19. 02. 2018.

Ushguli, Upper Svaneti, Georgia

Ushguli is a community of four villages located at the head of the Enguri gorge in Svaneti, Georgia. Recognized as the Upper Svaneti UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ushguli is one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe. The region of Upper Svaneti is an outstanding example of an exceptional mountain landscape composed of highly preserved villages with unique defensive tower houses, examples of ecclesiastical architecture and arts of medieval origin. 

I have already written about this WHS site but to see it with my own eyes is something else...It wasn't my first stop though, I had a flight going to Kutaisi in the country's west, and only after booking my flight have I realised that this town I never have heard of before harbours two WHS sites. Well, actually one - the other was for some reason removed from the list. So I have visited the Bagrati Cathedral and the Gelati Monastery, I just never got around to buying some postcards :/
Oh I've just read that 'UNESCO removed Bagrati Cathedral from its World Heritage sites in 2017, considering its major reconstruction detrimental to its integrity and authenticity.' Shame when this happens...

Upper Svaneti really is quite isolated, which is why the villages are so well preserved. I had to take a tour from Mestia in one of the marshrutkas (shared taxi van), and was lucky to get a smaller van with only three other co-passengers. The roads were quite rocky and in parts muddy, and even though the Georgian roads have European rules half the vehicles (like this van) have the wheel on the right (or should I say wrong) side, which ensured more adventure than needed! These interesting medieval towers were to be found even in Mestia, just in front of my guesthouse for example :) As its fairly touristy (plenty of treks to do from there, wish I had more time!) I managed to find one souvenir shop with postcards and stamps. As the woman working there pulled the stamps out of the drawer I've noticed they were all various, wavy and singles, which looked dodgy to the ever-suspicious self...in which case I use a glue stick to stop the possible mishandling. Still, I believe I've sent two cards, and here is only one..! Hmm I could go on and on about this trip...cos it was one of the best trips I have ever had :)) But I really shouldn't make these posts look too daunting to read ;P

18. 02. 2018.

The Five Star Flag Of Georgia

As you can imagine, the Caucasus area had a turbulent history, and its countries used different flags over time. The current Georgia's flag has been used since 2004; the five crosses are sometimes interpreted as representing either the Five Holy Wounds, or alternatively Christ and the Four Evangelists. It is only slightly altered version of the First Flag of the Kingdom of Georgia (1008–1490).

As I have sent most cards during my last day in Georgia, which was the 22nd of October, it is curious to see they have been sent two weeks later. Well, they arrived safe and sound :)

A Little Between-Note

What I have been posting lately are posties that I've managed to scan before I left my penultimate job, and that was a while ago...in the early autumn of 2016. I was running out of stock, when I got hold of a scanner, and am having a bit of a task ahead :)
If I want to do it chronologically - there was an awesome trip to the Caucasus, then some postcards I've managed to send while working on a cruise ship, and some lovely surprises that arrived while I was away (mainly thanks to my two good fairies, Bryon and Ana :)) Now doing my cruise thing chronologically may take a bit of effort...but I have the official schedule someplace which should help. One thing (or two) that I've noticed is that I've often used self-adhesive stamps (usually there was no time to go to the post office, or it wasn't handy to get there, and the souvenir shops are fond of self-adhesives), and those generally tend not to be cancelled. Major boo :( Still, better than nothing? :) Also, I've noticed that I've sent plenty during the first cruise, but figured out as I went that its just not sustainable...Anyways, here is where I've been lately :)

17. 02. 2018.

UNESCO - Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge In Višegrad, Bosnia And Herzegovina

The Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge of Višegrad across the Drina River in the east of Bosnia and Herzegovina was built at the end of the 16th century by the court architect Mimar Koca Sinan on the orders of Grand Vizier Mehmed Paša Sokolović. The bridge has 11 masonry arches with spans of 11 m to 15 m, and an access ramp at right angles with four arches on the left bank of the river. The 179.5 m long bridge is a representative masterpiece of Sinan, one of the greatest architects and engineers of the classical Ottoman period and a contemporary of the Italian Renaissance, with which his work may be compared. The unique elegance of proportion and monumental nobility of the whole site bear witness to the greatness of this style of architecture.

In former Yugoslavian countries this bridge is also well-known through the historical novel The Bridge on the Drina by the later Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andrić; the story spans about four centuries and covers the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian occupations of the region, with a particular emphasis on the lives, destinies and relations of the local inhabitants, especially Serbs and Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks).

Puno hvala Sabina!

08. 02. 2018.

The Soufrière Hills Volcano Eruption, Montserrat

After a long period of dormancy, the Soufrière Hills volcano became active in 1995, and has continued to erupt ever since. Its eruptions have rendered more than half of Montserrat uninhabitable, destroying the capital city, Plymouth, and causing widespread evacuations: about two thirds of the population have left the island.
This eruption looks fierce - and I fear that, much like this volcano, I will erupt soon lol. Alert!

07. 02. 2018.

Inside The Mysore Palace, India

Checking my FB just minutes ago I came across a similar picture and thought - hey, I have a postcard from there! And jumped over here immediately to post it :) Many thanks to Prashanth for the swap.

Ambavilas Palace, otherwise known as the Mysore Palace, is a historical palace and a royal residence at Mysore in the southern Karnataka state of India. It is the official residence of the Wadiyar dynasty and the seat of the Kingdom of Mysore. The last palace, now known as the Old Palace or the Wooden Palace, was burnt into ashes during the 1896 Dasara festivities. Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV commissioned the British architect Lord Henry Irwin to build a new palace. The initial part was completed in 1912, and it was expanded in 1940.
The architectural style of domes of the palace is commonly described as Indo-Saracenic, with blends of the Hindu, Mughal, Rajput, and Gothic styles. It is a three-story stone structure with marble domes, and has a 145-foot five-story tower. The palace is surrounded by a large garden. 

05. 02. 2018.

Shanghai Night View

Fantastic night view of the Shanghai Old Town, possibly the Yuyuan Garden Bazaar area. Sent by 'aeronest' for one of the Vacation RRs...all those great stamps and cancellations, many thanks :) 
I was thinking of going back to swapping on the forum, I do have a stash of postcards and stamps left over...

04. 02. 2018.

Plain Of Jars, Laos

The Plain of Jars (Lao: ທົ່ງໄຫຫິນ [tʰōŋ hǎj hǐn]) is a megalithic archaeological landscape in Laos. It consists of thousands of stone jars scattered around the upland valleys and the lower foothills of the central plain of the Xiangkhoang Plateau (north of Laos). The jars are mostly arranged in clusters ranging in number from one to several hundred.
French researcher Madeleine Colani concluded in 1930 that the jars were associated with prehistoric burial practices. Excavation by Lao and Japanese archaeologists in the intervening years has supported this interpretation with the discovery of human remains, burial goods and ceramics around the jars. The Plain of Jars is dated to the Iron Age (500 BC to AD 500) and is one of the most important prehistoric sites in Southeast Asia.

Today I was reminded of my trip to SE Asia which happened exactly three years ago - man how time flies. I haven't managed to see this place on the rather tight schedule; hmm to be honest I haven't even heard of this place before getting to Laos. This place looks pretty awesome so I've sent a card :)