LONDON (Reuters Life!) - While post offices are usually associated with long lines and inefficient service, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be totally kept off the travel itinerary. With this in mind the members and editors of travel website VirtualTourist.com (www.virtualtourist.com) offer their picks for “Top 10 Must-See Post Offices.” Reuters does not endorse this list:
1. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
This small post office is on the ground floor of La Tour Eiffel, so even if you’re afraid of heights, it is worth a visit. You will be sure to impress with the special Eiffel Tower postmark on all your postcards.
2. Port Lockroy, Antarctica
No need to worry about long lines here. Despite its off-the-beaten path location, around 70,000 cards a year from over 100 countries are posted here. Mail usually takes 2-6 weeks to arrive and there is no overnight shipping available so tell your friends not to wait by the mailbox.
3. Vanuatu Post’s Underwater Post Office; Republic of Vanuatu
Located three meters (yards) beneath the ocean’s surface and only fifty meters from shore, this office is accessible without the need of a scuba license. Just don’t forget your snorkel and mask.
4. Post Office Bay; Floreana Island, Galapagos, Ecuador
In 1793 British Captain James Colnett placed an empty wooden post barrel on the island so passing ships could aid each other in getting mail to the mainland and even today the tradition continues. Visitors can leave mail in the barrel and pass on what they find addressed to someone in their hometown.
5. Washington Park and Oregon Zoo; Portland, Oregon.
A throwback to when mail was mostly delivered by train, according to the zoo’s website the zoo railway “...is the last operating United States railroad with its own authorized railway postal cancellation to continuously offer mail service.”
6. Madison Square Post Office; New York, New York
Its rundown Art Deco exterior may not draw admiring glances, but inside the 1930s-era Depression murals by Kindred McLeary make this post office a must-see. Each mural illustrates Manhattan’s unique areas from Greenwich Village to Wall Street.
7. Post Office of Mardin; Mardin, Turkey
Even if you have nothing to mail, this post office is worth a visit purely for its architectural beauty. This stunning 17th-century palace looks more movie set than post office so make sure not to leave your camera at home.
8. Austrian Postal Savings Bank; Vienna, Austria
This historic landmark demonstrates Art Nouveau master Otto Wagner’s first foray into modern architecture. While dropping your mail, be sure to admire its famous atrium as well as the in-house museum that celebrates its architect.
9. Polish Post Museum; Gdansk, Poland
Even though you might not be able to send mail from this post office-turned-museum, it’s worth a visit for its historical value. Be prepared to learn about more than just the mail; the museum’s fascinating exhibits relate mostly to the German assault on the building during WWII.
10. U.S. Post Office, Christmas, Florida
During the Christmas season, people flock to this sleepy town outside of Orlando so their Christmas cards will be postmarked from Christmas itself! It might not be the North Pole, but it certainly gets one in the holiday spirit.
Editing by Paul Casciato