Postcrossing Blog

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

Posts tagged "portugal"

Continuing on their tour of the world, last year the Little Mail Carriers visited Terceira, a tiny Portuguese island in the archipelago of Azores. They were warmly welcomed by the local postcrossers, and discovered a land of mystery and delights, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll let them tell you all about it!

Olá everyone! We tagged along big Paulo and Ana to attend a Postcrossing meetup in the Terceira island, in the Azores. Can you spot it on a map? It’s a luscious archipelago made of 9 volcanic islands, halfway between Portugal and the USA. Terceira (aka, the “third”) was so named because it was the third island to be discovered by the Portuguese.

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To kick off the meeting, we were received by Angra do Heroísmo’s mayor, who generously took the time to introduce us to the history of the island and its many stories, both historical and geological. Angra is after all a UNESCO Heritage site, for being an obligatory port of call of the fleets that crossed the Atlantic in the 15th century, and also a testimony to the maritime exploration that allowed exchanges between the world’s great civilizations of the time.

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We admired downtown’s architecture, and even met Vasco da Gama, an important Portuguese explorer, who first sailed the sea route from Portugal to India. On the way back from his first voyage there in 1499, his brother got sick and eventually died in Terceira, where the fleet stopped for some time to grieve and recover.

vascodagama

From the geological point of view, the Azores are a very interesting place as they’ve got 26 active volcanoes (8 of which are underwater)! The islands straddle the mid-Atlantic ridge, with 2 of them being on the North American Plate. We could see a lot of evidence of this volcanic origin all around us, on the dark rocks that have been used for centuries in walls and even mailboxes!

cartas

We had the adventure of a lifetime when we visited Algar do Carvão, the chimney of a very old volcano — now without lava, of course. Have you ever been inside a volcano? It’s magical!

carvao

Volcanic signs are everywhere in Terceira: from sea pools made of cooled lava to sulfur vents that still send off their stinky gases today! One of the most curious uses for the volcanic rocks is to grow wine. The vines are planted among basaltic rocks, protected from the winds by low rock walls. Basalt heats up in the sun and slowly dissipates its heat, sweetening the grapes and giving them a unique terroir.

volcanic

After learning some geology, we visited a couple of big churches (rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1980) and learned about the islands devotion to the Holy Spirit. On the right of the photo below you can see a “Império” (or “Empire”), which are colorful mini-houses used as central points for the festivities of the Holy Spirit.

imperios

There are dozens of such Impérios in Terceira, all uniquely decorated. During the Pentecost period, children are made “emperor” for a week with great pomp and circumstance. The processions and banquets involved in the celebrations bring the local communities together and are a treasured part of the island’s heritage.

After touring Terceira, it was time to get together with the local postcrossers to write some postcards to all our friends. The locals were friendly and well-organized, and they put together a wonderful meeting, featuring lots of laughter and the local D. Amélias pastries which everyone loved!

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Lots of enthusiastic postcrossers (both from the continent and the islands) attended the meeting, and there was even a special postcard designed by a local artist, as well as a special postmark dedicated to Postcrossing to celebrate the occasion!

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We had a great time in Terceira, and are eternally grateful for the hospitality of the friendly postcrossers there! Hopefully we’ll be back soon to explore more of the beautiful Azores archipelago…

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Most people have a favourite author from their childhood or teenage years — for many, that might be Dr. Seuss, Roal Dahl or Enid Blyton. Maybe J. K. Rowling or Beatrix Potter? Or perhaps a mix of all of those! If you grew up in Portugal though, one of them would probably be Alice Vieira. Her name is inescapable in any Portuguese adolescent’s life, often featured in school books and “must-read” lists.

To me, her works are linked with a clear memory of this being the first author I read as a young teenager whose books felt “real”. Often, the characters were kids just like us, discovering real life and wondering aloud about the same things we thought about all the time. Alice’s words flow in the pages as the most natural thing in the world, funny and ironic at times, and yet genuine and straightforward. It’s easy to understand and fall in love with — and year after year, new generations of children continue to do so.

So you can probably imagine our surprise when, some years ago, we discovered Alice (aka paisdasmaravilhas) is a postcrosser too, and carries postcards everywhere she goes… often to interviews, where she explains Postcrossing to puzzled journalists! We met her last year, and, very humbled and honoured, asked her a few questions about her relationship with mail. Here she is, in her own words!

To those out there who don’t know you, how would you describe Alice Vieira?

An old journalist colleague of mine described me as the “activist of optimism”… I think it defines me well. Even in tough times, I always believe things will work out, if we give it our best.

How did you find out about Postcrossing? What made you stay?

I think I might have seen it on Facebook… but the big push to sign up came from my friend José (aka PilotOne). And then, it’s really nice to receive postcards from the other side of the world, from someone who read a book of mine — it happened with a young Chinese postcrosser, who told me that he was going to save my book for his son that was about to be born (and then sent me a picture of the baby!) or exchange postcards back and forth with several others (the last one is a young Finnish lady who calls me “granny”). There are other funny instances as well, such as the time I received a postcard… from a neighbour!

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Which part of Postcrossing do you enjoy the most?

It gives me great pleasure is to pick the best postcard for someone. Even today, I was out looking for cute postcards with cats. And I also use the opportunity to “advertise” our own national treasures: for instance, if someone is interested in contemporary art — and they often are — I send postcards with reproductions of paintings by Almada, Amadeo Souza-Cardoso, etc.

Have you always written postcards, or is it more of a recent thing? Who did you write to, before Postcrossing?

Always!!! Since I was a child. And I’ve always insisted with my children to do the same: I have a postcard that I always carry with me, that my son sent me when he was 8 years old, from Coimbra where he was playing at a chess tournament. It reads “Mom: I have nothing to say. Kisses.”
Before discovering the project, I used to send (and I still do!) to a group of friends, some of which I’ve converted to Postcrossing. And on all of my friend’s birthdays as well. And on holidays… This year I’ve already received two happy birthday cards from two Facebook friends, one from Germany and another one from Finland.

What other things are you passionate about?

Writing — and of course, my children and grandchildren.

Thank you so much Alice! It’s so nice to finally see you on the blog! 😊

PS – Coincidently, today is Alice’s birthday… please join us in wishing her a happy birthday on the comments below!

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Living in a touristic area can be a bit challenging. While postcards are easy enough to find, they’re usually über-touristy, featuring the beaches and little else. It gets boring after a while… which is why I was delighted to discover Rosa’s postcards on our way back from a trip to the market in Olhão. Turns out, her mom has a little store by the waterfront that showcases local art and products — including Rosa’s gorgeous postcards and art.

We thought it was time we had another post on our stationery makers’ series, and reached out to Rosa and ask her a few questions. Turns out, she’s been drawing ever since she could hold a pencil, and makes more than just postcards! :)

Joana Rosa Bragança
Could you introduce yourself briefly?

I’m Joana Rosa Bragança (but you can call me just Rosa!) and I’m an artist & illustrator based in Olhão, a fishing town in the Algarve region. I love living near the sea! Besides drawing and painting, I also like to spend my time photographing with film cameras, walking in nature, reading, sewing and trying cake recipes. I love mornings, cats, artisanal ice creams, fresh figs and old books.

What inspires you?

I get a lot of inspiration from the people I see, not only the people of my hometown, with their strong characters and looks, but also the foreigners who pass by, who are a lot these days. One of my favorite themes is the beach and bathers, and here I have plenty of “models” to observe! Still, not all my characters are inspired by real people, some of them happen to be really bizarre and come directly from my imagination. I also love to draw all sorts of animals and plants.

Joana Rosa Bragança
Are you a postcard or letter writer yourself?

I used to be, I even had pen friends when I was a teenager… then the internet appeared and made me forget it a little. Nevertheless, I love sending the orders of my online shop inside envelopes full of doodles and postage stamps. Postage stamps are awesome! My favorites are the ones with illustrations or photos of fauna and flora.

If you could define your style in 3 words, what would they be?

Dreamy, joyful, ironic.

And could you show us your workspace, the place where magic happens?
Joana Rosa Bragança Joana Rosa Bragança

Thank you so much, Rosa! You can check these and other postcards and art on her online shop. And if you know of other stationery makers we should check out, let us know in the comments!

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This is our 100th Postcrossing spotlight, hurraaay! :) In order to celebrate, I thought I’d hijack the post and interview myself, for a change. That seemed like a good idea at the time, but turns out, these questions are actually hard work to answer, and it’s taken a while to finish it… Anyway, Hi! I am Ana (aka meiadeleite), I come from Portugal and I wear the hat of community manager, here at Postcrossing.

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

There was once this quiet boy who wouldn’t stop nagging me with his idea of “making a website where we could randomly send postcards to other people and they would send postcards to us”… (I mean, weren’t MY postcards enough for him?! *humpf*)

He bugged me to do a logo for this website of his, and then one day, dropped by with a very cute (but ridiculously overpriced) postcard, and told me “Here you go – this will be the first card from Postcrossing! Let’s go register it!”

We tested the website a bit more, sending postcards back and forth between the two of us, and then proceeded to bully all our friends into signing up. Many of them did — we still know all the first members by name. I guess the rest is history!

Looking back, it seems unbelievable now, but that first year, I only sent 20 postcards (Paulo sent 11!). We were poor students…

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

Not sure this qualifies as a hobby, but I’ve been keeping an irregular blog for over 10 years now, about our adventures around the world. Traveling, eating and analogue photography are some of the things I enjoy the most, so the blog features a lot of that.

Also, two years ago, I started filming one second of our days, every single day. It has turned into a way to stay in touch with our friends, but also a way to remember our days as time goes by. I love the result and cherish the short monthly videos immensely.

I’ve also been known for being a compulsory list-maker, and I especially like the 101 things in 1001 days format… though I usually pack so many complex items into my lists, I tend to end up running out of time to finish them!

Truth be told, my problem is that I’m interested in so many things: stationery, how-things-work, cookery, languages, traveling, science, knitting, paper crafts… if only days had more hours in them!

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

Here is my mailbox:

The pillar box tattoo

Ahah! :) Does that count? I don’t have a proper mailbox at the moment due to a frustrating moving situation. All my postcards have been stored in boxes for months now — very sad indeed.

I have, however, just finished this year’s Month of Letters, and have been posting my postcards and letters all over Portugal’s southernmost region:

Mailing postcards Mailing postcards
What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

My favorite part is definitely the sending. I try to make the postcards special, and give some use to my ever-growing collection of washi tape, stickers and rubber-stamps… I aim to make every postcard different and special… though most of the time I just ramble about my day.

On my profile, I list a few of my favorite things (à la Sound of Music), and ask the senders to share theirs with me. Some do — it always makes my day to read about other people’s favorite things on the postcards they send me! :)

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

I remember one day receiving postcard DE-1 on my mailbox, the first postcard ever sent from Germany and thinking… who is this person?! Do we know them from somewhere? How did they find out about the website?

DE-1

Since then, a lot of postcards have surprised me! It’s not so much the place they come from though — more about the stories they carry, and the adventurous Google searches they trigger!

Have you inspired anyone else to join Postcrossing or start collections of their own?

Yup! I’d like to think I’ve inspired quite a few people to join Postcrossing with all the blabbering I do about it for newspapers, TV, radio stations… or anyone who will listen really!

Mailing postcards in front of a camera

One year ago, I even stepped on a stage and delivered a TEDx talk about the project in front of 700 people… a very scary but rewarding experience. My most recent convert was a post office clerk who was wondering why I needed to buy so many stamps… :)

Have you met any other members in real life?

YES, lots of them, from all over the world! Everywhere we go, we try to either attend or organize a meetup to meet the local postcrossers. I’m always surprised at how postcrossers are the nicest people! And of course… they always know where the best postcards are to be found! :)

Postcrossing meetup in Shanghai
Is there anything that you are passionate about?

There are 2 things always on my mind: Postcrossing… and food! Not necessarily together, unless they’re these delicious cookies our friend C. did some years ago:

Postcrossing cookies

I’ve always liked letters, postcards, stamps and mail art… so when Postcrossing slowly started to taking over my life, it felt almost natural. I love that my days are spent helping hundreds of people worldwide experience that spike of joy when they open their mailbox and discover something there.

Though if you ask my family what I’m passionate about, they’ll shout “EGGS!”… and I’m afraid it’s true. I love food and cooking in general (the whole nose-to-tail), with eggs being a special obsession! :)

Most of all? I love the quiet, geeky boy who wouldn’t stop nagging me about a website where people could exchange postcards…

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Meet José (aka PilotOne) from Portugal. He’s a flight simulator fan, and an enthusiastic member of the Postcrossing community in Portugal – he even gave an interview about Postcrossing on TV once!

Here is what he had to say to our interview questions:

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?
pilotone mailbox

I joined the Postcrossing project on the 30th September 2009 and in fact I can’t remember how I learned about it! I believe however that it was through any article I read online. What keeps me active on the project is to become aware of other cultures, languages​​, ways of living and even some cases of life that are reported by some of the members in their profiles. To share all this is what fascinates me most in Postcrossing.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

Yes, although Postcrossing occupy some of my free time, I enjoy modeling and also dedicate much of my time to virtual aviation with my own flight simulator equipment. Photography and reading a good book are also habits that I practice very regularly.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

You can see my mailbox on the first picture above, and here I am at the local Post Office:

pilotone postoffice

This is the post box where I mail my cards from:

pilotone postbox

Below on the left is my stock of to-send cards, and on the right, my received postcards:

pilotone cards
Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

vn 720 This is my favorite! It shows an ethnic little girl and it really is one of the most touching cards I’ve received so far! I’m sure this little girl’s world is limited to her small bird and to the 50 or 100 meters surrounding the place where she lives!

Have you inspired anyone else to join Postcrossing or start collections of their own?

When I gave a TV interview about Postcrossing in October 2010 and we all felt a marked increase of new subscribers in Portugal, so I hope some of them have really got addicted to the project. Personally I also contributed to the dissemination of the project by friends, explaining them how everything works from the first requested addresses.

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

The most exciting and favorite moment is to read the cards I receive and also to the countries they are coming from.
Registration process is also a big moment, as I can 'see’ (most of the times) the photo of the sender and also read his/her profile.

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

I’ve been very excited when I received a card from Paraguay with a small ID. At that time I’ve checked the Postcrossing registration system and it was the 1st card from Paraguay received in Portugal. You can see it here.
My recently sent PT-266410 (still traveling) to Liechtenstein also made me happy as there are only 4 Postcrossing members on this Principality, so there was a very small chance for this to happen!

Have you met any other members in real life?

Yes many times! I use to attend local small meetings or just combine to have lunch or a dinner together with some members (we call it a meeting!) where we always finish with a card-writing session! I’ve also attended different International Postcrossing Meetings in Portugal that really had a large number of foreign members!

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