Friday, June 1, 2018

Bringing back Memories.

RHYS BOWEN: As you know I am currently in Tuscany, teaching my writing workshop. And I have to confess that one of the joys of travel is shopping. I've shopped and bargained for leather in Morocco (big mistake. I couldn't get rid of the stink), I've been lured into carpet stores in Turkey and plied with tea and music. The most memorable, in a bad way, was the fur salesman who showed up at my houseboat in Kashmir and proceeded to throw fur coats all over my sofa--wolf, linx and then... leopard. I kept my feelings to myself as I asked, "But surely, I won't be able to bring that coat home to America?"
"Ah, madame. You buy the coat, we will guarantee that it arrives" he said. Apparently they made a leather pillow with a false double lining and the coat squished inside. "And if you want baby snow leopard, I can get it for you," he said.
I think there was a tremble in my voice when I asked, "And how many baby snow leopards would it take?"
Twenty five," he said. At this point I could have strangled him. I was civilized enough to say, "I don't want any of them. Where I live we do not like to see animals killed to make coats."

These days it's hard to find a genuine souvenir made locally and not in China, isn't it?
Unfortunately the small town of Castellina in Chianti has very little in the way of shops. One rather lovely and very expensive clothing store, some good wine stores and a Saturday market where last time I found a gorgeous pink leather purse. This time I'll look for one in another color when we go to the market later today. Apart from those it's salami or cheeses (which unfortunately  we can't bring into the States--do you remember Lucille Ball trying to bring back the big sausage disguised as a baby?) Last time we brought back some amazing balsamic vinegar that cost more than a good wine. But you only need a couple of drops at a time.


I think I've passed the stage of bringing back souvenirs like ashtrays painted with donkeys/silk scarves with St. Peters on them. We already have too much stuff. So what I've been doing for many years now is finding a unique little box and bringing back to add to my box collection. Alas the glass topped table is horribly full and I may have to weed out the less interesting boxes. I put a slip of paper in each saying where I bought it, in case I forget.

Apart from that my big collection is of dolls from all over the world. My father used to go to Germany and Sweden on business all the time and my aunt was an intrepid world traveler and they both brought me back dolls each time so I have this wonderful collection. But no room for any more.

So what do you bring back when you travel? Do you love shopping in markets and little alleyways? Any adventures to relate

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING; I always seem to bring back a cold. Badum-BOOM! Thanks, I'll be here all week. Seriously, I bring back books, because I always go books shopping when I travel (most of which is for work, so at least the book stores are convenient.) I also like pieces of jewelry (nothing too expensive) and have some lovely Mexican silver things. On our Christmas trip to Hawai'i, I got earrings. (Side note: I'm so grateful we got to see Kilauea and the Volcano National Park visitor's center before it all explodes/gets covered in ash.)

I have a friend who does scarves, not the kitschy type, but real scarves she finds at local stores. And of course, when my kids were little, there were the inevitable gifts from every book tour they weren't invited on. BTW, the smartest souvenir trick I ever heard was from a mom whose family went to Disney once every few years. She would pick up Disney merchandise at yard sales and Goodwill, stash it all away and then pull it out during the trip to short-circuit her kids whining for pricey on-site toys!

LUCY BURDETTE: We are trying to schlep things out of the house, rather than bring things in. But I do like to find Christmas presents, and books for our grandchildren. In India, we saw amazing fabrics and I so wanted a sari. But I knew I would never wear it. I did buy a few scarves instead, and I hope to figure out how to wear them!

INGRID THOFT: I love to bring something home that I can display in our home—something that will remind us of the trip every time we see it.  We managed to bring hand painted plates back from turkey (in one piece!) and cloisonné from China.  A gorgeous hand-stitched pillow with an Aboriginal design was my find in Sydney, and I look seeing in it my office when I’m writing.  In Granada, Spain, I found a ceramic pomegranate, the official symbol of the city, and just a month ago, I purchased a beautiful piece of hand painted Navajo pottery.  Bookmarks are my other souvenir of choice.  They’re inexpensive and easy to pack and lovely reminders of far flung destinations.

JENN McKINLAY: LOL, Julia! If I can leave the plague and pestilence behind on a trip, I call it a win! I'm not much of a souvenir gal but my mom has always collected refrigerator magnets from every place she's traveled and somewhere in my twenties, I started to do the same. So, a magnet is a must. And then it's whatever the place is known for like a small glass object from Milan or maple syrup from Vermont, you know, that sort of thing. If it's consumable all the better, so it won't cause clutter. And Rhys, I loved the I Love Lucy sausage-baby episode!!!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: OH, Rhys, Castellina! I love that town and when we were there, I sent back hand-painted ceramic house numbers. I wanted to get the whole deal, 19 River Street, but the numbers were SO expensive, I settled for just 1 and 9. :-)   I am a big big sucker for scarves. (Which at least are light and flat.) When we went to the Palio in Siena, each contrade had a silk scarf with their emblem and colors. That was a DISASTER of a spree, but I still wear the scarves.  And t-shirts, oh my dear, I cannot resist, and HOW MANY t-shirts can one person have? (Don't answer.) I was at the AWP conference recently, and bought one that says: USE YOUR WORDS.  How could I not?  But again, light and flat. And they don't melt or break.

HALLIE EPHRON: I travel light, so my criteria for what I can bring home is: small, flat. So YES on scarves! And tiles. I have a handprinted tile from Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Great Britain, Italy, Morocco... My dining room has a plate rail all the way 'round where I display them. No ore room now, so no more tiles. China is a great place for scarves, and I brought one back from our trip to Alaska, too.

But the souvenirs have to find me, because I really hate to use my time traveling to shop. I did make an exception in Tuscany for the aMAZing leather goods. There's nothing like them here in the States. Nothing affordable, that is.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I don't generally shop for souvenirs, especially in the UK. I don't want to add anything heavy to my suitcase, or more stuff to my already cluttered house. But sometimes irresistible things present themselves, like this painting I bought on my recent visit to Eureka Springs, Arkansas for a book festival. My last night I had dinner with friends at an Italian restaurant in town. Artwork by the restaurant's hostess, Teresa Pelliccio,  was displayed on the dining room walls, and I fell in love with this little piece--enough so that I hand carried it home on the plane, AND found a place to hang it!



RHYS: These days I take my sketch book and the little sketches are the best souvenirs. They really bring back the feel of the place:
So who is a collector? What do you bring back when you travel?

40 comments:

  1. We’re much more likely to bring back souvenirs for family and friends than for ourselves, but I always check out the books. Like Jenn, I enjoy finding a great magnet and, as Ingrid noted, bookmarks always seem to make it home with me . . . .

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    1. I think books are a great idea. I particularly enjoy local histories that I won't find anywhere else.

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  2. Oh, my! I'm still in the packrat phase, I guess, because I do bring home souvenirs, but I try to limit myself to one amazing thing that I'll use and remember. As a quilter, I used to buy fabric, thinking I'd remember where I got each piece when I got around to using it but . . . eh, not so much. The fat quarters and half yards would sit in the stash and I'd forget them. Now I'd rather have jewelry or art. I bought one excellent ring in Santa Fe, another in San Francisco. I wear them all the time, and remember the trip when I do. I have framed photos from New York and Oregon and art glass paperweights from just about everywhere. All are easy to pack or ship, and all remind me of my adventures every time I see them.

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  3. I don't really travel so I don't really have the opportunity to bring home things to represent the trip. So by default, I don't really shop or collect anything from trips.

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  4. I'll add my name to the book collector. I always try to visit a local independent bookshop on our trips and buy at least one book. Usually a local mystery. I also bought a Christmas tree ornament for many years. However, I think I might be done with that as well. I have a lot of them. Oh, I also love local pottery. I've bought pieces on many trips to New Mexico and Arizona - and you can get things shipped if you're flying instead of driving. Scarves are a good idea. I'll think about that. And I remember Lucy and the 'baby' as well. Ha!

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  5. Rhys, I'm so envious of your artistic skills. Those sketches are a fabulous way to remember a trip!

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  6. Sadly, I haven't been anywhere in years but when I used to travel I liked to pick up a Christmas ornament, preferably handmade, that represented the place. I have a lot of Maine lighthouses!

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    1. Judi, my late father-in-law used to do that! It was a sort of souvenir plus - he enjoyed them during his lifetime, and when we inherited them, we had the pleasure of hanging them on the tree and remembering him and his travels.

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  7. I do wish I could sketch. And I"m with Gigi, my house is full of little items that are laden with memories of the place where I bought (or found) it. I forgot to say I like to pick up feathers. From our trip to Alaska I have a big black raven's feather.

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    1. Hallie, I think the tile idea is wonderful. I could see having a collection set in as a backsplash in the kitchen or as a fireplace surround.

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    2. Wow, Julia! A tile backsplash from all your adventures would be a wonderful way to make kitchen work happier. I like that a lot.

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  8. Oh, and I save all of the badges from conventions I attend… and hang them on the back of my office chair. At least those are marked with where they are from!

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  9. Oh, too many collections. Mine, stuff my kids have given me from their travels, and now many, many sculptures and other art from Steve's parents' travels.

    I've collected scarves since high school, and have very beautiful examples from most of the countries I've been to: Liberty from London, alpaca from Peru, for example. One of my very favorite and loveliest scarves is from a shop in Munich.

    All three of my daughters are world travelers to one extent or another (the youngest has been to six continents, plus the Falklands), and we have all gotten in the habit of finding either a scarf or a piece of jewelry that we will all like. When my middle daughter was in Turkey a few years ago she found the most gorgeous silk devore' (chiffon velvet with the velvet parts burned out in a pattern) paisley scarves, in four different colors. Mine is brilliant turquoise (I think of Hallie when I wear it), and I get a million compliments on it. At one shop in Prague I found the coolest magnetic necklaces made by a local artist for each of the girls, and they wear them all the time.

    My father-in-law went to the southern areas of Africa many times, starting in the late 50's, and he brought back small carvings and other objects. His many trips to the Yukon, Alaska, and the Arctic Circle also found him choosing and buying soapstone carvings from native artists, and we have dozens of them. I'll be trying to figure out display options for them.

    My favorite of all souvenirs, though, are the incredible dot paintings done by Aboriginal women in Australia. They're done on black painted canvas, with the explanations on the back. Big ones were outrageously pricey, but since mine are about 8" X 10", they were affordable, and fit tidily into a small space. I framed them floating between two pieces of glass, so we can look at the artist's second drawings on the back. A local store had a collection of Aboriginal dot painting-themed fabrics, and I've collected enough to make a quilt with them, too. Maybe to hang on the wall between the dot paintings.

    Rhys, did that little shop have the shawl you wanted? I hope so!

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    1. I haven't had a chance to shop in Castellina yet, but we were in San Gimignano today and I bought a little leather purse for my granddaughter. But we did walk past that shop and it still looks really interesting... So stay tuned!

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    2. I hope they have what you're looking for!

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  10. We don't travel much, but when the kids were little, we'd bring back a T-shirt or something for them if we went somewhere. Not so much now.

    If we did travel, we'd be much more likely to buy something we could display in the house, art or a throw or something. Useful and it would remind us of the trip.

    Mary/Liz

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  11. Another fan of refrigerator magnets here--I love seeing them and being reminded of moments on that trip. Otherwise, I let the trinket find me--something that is specific to that area, even better if it's locally crafted. My favorite thing about any trip is talking to other people, locals or other travelers alike. People are so fascinating!
    Rhys, I adore that sketch. What a perfect takeaway from your travels.

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  12. I give the kids Christmas ornaments from our travels every year. The embroidered fabric ones are easy to transport. Jewelry for the girls is easy to pack. Last year, the kids texted me their preferences and I hit a handbag store in Florence, then moved on to a tie and belt place. Best Christmas ever!

    Hallie, I have a similar Turkish tile and Delft tile. I use both as hot pads on the table.

    I take lots of outside photos, but refused to take photos in museums. I buy a postcard instead. And I use a fridge magnet to signal that the dishwasher is running or clean. This week it's Botticelli's Primavera.

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  13. We are seriously trying to declutter so I'm limiting my souvenirs to practical stuff: scarves, jewelry, and (especially!) photos. We'll see if I can stick to that resolution.

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  14. We don't bring back souvenirs per se, got over that long ago, and we already have enough to get dusty. What we do buy is stuff that is useful. My favorite tablecloth is from Provence, and has cigales woven in, the cicada being the state bird so to speak! We have two sets of towels from Paris plus a quantity of bed linens, bought twenty years ago and still in use, can't bear to retire them. We used to bring back lovely soaps et al, but now I can order most of that on Amazon, not an exclusive thing anymore. For years we packed pillows in our suitcases for traveling comfort, and then left them, using that space to bring back the treasures. Then Julie discovered that for something like 18 euros she could buy a shipping box, post paid, fill it up and mail it. So easy. She packed out dirty clothes, anything really heavy like books that might make our suitcases overweight, and dropped it off at the local PO a day or so before we left. Note: This is not recommended in Italy. Ever.

    Even that sort of purchasing is a thing of the past. Now we bring back phones full of pictures and lovely memories. Although I have to admit I have a Vive Gamache mug from our trip to Three Pines last fall. And Julie bought a case of wine in St. Emilion a few years ago, had it shipped, and it is now laid down for future tasting.

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  15. I’ve reached the point where all I want to bring back are memories. But I do enjoy the lavender print coaster I got in Weiden, Germany. Makes me smile every time I see it.

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  16. Often it's a book. A very local book. Such as Brunelleschi's Dome, bought right on site. Or when I'm on Vancouver Island, memoirs by local writers, that I wouldn't find anywhere else in Canada. There's always a "local interest" section in the bookshops there.

    And sometimes a little picture that I can frame and add to my wall of Places I've Visited on the upstairs landing.

    And like Rhys, I sketch where I go.

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  17. Note cards, earrings, sometimes ceramics. I have a weakness for ceramics and fabrics -- but, I join the chorus in saying that I try to travel light and I don't want to accumulate stuff.

    I spent a week just outside Castellina -- what a beautiful area!

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  18. I have an off topic request:

    I'd like to put together a JUNGLE RED READING LIST. I'd like each of you to list 2 books, out of all your output, for a "newcomer" to try. Don't worry about how old or new, or if I may have already read it (I've read books by more than half of you), just two titles you especially like and feel are representative of your writing.

    Thank you for considering this as a post topic!

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    1. Good idea, Rick.I'll make sure we do it.

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  19. Long before I started collecting Hallmark ornaments, I was collecting ornaments from vacations. My parents started doing this for me when I was a kid, and it's a very wonderful thing to pull out the ornaments each year and remember where they came from.

    I've also started buying mugs recently, which is something I see a little more often than once a year.

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    1. Mark, my parents have bought me ornaments every year starting when I was very young. The hubby and I have a very small tree, and my "special" ornaments fill the whole thing. I love admiring and reminiscing each year when we decorate the tree.

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  20. Oh, and Hank, I love that sketch of yours!

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  21. The Disney trick is utter brilliance!
    Libby Dodd

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  22. No longer collecting on trips. When I did, I might buy a cook book from the area, or a ring that spoke to me. The one time I risked bringing back Tillamook Cheese,on an airplane, my luggage flew to an unknown destination. Lesson learned.

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  23. Shopping on vacation is a way to touch the culture of a different place, especially if you get past the tourist scene and find the out-of-the-way crafter or street market. We seem to bring back mugs, both hand-made from a studio or craft fair, or souvenir shop ones. Both useful and holding memories. I look for lovely designs; it's fun to start my day with tulips from Amsterdam, dolphins from Crete or hand-painted Scottish hills ( I often ask myself why I didn't get a whole set of those!)Similarly, attractive t-shirts (nice ones can be hard to find!)cheer me up on the way to exercise class. Food souvenirs are always fun- Mexican vanilla, smoked salmon paste from Norway, herbes de provence from...you guessed it. We did once bring a painting all the way home from Sarlat in Perigord, France. Car, train and plane involved. Best gift for a grandkid so far: purple feathered mask from Bouchercon in New Orleans!

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    1. Oh I agree on the food souvenirs. John and I toyed with the wild boar salami today but thought that we couldn't bring it into the US

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  24. I've tried to slow down on collecting, but I still have certain things I bring home. I'm the tourist with a capital T in bringing home a magnet representing the place I am and a mug. I do limit the amount of magnets on my refrigerator these days, with only about ten on there. The mugs are rather in overflow stage, so I am going to have to cut down on that, too. It's just that I love to drink my coffee and think of places I've been.

    I've become interested in bringing home a piece of artwork, painting (print, unless I come across a bargain in an original), done locally by an artist of where I've visited. Kaye Barley and I went shopping in New Orleans, and she was an influence in this, although I already had a piece or two from places, like a woman reading down by an artist in Key West. I really love finding other art pieces, too, made locally. I have some wood pieces from Hawaii and a small goat piece from Key West.

    I have learned my lesson about shopping when I'm tired or don't feel well. In Hawaii, I went in a little shop when I felt bad and should have been lying down taking a nap. The proprietor saw me looking at some octopus items, and made a hard sell for an Octopus box that cost $160. It is pretty, but I admit that I bought the piece just so I could get out of that shop and go lie down. Yikes! My husband doesn't know about that little shopping trip. Lesson learned.

    Oh, and I do love to get a book or two dealing with a local interest, or in Hawaii, I bought two mystery books about places there, written by a local author.

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  25. I've not been to too many places outside the U.S. However, one of my best friends, brought me home a small keepsake box from Israel. It is made entirely of camel bone with brass ornamentation and felt lining. (I am pretty sure that the camels die a natural death before they take their bones.) I don't own any small jewelry or such, but it fits my Camel cigarettes just right.

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  26. Rhys, I love your sketches. Those would definitely be the best souvenirs.

    I take lots and lots of photos, with the good intentions of actually printing them and putting them in journals with ephemera from my trip, but so far good intentions are about all I've managed!

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  27. My souvenir collecting has evolved over the years, mainly because we have too much stuff now. I stick to scarves (3 or 4 from my India trip), inexpensive jewelry I like, tea towels, useful things. Clothing I will wear, nice ties for the boys, local booze or tea. I try to keep it sane. We have ceramics from past trips to the southwest, Spain, Roatan, Ireland. I don't need any more! These days I just want to travel somewhere and enjoy the experience. I really don't need to bring anything back, but if I do, it will be something I can use or wear, rather than something else to display.

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  28. Rhys, I love your sketches. When I travelled to England for the first time, we bought a Burberry coat, which I still have. I like to buy postcards every time I travel abroad and write postcards to send home to myself :-) . I love to collect books. I remember buying books in England that I could not find in the USA. I bought a tartan scarf in my family tartan colors when I visited Scotland. I remember buying tea in England. Like Hallie, I like to travel light. Usually when I buy things abroad, I send them home in packages. I once bought a tea cup at the Buckingham Palace Mews shop. When I visited Italy, I bought a tea towel. I bought a cameo or was it a pearl choker from Althorp Hall in England. Usually I like to buy tea towels from places I visit abroad. In Norway and Denmark, I bought Nordic sweaters.

    Like Deborah, I take many photos!

    Diana

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  29. This post is giving me itchy feet! Travel is beckoning me! Enjoy Tuscany, Rhys. I am so jealous!

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  30. Sometimes I will bring back tiny treasures I can hang on the Christmas tree. It can be anything--not originally intended as an ornament by any means--as long as I can affix a ribbon to it, and then every year I have the delight of unwrapping it from the tissue paper and saying, "Oh, look! From that time in Arizona!", or, "Remember when we were in that shop in Galway?", or the like.

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  31. Madhuvahini Houseboat Service is the new initiative being launched by Malabar tourism management @ Bekal, Nileshwar, Kasaragod, Kannur, Calicut, Manglore. 1HR, 2HR, Sunset, Dinner, Overnight, Day Night Cruise Available. Life is Better on Boats to explore the area of backwaters and offer Kerala traditional Home and Boat Stay Service.

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