Usually, I am not a big fan of buying expensive and bulky objects on my trips, whether foreign or domestic. I have “collected” some of the more obvious souvenirs over the years, patches, match books, postcards, T shirts, and wine. But most of you know I tend to keep it simple these days, with the lowly, fairly inexpensive, but always unique refrigerator magnet.
I must have several hundred, but really have no place to display them. When I was working, I covered the sides of my file cabinets in my office. Now, a few more recent additions are displayed on a small refrigerator in our garage.
But even now, there are some souvenirs that are worthy of venturing out from the “fridge” magnet mentality. What might some of these items be? Here are a few, many of which I have not personally purchased, others I would never admit to, and some that are just totally embarrassing.
Moscow or St. Petersburg, Russia The ubiquitous matrushka dolls can be found in every store, street corner, and dumpster throughout Russia. Yes, I thought Sheri might enjoy them.
Hoi An, Vietnam Lacquered art objects, like candy dishes are uniquely part of the culture. I did buy one, but who knows where it might be now?
Warsaw, Poland My travel buddy, Mike was in search of a “black Madonna” whatever that might be. Yes, we found it at a church supply store in Warsaw. Would you EVER think I would walk into a church supply store anywhere in the world?
Queenstown, New Zealand I definitely broke the rules here by buying one of their famous wool sweaters. What made it so unique was the wool was mixed with possum!!! It remains one of the warmest sweaters I have ever owned.
Luang Prabang, Laos Every tourist must try their national hooch, aka “lao lao”. It is bright red, tastes like jet fuel, and burns all the way down. I would let you taste it, but I put it in my gas tank instead!!
Argentina Since I could not bring home the fabulous steaks, or much of the Malbecs, I settled for a small wood sculptured landscape in Patagonia, purchased in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. I still have it, miraculously. Oh, I remember I also purchased a nice leather belt in Mendoza or Buenos Aires.
Hawaii Our best souvenir is a clock made of Hawaiian koa wood, with Japanese characters for the numbers. A photo is attached (above), it works great, uses batteries.
Budapest, Hungary Mike and I bought some of their famous tokaji wine, but I do not know where I put it. Did I give it to you?
Cape Town, South Africa I bought a bottle of their famous pinotage, the one that has the aroma of coffee!!! We drank it, of course!
Hanoi, Vietnam I bought a beautiful silk tie. When I got home, I went directly to Nordstrom to find a dress shirt to go with it. Quite a nice combination, but now I have nowhere to wear it.
Scotland I bought dozens of logo golf balls, all of which I have away to my buddy, Paul. I may have kept one from St. Andrews, but have no idea where I put it. I do have some golf shirts and windbreakers from St. Andrews, however.
Peru Rather than bring back something from the Amazon, I bought a cashmere scarf that I have never worn. It is quite nice, maybe I will give it away.
Otavalo (Colombia) I bought more wool scarves, maybe Sheri still has one. I think I gave the rest away. Also, Colombia is the major supplies of the world’s chocolate, so we bought a bunch of chocolate bars. And no, they did not melt in our bags.
Bangkok, Thailand On our first trip there, we had suits and outfits tailored for us. We still visit the same tailor, though now it is mostly for blouses for Sheri. I do not need any more suits!! But pictured above is one of the three or four suits I have left, and Sheri’s beautiful outfit.
Inle Lake, Myanmar Of all things, I bought some Burmese cigarettes and cigars. I figured my friends who still smoke would get a pick out of them. I even tried one while visiting the factory there. It reminded me of those candy cigarettes we had when we were kids. I still have a small bottle opener I bought there. Oh, and I did buy some real Cuban cigars for friends back home.
Champagne, France Besides buying and drinking magnums of champagne, I brought home an ice bucket, champagne cookies, and several souvenir wine stoppers from the famous champagne houses in Epernay and Reims.
Dublin, Ireland No Guinness, but I did find a nice soccer shirt that I can use as a cycling jersey. But it is red, and you know how I feel about red.
Amsterdam I bought some cute little van Gogh postcards of his “Japanese” period of his artistic life. But the real treasure was some smoked gouda from a farm we cycled to out in the country, and a cycling jersey from the tour operator.
Wimbledon (London) Yes, I bought a T shirt, and a polo shirt, at the All England Club But the real treasure was discovering “wine gummies” at Harrods.
Berlin I refused to buy a piece of the old Berlin Wall. It should remain there as a reminder of a terrible period in our lives. But I did find more wine gummies at KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens), my favorite department store in the entire world.
Siem Reap, Cambodia A place where there was not too much to buy back then, other than T shirts, and some low quality local crafts. We opted for T shirts.
Sydney, Australia We bought a boomerang, but it never came back!
Tanzania I bought a beautiful red scarf for Sheri with animals pictured on it. It gave her a rash on her neck. We had to wash it, and now, it is just fine, perhaps a little weathered.
You see the pattern here, right? Small, light, easy to carry objects, none of which attract attention from customs agents.
HINT: Never wait until the airport and the Duty Free Shops to buy this stuff!!! Never.
There was a time when I brought back little trinkets for my staff at Kaiser. But as the staff and my responsibilities grew, I finally had to stop doing this. They really looked forward to my return, if only for the gifts!
Many times, the best memories are the photos I did not take. Yes, read that again. The photos I did not take. The images are locked in my memory. And I have written about many of the places I have been as well. Who needs “stuff” when I have the real thing?