born.

Helga’s priority is that the bear has the soul and is not made but actually born, being handmaded of mohair, silk, glass eyes…

Helga’s bears have been rewarded with international rewards with their pictures published on magazines’ covers. Some of the bears are exposed in American and Asian museums.

Kisses Blown

This self-adhesive stamp, called Kisses Blown, was designed by Ulla Bergström for the Women’s Day’s celebration. A set of cheerful celebration stamps, consisting of four of them, is inspired by spring festivities, friendship, and evening gatherings.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Happy New Year winter card - greetings from Russia


Country: Russia
Place: Saint Petersburg
Received: 18/12/2012
Distance: 691 km
Travelled: 14 days

Winter card

The average winter temperature varies in different regions of Russia. Winter is the most severe in Yakutia with the lowest temperature about -65C (-85F).

During the Orthodox Epiphany on January 19 the temperatures over the territory of Russia are known to be very low during the centuries. This phenomenon is called "Epiphany frosts". But recent winters in Russia have been unusually warm – the temperature up to 10C is no longer rare in Moscow in a New Year’s Day.

Animal stamps

The Moscow Kremlin

Severe Russian winters are often linked to military victories. Napoleon's Grande Armée of 610,000 men invaded Russia and blamed the weather for their defeat. During the Second World War General Eduard Wagner, the Quartermaster General of the German Army, reported that "We are at the end of our resources in both personnel and materiel. We are about to be confronted with the dangers of deep winter."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pola Negri, brown bear and traditional hat - a card from Russia

POLA NEGRI in a riding habit, Berlin, 1920s

Country: Russia
Place: Novosibirsk
Received: 04/12/2012
Distance: 3 496 km
Travelled: 21 days

Pola Negri in a riding habit

Pola Negri (1897–1987) was a Polish actress with mainly tragedienne and femme fatale roles. She was the first film star from Europe to be invited to the Hollywood. She was able to become one of the most successful actresses in silent films in America. 

Pola Negri (Barbara Apollonia Chalupiec) was born in Lipno,  Russian Empire (Poland in present). Her father was arrested for revolutionary activity, and Barbara moved to Warsaw to live in poverty with her mother. 

Barbara began her training in the ballet academy and soon she worked the way up to get a solo role, but tuberculosis forced her to stop her dancing. While having a recovery in a sanatorium Barbara adopted her pseudonym – Pola Negri. 

After taking classes of dramatic arts Pola made her theatrical debut in 1912. In 1914 she debuted in film for the first time and played numerous roles later. Pola Negri died of pneumonia on 1 August 1987, at the age of 90.

Traditional winter hat, 19th century, Russia

Hat was a must-have men's suit and was able to tell the people about it's owner. The most valuable hats were considered to be made of fur with a top made of velvet or other expensive material.

Brown bear

Brown bears received their name due to the color of their fur. The average weight of the brown bear is 300 kilos and the body length is about 2.5 meters. Bears are born small (only half a kilo), blind and deaf and live with their mother up to three years old. Brown bears run quickly and can develop a speed of about 55 kilometers per hour. Brown bears hibernate, and their sleep lasts for 75–195 days a year.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pastry, fox and Moscow Kremlin - a card from Russia

PASTRY by Annenkova Kseniya

Country: Russia
Place: Nizhny Novgorod
Received: 30/08/2012
Distance: 1 080 km
Travelled: 9 days


Traditions of pastry making in Europe go back to the Mediterranean ancient times – fylo pastries of the Romans, Greeks and Phoenicians and confectionery of the Egyptians. 

Aristophanes’ plays originating from the 5th century contain the mentions of small pastries with fruit filling. The Romans used dough pastries to cover meat during the cooking process to preserve some tasty juice, but these pastries were not eaten. Small pastries containing eggs or young birds were also cooked to be served during the banquets. 

The use of chocolate arose after it’s bringing from the New World by Spanish and Portuguese traders in the 16th century. 

Pastry-making also has a strong tradition in Asia – for example, Chinese pastries made of rice flour, sweet beans,  fruits, sesame-based fillings. Asian pastries differ from pastries in the West and tend to be much sweeter.



Fox is a mammal belonging to the Canidae family. The red fox is able to reach a running speed of 48 km/h. Foxes may live for up to 10 years, but they usually live for 2-3 years, dying from road accidents, hunting and various diseases. In early Mesopotamian mythology fox is considered to be a sacred animal; in Chinese, Japanese and Korean folklores foxes are shown as powerful spirits.

Moscow Kremlin

The Moscow Kremlin is a fortified complex in Moscow, including palaces, cathedrals, Kremlin Wall and towers. This complex has been serving as a residence for the president since 1992.

  • Area: 275 000 sq. m
  • Length of the wall: 2 235 m
  • Height of the walls: 5-19 m
  • Thickness of the wall: 3.5-6.5 m

The territory of the modern Kremlin has been inhabited since the 2nd century BC, but in 1156 it was extremely extended by Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy. In 1237 it was destroyed by the Mongols and rebuilt in oak in 1339.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Хутун в Пекине, острохвостая нектарница и Собор Св. Иоанна - Гонконг


Страна: Гонконг
Место: Гонконг
Получена: 30/08/2012
Дистанция: 7 820 км
Время: 9 дней

Хутун в Пекине

Хутун (Hutong) – один из типов средневековой китайской городской застройки, при котором группы домов строились друг возле друга, образуя таким образом узкую улочку. Хутун Qianshi в Пекине в самой узкой своей части имеет ширину всего 40 см. В старом Китае хутуны являлись самой мелкой единицей административно-территориального деления города.

Острохвостая нектарница

Острохвостая нектарница (Aethopyga christinae) – птица семейства нектарницевых, обитающая в Китае, Гонконге, Лаосе и Вьетнаме. Ее естественной средой обитания являются субтропические или тропические влажные леса.

Собор Св. Иоанна

Собор Св. Иоанна – англиканский кафедральный собор в Гонконге, открывший свою первую воскресную службу 11 марта 1849 года. Рядом с собором находится большой Мемориал, открытый в 1921 году в память о воинах, погибших в Первой мировой войне. Во время японской оккупации крест был разрушен, а в 1952 году заменен на новый, с добавленными именами погибших в обеих мировых войнах.