Yet again, my cousin decides to trouble me with another puzzle. Why doesn't he simply stop? Anyway, here's the e-mail again:

Hey Sid! I gave up that cruise travel. Too boring. Now, I want to fly!Maybe join Aviation ministry or Aviation organisation or something?!
Do you know? Dutch->Greek. A place was substituted by a prestigious award. A British city was swapped for A South American one. A part of Turkey was replaced by a Sport. An African city was substituted by a beautiful Dance. An American city too couldn't resist the law of change and its representative status was stripped off and handed to a month. Another City was replaced with a progressive Dance. The first one is done again.

Once you get all of that, Look for a rotated east European Country's. Then, a dangerous beginning for the quest of pirate's treasure beckons.

Edit: My cousin's next e-mail. Pretty short one:

Seems you have made some progress. Where next? - International Naval,Technical,Engineering and Research Cooperative Organisation.

I have no idea what he was blabbering there? Any ideas?


Here's what my cousin had to say: "My next adventure will help you solve this."


My cousin's next reply: "Ever thought about me talking about Aviation Organisation? Think, what they came up with for puzzlers like you."

  • $\begingroup$ And...this doesn't look like stegano ;) Looks like he is tired of that. $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Feb 15 '17 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ Country's or Country ? $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Feb 16 '17 at 9:20

From what I can tell, the aviation aspect of this message is important and it's giving us a sort of map for finding words that fit what the cousin mentions. I wonder though if I'm only getting half of it. I hope I am on the right track.
I have ended up with the following:

Using the NATO alphabet:
Prestigious award: Oscar
South American city: Lima
Sport: Golf
beautiful dance: Tango/Foxtrot
month: November
progressive dance: Tango/Foxtrot
Which gives me the letters OLGTNF

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    $\begingroup$ Great answer, and welcome to Puzzling! Why don't you take the site tour while you're waiting to see if you're on the right track, and get to know the site a bit better. $\endgroup$ – boboquack Feb 20 '17 at 5:58
  • $\begingroup$ Also, this is my first time on here so I hope that my comment is appropriate. Please let me know if I have not followed the guidelines of the site. $\endgroup$ – LaniKate Feb 20 '17 at 5:58
  • $\begingroup$ No, this is exactly what happens here on Puzzling. $\endgroup$ – boboquack Feb 20 '17 at 5:58
  • $\begingroup$ Wonderful work! Now, try and find out what they stand for $\endgroup$ – Sid Feb 20 '17 at 15:17

Continuing from where Lani left off...

each of the "replacements" is a change from the 1932 ITU Phonetic Alphabet to the NATO Phonetic Alphabet.

Amsterdam → Alpha
Oslo → Oscar
Liverpool → Lima
Gallipoli → Golf
Tripoli → Tango
New York → November
Francisco → Foxtrot
Amsterdam → Alpha

I attempted to rot-n the letters AOLGTNFA to get an eastern European country, as well as Vigenère decode them with all 8-letter eastern European countries to get a message. No luck with either.

  • $\begingroup$ Did you try using the F character too? As Lani mentioned, Tango might be replaced by Foxtrot. $\endgroup$ – Mike Limburg Feb 20 '17 at 8:57
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    $\begingroup$ Foxtrot is a progressive dance, so that's probably the last one. The city would then be (San) Francisco. But AOLGTNF can't be rotated into anything meaningful either. Maybe use different rotations (somehow hidden in the text) for each of the letters. Lots of possible countries in Eastern Europe I'm afraid... Estonia is the most hopeful, with three repeating rotations (4,4,8,8,20,21,21). $\endgroup$ – Levieux Feb 20 '17 at 9:52
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, good going. There was an error on my part. I have edited it. $\endgroup$ – Sid Feb 20 '17 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ It says "The first one is done again", maybe there's another A? $\endgroup$ – LaniKate Feb 23 '17 at 4:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Donnelle: Dutch->Greek is Amsterdam (a Dutch city) -> Alpha (a Greek letter). $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Feb 23 '17 at 22:25

Continuing Deusovi's answer:

AOLGTNFA is an anagram for 'NATO flag'.
There is also a phonetic alphabet called NATO alphabet, so that was also a possible hint.
The capitals of 'International Naval, Technical, Engineering and Research Cooperative Organisation' may refer to the INTERnational COde of signals, that is the maritime flag signaling system. The phrase itself refers to NATO again.
'organisation' in a puzzle context was probably a reference to anagrams.
The INTERCO flags for K and H have the pattern of the rotated flags of Ukraine and Poland, respectively:
enter image description here
I'm not sure this matters, but back in the 1932 ITU Phonetic Alphabet these were coded as Kilogramm and Havana. The current version uses Kilo and Hotel.


Very (wrong?) partial answer.

As mentioned by @Sid, the answer below is not even close. Definitely on the wrong track! What I thought is that his cousin perhaps was looking for some coordinatesand he had some riddles, though that were just guesses.

"A place became a prestigious award."

Sundance (Utah, though this is a ski resort)

"An American city too couldn't resist the law of change and became a month."


"Another City was replaced with a progressive Dance."


  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, not even close. Let me edit the question to make it a bit clearer. $\endgroup$ – Sid Feb 16 '17 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ Your cousin doesn't make it too easy, now.. :( $\endgroup$ – Mike Limburg Feb 16 '17 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ There seems to be some substitution going on in there with the letters capitalized but I am not able to find any rotated North European country. $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Feb 16 '17 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I checked that capitalized letters too. Makes no sense. Here's the capitals: (H)(S)(I)(T)(N)(I)(M)A(D)(D)(G)(A)(A)(B)A(S)(A)(A)(T)S(A)(A)D(A)(A)(A)CD(O)L(N)(E)C(T) where AASDCDLC are intentional capitalized. $\endgroup$ – Mike Limburg Feb 16 '17 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ "Um, wrong direction again", says my cousin. "The capital letters are just my obsession with them". Nothing else. "Here's a minute hint: Sometimes, the thing that you will propel you forward is that which looks redundant and is always overlooked". $\endgroup$ – Sid Feb 16 '17 at 13:34

This puzzle has remain unsolved for a long period of time and I believe it is time I self-answer this thing.


Deusovi found the first part quite easily.

Let me recap what he found:

Replacements are a change from the 1932 ITU Phonetic Alphabet to the NATO Phonetic Alphabet.

Here are the answers in detail:

Amsterdam → Alpha
Oslo → Oscar
Liverpool → Lima
Gallipoli → Golf
Tripoli → Tango
New York → November
Francisco → Foxtrot
Amsterdam → Alpha

For the second part of the answer:

The first letters of the words give AOLGTNFA which can be anagrammed to (NATO FLAG.)* which elias found out in their attempt. If we use the (INTERCO)** which was hinted in the edit, we find this corresponds to maritime flag signalling system. This leads to the final part of the answer.

Third and Final part of the answer:

If you go to the wiki page of INTERCO, we have to now use the final clues in the puzzle.
rotated east European Country's- UKRAINE's flag rotated which is of K(as elias again found out). However, we have to use the ICS meaning as single flag where that flag means "I wish to communicate with you."
a dangerous beginning for the quest of pirate's treasure- Dangerous=Red. Beginning of Pirate Treasure= X. So, we see the flag of "V" which is a big Red Cross. Again using the same method, the flag means, "I require assistance."
And those two are our final answer. :)

Some Extra Comments

I believe I did a lot wrong in this puzzle. I have highlighted the parts which I feel I messed up as * and **. Explaining a bit further:
* - I didn't realise the NATO FLAG was not a dictionary phrase. I actually thought that it could be found from wordsmith.anagram or other similar sites. I only later found out that I had only made things far too tedious for people.
** - INTERCO thing was edited later into the puzzle. That is because I thought NATO FLAG would easily redirect to INTERCO via a simple google search. I didn't really double check this. Well... guess I was wrong. When I saw fellow puzzlers struggling after NATO FLAG, I googled the word and found out that it didn't in any way, direct to the Wiki page I had intended it to. That was another mistake on my part.
The other mistake I feel is that there wasn't a "feel-good" moment for the puzzler for going through such extensive google-searching and tedious solving. I will keep this point in mind whenever I make new puzzles.

  • $\begingroup$ Nice to see the final answer and the conclusions. Let me add my impressions: it is also a little bit unlucky, that there is an ambiguity related to the flags: H is a rotated version of Poland's flag, which happens to be an Eastern European country as well. But I think the major problem is, that once you get the intended solution about the ICS phrases, the puzzle is solved. At least for me the two phrases don't shout out as being the final solution. But I liked the puzzle, as it had a lot of intertwining references. $\endgroup$ – elias Jul 13 '17 at 7:36
  • $\begingroup$ @elias Yeah. The back story probably should have provided more such references of trouble. Well, I am still learning. :) $\endgroup$ – Sid Jul 13 '17 at 7:47

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