Saturday, May 18, 2024

Dominique's Cards

   Blog # 1616--- Day 814 of the Current  ( Second ) Russian Invasion of Ukraine 

                                                                      GLORY TO UKRAINE

Howdy folks . Here's another blog update. Today I want to showcase a bunch of cards sent by Dominique. Most were sent from France, along with one from Austria and one from Germany. 
The Austrian one is up first. It's a look at the Zugspitze. The Zugspitze, at 2,962 m above sea level, is the highest peak of the Wetterstein Mountains and the highest mountain in Germany. It lies south of the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, and the Austria–Germany border is on its western summit. At the summit, scenic views of four countries and 400 surrounding mountain peaks in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland are waiting. The mountain  is home to one of Germany's last glaciers . 

Dominique used a 2012 stamp. It is 1 of 3 in a Maps set showing maps of Austria, Europe and The World. 

 Berwartstein Castle is the focus of this next card. Berwartstein Castle is a castle in the Wasgau, the southern part of the Palatinate Forest in the state Rhineland-Palatinate in southwestern Germany. It was one of the rock castles that were part of defences of the Palatinate during the Middle Ages. It is the only castle in the Palatinate that was rebuilt and re-inhabited after its demolition. 

 The stamps on this card include a Flower definitive and a 2019 Young Raccoons stamp. 

Card 3 shown The Graoully in Metz, a city in northeast France with a 3,000 year history. It is located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers. The Graoully is a creature with the appearance of a dragon. According to legend it lived in the area of the Roman amphitheatre  and wiped out the youth of the city in the 3rd century. The legend goes on that Saint Clement of Metz fought the beast and saved the city by drowning the creature in the Seille. 

    The stamp -- Issued in 2024 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Belgian artist Andre Franquin.   

Here's a card showing The Tanners' House . Built in 1572 it's located tucked away in the half-timbered houses and canals of La Petite France in Strasbourg. It is one of the most famous landmarks of the city. The former tannery was turned into a restaurant in 1949. 

Dominique used 2 stamps from the 1960s on this card. The left stamp was issued in 1963 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Paris Postal Conference. The right stamp, from 1964, is 1 of 2 in a Tourism set. 

Next up is Stanislas Place, a large pedestrianised square in the French city of Nancy in the Lorraine historic region. Around the square you can find Nancy city hall, the Opera House and the Fine Arts Museum. It was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. 

The stamp on this card was issued in 1963 to showcase the Philatec Exhibition of Paris in 1964. 

 St Paul's Church in Strasbourg is the focus of my next card. It is a major Gothic Revival architecture building and one of the landmarks of the city. Built between 1892 and 1897, it has one of the largest domes in the world , with a height of 366 feet. If you find yourself visiting the church, be careful of what you say in the Whispering Gallery. You will be heard in the other end of the room. 

The stamp --- Issued in 2023 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of playwright and novelist Jorge Semprun.  

The Palais Longchamp is up next. Opened in 1869 this Marseille monument was built to bring water to the city. It also houses the Natural History Museum of Marseille and the Marseille Museum of Fine Arts. 

Dominique used another 1963 stamp on this one. It is 1 of 4 in a Tourism set. 

Okay, here's the final card for this time. It's a look at Lons Le Saunier, a spa town in eastern France, one with a saltwater bath at 32C. It is also the birthplace of Rouget de Lisle, author of La Marseillaise. The card also shows Place de la Liberte, a large open square with fountains and statues. 

 That was the final card, so here's the final stamp. Again from 1963. It is 1 of 5 in a set showing Celebrities of European Economic Community Countries .

Well we've come to the end of another update. All the cards shown today were sent by Dominique, so big thanks to Dominique.  Take care everybody, drop by again. 

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Star Wars Day 2024, Bahamas, Grytviken, South Georgia, Mayotte, Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia , Cassis and Les Calanques

     Blog # 1615 --- Day 800 of the Current  ( Second ) Russian Invasion of Ukraine 

                                                                      GLORY TO UKRAINE

Here's a new update to Gems World Postcards. My first card is from King Edward Point, South Georgia - not a location one gets a card from often.  King Edward Point is a permanent British Antarctic Survey research station on South Georgia island and is the capital of the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. The settlement is the smallest capital in the world by population. Currently twelve BAS personnel overwinter at the station, rising to around 22 in summer. 

Jean Pierre's card shows Grytviken, a hamlet on South Georgia, located at the head of King Edward Cove. Grytviken no longer has permanent residents but occasionally accommodates researchers and British administrative and military personnel. It is also temporarily inhabited during summer months by a few staff who manage the South Georgia Museum. The settlement has become a popular attraction for Antarctic cruise lines, with many tourists visiting the resting places of polar explorers Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Wild in Grytviken's graveyard.

Two highlights not to miss in Grytviken are the Museum and the Norwegian Anglican Church , built in 1913. You can see the church , lower left, on the card. 

 Jean Pierre used a definitive from a set of 12 issued in 2020, showing a Humpback Whale. 

I don't know about you but I would love to visit Grytviken on a cruise. How about it Teena  ? Sounds like a great way to celebrate our 50th anniversary in August. 

Card 2 for today arrived from the Kingdom opf Cambodia. It shows a portion of Ta Prohm Temple. This temple, located near the city of Siem Reap was built during the 12th and 13th centuries. It s referred to as the " Tomb Raider Temple " due to its depiction in the film Lara Croft : Tomb Raider. The temple was built without mortar and, after it was abandoned, trees took root in the loosened stones. The trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of the most popular temples with visitors to the area. It has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1992.

Alena used a 2019 stamp from a set of 7 showing Cats.

This next card shows a lovely view of the port of Cassis. This is a commune located east of Marseille on the French Riviera in Southern France. It is a popular tourist destination and was one film location in the movoe The French Connection. The  motto of the commune is "Qu'a vist Paris, se noun a vist Cassis, n'a rèn vist", which means "Who has seen Paris and not Cassis, has not seen anything".

Dominique used a 61 year old stamp . It was 1 of 5 in a set of Famous Europeans. This one show Belgian poet and art critic Emile Verhaeren.

 Here's a card that arrived from The Bahamas. It's a look at the two bridges connecting Nassau to Paradise Island. The original bridge, the Paradise Island East Bridge , in the foreground of Gina's card was built in 1966. The newer bridge , in the background, is named Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge, was built in 1997. 

Gina used a 2021 stamp from a set of 5 issued for Queen Elizabeth's 95th birthday.

Here's another card sent by Jean Pierre. It is from Mayotte. Mayotte is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and the coast of Mozambique. It’s a department and region of France. The total area of Mayotte is about 374 km2, which makes it by far the smallest French overseas department.

Jean Pierre used 2 Mayotte stamps and 1 French stamp on this card. The left stamp, issued in 2011 , is 1 of 3 in a set showing Country Views. The middle stamp, from 2008, was issued for Dance - le M'Biwi.  The right stamp, from France shows Common Gardens and was issued in 2023.

On February 2, 1997, Mayotte was granted postal autonomy, which allowed it to select its own stamp subject. Then use of French stamps resumed on April 1, 2012, though Mayotte stamps remain valid indefinitely.

It's now time for the last card for today. Another card from France sent by Dominique. It's a great view of Les Calanques. A Calanque is a unique kind of geological formation made of limestone.  They are big rocky coves forming a steep and narrow valley inland and are mostly found around the Mediterranean sea. Here, the Calanques National Park is a protected and highly regulated area, stretching over 20 km from Marseille to Cassis, with 26 Calanques of various sizes (25 in Marseille and 1 in Cassis). Some are easily accessible and others are a lot less, but regardless, the Calanques are an absolute must-see when you visit Marseille!

The stamp is from 1964 and is 1 of 2 in a Tourism set.

Well as they say in the movies, That's a Wrap. Thanks for these cards go out to Dominique, Jean Pierre, Gina and Alena. 

Once again to all you Star Wars fan out there   -- May The 4th Be With You. 


Friday, April 26, 2024

Cruising Through Postcards # 17

    Blog # 1614 --- Day 792 of the Current  ( Second ) Russian Invasion of Ukraine 

                                                                      GLORY TO UKRAINE

Well I guess it's time for another installment of Cruising Through Postcards. This will be number 17. It looks like all the cards mailed during the cruise have arrived. I hope you received yours. 

Teena and I flew out of Calgary on Feb 16th via Dallas to San Diego. We embarked Holland America's Koningsdam around 2 PM on Feb 17th. The ship set sail at 4 PM. This was classed as a Legendary Voyage, I guess because of the length and the destination. Our first port of call, after 5 sea days,  was Hilo, Hawaii where we docked at 0700 on Feb 23rd. 

Here is one of the postcards I found in Hilo . It shows one of the Hawaiian beauties, a photo by Kim Taylor Reece. Possibly getting ready to do the Hula. 

Two stamps on this one . The left stamp , from 2023, is 1 of 10 in a set of Tulip Blossoms. The right stamp, from 2021, shows a California Hairstreak Butterfly. The stamp was issued for Non-Machineable Surcharges. 

We and The Koningsdam departed Hilo at 6 PM for Kahului, Maui and docked there at 0700 on Sat Feb 24th.  I have two cards for this spot, one of Maui and one not .

This spectacular card show Maui's tallest waterfall. The upper section of 1100 foot tall Honokohau Falls shown within the interior of the West Maui Mountains. 

Same stamps as the previous card, other than the colour of the Tulip stamp.

Here's another card from Maui, well not exactly. But it's close. It's a Hawaiian sunset over Kahoolawe Island. This is the smallest of the eight main volcanic islands of the Hawaiian Islands. Unpopulated , it lies about seven miles southwest of Maui. It is 11 miles long by 6 miles wide. 

Once again the only difference in the stamps is the colour of the tulip. 


W departed Kahului at 5 PM  and headed for Nawiliwili, Kauai where we arrived at 0800 on Feb 25th. This next card is a great view of Kauai's beautiful north shore, looking along the Napali Coast Trail.  

Three stamps arrived on this card from Nawiliwili. The left card , from 2023 , is 1 0f 20 in a set showing  Life Magnified. The top stamp if this year's Year of the Dragon issue. The other is from 2022 , 1 of 7 in a Pony Cars set. 

At 6 PM the Koningsdam departed Nawiliwili, Kauai for Honolulu, where we arrived at 0700 on Feb 26th . We spent 2 nights in HNL . This gave all hands more than enough time to come and go and do whatever they wanted. Waikiki and Honolulu are Teena's most favourite places in the world . It's Heaven on Earth for her.  Teena certainly feels the spirit of Aloha and the spirit of Ohana whenever she's lucky enough to be there. She sent me two cards from here. 

This first one is a beauty. It shows a gorgeous sunrise over the Mokulua Islands off Lanikai Beach. These are known locally as the Mokes. Lanikai Beach is on the eastern side of Oahu, 40 minutes from  Waikiki. 

I'll just show the stamps as I have already covered them earlier. 

We did the usual things while in Honolulu. We did a little shopping, we swam in the beautiful, warm water off Waikiki Beach, we had something to eat and then rode the local bus along Kalakaua Avenue, the " Rodeo Drive of the Pacific " . It goes from Ala Moana to Kapi'olani Park. You will see the statue of Duke Kahanamoku - the father of modern surfing, Diamond Head, the Ala Wai Canal , the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the Moana Hotel, along with the statue of King Kalakaua. You can shop, drink and dine anywhere along this strip. It's not to be missed.

Teena's second card from here shows a moon rising over Diamond Head. Weather it's a sunrise, a sunset or a moonrise in Waikiki, it's just magical. 


Same stamps as the last card, so no need to see them again. 

We sailed from Honolulu at 6 PM on the 27th of Feb enroute to Fanning Island, Kiribati , hoping to arrive at 0800 AM on Mar 2nd.   Feb 28th was a sea day and we skipped February 29, 2024 by Crossing the international Date Line, to March 1st.  

Then we got some news. Captain Robert-Jan Kan, Master of the Koningsdam made an announcement to all hands on board.  He announced that there was a medical emergency on board and a decision was made  between Holland America, the Captain and the United States Coast Guard for the Koningsdam to turn around and head back to Kona , Hawaii. The decision was that a Coast Guard Rescue helicopter would depart Hilo and rendezvous with the Koningsdam at some mutually agreed point. So that was the plan  --- didn't happen. The helicopter had to stop in Honolulu for more fuel and then developed an engine mechanical problem. So a big change of plans. The Coast Guard told the Captain that he now had to return all the way to Kona and offload the emergency . This was what was done and the passenger was loaded into a tender  and brought ashore in Kona. The end result of this was that we were now a day and a half behind schedule. Another announcement from Captain Kan . The decision was made to cancel the  port call at Fanning Island, Kiribati. Big disappointment onboard. 

So no cards from Fanning Island. Prior to departure for this cruise I had sent away for and received a large supply of Kiribati stamps in anticipation of mailing from Fanning Island. You know what they say " the best laid plans of men ..... " . So now I guess I have a collection of Kiribati stamps .  

So March 2, 3 and 4 were now sea days. On the 3rd we crossed the Equator and the International Date line for a 2nd time. The date line has many turns and right angles in these parts. Having crossed the Equator we were found worthy in the eyes of King Neptune and recognized as trusted Shellbacks.  

I'm sorry if you are finding this a tad long. I just didn't want to break it up so I am going for it. 

Stay with me.  and enjoy.

Our next port was now to be Uturoa, Raiatea in French Polynesia. Uturoa is the 2ns oldest municipality in French Polynesia. Teena's card shows a bird's eye view of Raiatea, in the Leeward Islands. 

Teena used 2 stamps , each showing a lady from French Polynesia. On the left is a stamp from 1998, 1 of 4 in a set issued for Heiva. The right stamp, from 2018 , is 1 of 6 showing past Miss Tahiti's. This one on the stamp is Hinano Teanotoga, Miss Tahiti 1997.

 While on Raiatea, Teena and I took a ferry over to Tahaa which is also known as the Vanilla Island. Many chefs around the world think the vanilla produced there is the tastiest, most fragrant vanilla on Earth. But we went for the swimming. It is superb in Tahaa's crystal clear turquoise lagoon.

Back at Uturoa we got caught in a tropical downpour. We were drenched to the skin when we arrived back to the Koningsdam. If you're going to be wet, it might as well be somewhere warm. It was all good in the end.

Here's a second card from Uturoa, Raiatea. It's a look at traditional Polynesian dancers. 

The stamps -- From left to right. 

A 2023 stamp featuring Marae Arahurahu, a religious archeological site in Pa'ea, Tahiti. 

A 2023 stamp highlighting Endemic Insects.

Issued in 1985, this one shows a Tahitian Doll, and finally another Miss Tahiti. This  one is  Turouru Temorere, Miss Tahiti of 2017.

 After 2 nights in Uturoa on Raiatea we slipped away from the dock at 5 PM on March 6th, enroute to Papeete, Tahiti for a 0800 arrival on Mar 7th. We would spend  2 nights here also. 

Here's a card that Teena sent back to me. Tahiti - a little island in a coconut. We walked around, took some pictures and spent some time at the Bon Marche. We watched and enjoyed a lovely traditional Tahitian Dance show on board our ship later in the evening. It was definitely a highlight. 

Nice stamp on this one. Issued in 2009, it shows a painting " Still Life With Apples " by Gauguin.

Here's a couple more cards from Papette, Tahiti. First this waterfall set among the plants and shrubs.  

In 1998 French Polynesia issued a set of 4 stamps , showing Ladies and their necklaces and headdresses. Here are three of the four.

One more card from Tahiti.

 The stamps on this card were issued in 2018. They show 2 former Miss Tahiti winners. On the left is Mearil Manoi , Miss Tahiti 1987 and on the right is Timia Teriiero , Miss Tahiti 1977.

I have to say that I enjoyed the post office in Papeete. They had a great selection of stamps on hand . In addition to the regular staff , I was assisted by a representative  from the Philatelic Center. He gave me this next postcard which I immediately  stamped and had him postmark  before popping  it in the mail.

Looks like a postcard of a postcard. 

Both stamps on this card are from 2016. The left stamp marked Year of the Monkey and the right stamp is 1 in a set of 3 featuring ships.

Here is a picture of me in front of the Papeete Post Office  and one of the couple who helped me at the post office and supplied such great cancellations. 

The Koningsdam departed Papeete, Tahiti at 5 PM on Mar 8th.

We sailed all night and arrived at Moorea in the Society Islands at 0800 Mar 9th, again for a 2 night stay. We enjoyed Moorea. We took a circle island tour and saw a lot of the island. We found Moorea to be green, peaceful and even mystical when the rain clouds gather on the jagged mountains. 

Here is a card showing those jagged mountains, without the clouds. The card shows Opunohu Bay. a 3 km long bay, with water at it mouth around 80 metres.  Opunohu means " stomach of the stonefish " and there are many of these venomous fish in the bay. Captain Cook sailed into Opunohu on Sept 30, 1777. As you can see on the card , it is a beautiful spot. 

This is another  card from Teena. She used an Air Tahiti stamp from 2018 and a Year of the Dragon stamp from 2012.

Here's another bay in Moorea - Cook's Bay . Cook's Bay was named after the British explorer James Cook. Cook's party visited Mo'orea during Cook's first voyage in 1769 , but Cook himself did not visit the island until his third voyage. He landed in Opunohu Bay on 30 September 1777, but later visited what is now Cook's Bay by land.

Again we have two more Miss Tahiti winners . Both stamps were issued in 2018. The left stamp shows Timia Teriiero , Miss Tahiti 1977. The right one shows Turouru Temorere , Miss Tahiti 2017.

If you're still reading, we have just two more ports to go. So hang in . 

We sailed from Moorea at 5 PM on Mar 10th. March 11th was another sea day .Our next stop was Fakarava, in the Tuamotu Islands and we arrived there at 0800 on Mar 12th. Fakarava is an atoll in the west of the Tuamoto Island group. It is the second largest of the Tuamoto atolls and has the second largest lagoon in the Tuamoto Ialands.  An atoll is a ring-shaped island, including a coral rim that encircles a lagoon. The reef here in Fakarava encloses such a rich ecosystem that it has been designated by UNESCO a as a Biosphere Preserve. Fakarava is far enough south that many people refer to it as the island at the end of the world. 

I have three cards to show from Fakarava. The first one shows one of the beautiful beaches on the island, or should I say the atoll of Fakarava. 

This card arrived with 2 stamps. The left stamp , from 1998, is 1 of 4 in a set showing Tahitian Women.The larger stamp on the right was issued in 2008. It is 1 of 3 in a set of Paintings. 

Here's the second card and it shows two Vahines from Fakarava, all decked out in their flowery finest. 

 The stamps also show two vahines . The left stamp I showed earlier, so no need this time. The right stamp shows Miss Tahiti 1990, Mareva Georges.

Next up is the final card from Fakarava. I's a look at a bungalow on the Lagoon of Fakarava. 

 This card also arrived with two Vahines on the stamps. Both are former Miss Tahita winners. On the left is Poehere Wilson and on the right , Vanina Bea. 

There were a couple of things here worth seeing. One was a vintage Catholic church built entirely out of coral by early European missionaries in the tiwn of Rotoava. . The other is the Topaka Lighthouse , a stone structure shaped like a pyramid that stands 14 meters high. 

Here is the church :

And here is the lighthouse : 

Here's a picture of the Fakarava Post Office.

We left Fakarava at 5 PM for our next  port of call, Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands. 

March 13th - one more sea day. 

We arrived at Nuku Hiva around 0800 on March 14th but were unable to enter the channel due to high winds. Things calmed down around 1100 and we were able to be tendered ashore. 

Nuku Hiva is a South Pacific utopia and one of the world's most remote locations. It lies 900 miles northeast of Tahiti and 2,340 miles from anywhere else. The mail village on Nuku Hiva is Taiohe. Quite close to where we tendered ashore we  discovered a black sand beach right in Taiohe.  

Now it's time for the final cards from this cruise. Three cards from Nuku Hiva.

First is a view of Taipivai Bay. This is the area where Herman Melville jumped ship around 1839. He first hid in the area and observed the locals. Later he was captured and held for a time before being released. Melville went on to write Moby Dick and Typee. 

 Teena sent this card and used the 2009 " Still Life With Apples" painting by Gauguin.

My next card shows Vaipo Falls. At 1148 ft. it is the highest falls in Polynesia. 

Again we have Miss Tahiti Winners on the stamps , both of which were issued in 2021. On the left is Maire Tehei, Miss Tahit1 1970. On the right is Poehere Wilson, Miss Tahiti 2010.

At last, the last card for this very long update. Here we see Tapueahu Canyon. Located near the Nuku Hiva Airport, the canyon is often called The Grand Canyon of Nuku Hiva.   It is filled with greenery, rich in local fruits and vegetables and ideal for lovers of hiking. In its center are the two sacred Paeke maraes of the Vai Tavii archaeological site dating from the 16th century, composed of imposing platforms and giant tikis which represent deities. Today the tikis both decorate and protect the hotels of the Marquesas.

One more time -- 2 former Miss Tahiti winners.

I can't leave Nuku Hiva without showing the post office in Taiohe. I was told at the tourism office that the post office was open until 2:30 pm , but when we got there it was closed of course. What to do, what to do ? Well I had the cards, I had the stamps , now I just had to put it together. Teena and I sat on a bench in front  and I wrote out the cards and Teena applied the stamps. Then she popped them in the mailbox on the wall outside and hoped for the best. While doing all this a gentleman from Ontario, Canada came by to mail one postcard. He needed to buy a stamp but of course the office was closed. I gave him a stamp and we exchanged contact information. After I was home about 10 days I received a small package from Jim, full of old postcards from Europe that he has received over the past 40 years or so. What a nice gesture . You can see a part of the yellow mailbox on the left where your cards were left.

We sailed away from Nuku Hiva at 5 PM on Mar 14th, bound for San Diego and on to Calgary. We were to arrive San Diego at 0700 on Mar 23rd. But first we had a bunch of sea days .

Mar 15   At Sea

Mar 16   At Sea - Crossed The Equator again

Mar 17   At Sea

Mar 18    At Sea

Mar 19   At Sea

Mar 20   At Sea

Mar 21   At Sea

Mar 22   At Sea

Mar23  Arrived San Diego 

So ends this very long update , thanks to My Lovely Teena for the cards she sent and for putting up with me visiting post offices , addressing cards and licking some stamps. 

We ( Teena and I ) learned a few things on this cruise. 35 nights is too long for us. So I guess I'll never do  a world cruise, even if I could afford one. 21 days looks like a good fit for us from now on. Also the number of sea days will be a determining factor going forward. The 20 sea days on this cruise were way too many, so if you want to cruise in Polynesia and not have to endure so many sea days, then I guess you have to fly there and back. 

Thanks for reading if you made it this far.