Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cruising Thru Postcards # 7

It's time, yes that's right, time to get your cruise on. I'm long recovered and all the postcards have arrived back home. It's time for my cruise report , showing the postcards that were posted on this latest cruise. It has been a couple of months but as you all know the mail moves rather slowly at times and in some places.

My Lovely Teena and I flew from Canada on March 2nd , heading for Australia. That's two flights, one from Nanaimo to Vancouver ( 13 minutes in the air ) and one from Vancouver to Sydney ( 15.5 hours gate to gate ) . Thank God for Business Class on the Boeing 777. We arrived in Sydney on March 4th and that gave us a few days to see and explore before our cruise on March 8th. We checked out the usual sights, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Bondi Beach, The Rocks, and Manly Beach. All great spots and well worth a visit. Oh yes, almost forgot, I did post a few cards in Sydney, and here they are.
The first is a bird's eye view of Bondi Beach. Bondi is a popular beach , about 1 kilometre long, just 7 km East of the Sydney business district. The word Bondi is an Aboriginal word meaning "water breaking over rocks or noise of water breaking over rocks". The beach is certainly a world class beach and one not to be missed.

 

On this card I used the set of 5 Australian Legends of 2015, featuring Australia's Victoria Cross Winners. From left to right they are : Ben Roberts-Smith VC, Cameron Baird VC (dec) , Keith Payne VC, Mark Donaldson VC, and Dan Keighran VC. Five of Australia's Best on stamps issued this year.



Next we have a look at the Sydney Opera House and its prominent position on Bennelong Point. I don't really need to write anything about this iconic landmark - everyone is familiar.



On this one I used 4 of the 5 stamps issued in 2014 featuring Nostalgic Advertising Posters.



The 5th stamp in this issue will show up a bit later.

Now it's time to Cruise. Our cruise this time is aboard the Oosterdam of Holland American Line, and we are heading for New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji.



 The Oosterdam, captained by Peter Bos, carried 1810 guests and 786 crew members. We boarded around 3 in the afternoon of Sunday, March 8 and sailed out of Sydney at 6 PM headed for Mare, New Caledonia, 2 days later.   Now you all know about " the best laid plans of men " sometimes they get affected by women, and in this case it was Cyclone Pam. Yes that's right, a cyclone - who knew ?   After 2 days at sea Captain Bos advises that due to Pam some changes in destinations are necessary. Instead of arriving in Mare on Wednesday the 11th , we would now go to Kuto , Ile des Pines, New Caledonia . Mare would wait until Thursday, the 12th.  Lifou, New Caledonia on the 12th and Port Vila, Vanuatu on Friday the 13th were cancelled altogether. If you follow the news , you know that Port Vila was slammed hard by Pam on Friday the 13th. Major destruction and many deaths ensued.

The Isle of Pines was stunning, a most beautiful place . It is located to the south of New Caledonia's mainland and is known for the ancient pine tree groves found there. The beach was great and the swimming in the intense blue colored waters was outstanding.  I found a few cards there, but no stamps, and no post office available. So nothing posted .
After Kuto, we sailed on to Tadine, Mare, also in New Caledonia. Mare is the second largest of the four Loyalty Islands. The local Kanak people, live in small villages scattered across the island and closed to outsiders. Postcard wise, it was another disappointment - no stamps, no post office and no cards posted. That's two ports in New Caledonia without any cards getting out. I could only hope for better things in the capital Noumea. On to Vanuatu.
After a day at sea, we arrived in Luganville, the second largest city in Vanuatu on March 14th.  Today it has a population of just over 13,000. During World War II, over 40,000 and sometimes as high as 100,000  American military personnel were stationed in the city. Walking around Luganville you might wonder why the main street is so wide. It's because the American base commander insisted that the road be wide enough to drive four trucks side by side.  The base was the largest in the South Pacific next to Hawaii.
Postcards were a little scarce but I did manage to locate a few. I even found a post office, but of course it turned out to be closed. The sign in the window said open on Saturday. I was there on Saturday and it was closed . Go Figure. I had earlier bought a number of Vanuatu stamps and brought them with me on the cruise. Good thing. Anyway, I took the cards and stamps back to the ship and prepared them. I handed the prepared cards in at the Purser's desk on the ship and hoped they would go ashore with the ship's mail later that day. You got to have faith , when there's no post office available. And, it seems to have worked. Here's a card from Vanuatu.

This one shows some women from Malekula in traditional dress. Malekula is the second largest island of the nation of Vanuatu.

     You can see The Dog's of Vanuatu on this card. The stamp is 1 of 2 in a souvenir sheet called Vanuatu's Best Friends. It was issued in 2013.





After leaving Luganville at 4:30 PM on March 14th , we headed for Fiji and arrived at 08:30 AM on Monday , March 16th. We were to visit 2 ports over 2 days, Lautoka and Dravuni Island.  Fiji's second largest city, Lautoka , known as Sugar City has the largest sugar mill in the Southern Hemisphere.
While touring and walking around the city I was able to to buy a number of postcards. Fiji Post had installed a rep on board our ship for the day. Her job was to sell stamps and accept postcards for mailing, but she actually had little choice in her stamp selection. Here's a few cards that I left with her for posting.

 
This one is showing The Yaqona Ceremony. Yaqona or kava is a ceremonial drink made from the crushed root of a plant of the same name. An integral part of Fifian life, yaqona is drunk at any gathering of friends or business acquaintances. The stamps are all Bird definitives including overprints. Nice postmark though.


This second Fiji card shows a Bure or village house. It's a traditional home constructed almost entirely from materials originating from the coconut palm.


A final card from Fiji showing more images from of the island.


Same stamps on these two, overprinted definitives.

On March 17th we arrived at Dravuni Island but were unable to go ashore. Another casualty of Cyclone Pam. It seems that Drvuni had a floating dock consisting of over 40 sections. On news that Pam was coming the locals attempted to take the dock apart and bring it ashore. Unfortunately they were late in doing and not all that successful. The dock incurred much damage and many connecting parts like bolts were lost or broken. When The Oosterdam arrived there was no dock , and after a couple hours delay and even an attempt by the ship's crew to help, the captain decided it was too dangerous , even for tenders , and we moved on.

Next port was Noumea, New Caledonia  and we were due there on Thursday, March 19th at 9 AM. New Caledonia, in the South Pacific, about halfway between Fiji and Australia is a real piece of France. A cluster of islands in the Coral Sea , blessed with a massive coral reef.  Noumea, the capital has 99,000 people.

I have a great story to tell about postcards from Noumea. Jean Pierre told me about the Philatelic Agency , located near the ship's dock. I made my way there , bought some stamps and checked it all out, intending to return in the afternoon to post my cards. Teena and I walked around and bought some souvenirs and of course postcards. Then we went back to the ship as we had a tour of the city booked which departed from the dock. I was supposed to have lots of time at the tour's end to make my way back to the Philatelic Agency but it was not to be. Our tour transportation incurred some mechanical  trouble and we had to wait for a replacement. When all was said and done , too much time past and we only had enough time to get back to the ship . Now anyone who knows me , will know the mood I was in at this point. The end result was I sailed away from Noumea with postcards and stamps, as the ship's mail was already gone ashore. There's more to the story but first let;'s have a look at a postcard from New Caledonia.


This is the Amedee Lighthouse . It is an iron lighthouse located on Amedee Island, 24 km from Noumea. Its spiral staircase has 247 steps and its height is 55 metres, making it one of the tallest lighthouses in the world. This lighthouse was first constructed in France and remained there from 1862 to 1864. It was then taken apart, packed in 1200 crates weighing 388 tonnes and shipped to New Caledonia in November 1864. The Amedee light was lit for the first time in New Caledonia on November 15, 1865.

I used 3 stamps on this one and they received a wonderfully clear Philatelic Agency cancellation. On the left is a 2007 stamp , a Fish topical from a set of 3. In the middle, another stamp from 2007. 1 of 3 in a Tropical Fruits set. These were supposed to be Fragrant stamps, but I couldn't smell anything on them. On the right is another Fish topical issued in 2010.
Now look at the date, I visited Noumea on March 19th and this card is postmarked April 22nd. More on that later.

 

Here's another card from New Caledonia, this one showing a selection of classic letter boxes .



Two more of the 2010 Fish topicals on this one.



That's it for cards from Noumea. So how did these cards come about ? Well I arrived home on March 24th Around the end of March I came up with a plan. I wrote a letter to the Philatelic Agency explaining what had happened and asked for their help. I packaged up 10 or 12 postcards with stamps attached and shipped them off to Noumea and hoped for the best. I received my cards back on May 8th and May 12th. Case closed . Thank you Philatelic Agency in Noumea.

We left Noumea at 5 PM on March 19th and headed for Sydney again. We arrived back at 7 AM  March 22nd. All in all our cruise was a total of 4523 nautical miles. We had another day in Sydney before flying back home so we took in a performance at the Sydney Opera House . We were there so we figured why not ? Thoroughly enjoyed it too. Oh yes, before I go and leave Australia, let me just say "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi ". Couldn't resist. ----- I posted one more card here and My Lovely Teena posted one to me, as she always does on our trips. Here is the one I posted. It's a Did You Know card . I hope you are able to read it all when you click it to enlarge. Once a jolly swagman lived ....sorry, here's  the card.




Nice Aviation related stamps on this one. The stamps on the left and right are celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the First Air Mail. The stamp in the center is from the set of 5 Nostalgic Advertising Posters I mentioned earlier. It is advertising TAA or Trans Australia Airlines.



One final card , the one My Lovely Teena sent me. It's the TAA poster. Fly TAA - the friendly way. TAA was launched on 7th October 1946  while this famous poster of the TAA air hostess was introduced in 1952.



And the stamps.



Thanks Teena.
There you have it. Cruise # 7 is history. It was a great trip, but a little changed due to Cyclone Pam. Captain Bos kept his ship and us safe , and in the end that was what mattered most. Hope this update wasn't too long and that you enjoyed reading it. Can't wait for the next one - nothing planned yet though, but The Baltic looks good. Cheers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hello again Postcard People. Didn't think you were a postcard person, then you must be a stamp person, as there's not many other reasons to be reading this. Sometimes I mention the weather, but not much else. So I guess it's postcards today, so let's get to them. This time I will show cards from P.R.China, Lithuania, Ukraine, Japan and Lithuania one more time. I do have a fairly large bunch of cards still on my desk awaiting their turn in the limelight here on the blog along with another smaller stack that will be the basis for "Cruising Thru Postcard # 7 ". It's been a little while since that cruise but I was waiting for the New Caledonia cards to arrive back. They have finally made their appearance, albeit later than expected, so be sure to check in for that update soon. There's a story there for sure. Now on to today's cards.

This first card shows a landscaped area in China, that's pretty vague I know. The sender attends Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, western China, so lets assume it's a picture from that area.



Today's first stamp was issued in a 2001 mini/sheet of 10 different Wildlife stamps. Shown is the saiga antelope, a critically endangered animal , with a total number of around 50,000 remaining. The horn of the saiga is used in traditional Chinese medicine and this demand has wiped out the saiga in China.



Six mail or post boxes from Lithuania are the subject of this next card. Mail boxes like these are long gone here in Canada, if they ever really existed at all. The modern way of Super mail boxes is here to stay.



Vilija sent this card from Vilnius. She, too, used an Animal stamp . It is from 2015 and was issued in a set of 2. Shown is the European Otter, another animal on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.



A card from Ukraine is next. Sadly, not what I picture Ukraine  to be like these days. Sitting, having a beer and playing chess. If only life was as idyllic for all Ukrainians these days. I recently received a card from there and the sender wrote that even though the war was only in the East, an economic crisis was everywhere , many people including many elderly don't even have enough money to buy food. Very sad indeed and it seems no end in sight. I guess many would  love to have a day as is portrayed on this card.



Jane used a number of definitives issued in a 2012 set of 13 stamps showing leaves and fruits. The top 4 stamps, all the same, are Maple Leaves. A strong symbol often associated with Canada. Change the country name and they'd make great Canadian stamps.



Card # 3 arrived from Japan and was posted in Ginza. Ginza is recognized by many as one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world., attracting locals and visitors alike from across the globe. Yuki wrote that the picture on this card is from a German children's picture book. I'm not one to talk but I think this postman is having way too much fun delivering the mail. Letters and postcards going everywhere, even the dog is reading the mail. Reminds me of the kid's excuse at school - Miss, my dog ate my homework !




Yuki used an International Letter-Writing Week stamp from Oct . 2014. It is from a set of 4.



The last card for this time is another from Lithuania. It gives us a look at The Gate of Dawn , a city gate of Vilnius. It was built between 1503 and 1522. It's to the right in the picture. Then on the left you can see the Church of St Theresa.



Barbora used 2 stamps on her card. To the left is a 2015 stamp from a set of 6 featuring Old Coins. On the right is 1 of 2 Christmas Stamps issued in 2014.



There you have it, today's update in a nutshell. Thanks for cards go to Barbora, Yuki, Jane, Vilija and Serene in China. Thanks again for reading and do drop by again.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May's First Update

It's certainly time for a new update. I'm just back from nine days in Calgary visiting with my two sons and their families. Also took in 3 soccer games with grandkids playing. Future stars I'm sure. Of course card withdrawal was setting in by the time I arrived back home. So let's get to some cards.
My first card for this time is one showing one of the tomb frescoes at the Estruscan Tombs and Museum at Tarquinia, an old city in Italy. The Necropolis of Tarquinia contains 6000 graves cut in the rock. It is famous for its 200 painted tombs , the earliest of which date from the 7th century BC. The area has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004.



This is another card sent by my brother Dale. His cards are still dribbling in even though he has been home for a couple of weeks . French stamps on this one. Obviously no time to post or no where to post out at the Tombs. The 2 Horse stamps are from a 2014 M/sheet of 8 issued for the World Equestrian Games in Normandy.



An aurora or northern lights display is next. In northern latitudes , the effect is known as the aurora borealis. In the south its the aurora australis or southern lights. This card from Estonia shows a northern lights show at Tilgu Harbour. Northern Lights are sometimes called the "Dance of the Spirits " and they do indeed dance and move around. I've even heard people say the northern lights chase people home. Not sure just what they are on. The best reference to northern lights , in my opinion, is in the  epic Robert W. Service poem "The Cremation of Sam McGee. It goes like this :


There are strange things done in the midnight sun,

by the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Be sure to check out the complete poem, it's great. What  I have shown is just the opening and closing stanzas. 



Meelis  used a great 2015 Year of the Sheep stamp. 


Did someone say Barcelona ? Yes, that's right , here are 6 views of the grand city. 



Dale used a recent definitive featuring King Felipe. It is one in a set of 5. 



My next and last card for this time is also from Spain, another sent by Dale. This one comes from Seville.  Seville is the capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia region and a hotbed for flamenco dance, especially in the Triana neighborhood. The city is known for its ornate Alcázar castle complex, built during the Moorish Almohad dynasty, and its 18th-century Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza bullring. The massive Gothic cathedral is the site of Christopher Columbus’s tomb and a famous minaret turned belltower, the Giralda.
  1. None of which is on this card, there's not even a barber, only flower pots and flowers. 


  2. Dale used a 2015 Tourism stamp highlighting the Global Summit, held in Madrid in April of this year. 

There you have it. A small update for this time. Just 4 cards. Thanks to Dale, and Meelis. Drop by again. See you soon. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Nelson Mandela, Easter Island, Capri, Corsica, The Smithsonian, The Paris Postal Museum and a Few Others

Well there you have it . The title of this post gives you some idea of what's to come. I hope time and space permits. Let's start with a card from Nelson Mandela's South Africa. It's a card from Robben Island Museum. Robben Island is an island in Table Bay , 6.9 km west of coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town. Robben Island is internationally known for the fact that Nobel Laureate and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island for 18 of the 27 years he served behind bars before the fall of apartheid. Robben Island is both a South African National Heritage Site as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. Bruce's card is a powerful card with an extract of Nelson Mandela's Rivonia Trial speech. 




Powerful words indeed. Words that not everyone might live up to. 

Bruce used a 2010 definitive from the Handicrafts set of 27. 




This second card arrived from a place I have wanted a card from for a long , long time. Maybe 8 or 9 years , I have been trying for a card from Easter Island and now it's finally happened. Easter Island or Isla de Pascua , take your pick. Easter Island is a Chilean island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle . Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site . 
Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. The nearest inhabited land (around 50 residents) is Pitcairn Island  2,075 kilometres (1,289 mi) away. The name "Easter Island" was given by the island's first recorded European visitor, the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who encountered it on Easter Sunday (5 April) 1722. The island's official Spanish name, Isla de Pascua,  also means "Easter Island". The island has a current population of 5034 inhabitants, of which 60% are continental Chile, and 40% ethnic Polynesian . A local is called a Rapanui. Almost all of them live in the only population center, Hanga Roa . 
Marcus's card shows a group of moai located on Anakena Beach. 



Marcus wrote on his card " Greetings from the Navel of the World ! " Besides its more well known name of Rapa Nui , Easter Island is also known as Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua, which means " the Navel of the World'. " Marcus's greeting might also refer to the fact that  at Te Pito Kura, on the northern coast , is  a perfectly round stone known as the " navel  of the world . " People say that placing your hands on the navel can rejuvenate your body energy. So who knows for sure ?  
Marcus used 2 stamps from 2014. They were issued in October and celebrate National Heros and Leaders, specifically Lautaro and Coupolican, both of the Mapuche people of Chile. 



A couple more things  before we leave Easter island. First a shout-out for Marcus. He co-operates with his beautiful wife Alicia, Easter Island Traveling   . You can catch him at easterislandtraveling.com 
Finally, even though Island may be off my postcard want list, it remains on my personal bucket list. I'll get there someday. I regret not making the effort when I was in Chile a few years ago. 

Beautiful Capri is up next. It's  an island located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples in Italy. The main town on the island , Capri shares the name. Capri is now a resort town and visited by tourists during the summer months. You might even bump into American singer Mariah Carey as she owns a villa on the island. If so, tell her I said Hi.
This is another card from my brother Dale. Looking at his card Capri appears to be a very beautiful spot, but quite busy. 

  

Dale , who has collected stamps for many years, didn't seem to have much success , stamp wise, at Naples. Nothing very exciting here. 



Now it's on to Corsica, where Dale found a better stamp. Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea, belonging to France. Dale posted his card in Ajaccio, capital and largest settlement on the island.  Of course Ajaccio is the birthplace of Napolean Bonaparte. I guess it's not surprising that Dale's card is of Napoleon himself. Ajaccio has one other bit of fame - On 9 September 1943, the people of Ajaccio rose up against the Nazi occupiers and became the first French town to be liberated from the domination of the Germans. General de Gaulle went to Ajaccio on 8 October 1943 and said: "We owe it to the field of battle the lesson of the page of history that was written in French Corsica. Corsica to her fortune and honour is the first morsel of France to be liberated; which was done intentionally and willingly, in the light of its liberation, this demonstrates that these are the intentions and the will of the whole nation." 
Must be a day for quotes. 


Here's a better stamp than those from Naples. It's a 2015 stamp commemorating Leonard Limosin, French painter. This is a beautiful stamp and is from an even more beautiful souvenir sheet. 



Now , here's a new addition to my Airlines / Aviation Postcard Collection. F-BVFA , an Air France Concorde. On June 12, 2003 it touched down at Washington Dulles International Airport and was donated to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. It's now on display at the Steven F. Udvar -Hazy Center. Well worth a visit I would think. 




This is another card from Mike and Ashley of west Chester, Pennsylvania. They used a number of stamps including a 2014 Abe Lincoln stamp, a 2008 Tiffany Lamp stamp and a 2007 Silver Coffeepot stamp. Also included is the 2014 stamp honoring American novelist Ralph Ellison. He is best known for the landmark 1952 novel on the African-American experience Invisible Man. 



An old letter box  is what's on this next card. A 1900 Mougeotte type French letter box in fact. A great souvenir of the Paris Postal Museum.  The Musée postal de France (Postal Museum of France) opened on 4 June 1946 at the Choiseul-Praslin hôtel. Not large enough, the Choiseul-Praslin hôtel was replaced by a new building of 1,500 square meters. It was built between 1969 and 1972. The inauguration took place on 18 December 1973.



Here's the postage that Jean Pierre used on this one. Some sort of vending machine postage perhaps, if it's not a postage stamp, then I'm no expert on it at all. 



I know there are collectors of cards showing various royal families So here's one for them. The Royal Family of Luxembourg - Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa and the Royal Kids.



Jean-Marc, a Postcrosser sent this card. He used a 2014 Flower stamp. It is from a set of 3. 



Well, that's it for this time. Big thanks for cards go to Bruce, Marcus, Dale Mike & Ashley, Jean Pierre and Jean-Marc. Just a question for any readers out there. Who among you has received a card from Easter Island?  Just wondering how many are out there on the go.  Johan , I know you have one .