Tuesday/ stamp of the day ✉️

I bought this single stamp from a seller in Canada.
It’s the highest value stamp (10 shillings) in the series known as the 1927-1930 London Pictorials; the last South African stamps printed in London.
(After that stamps were printed in South Africa).
The Afrikaans-English se-tenant (joined) stamp pairs are very expensive (up to $200), but the single ones are $10 or so.
I’m still looking for an English one with ‘SOUTH AFRICA’ inscribed at the top.

From the 1927-1930 London Pictorials
Issued 1927, Mar. 1
Perf. 14 | Engraved printing | Wmk. Multiple springbok’s heads
29 16 | 10sh | Bright blue and brown |  Cape Town, Table Mountain and Table Bay
[Source: 2016 Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue for Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps 1840-1970)
My notes: The prominent white tower might be Mouille Point Lighthouse— built in 1842 but demolished in 1908. To its right and further back would be Cape Town City Hall, a large Edwardian building built from honey-colored oolitic limestone imported from Bath in England, and located on the Grand Parade.
It was completed in 1905 and is still there today.

Tuesday/ stamps with tulips 🇧🇪

Hey, and the envelope with my latest order of stamps (from a seller in Belgium) has stamps with tulips on.

Booklet Stamps
Issued 2003 in booklet panes Perf. Die Cut 9¾ on 2 or sides
1991 A858 0.59€ Multi-colored Yellow Tulips

Issued 2002, Jul. 15
Perf. 11½ Photolithogr.
1925 A824 0.42€ Multi-colored Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek windmill, Azores
[Source: Scott 2018 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, Vol. 1B]

Leffe Abbey
Issued 2002, Jun. 10
Perf. 11 ½ Photolithogr.
1917 A820 0.42€ Multi-colored Leffe Abbey, 850th Anniversary

Belgian Castles
Issued 2002, Jun. 10
Perf. 11 ½ Photolithogr. Mini-sheet of 10
1918a A821 0.42€ Multi-colored Ecaussinnes-Lalaing
1918c A821 0.42€ Multi-colored Corroy-le-Chateau
1918d A821 0.42€ Multi-colored Alden Biesen
1918e A821 0.42€ Multi-colored Modave
1918f A821 0.42€ Multi-colored Horst
1918j A821 0.42€ Multi-colored Wissekerke
[Source: Scott 2018 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, Vol. 1B]

Issued 2005 (types of 1985 with Euro denominations)
Perf. 11 ½ Photolithogr.
2072 A524 0.05€ Multi-colored Bruant zizi (Belgium Cirl bunting bird)

Issued 2023, Jan.23
Perf. Die Cut 11½ Litho. Self-adhesive
Registered Mail   Multi-colored Red-Knot Sandpiper
[Source: Scott 2018 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, Vol. 1B]

Sunday/ Coquimbe, Chile 🇨🇱

We arrived at the port city of Coquimbo this morning.
Our excursion today was a bus ride along the shoreline into the neighboring town of La Serena, followed by a drive inland to the commune of Vicuña (pop. 25,000).

The Monumental Lighthouse of La Serena (Faro Monumental de La Serena) is located on the beach at the Avenida del Mar of La Serena. It was built between 1950 and 1951 at the request of President Gabriel González Videla.
The beautiful, parched landscape and cactuses, as seen from our bus on Route 41 on the way to Vicuña.
Lush green vineyards in the Elqui Valley.
We stopped by a pisco distillery on the way to Vicuña . Here is my sample of pisco sour, made from distilled muscatel grapes and lemon juice. Pisco is the national drink of Peru, but a version of it is made in Chile as well.
Here is the municipal theater house in Vicuña.
We were one of four buses full of cruise ship tourists had lunch at this restaurant. We had an empanada appetizer, followed by a large steak with rice and tomato salad, and papaya for dessert. Oh, and they served pisco and original Coca-Cola for drinks.
Back in Coquimbo, for our final stop at a little tourist market next to this church.

Friday/ Arica, Chile 🇨🇱

Our self-directed excursion into Arica this morning took us up the steep path to the top of the hill called Morro Arrica.

At the top there is an enormous Chilean flag, a museum and a statue called Christ of the Peace (a reference to the Treaty of Lima in 1929 that settled lingering territorial disputes between Peru and Chile).

Morro de Arica is 139 m (459 ft) above sea level.
It was the last bulwark of defense for the Peruvian troops who garrisoned the city during the War of the Pacific (1879–1883). Morro de Arica was assaulted and captured on June 7, 1880, by Chilean troops in the last part of the Tacna and Arica campaign.
The Gothic San Marcos Cathedral dates from 1876 was designed by none other than the French architect Gustave Eiffel.
We are now making our way up to the staircase that run op Morro de Arica. This is the consulate for Peru in Arica.
Mural art at the corner of Cristobal Colon and Morro Street.
More eye-catching mural art nearby.
A view of the city from halfway up the staircase to the top of Morro de Arica.
There is a giant Chilean flag at the top of Morro de Arica.
Looking down at the cruise terminal with Norwegian Sun, Silver Nova and an assortment of fishing boats, presumably.
Cristo de la Paz Statue at the top of Morro de Arica.
Long after the War of the Pacific ended in 1883, the lingering territorial disputes between Peru and Chile were finally settled by the Treaty of Lima in 1929. In this Tacna-Arica compromise, the city of Arica officially became the northernmost point of Chile. As part of this sign of peace, the Cristo de la Paz statue was designed by Raul Valdivieso in 1987 and then erected in 1999 on Morro de Arica, the scene of the crushing Peruvian defeat in 1880. Also called the Cristo de la Concordia, this steel and bronze statue stands 36 feet on a concrete pedestal. The outstretched hands of Christ measure 33 ft across.
[From encirclephotos.com]
Downtown Arica.
A compact fire station in downtown Arica.
The administrative building of the Ferrocarril De Arica a La Paz railway was declared a national monument in 1990. There is a flea market of sorts on the promenade that runs in front of it.
We found this white hibiscus in a park in downtown Arica.
As we returned to the ship, there was live entertainment from a band and dancers— decked out in festive traditional Chilean costumes.

Tuesday/ Lima, Peru 🇵🇪

Today’s excursion into Lima took us to Lima Main Square (Plaza de Armas) with the Lima Cathedral just adjacent to it.
We also stopped by the Basilica and Convent of Santo Domingo.

On the way back to Callao and the cruise terminal, we stopped at the Parque Domodossola in Miraflores for a look at the Pacific Ocean and the playas (beaches) below.

Colorful housing in Callao. We again drove through Callao (where the cruise terminal is) to get to central Lima.
There are lots of street vendors to be seen in Callao, but also on the city streets in Lima.
Lima Main Square (Plaza de Armas). Unfortunately we could not really walk around the square since preparations are underway for a major celebration.
The Municipal Palace of Lima building that borders the square. The ornate wooden window frame is made from wood from Central America.
Inside Lima Cathedral that also borders the main square. It is a Roman Catholic cathedral. This third and current Cathedral of Lima was built between 1602 and 1797.
Several very ornate and Baroque-style altars are found in coves inside the church. This is of Mary Magdalene holding a golden rose.
The bones of Francisco Pizarro are interred in the Lima Cathedral. Pizarro, Marquess of the Atabillos, was a Spanish conquistador, best known for his expeditions that led to the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Born in Trujillo, Spain to a poor family, Pizarro chose to pursue fortune and adventure in the New World. He was assassinated in 1541 by Spanish soldiers.
This is a beautiful and historic private house a stone’s throw away from the square that we toured. I did not write down the name of the family that owns it.
Inside the Basilica and Convent of Santo Domingo.
Looking towards the south from Parque Domodossola .. 
.. and looking north.
Another viewpoint from the park, showing the cliffs along the shore. Peru lies outside the infamous ‘Ring of Fire’ series of fault lines, and do get earthquakes and tsunamis from time to time.

Sunday/ Salaverry & Trujillo, Peru 🇵🇪

The Norwegian Sun made it into the port town of Salaverry at seven this morning (first picture).
There was a shuttle bus out to the main plaza in Salaverry (third picture), and from there my party of three were left to our own devices to find transport to the city of Trujillo (pop. about 1 million).
This whole area nearby is the site of the great prehistoric Moche and Chimu cultures before the Inca conquest and subsequent expansion.

We solicited a taxi for the 25-minute drive into Trujillo and all went well until we paid the driver in US dollars. Best we could tell that he was not happy with the quality of the $20 and two $5 dollar bills. The US dollars have to be changed into Peruvian Sol by moneychangers for him. Anyway, we gave him the newest dollar bills we had, and that solved the problem.

We used Uber to get back. That was cheaper and worked a lot better: no exchange of paper money needed.

Look for the Plaza de Armas of Trujillo in the pictures below, with the Freedom Monument and the Cathedral of Trujillo nearby.
The beautiful building of UNT Archeology Museum and pictures of just a few of the displays inside, follow after that.

Wednesday/ Canal de Panamá 🛳

The Norwegian Sun’s position at 4.38 pm this afternoon: leaving Gatun Lake to enter the Miraflores Locks.
[Image: The ship’s navigation TV channel]
We traversed the engineering marvel called the Panama Canal today.
First up to admire was the Atlantic Bridge (Puente Atlántico), the new 15,092 ft (4,600 m) suspension bridge completed in 2019.
Then we entered the Gatun Locks.
This sequence of three locks opened in 1914, is the largest of the locks in the Panama Canal and lift ships up 85 ft (25.9 m) to the level of the sprawling Gatun Lake.
The man-made Gatun Lake lies between the two sets of locks that lifts and lowers vessels, and therefore allows passage to the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean.

After crossing Gatun Lake, we passed under the Centennial Bridge (Puente Centenario).  This bridge opened in 2004 and spans 3,451 ft (1,052 m).

Soon after that it was time to enter the Pedro Miguel Locks and the Miraflores Locks. These locks lowered the Norwegian Sun to the level of the Atlantic Ocean— the ocean that used to be a continent away from the Pacific, and not a mere 51 miles (82 km).

Atlantic Bridge (Puente Atlántico), the new 15,092 ft (4,600 m) suspension bridge completed in 2019.
Entering the Gatun Locks. The newer, wider Agua Clara Locks to the right were completed in 2016.
Approaching the Gatun Locks. Will she be able to squeeze in? (Yes.)
Entering the Gatun Locks.
No, we’re not on dry land— still floating but inside the lock. Another ‘Panamax’ size* vessel is coming through in the opposite direction.
*The Panamax dimensions give clear parameters for ships destined to traverse the Panama Canal and have influenced the design of cargo ships, naval vessels, and passenger ships.
Gatun Lake lies 85 ft (25.9 m) above sea level, and here comes the second (of three) Gatun locks that will raise the ship.
Look for the mule on the right edge of the picture. These are powerful electric locomotives that run on paired 5 ft (1,524 mm) broad gauge railway tracks, tethered to the ship on both sides with cables, to guide it through the locks.
Now Norwegian Sun is inside the lock, with the gates in front of her bow closed, and this one at her stern as well. (Looking back at the Atlantic Bridge in the distance). The lock is about to be filled with water to raise her up.
Getting there ..
The lock is filled, and the one at the front of the ship has been opened. We have started to move forward, into the next lock.
A view of how the mule on the tracks is attached to a vessel.
There is very, very little room to spare between the hull of Norwegian Sun and the walls of the lock.
Tight. Very tight. I am not sure what this gap in inches is, but it seems to be less than a foot. 
Another look back as we leave the first of the Gatun Locks.
Now out of the Gatun Locks, and on the large and sprawling Gatun Lake.
More than a dozen crew from Norwegian Sun stepped onto this boat alongside Norwegian Sun.
Crossing Gatun Lake. This is the area that we looked down onto yesterday, from the observation tower that we had reached with the Gamboa Aerial Tramway nearby.
Approaching the Centennial Bridge (Spanish: Puente Centenario) that was completed in 2004.
Inside the Pedro Miguel Locks, the first of the locks that will lower the Norwegian Sun back to sea level.
Leaving the Pedro Miguel Locks.
Approaching the Miraflores Locks.
Approaching the two locks called the Miraflores Locks.
Another tight fit: inside the Miraflores Locks.
Sunset— our first one over the Atlantic Ocean.

Monday/ Cartagena, Colombia 🇨🇴

Cartagena (pop. 914,500 in 2020) is a port city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. By the sea is the walled Old Town, founded in the 16th century, with squares, cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings. With a tropical climate, the city is also a popular beach destination.
– Google

Late Monday afternoon we left Cartagena and sailed almost due west, towards Colon at the northern end of the Panama Canal.

We spent some three hours in the Old Town of Cartagena this morning, and came away with a good impression.
Just be prepared to say no gracias many times, to the street vendors selling t-shirts, hats, bottled water and soda, souvenirs and cubanos (cigars).
The day temperature rose rapidly through the morning, and it was already 90 °F (32 °C) when our taxi driver met us to take us back to the ship.

Wednesday/ a little art deco 🌇

These art deco buildings are around the corner of Broadway and South Columbia Street in Seaside.

In 2018 Sisu Brewing Co. was established in the Times Theatre & Public House building that originally opened in the 1940s.  There is still a screen that can be lowered in front of the stainless steel brew kettles on the inside, though, to show televised sporting events.

Sunday/ a jaunt to U-district 🚇

Sunday is a good day to make a run up to U-district to check out the used book-stores and music stores (yes, they still sell CDs there).

I never did make it to the city of Xi’an (capital of Shaanxi Province in central China) when I was working there, to see the terracotta warriors.
Here is the cool window display, though, of Taste of Xi’an on University Way. One of their signature dishes is called paomo: a broth that we used is slow cooked with lamb, beef bones and whole chicken more than 10 hours every day.
Supreme, purveyor of New York-style pizza, also on University Way.
(New York–style pizza is pizza made with a characteristically large hand-tossed thin crust, often sold in wide slices to go).
A cosmetics store with Japanese brands, and a burger joint across the street.
University Way is in decent shape without too much damage, but man! some of the street blocks have back alleys that look downright awful (trash and graffiti).
The Varsity Theatre is in the same block that sits on the light rail U-district station.
Right behind it, the construction of a new 13-story office block with retail space is underway.
Not a pretty sight. This trashed entrance and empty space in a prime location, on the corner of 45th Street and University Way. It used to have a Bartell drug store inside. Evidently the Bartell store could not make enough profit even after being taken over by Rite Aid Corporation .. but I wonder how much effort Rite Aid really put in to keep the store afloat.
Here’s the northbound train at U-district station. Just a minute later the southbound train on the opposite track arrived and took me back to Capitol Hill.

Thursday/ a soggy downtown ☔️

It was still raining on and off today.
(We’re getting a break from the rain tomorrow.)
I had an errand downtown and took these pictures.

It’s still looking a little desolate on 15th Avenue across from the No 10 bus stop. No word yet, as to when the former QFC grocery store’s building will be redeveloped.
Nice artwork on the bland wall. Looks like someone had an entire filing cabinet of 3.5″ diskettes to throw out!
The 5th Avenue Theatre sign and little tree lights bring a little color to the gray.
At parade of tail lights on Fifth Avenue, on my way to the Seattle Central Library on Spring Street.
The entrance to Seattle Central Library on Fifth Avenue.
The F5 tower is still looking good. It opened in May of 2017.
It’s impossible for me to tell what percentage of the office space is occupied at this point, but I suspect it’s still way down from pre-pandemic levels.
An ambulance from the Seattle Fire Department comes by as a handful of us wait for the No 12 bus on Marion Street to take us back to Capitol Hill.

Saturday/ a freehold 🏠

The construction of the Central District Freehold apartment building on 19th Avenue East with its 61 apartments is now complete.
It was designed for active seniors (55+) and residents are qualified for its affordable rent, based on their income.
The project was funded by Mount Zion Housing Development (MZHD), a housing group founded in 1988 to provide affordable housing to seniors in Seattle’s Central District.

From the Mount Zion Housing Development website:
The word Freehold means a permanent and absolute form of tenure by which real property is held for life.
As such, it must have two qualities: unmovable and it is held forever. “We like the words within the word – Free + Hold; The word reflects our values of history, inspiration, safety, connection, hope, and renewal. The mere definition reflects the mission and vision of MZHD”.
We wanted to remember the history of the Central District, its people, places, and events. Events and places such as: The Mardi Gras, The Birdland, The Drum Room, Madison Plaza, Volume Food Market, The Black and Tan, The Seafair Parade down 23rd Ave. All of these places and events evoke memories for those people who have connections or historical ties to the Central District. In living at The Central District Freehold, we wanted people to feel invigorated by the memory of these events and places.

The Central District Freehold apartment building on 19th Avenue East.
Hopefully I have it right, with the iconic pictures, top to bottom:
Barack Obama, 44th U.S. President
Harriet Tubman, abolitionist
Malcolm X, American Muslim minister and civil rights activist
Rosa Parks, civil rights activist
Frederick Douglass, social reformer and abolitionist

Monday/ at the museum 🏛

We made a brief stop in downtown Fairbanks today, and then headed to the The University of Alaska Museum of the North (the museum is on the campus of the university).

The bridge over the Cena River in downtown Fairbanks is lined with the Stars and Stripes and the Alaska State flag.
We stopped by this arts and craft market with its vast collection of weird and wonderful souvenirs and antique items.
The U.S. Post Office and Courthouse building on Cushman St. between 2nd and 3rd Ave. was constructed in 1932-33 and features aluminum trim with Art Deco detailing.
The next set of pictures are all from the Museum of the North. This illustration features animals that roamed around what is now Alaska, from the Pleistocene Ice Age that began 2 million years ago.
That’s a kayak above, of course— and an umiak below: an open boat made of animal hide stretched over a wooden frame, designed to carry many people.
Male Doll, 1998. Artist Rosalie Paniyak. Sealskin, rabbit, wood, textile, beads and waxed thread.
Seabird Mask ‘Uyaleg Kegginaqur’ 1982. Creator: Qiu Henry Shavings.
Postcard of the 1970s of young people doing a ‘blanket toss’.

Wednesday/ at the museum ⚔️

The National Nordic Museum is a museum in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, dedicated to the Nordic history, art, culture, and the heritage of the area’s Nordic immigrants.

Here are a few pictures that I had taken inside of the museum, and of items on display.

Saturday/ Seattle Center ✨

Here is a smattering of pictures that I took at Seattle Center: from the Space Needle, from inside the Chihuly Garden and Glass and from inside the Museum of Pop Culture.

Saturday/ good-bye to Tokyo 😘

I am at Haneda airport— ready for the flight back to Vanouver (9 hours), and then on to Seattle (45 mins). I had a wonderful time, but I am looking forward to the cooler weather that seems to persist this summer in the Pacific Northwest.

Here’s a view from the little driverless train on the Yurikamome Line (it opened in 1995) that runs across Odeiba, an artificial island close to the shoreline in Tokyo Bay. The 6-car train runs on a double track and 600 V 50 Hz 3-phase alternating current.
Look for the little Statue of Liberty in the second picture (on Odeiba). In the background is the Rainbow Bridge that opened in August 1993, so just about 30 years old.

Friday night in Ginza ⭐️

Happy Friday.
I ran out to Ginza district one more time, to take a few night pictures. The schools are out for the summer break here in Tokyo, and the train stations were even more crowded than they had been all week.
It was already past 8 pm, but the trains were still full of salarymen* in their white shirts and black pants, making their way home.

*A salaryman (サラリーマン, sararīman) is a salaried worker. In Japanese popular culture, this is embodied by a white-collar worker who shows overriding loyalty and commitment to the corporation where he works [Wikipedia]

The Seiko clock tower on the Wako specialty store, a famous Ginza landmark;
Mitsukoshi Ginza department store kitty corner from the Wako building, with the Matsuya Ginza store a little further down;
Uniqlo’s flagship store in Tokyo, on all seven floors (a Japanese casual wear designer, manufacturer and retailer).

Friday/ the Marunouchi line 🚇

The Marunouchi Line runs in a U-shape between Ogikubo Station in Suginami and Ikebukuro Station in Toshima.
I took it from beautiful Tokyo station (first two pictures) to Shinjuku station today.  (Got to love the graphic posters that warn of the dangers of trying to board a departing train).  

Saturday/ a classy lobby

I took these pictures of the newly completed Cedar Hall lobby at the U.S. Bank Center at 5th Avenue and Pine Street last Sunday.

The interior designers and craftsmen did a great job.
I believe they will still add a restaurant or bars inside, later.


Sunday/ at the Waterfront 🛳

I walked around the Seattle Waterfront this afternoon.
It is still somewhat of a work in progress.
The new Colman Dock ferry terminal is nearing completion, but several walkways and connections to the Waterfront are still under construction.

The passenger building at the new Seattle Ferry Terminal is a vast improvement over the old one: it fully faces the waters of Puget Sound, with large windows looking onto Elliott Bay and also back at the city.
The passenger walkway at Marion Street across Alaskan Way, connecting the downtown surface streets with the Seattle Ferry Terminal.
Looking back (south) towards the Seattle Ferry Terminal.
Miners Landing is still there, as are all the other touristy t-shirt and souvenir shops, restaurants and food joints.
I made it to the Pike Place Market complex, on the Old Stove Brewing patio and looking south. The construction is for the Overlook Walk: an elevated public park and connection between the Waterfront to Seattle’s urban core.
The summer cruise season is in full swing by now.
This is the Norwegian Encore, getting ready for its 5 pm departure to Juneau, Alaska.
Now making my way back to Capitol Hill.
‘Don’t mind me, please, driver’ I thought as I snapped this picture of a forest green Rivian R1T electric truck.
Crossing Third Avenue in downtown. The 1928 Belltown Self Storage building is now closed, and plans are afoot to build a new 8-story combination hotel and apartment structure behind the terracotta facade.
Just a little bit further north on Third Ave is First Light Seattle, a luxury condominium tower that is going up. Construction is by real estate developer Westbank Corp from Vancouver, BC.