I Heart My European Hometown
National Geographic Traveler features editor Amy Alipio recently asked our readers to weigh in on whether they thought the postcard was obsolete.
The response was astounding.
Seems the postcard isn’t the dying art (and travel tradition) we feared it was. In the past several months (and with a little help from the Postcrossing.com community), hundreds of rectangle-shaped missives—from Shanghai to Sheboygan—have flooded into Nat Geo headquarters to put a point on that fact.
Some of the postcards are handmade, featuring original photography, sketches, or collage work. Others were sent by postcard enthusiasts and deltiologists (collectors) or avid travelers reporting in from the road.
But the lion’s share of the postcards we received were sent by people who just plain love where they live.
Here’s a dash of travel inspiration from hometown-proud locals in cities across Europe:
“Greetings from Genova [Genoa], Italy. The things that make my city extraordinary are: it was an independent sea republic [during] the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it is the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, and it features the most beautiful lighthouse of the world.” —Carla Marchetti
“Flowers like this don’t exist in real life, or do they? Yes! The Keukenhof flower park is situated in my hometown Lisse, Netherlands. Even though you will find all the typical Dutch stereotypes—flowers, windmills, and wooden shoes—in Lisse, it is the most beautiful place to live, surrounded by all these flowers.” —Nicole van der Elot
“We send you much greetings from Bad Harzburg, a small town at the northern edge of the Harz. The ‘Harz’ is a mountain highland in the center of Germany, and its history is characterized by myths, legends, and fables. Many of these stories revolve around witches. Every year, on the last day of April (in Germany, we call it Walpurgis) witches [from] across the country come together on the Brocken, the highest mountain of the Harz, to celebrate [their] sabbath. At midnight the witches are thrown into the fire and the most beautiful woman from the audience is elected to be the May Queen. This symbolizes the victory of good over evil.” —Stefanie & Uwe Tröger
“We have a bit of Japan’s history in Kent, as William Adams—the first Englishman to travel to Japan, [in the year 1600]—was born here in Gillingham. Every September in Medway, Kent, we have an event known as the Will Adams Festival, which celebrates his life and legacy.” —Natalie Morrow
“Greetings from the Faroe Islands, [a self-governing country within the Danish Realm located] in the North Atlantic ocean. Did you know, for example [that] when on these islands, you’re at no time more than three miles away from the ocean? Faroe Islands mean “sheep islands” and still to this day sheep outnumber the [human] population about two to one and live on all 18 islands, while only 16 are inhabited [by people]. The air here is so clear and fresh that often, especially during the winter, it’s very easy to see the Milky Way and often even the Northern Lights.” —Elena Colussi
“Why is Waregem unique? It is home to the only American cemetery of World War I in Belgium (which is, at the same time the smallest of the six American military cemeteries commemorating WWI in Europe). In 2014 we were honored by a visit from President Obama. Four musts if you travel here: Attend a horserace, visit Flanders Field Cemetery, make a boat trip, and cycle through nature.” —Lier Vansteenkiste
“I live and work in Riga, Latvia. What makes my country unique is fact that we have preserved our nature. There still are berries growing in our forests.” —Margarita Pozengize
“Hello from the south part of the Netherlands, [in Deurne]. At the front [of my postcard] you see a typical Dutch [wind-powered] sawmill; he is fully working. Nearby our hometown is a national park called de Groote Peel and we think it is beautiful there. We have lots of green, woods, and water and lots of lovely villages nearby such as Helenaveen and Griendtsveen. Hope you enjoy this card.” —A. Munsters
“Greetings from Ankara! Turkey has something for everyone, whether you like food, beaches, big cities, villages, mountains, skiing, para-sailing, or historical, artistic, or religious sites. A few English words that come from Turkish: yogurt, kismet, sis kebob (shish kabob), and turkuaz (turquoise).” —Ren Diller
“Hello! I am Ralf Houven from Aachen, Germany. The most unique attraction here is our cathedral, which was built more than 1,200 years ago [under the direction of] Emperor Charlemagne to be used as his palace chapel. More than 30 medieval German kings were crowned in it, and in 1978 UNESCO [inscribed it among its first round of] World Heritage sites in Europe.” —Ralf Houven
“The Rose Valley is situated right in the center of Bulgaria. Besides the rose oil which is produced here, the region is also known of the rich historical and cultural treasures of the Thracians who lived here in ancient times.” —Evgeniya Slavova
“I’m Vera from Lisboa [Lisbon], Portugal. I’ve been part of the Postcrossing community for five years now and it was through them that I knew of your iniative. This postcard was made by a Portuguese Postcrosser to commemorate the 25th edition of the Lisbon Half Marathon (my first one!). The bridge pictured is called April 25, referring to the date of the Carnation Revolution [in 1974].” —Vera (Lisbon marathon)
“I’m 27 years old and live about six miles outside the city of Regensburg in Bavaria, Germany. [The old town of] Regensburg is a UNESCO World Heritage site and really has an Italian charm to it. There are lots of medieval buildings and even some remnants from the Romans that founded the city. The cathedral that was built during the Gothic era is quite impressive (inside and out), as is the Stone Bridge, the oldest [preserved bridge of its kind in Germany]!” —Magdalena Krug
“I send you greetings from Doksany, a small village located 50 kilometers north of the [Czech Republic’s] capital city of Prague. In addition to Doksany Castle, a monastery from the 12th century, and the Romanesque Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary from the 13th century, the BBC is here for the second year filming the historical series The Musketeers.” —Pavel Wegschmied
“Just north of Virrat and just off “Finland’s Route 66,” the Toriseva ravine lakes (there are three of them) offer fine scenery and an ideal setting for long walks. There’s a place to camp, a caravan site, and cafes nearby, as well as the center of Virrat with its many services, including restaurants and hotels, only five kilometers away. Virrat is altogether beautiful, with over 300 lakes.” —Jaana Kallio
- Nat Geo Expeditions
“I live in the capital of the Dutch province of Flevoland, called Lelystad. We are living below the sea level on reclaimed land. My favorites in the region are Naturepark Lelystad—a free outdoor zoo with deer, bison, otter beaver, horses, [and more]—and a wilderness area called Oostvaardersplassen, [which] is amazing for bird lovers.” —Brenda van Lier
> Be a part of the #PostcardProject
Mail us a postcard from your travels or even from your hometown for a chance to be featured in National Geographic Traveler magazine or online.
Include your name and where you live in your note, along with a short paragraph about what makes wherever you are unique. The more specific (and surprising), the better!
Finally, use hashtag #PostcardProject to spread the word or to share your postcard on Twitter and Instagram.
National Geographic Traveler
c/o Amy Alipio
1145 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036