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Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Posts tagged "mail-carriers"

Last year, the Little Mail Carriers went on a splendid adventure... that we forgot to tell you about! 🙈  We firmly believe in "better late than never" (and we know how much you all miss them!), so here they are to tell the tale of their trip to a little known archipelago in the Baltic sea...

Hi everyone! We're in Åland,  a group of islands mid-way between Finland and Sweden. It's definitely a special place, with very few postcrossers — and no wonder, as the population only amounts to 29,000 residents. They're a Swedish-speaking autonomous region of Finland though, and even have their own postage stamps since 1984, mostly featuring local nature, culture, history, society and autonomy-related themes.

Aland postcards

We had already been in Sweden and Norway, but never in Finland, which is still the country with the highest number of postcrossers per capita in the world... so a visit was well overdue!

Finland is known for many things, from their sauna culture to the Moomins, but it's also the country where, in October of 2015, a group of enthusiast postcrossers gathered in the Postal Museum in Tampere to create the first national association of postcrossers: the Finnish Postcrossing Friends (reg). Among many other activities, they've taken up the task of organising meetups in their country, so that postcrossers can get together to write postcards and explore new places — including the Åland Islands.

So it was an early Thursday morning on June 9th last year, when a group of 22 Finnish postcrossers met in Turku harbour. The cruise from Turku to Mariehamn (the capital of Åland) takes about five hours.... perfect timing for a meetup, right? So the very first "Postcrossing at sea"–meetup was arranged in a cozy conference room of the M/S Amorella.

Meeting on the ship aland1

The hours flew quickly as we wrote tons of postcards and shared Postcrossing experiences while admiring the sunny sea landscape. The association also had a challenging Postcrossing-related quiz... with prizes for everyone! The cruise ship arrived to Mariehamn in the early afternoon. After settling in at the hotel, the rest of the day was spent shopping for postcards, exploring the island and enjoying the local delicacies. June 9th is Åland's Autonomy Day, which is why there were 🇦🇽  flags everywhere we looked!

Streets of Åland alandflags IMG 6628 (1) delicacies

The next day, we got a wonderful chance to visit Åland Post postal terminal in the island. The visit was hosted by Anita Häggblom, the director of Åland Post Stamps. While enjoying coffee and doughnuts, she told us about the interesting history of stamps of Åland, and how topics are chosen to be issued. She also revealed some wonderful details about 2017 stamps.

Flags everywhere! IMG 6694

We got the chance to ask Anita some questions, and she also introduced us to their facilities, so that we could see where all the postal magic happens and how it happens. It was truly interesting to see the machines for first day covers, maximum cards and special cancellations. We thanked Anita and Åland Post by leaving a couple of hundred signed meetup postcards there, so that they could get nicely cancelled and sent forward around to the world to other postcrossers. In the afternoon we took the cruise back to mainland on another boat, this time the M/S Viking Grace.

alandgroup

The visit was a huge success... so they're planning to do it again this year! So if you've always wanted to explore these special islands, mark your calendars: June 7th to 9th is when the Finnish Postcrossing Friends will arrange a new visit to Åland. This time, the trip will include an extra day to fit a bus trip to Eckerö Mail and Custom’s House, Kastelholm Castle and Stallhagen brewery.

Aaaaaaaand, as if that wasn't enough, Åland Post Stamps is planning to issue a special cancellation for the new meetup, together with a custom stamp. Stamp, cancellation and meetup card were designed by local artist Ammi Krogius.

alandmeetup2017 mockup

Pretty cool, right? So... who's looking forward to June? 😊

A big thank you to Marko (aka insp3ktor) and Hanna (aka hazzitus) from the Finnish Postcrossing Association for organising this meetup, and to also to Martta (aka MarttaD) and Minna (piparminttu) for sharing their lovely photos. Great work, everyone!

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The Little Mail Carriers have been a bit quieter lately, but not for lack of adventures. Earlier this year, they hopped on their airmail envelope and landed in exciting Uppsala, for a winter break. There was much to discover and see, as they found out!

Greetings from Sweden! Uppsala is the 4th biggest city in the country, with a little more than 200,000 inhabitants. We arrived in late February, and stayed with Karin (aka karinoswald) and her family for a while, in an apartment on the fifth floor with a great view from the balcony!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

We were greeted with the first-months-of-the-year speciality, a "semla". The classical semla consists of a wheat bun with a core made of special marzipan and whipped cream. This is a blueberry semla with blueberry cream, which conservatives don't consider as a real semla. And don't ever try to give one to a Swede after April... it's just unheard of!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Close to our temporary home, there is a wonderful nature area where we went for a walk...

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

... and caught a ride with some Viking friends! 8-year old postcrosser Tore (aka ToreRoland) helped us on board.

In this area, there is an old cottage with foundations from the late 1600s. It's called a soldier's cottage (or Torp), because the house was a part of the payment to a soldier who lived there in times of peace, and the family took care of the place in times of war.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Sweden hasn't been in war for over 200 years, but we still have a military system and the last soldier who lived in this cottage moved out just about 60 years ago. It's now owned by a community that takes care of the house, keeping it and the land around it in shape.

To help raise money to take care of the Torp, there's a coffee sale eight times a year. This day, they were making waffles, and of course we wanted to help... and eat a few! :)

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Our host Karin works as a nurse assistant at the Children's Hospital, which is a part of the big Akademiska Sjukhuset (the University teaching hospital), where over 8,000 people work! We were curious to see how things work in Swedish hospitals, so we made a field trip to check it out.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Everyone who works in a caregiving position wears the same clothes — the doctors, the nurses, the nurse assistants, the dietitians, the physiotherapists, and so on. To distinguish them, they have different colours of the badge, stating their occupation. The nurses have a blue sign that says "sjuksköterska", which means nurse. And to make things a little more fun for the children, they use a lot of colours on the accessories!

We visited some children who were staying at the hospital, and they were very pleased to see us... I guess that's the advantage of being a toy! :) There are machines everywhere, and they can look a bit scary, but Karin explained that they're there to help everyone cough or breathe, so they're essential to the children's wellbeing.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

We even got to try some emergency manoeuvres! I fear we're not quite strong enough for the task though...

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Lots of postcrossers bring their postcards to the workplace, and Karin does too — she hangs them in her changing room and locker!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

The hospital even has its own internal mail central, which we visited and even helped a little with the mail sorting. As a reward, we got to drive their cool mail bikes!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

On March 19th, one of the highlights of our visit to Sweden occurred: we were invited to a Postcard Collector Fair, and to a Swedish Postcrossing meetup!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

The fair organisers had prepared a table for us, and our host placed a looooot of stamps and postcards on it, to make the visitors curious.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Some people came to talk to us and liked the idea, but most of them only liked really old postcards that they wanted to keep, not send... Still, it was great fun to visit the fair and buy some cards!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

After the fair, we went to a nearby café and wrote about 150 postcards to people all over the world, both direct swaps and official Postcrossing cards. One of the guests is number 2 in Sweden, and she had printed out 61 addresses... And at the café, some people got very curious and asked us what we were doing. They thought it was a wonderful idea, so maybe we managed to get some more Swedish postcrossers!

Posting the cards 36

A few days later, we got the chance to tour the city, and see the sights. Our first stop? The Hågadal school, where a group of students exchanges postcards with the help of their teachers! They're class 3a (aka hagadala) — look at all the postcards they've received so far!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Great job, guys!

After hanging out with the kids, we continued our city tour. Not far from the hospital, the 16th century castle lies with a great view over the town.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

From there, we went to see the university library Carolina Rediviva, host of the very famous Silver Bible, also known as Codex Argenteus. Close to it is the University Hall, from the late 1800, which has some rune stones in its garden. They tell us about brave Vikings who did NOT have horns on their helmets, we've been told. That is just a modern gimmick.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Construction of the Uppsala Cathedral started in 1272 and took several centuries to complete. The towers are over 118m tall, and it's the biggest church in the Nordic countries. Some famous kings and queens are buried here, and there's a museum inside one of the towers.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

All these historical buildings are within walking distance from each other, but we still needed a little rest on a bridge over the Fyris river, and then we wanted to play in the mini version of the cathedral! There is a botanical garden in Uppsala as well, since the famous botanist Carl Linnaeus lived and worked here, but in March (at the end of winter), it's more like fifty shades of brown... so we didn't go there.

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

We met our host's local mailman though and got to ride on his car — isn't it the coolest?! It was the perfect send-off to our stay in Uppsala!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Thank you Karin, we've had a great time discovering your city!

The Little Mail Carriers in Uppsala, Sweden

Where do you think we will go next?

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It's been a while since we've had a giveaway on the blog... so when our friend Addis (aka sumares) found this cute stamp-themed puzzle and offered to send it to a lucky postcrosser, we immediately jumped at the offer! Little Paulo showcases it below:

Wonders of America giveaway

Isn't it cute? It's a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, featuring the "Wonders of America: Land of Superlatives" commemorative stamps! Here's an introductory video highlighting the concept and artwork of the stamps, which were released almost ten years ago, in May 2006.

Wonders of America giveaway

Stamps and puzzles and mailboxes... so many our favourite things put together in this charming package! Little Ana is ready to write a name on the mailbox...

Wonders of America giveaway

If you'd like a chance to win it, all you need to do is leave a comment below. Oh, and if you have seen or played with other fun toys that promote postcard collecting or letter writing, do share!

Don't forget to check back on this post around this time next week, to know whether your name was picked by Paulo's random number generator. And a huuuuge thank you to Addis, who generously sponsored this giveaway!

And the winner of this puzzle, as chosen by Paulo's random number generator is... havarah! Congratulations! :)

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Remember the Little Mail Carrier's cousin? It's been a while since he was last on the blog... Earlier this year, he threw a huge tantrum and demanded to be sent on new adventures — so we sent him off to Romania, where an exciting meeting was about to take place! Here's their report, as told by the participants in this unique meeting.

Once upon a very special day, on February 29th of 2016, the Romanian Postcrossing Community organized the first Postcrossing train meetup in the world, a round-trip journey between Bucharest and Ploiești. The day started with the arrival of the Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Bucharest, the capital of Romania. As every tourist would have done, he first went on a sightseeing tour through the wonders of Bucharest.

Naturally, he took some selfies and because he is so small, a special "magnifier tool" was used to be sure everything is in focus!

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

He started with the Palace of the Parliament which is the heaviest building in the world. It is also the second largest administrative building in the world (after the Pentagon in the USA) housing the Romanian Senate and Parliament and the National Museum of Contemporary Art.

He continued his tour to two of the most prestigious buildings in Bucharest: the House of Economies (CEC) and the National Museum of Music (Cantacuzino Palace).

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

In front of the Romanian Athenaeum he got really excited, because inside is the longest circular fresco in the world! It was done by Costin Petrescu, and is a stunning piece depicting 25 different scenes of Romanian history over 70 meters of canvas... wow!

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

The final stop before the meetup was at the Revolution Square, admiring the National Museum of Art (The Royal Palace), the statue of King Carol I of Romania (1866-1914) and the Central University Library.

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

Finally he arrived at Gara de Nord (train station). The little couriers' cousin met with members of the Romanian Postcrossing Community and quickly jumped on the train to grab some seats.

We had lots of fun activities during our trip from Bucharest to Ploiești (60 km), such as: signing postcards, organizing lotteries, tasting cupcakes and of course taking photos with our small guest, who even received a nickname for the day: Max!

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

With this special occasion, we printed a limited edition meetup postcard, showing the Royal train of Romania (Photo by Mihai Raitaru). Everybody signed it — even the train inspectors, who were quite impressed by it!

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

Once arrived in Ploiești, we gathered for a nice group photo and went on sightseeing, having a few hours available before the train back to Bucharest.


The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

We first visited the Clocks Museum - the biggest clocks collection in South-Eastern Europe.

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

The Art Museum was next on our list, where we took more photos and signed some more postcards in the lobby. Max got a special surprise from one of our colleagues, who played the piano for him.

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

Before heading back, one last stop was made at the Postal Office to send our "train traveling meetup" postcards to fellow Postcrossers around the world and to say goodbye to little Max, who continued his journey back to Portugal. At the end of this full and fun day we all went back to our homes with many wonderful memories.

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

We also found out that this was the first train traveling meetup in the world and all this was possible because Postcrossing exists! Thank you Postcrossing team for bringing us together, thank you for building bridges among people and nations! Happy Postcrossing, everyone!

The Little Mail Carriers' cousin in Romania

Train meetup participants (who came from a bit all over Romania):
Anca, bardamu1964, cristinaS, corneljipa, dienuca, DrAmpie, eumihai2003, lamelemon, MaraMilu, MihneaR, modranhoria, mpalade, Nazareanu, NoarVladimir, Schumi99, spiderpc and susanica.

Concept: Mihnea (MihneaR)

Organizers: Mihnea (MihneaR), George (Nazareanu), Eugen (eumihai2003)

Photos: Eugen (eumihai2003) and George (Nazareanu)
 — you can see lots more here!
Article: George (Nazareanu) with the help of Beatrice ( boopilina), Diana (dienuca), Anca (Annajo) and Mihnea (MihneaR)

Thank you guys, that was brilliant! And what do you think... it's time the Little Mail Carriers' cousin had a name — should we stick to "Postman Max"? :)

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Once again, we give the Little Mail Carriers center stage, so that they can finish telling us about their adventures in Leicestershire (here's part one of their adventures in the UK, in case you missed it)!

Naturally, we wanted to take part in a Postcrossing meeting whilst we were in England, which we did with our host, her sister and cousin. They have quite a collection of postcards between them and we liked picking out cards to send which showed typically British images. Our favourite was a postcard of William and Kate; the closest we got to meeting any Royalty whilst on our visit!

The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! - part 2

During our stay, on 9th September 2015, Her Majesty The Queen became Britain’s longest serving monarch, having been on the throne for 63 years and 7 months. This surpasses the reign of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria. We were really interested to learn more about Queen Elizabeth II and her reign and lots of the newspapers had special editions on this day. We were also very excited to hear that Royal Mail have released a limited edition First Class Definitive stamp in regal purple. The stamp is usually red but will stay purple for 12 months to mark this historic occasion – cool!

The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! - part 2

Of course wherever we are in the world we like to check out the mail boxes and no trip to the UK would be complete without seeing some of those iconic red post boxes! We were lucky to see a few during our visit, including a traditional pillar box, a very old post box in ">Birmingham, and even a miniature replica (almost the perfect size for us!).

The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! - part 2 The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! - part 2

Our favourites though were these two very special gold post boxes in Stratford-upon-Avon. Royal Mail has painted more than 100 of its post boxes gold to celebrate every GB gold medal won during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The post boxes will remain permanently gold to mark the achievements of the athletes and the historic Games – wow! These two are in honour of the appropriately named paralympian rower James Roe.

The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! - part 2

We loved our day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, where we enjoyed all things Shakespeare, including visiting the Shakespeare Centre and Shakespeare’s Birthplace, posing with a statue of Hamlet, meeting a giant Shakespeare teddy and stocking up on British souvenirs! We also enjoyed watching boats in the sunshine on the canal.

The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! - part 2 east midlands19 The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! - part 2

On the final day of our visit, we were treated to a trip to Cadbury World in Birmingham, home of the world famous Cadbury chocolate!

The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! - part 2

As soon as we got out of the car, we could smell the delicious chocolate in the air! There was plenty of chocolate to be found inside of course, as well as the chance to make some new chocolatey friends; the Cadbury Buttons owl, a purple and white cow and even Bertie Bassett himself!

The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! - part 2 The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! - part 2

Phew, what an exciting trip! We had a great time visiting the UK and can’t wait to go back again soon.

Our heartfelt thank you to Sophie (aka FlyingGiraffe) for hosting the little guys and taking them on so many adventures!

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