Postcrossing Blog

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

Posts tagged "russia"

It’s now been almost two weeks since the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine started, and the sadness and worry that we feel has only increased. Every day since, we’ve replied to dozens of your messages, filled with just as much concern as our own for the people living through this nightmare.

We’ve written about this on the monthly stats emails last week and also on the forum, but we realize our message might not have reached everyone, or been clear enough. So let us be 100% clear: we strongly condemn this war, and are against any wars. Every human life is precious, so every single life lost to a war is a tragedy, not to speak of all the destruction and suffering. What is happening in Ukraine is heartbreaking, and we hope the thousands of postcrossers there and their loved ones are all safe.

Some of you have been asking Postcrossing to block postcrossers in Russia and Belarus, as a way to protest the war. We understand the feeling of helplessness and the will to do something. But the same way we believe people of all ages, genders, religions or other beliefs have a place in Postcrossing, we don’t think people’s nationality or what their governments are doing should be used as a reason for excluding them from the project. Postcrossing is about regular people, and not their governments, politicians or generals. If you feel strongly that you do not want to send postcards to postcrossers in a certain country, we respect that — but in that case, please don’t request any addresses on the website for now.

It is precisely during the hard times that connection and communication are needed the most, that they are the most precious. Platforms for intercultural dialogue are valuable tools to help bring more understanding, empathy and peace to the world, and we believe this to be an important part of Postcrossing’s mission.

In the past 16.5 years, Postcrossing has been about connecting the world without any discrimination. Postcrossers everywhere are people just like us. Parents and children. Supermarket cashiers and medical staff. Scientists, train drivers, students, birdwatchers, cooks, mail carriers… all human. With every postcard we send, we help create more awareness about our world and make tiny steps towards a more humane and sustainable future, even when all we do is ramble about our breakfast, or complain about the gloomy weather.

Many of you have been reaching out also to ask whether it is still possible to send mail to these countries. This information is in the Postal Monitor and we’re doing our best to keep it up to date, so that we don’t select addresses in countries where you cannot send postcards to at the moment. If the information on the Postal Monitor is not current, you can help by reporting news from your postal operator here.

As we are writing this, two million people have already fled Ukraine in search of safety, and millions more are suffering and fearing for their lives, including postcrossers. We’re thinking of them, and have donated all of our February AdSense revenue (from the Google Ads you see on the website) to the UN Refugee Agency and to UNICEF who are both on the ground helping those affected. We hope you will consider joining us in supporting these or other organizations that are offering humanitarian help, in whichever way or amount you can.

We stand with all those calling for peace, and hope peace can return to Ukraine very soon.

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Erik (aka flamey) is an adventurous postcrosser from Sochi, in Russia. Sometime ago, he heard about a mysterious postbox on top of a mountain nearby and decided to go check it out — here is the report of his cool adventure, which was first published on his blog and is reposted here with permission.

Black Pyramid mountaintop postbox

"As a postcrosser – and in general – I’m lucky to live in a city that is beautiful, touristy, hosted a wide variety of World class sporting events, interconnected with a UNESCO WHS, and borders a “rare” country. There were also many postage stamps issued dedicated to our city, events that took place here, our flora and fauna, which is also nice. All this is a great basis for postcard exchanges!

Last year I discovered yet another interesting and cool way to postcross: a postbox at the top of Black Pyramid mountain in our city! And a year later I decided to try it out.

Sochi postal box Black Pyramid

Sochi, which is squeezed between the Caucasus mountains and the Black Sea, has several great skiing resorts. One of them – “Krasnaya Polayana” (formerly known as “Gorki Gorod”) – has a postbox at the top of the mountain the resort is based around. It sits right at the top of it! You need to hike and climb to it from the highest lift station. Not far, but still, it’s probably not for everyone. At first, it felt like a tourist trap: its pricey to get there, and why else would it be up there?! But then… there’s very little info about it online (and none on the official site), resort’s staff knows about it, but, as it turns out, doesn’t even know where exactly it is located, and there are no postcards or stamps sold anywhere near it. So, it’s a bit of a mystery why it’s there exactly, and who picks up the mail from it. But the staff assured me it’s being serviced, so let’s do it.

Sochi road to Krasnaya Polyana

I live in Adler – a seaside part of the city. The trip starts with a picturesque drive up to Krasnaya Polyana town area, where all our skiing resorts are located. While grabbing some food I looked at the thick clouds covering the mountain, contemplating if going up actually makes much sense that day. When buying lift tickets I asked about the postbox, where it is, and if it is hard to get to. The answer: not hard, it’s up there, on our territory, just ask the staff when you get to the last lift station. Something similar I heard from the customer support rep when I called in advance.

Krasnaya Polyana lifts view

The lifts start at 540 meters above sea level. The gondola lifts take you up to 960m, then to 1460m, then to 2200m. From here you have to take two short (but really slow) chair lift rides. The line to the first one was so long, I decided to follow the staff’s suggestion and take a walk to the next one, because it was actually downhill. The line to the final lift was short, the ride was steep, and after a little while I was at the highest lift station on the Black Pyramid mount.

It was windy, and cold, just 10C, compare that to cozy 24C I left in Adler. I looked around, but saw no postbox anywhere near. I asked: oh, it’s at the top of the mountain! you have to hike up there by this trail. The trail looked easy, and had a safety rope set up along it, but I could not see past the nearest turn. It costs additional $7 to go up the top. They dressed me up for a climb, and instructed on use of the safety lines, and rules on passing other people — seemed excessive at that point, but turned out to be needed beyond the closest turn.

Black Pyramid mountain views

The easy trail turned into some mild climbing very quickly. It was fun. It probably took about 15 minutes to get up there. The postbox sits right at the top. The views are fantastic! Clouds just highlighted where I was, and did not spoil anything.

Black Pyramid mountain top postal box

I took a few photos, a selfie for a “proof”, and dropped the postcards into the box. The sound of cards hitting the bottom of it told me it was empty. Who picks mail up? How often? And, again, why is it here in the first place? Mystery. But I hope somebody does pick it up, and all 15 people will receive their cards!"

Hurray for nice postal adventures! Erik was very kind to mail a postcard to Postcrossing’s PO box from this excursion, and it arrived some time ago. So the mailbox works, and reading his report of the trip made us appreciate it even more.

Are there any special postboxes where you live? And what kind of postal-themed adventures would you like to embark on?

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Masha (aka MMokeeva) is a Russian postcrosser living near Moscow, passionate about books and literature. She stumbled on Postcrossing a few years ago, and has been hooked since then, even opening her own postcard shop, starting a podcast about postcards, and this year Masha even launched a book about Postcrossing, titled “Postcrossing — Book of Secret Knowledge”! It’s a beautiful book, featuring stories about the website, interviews with postcrossers and lots of other postcard-related knowledge and interesting facts. We’re happy to invite Masha to the blog today, to tell us all about how postcards took over her life. 😊

Picture of Masha's book about Postcrossing, surrounded by candles, postcards and other stationery!
Where did your interest in postcards come from? Have you always been a person who liked mail?

“Once I got lost in Moscow. There was a heavy snowstorm. I went to the gift shop to ask where I should go. I was wearing a large bearskin coat that I had inherited from my ancestors. It made me a little clumsy, and I knocked down the postcard rack. The postcards lay like a carpet in front of me, bright and beautiful, with the image of the proud Red Square. And I fell in love with them!”

I would like to have such a fascinating story of happy meeting with postcards, but in fact my story is quite ordinary :) When I was a child, I wrote paper letters to other children. It never even occurred to me to send them postcards, because no one was doing it around me!.. When I got older, I used to buy postcards as fine pictures to put them on the table or use as a bookmark. I started sending postcards just when I found Postcrossing!

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

One day I was looking for a postcard for a gift to my granny and I saw the strange word “Postcrossing” on the website of that online postcard shop. The next day I ran to the post office with my first five cards! I just fell in love with every moment: when you pull out an address, read the profile, view the received and sent postcards… it was like rediscovering the world and the people around.

You even created your own shop selling stationery! How did Amelie Cards get started and how is it going?

I did start it about 5 months after I began to send postcards though Postcrossing. 😊 I was so impressed by this huge postcard world… and I was unemployed. I decided to try to open an online postcard store and printed postcards that I couldn’t find in Russia: with Russian writers, reprints of ads from the Russian Empire, funny “Keep Calm”. Then I started paying more attention to themes what other people need, and so the range expanded! Currently, the most popular sections are the “My Russia” series with atmospheric pictures by independent Russian photographers, illustrations by Russian contemporary artists and quotes from books and movies.

Where did the idea for a book about Postcrossing come from? What prompted you to write it?
Masha lies facing up with the book covering her face

When I became interested in postcards, I was curious: what stories hides behind them? Who creates postcards and why? How do postcards reflect our life? What research and collections exist? What is the situation with postcards in other countries? I couldn’t read about it in Russian anywhere, just some scraps of information. My first attempt to answer some questions was my podcast Открытки Амели in 2017. After 11 episodes, I realized that people are interested in learning more about postcards, but it would be more convenient for them to read about it rather than listen to it. So I wrote a plan for the book and started working on it in my spare time. I was writing a book that I wanted to read myself.


Could you give postcrossers an overview of the book? How would you describe this book to someone who hasn’t heard about it before?

This may sound strange, but this book is for people who want to know the postcard as a person: from all sides. Its character, talents and story of the life. It’s also the book about people who love mail. There are seven chapters: about Postcrossing Project, the text on a postcard, postage stamps, postcards, postal connection, postcrossers and postcard shops. There are also life hacks, dictionary of postcrosser words, and 100 ideas for a postcard message.

I have already received more than a hundred warm reviews that make me very happy. People write that they learned a lot of new things from the book, and that they had registered on postcrossing.com or came back to the Big Game after a long break after reading it!

What was your writing process with this book, and what parts are you especially proud of?
Masha holds the Postcrossing book she wrote in her hands

There was a lot of very diverse work! It was like making stained glass window from different fragments. And it was important to fit these fragments together and make up a beautiful and logical narrative. Besides, I wanted to make this book fun and easy to read. To achieve this ease, I had to rewrite the text several times. This was a very valuable experience for me as for a young writer.

I’m especially proud of the most original parts: where I talk about Postcrossing’s place in the world of ideas (from the ancient Greeks’ letters to the 21st century with its technologies and popularity of danish Hygge); the first mail artist Alexander Asarkan in the Soviet Union for whom creating postcards was a way to make conceptual art in totalitarian state; who and how creates postage stamps in Russia (there’s a very interesting interview with the leading artist of the publishing house Marka, where he tells all the details of creating a postage stamp, who works on them, what their values are and what they think about stamps of other countries); the interviews with unforgettable postcrossers; and my favorite part is about how postcards were published and sold before, how the circumstances and place of postcard in people’s lives changed and how we came to what we have now.

I wrote the book in chapters, in order. When I finished one, I gave it to the artist Maria Vasilyeva and she drew the next part of the comics about the adventures of postcrosser Asya. I’m proud of this cartoon too!

Thank you so much Masha, for taking the time to answer our questions about your book! For anyone interested, “Postcrossing — Book of Secret Knowledge” (in Russian-language only) can be purchased on Masha’s store amelie-cards.ru and soon on Wildberries as well.

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So many meetings, so little time! We’re way overdue in telling you about all the cool Postcrossing meetups we’ve been hearing from, so here are three recent events that postcrossers have organized and written to us about. We hope they inspire you to join or organize your own local meetup!

Postcrossing Anniversary Meetups in Indonesia 🇮🇩

Last month, the Indonesian community celebrated Postcrossing’s 14th birthday by organizing meetings in 11 different cities around the country — isn’t that awesome?! Look at this cool mashup that they’ve made with photos of all the meetings:

Anniversary Meetups in Indonesia

There’s happy people, cake and balloons… looks like a real birthday party! Lots of postcrossers in the cities of Batam, Medan, Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Solo, Surabaya, Malang, Makassar and Tenggarong enjoyed spending time together, talking, snacking and writing postcards, of course! You can see more of their meeting photos on this page.

China Bullet Train Meetup Series 🇨🇳

The idea for this unusual series of meetups came from Bin Xu (aka bishopet) who is a super fan of trains and postcards! To combine the two, he contacted 8 postcrossers from 8 different cities along the China Bullet Train route, in Shenyang, Shandong, Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Dongguan and Hong Kong. Meetings were organized in all these cities throughout the month of June, each one with a different postcard featuring the bullet train.

China Bullet Train Meetup Series
Nizhny Novgorod Postcrossing Meeting 🇷🇺

About three weeks ago, 74 postcrossers from 29 Russian cities got together in Nizhny Novgorod to share their love of postcards with the world! Over the weekend, they wrote and sent almost 2000 postcards — but most importantly, they got the chance meet and get to know each other. Russia is a huge country and for many postcrossers, this was the first chance they got to meet some of the people that they had only previously known online or through postcards. They even had a special postmark made for the event, along with a little mobile post office by Russian Post that allowed everyone to mail their cards immediately. It looks like a lot of fun!

Nizhny Novgorod Postcrossing Meeting Nizhny Novgorod Postcrossing Meeting Nizhny Novgorod Postcrossing Meeting

Deers are a symbol of the city of Nizhny Novgorod, and this cute one is the mascot of the local Postcrossing group. These photos are by Anna (aka AnnaRybakova_79), and you can see many more on this page.

That’s all for now! If you’ve been in a nice meetup recently, send us some photos and let us know how it went — we’d love to hear about it. 🙂 And if you’re thinking of joining or organizing a meetup, consider October 1st as a potential date, and join us in celebrating the 150th anniversary of the postcard!

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It was Pauline (aka PauliB) from Germany who first brought SunnyRat's unusual wall of postcards to my attention, some time ago. I confess I gasped in delight upon discovering it… have a look:

SunnyRat's postcard wall

Each postcard is accompanied by a little rat, with a curious spark in his eyes! :)

There seemed to be quite a few of them, so I was curious and talked to Julia (aka SunnyRat) about her quirky wall. Julia is from Russia and works on a software company… but as it turns out, she’s also mommy to a large family of pet rats, and does some wonderful art as well! It was a pleasure to learn more about her and her pets, so I hope you enjoy this mini-interview as much as I did.

Could you introduce your rats to us? What are their names, how old are they… what do they like to do all day?

At this moment I have eight wonderful little rats. They all are male and their names are: April, Baikal, El, Sky, Krosh, January, Cheshire and Fort Erie. They have different ages, from a few months to almost 3 years old. The youngest is April, and this April he will be one year old :)

I must say that I like to give names, which are ordinary words or geographical names, because when I hear these words accidentally it always becomes sunny in my heart and I’m smiling.

Baikal and April

Every rat is a little person with its own character traits. For example, Baikal (on the right), a rat with Siamese “point” on the nose, is a calm, tender, plush teddy bear who loves to be cuddled and stroked and is a perfect shoulder companion. April (on the left) is curious, cheerful, restless bundle of energy who adores people. He is always ready to be with you and that is why he appears on photos most often. He has curly whiskers and white unsymmetrical stripe on the face. They are best friends, and together with their brothers, we are a big united family!

A big family

They have an organized part of the room, where they live. Here it is:

Rat room

This is where they play, jump, climb, runn, groom each other, do housekeeping, generate and solve problems, have dinner and communicate… I’ve made some videos with our rat’s everyday life, you can watch it if you would like, if you’re curious and have some time: video #1, video #2.

And all rats love to sleep and usually they do it in hammocks! :)

Rat hammocks Round and round they go

Also, they are intelligent animals and love to learn new things. So we do some trainings together and they can easily perform simple tricks. For example, here we are leaning how to do a rotation:

Sometimes we take part in rat shows, where events like tightrope walking and rat agility take place. So they do sports too.

Walking the tightrope
Where did you get the idea to include them in your postcard photos?

I was inspired by SeanPatrick’s wall! I found it so uplifting, lively and enjoyable that I decided to make something personal too. And, of course, I thought about rats at once, because they usually make me smile.

Are they cooperative in the photo sessions?
Photography sessions

It may depend on the temper of each specific rat… some cooperate very well and some are difficult to take pictures of. But they love to explore new things and love to do something together with human beings, so we simply have fun. And the more often it happens, the better we understand each other.

Something yummy doesn’t hurt too! :)

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” Charles M. Schulz
What kind of reactions do you receive from other members who notice your wall?

The reactions I usually get are warm words and well wishes to the rats. Some people talk about their own pet rats. Compliments and energetic emotions! And, if I may take this opportunity to say thank you so much for such kind of reactions! I appreciate it very much and this is a happiness for me to know that someone somewhere on the planet is smiling too, looking at these photos.

What about you, what do you do for a living, and for fun? And do you have other pets?

I work as an analyst at a company that develops solutions for computer protection. And, by the way, sometimes my rats are used for this company advertising items, such as wall and pocket calendars.

Work projects

Also I enjoy almost all kinds of creative activity. Especially I love to draw. And thanks to postcrossing I can do it much more often, because to draw for somebody is always more enjoyable for me, than to do it for no particular reason. So most of my sent cards usually have little drawings.

Backsides of postcards Backsides of postcards Backsides of postcards

Rats are my only pets. I am with them about ten years and have to say that since the discovery of pet rats there is always laughing at home. And the more I learn about them, the more I like them!

Happy new year

Thank you Julia, that was wonderful! :)

PS – Do you know of any other quirky postcard walls? Please share them in the comments!

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