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Favorite travel souvenirs rediscovered

As many of us have more time at home; what travel souvenirs have you found? I'll start: 2 greetings cards that are coastal scenes purchased at an art fair in Oregon last summer. My plan when I bought them was to put them together in a frame. In the short term they are now on display in the living room as is, reminding me of that great day. Any one else uncovering nearly forgotten travel treasures?

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889 posts

I am a seamstress and I love to find local needlework as I did at a charming shop in Budapest......brought it home and made it into a pillow that sits on my bed and reminds me of that shop and the kind owner’s hospitality. I also have some lovely affordable vintage pillow shams for my bed I bought in the Marais in Paris that sit on my bed. We also always buy local hand-towels......and bring them home to use them in our kitchen where we are constantly reminded of where we were at which market when we bought them. We also make it a practice to visit the local grocery’s fun to find treasures right under you nose that are very affordable and give you a nice tweak to a meal at home. I usually research on Google an area before I go there to see what I should buy and bring home.......was told while in Switzerland by a local shopping next to me in a grocery store that the chocolate purchased there was not only cheaper than the specialty chocolate in stores but just as tasty....and she was right!

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4003 posts

Luckily, I am able to work from home. While I sit at the dining room table I can see all the framed art work I picked up in various cities. But the better item is my skylight digital photo frame. We uploaded many of our best travel photos and I just watch as they randomly appear. This way I can take a short break to mentally go back to where the pictures were taken and then my memories take over. Today was to be my last school work day. Sigh. Our trip was to begin Monday. Since the virus, I postponed my retirement till the school years ends. These pictures definitely help me to get through my work day.

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472 posts

Ditto Jane's kitchen towels & supermarket chocolates. The towels are forever, too bad not the choc (save on my corpus). Also random buttons & beads, maybe from a fabric or craft store, but even better a flea market, antiques hole-in-the-wall, car boot sale.
Yesterday I deconstructed a bracelet bought from Irish kids selling Mum's cast-offs, to become part of a new one, in 50 shades of green, natch :)

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2017 posts

Turkish tea set from Turkey, handfan from Madrid and medallion from Sagrada Familia, Plus the Euros that I saved in 2016 that were supposed to be used on my trip that’s no in the third year of postponement.

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11368 posts

I found a sesame seed grinder from a cooking supply store in the Tokyo fish market that was in the back of my kitchen shelf. It was inexpensive and works so well. It’s great to add ground sesames to ramen.

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440 posts

We always buy things that are useful in the kitchen, so it's a pleasure to grab something and remember where it was bought. Kitchen clips from the Lidl grocery store near our friends home in Kitzbuel, Germany. Stainless steel egg cups from Aldi in Germany. Egg timer from the dollar store in Fulham, London. Tea from Spar grocery store in Dublin. They all bring back wonderful memories.

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4942 posts

With more time at home, I've been pulling my travel souvenirs off their shelf in the back room and setting them out around the house.

One little collection I've put on display is small doll figurines from Budapest, Wroclaw, Vienna, Prague, Nuremberg, etc. I set up Scrabble tiles with the name of each city. And added a 2020 doll to the collection: a little doll from my childhood, now wearing a mask, and Scrabble tiles spelling out the name of my home town.

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567 posts

Ours are not hidden either. They are on our bedroom dresser. We happily lugged two beautiful salt rock candle holders home, from Berchtesgaden salt mine in 2006!

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2652 posts

I bought 2 small watercolours from an artist outside the Ufitzi Florence gallery in 1989, had them professionally framed and have been on the walls of every house I have stayed in since then, so never hidden and something I see every day as they are in my hallway just near the door.

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89 posts

I went to England in 1986 and while there bought a coffee cup with brightly painted scene's of london on it. I don't really remember buying any other souvenirs that trip. I still have that coffee cup and use it all the time - all the colored paint is gone but the black outlines are still on the cup. My hubby asked if I would get a new cup on our trip in September - I said probably but I will never get rid of my 1986 cup.

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7463 posts

During several trips to Europe, I brought back the small hotel shampoos & bath gel, especially any with small family hotel names or names of the town on them. I had some small groupings of them displayed beautifully in the windows around my bathtub in our last home - great memories to enjoy! Since the beginning of the quarantine, I’ve been using them, and their scent brings back a nice memory of that location.

I don’t bring back too many souvenirs, but i bought a huge pastry brush (looks like a gigantic natural wood hairbrush) while participating in a pastry class in Paris. I use it about every three months, but during the quarantine, I’ve used it weekly! And, all of those croissants & delicious pastries are beginning to give us a “quarantine body!” LOL

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2713 posts

We purchased a ceramic tea pot from a hardware store of sorts in London around the corner from the Old Vic Theater. We carried it to the theater where we saw a matinee of Eugene O’Niels Long Days Journey Into Night with Laurence Olivier. We still use the pot every week, have managed not to break it. This was in 1973. So, not really a forgotten treasure but a treasure nonetheless!

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8879 posts

My practical and durable kitchen soap dish I got in Paris in 1972. These days getting a lot more attention as does the bar of soap that sits in it.

There’s also the Munich Hofbrauhouse 1 liter ceramic mug that has been used as a spare change holder since 72. Darn thing is heavy and I had to lug it around in my back pack

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1695 posts

The only souvenirs we usually get are decorations for our Christmas tree, or, typically, items that can easily be adapted as such. We've been doing this for about 20 years.

Therefore, every December, when we decorate our tree, we enjoy revisiting and hanging all the mementos of our travels.

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2589 posts

I took a long time choosing a cotton foulard in the gift shop of the synagogue museum on the west side of Toledo and I'm sure the staff thought I was looking for a gift for my novia or esposa but I was really looking for a souvenir bandana for myself, ha!

I didn't realize until later that the maker was not Castilian, but a small company up in San Sebastian called 'Colores de Oto˜no' and so I got my Toledo souvenir with a bit of a Basque accent, ha:

Now I can use it as part of my face-covering-required attire.

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318 posts

I love CWsocial's display with Scrabble tiles! I may just borrow that idea. Like BB I too bring back Christmas tree ornaments and every year look forward to unpacking them to bring back fond memories. At this pointthough, I am not able to use them all every year. So it is fun to see which ones will be used. But most of all I treasure the pictures that I take. After several of our trips I selected my favorite photos and have had them done on canvas. With these on my walls, I enjoy them daily. I also create scrapbooks. I actually spend more time on them than I did on the trip. This just seems to extend the adventure, and they are so much fun long after coming home even after subsuquent trips.

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2633 posts

I have surrounded myself with all the wonderful finds from my trips: 1930s Keramia pottery from Hungary, Hungarian folk art paintings in my office at work, delightful blue pottery mug with a grey kitten from a shop on Castle Hill that makes my morning coffee that much better, rings from Budapest and Tallinn that I wear every day, my collection of tea towels from England, even the Legero sneakers from Vienna that I go walking in remind me of my time in Europe.

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155 posts

I have 2 small paintings in my dining room (right on my buffet) that bring back great memories. I don't frequently purchase a "nicer" souvenir, but sometimes I find something I just love and both paintings fit the bill.

I also typically buy a lightweight, foldable tote for groceries. I get frequent use from them and enjoy that they remind me of vacations of the past.

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122 posts

A few years ago, I started laminating some of my favorite ticket stubs from places I had visited (museums etc) and turned them into bookmarks. I remember the trip every time I use them.

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10402 posts

Our souvenirs are Starbucks mugs from International cities and watercolors purchased from the artists. I use the mugs daily and think about the time I've spent in each place and in two cases the relatives who live in those German cities. This morning I'm drinking from my München mug and thinking about the trip to Oktoberfest that we just cancelled. The watercolors are framed and mounted gallery style on the walls of our great room. I see them every day and they give me great pleasure.

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4351 posts

Like Andrea, I normally buy a coffee mug from each trip (although not Starbucks) - usually my only souvenir. They are on display in the living room, recently moved from the bedroom. I keep several in the kitchen, though, for quick use and rotate with my mood. Today is Canada, yesterday was Switzerland. Each one has a happy (or funny) memory associated with it and lets me start each day with my two favorite things: coffee and travel!

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107 posts

I like to minimize the things that I keep but don't use, so I only buy things that won't be put away. My oldest souvenirs are two batiks that hang in my living room from Taiwan and Malaysia from the time I lived in Asia in 1975-76, I've been making pottery since 2015, so lately I buy small pottery items, such as the kitchen spoon holder from Portugal (which replaced the chipped one I had from Italy) and a vase from New Mexico. My favorite earrings are silver ones from Mexico. For many years I did not buy souvenirs (except foods), but now I usually buy one thing because I really enjoy remembering the trip every time I use it.

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197 posts

I was tidying yesterday and found a post card from the Galleria Borghese gift shop. The receipt was still in the bag. I also found my trail pass for the Cinque Terre from last September. Those were the days...

In 1991 I was in Tokyo on a business trip and I went to a hardware store where I bought a beautiful egg shaped container that is for microwaving one egg. I haven't used it yet but it is so well designed that when I see it in the cupboard it reminds me that good design is functional.

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681 posts

We have a revolving picture frame. I look at the pictures that come up new every few minutes and smile.

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594 posts

Like several others I always buy a Christmas ornament on our trips. Trimming the Christmas tree each year becomes something to look forward to as I unpack them all.
I love the idea of having the photos on digital rotation too. Need to look into getting a newer model than the ancient one that sits in the closet. Any recommendations?

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2023 posts

Tote bags with Paris scenes--for friends and neighbors. They have a slick sort of finish--water proproof stain resistant. We ;love our beautiful wool blankets from England --they are sort of throws both with fringe edging.Favorite one came from Keswick and was about 30 bp beautiful light green herringbone pattern.

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5697 posts

Found two small prints we bought at the Sarlat market last spring -- our B&B host had several by the same local artist in our apartment.

They had been put away "for safety" after we returned until I could get appropriate frames.

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9879 posts

What a lovely thread! Thanks, doric8!

As for people bringing home things and then setting them aside to be framed, I am a little bit in the same situation.

I have an old B&W photograph from 1936 in Budapest, of Tram 6 taken from above in a light snow — a passerby's huge umbrella is also coated with snow, and the shape makes a nice counterpoint to the tram's roofline. There is something mystical and magical about it, and there is also a Törley “champagne” ad affixed to the top of the tram, so that adds to the Hungarian-ness of the photo.

As a frame, I chose an Umbra frame that was glass on the front and back, because I liked how on the back I could see the information about the date that it was taken and printed and where I bought it back in 1999 — at the Hungarian Photography Museum in Kecskemét, which is the town where I taught English at a gymnasium for a year in the early 1990s, so obviously the town holds nostalgic memories for me.

Alas, during one of my moves, the glass on the back side of the frame broke, and I need to get it replaced. It has been sitting in its box near the front door for several years waiting for me to run that errand. I even went to a framing shop with it once and waited in line for a while, but it was clear that the line was going nowhere, so I gave up and came back home.

This thread is reminding me that this would be an excellent thing to take care of once the lockdown is lifted so I can have this treasured photograph on display in our home.

Here is a link to the museum:

To anyone thinking of visiting Hungary, i can recommend Kecskemét as an overnight trip (I guess it would be fine for a day trip too, but an overnight would make it a little easier). Kecskemét is a town on the Hungarian Plain about an hour and a half SE of Budapest by train from Nyugati station. It's an easy walk into the town center, which has some fabulous Art Nouveau buildings and a lovely little center with an ornate Town Hall that plays a special song every hour on the hour. there's also the Kodaly School of Music there (Kodaly was born in Kecskemét), which is another reason to stay overnight — if you can work it out to attend a concert there, you are in for a real treat, often in an intimate setting. The institute is housed in an old monastery right in the center.

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67 posts

I used to enjoy buying cute and kitschy touristy ashtrays and lighters when I was still an avid smoker but I now usually stick to fridge magnets or local soaps, oils etc. If available I love to buy small ceramics provided they are produced locally, like a small, beautifully shaped bowls for olives, or soaps, or whatever.

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441 posts

My wife and I are retired so no children to share the two bathrooms in our home. In "my" bathroom, the walls are covered with photographs taken on trips. Our printer does colored prints and I have some cheap frames from Michael's. They're a constant reminder of places I've been and would like to visit again. I also drink my morning coffee from a mug I got in Ireland.

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1097 posts

Our souvenirs are always a refrigerator magnet for each museum-type place we go to (kept on the side of our second fridge), frequently a tea towel (I have one from the shop next to Buckingham Palace - I say the Queen gave it to me when I visited her), and my favorite splurge was a cuckoo clock from the Black Forest. It reminds me of travel every 30 minutes. :)

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1450 posts

Shameless bumping up of this thread.... this weekend I found some one else's travel souvenir...... a handmade clay tile that says Barcelona that I paid a quarter for at a church rummage sale..... had forgotten all about it, I added it to the background for my zoom calls

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125 posts

When we went to Europe a couple years ago my souvenir was beautiful leather bag. Everytime I go to grab my bag I can remember that day, the smell of the leather store, trekking 15 miles that day (not to get the bag, just to trek)....ahhhh!

Last year we went to New Zealand and my husband bought a bag at the grocery store (to carry our groceries since we forgot to grab one). I love that cheap little bag and use it every chance I get.! I also bought a tea towel and stretched it over a canvas, stapled it on and sealed it. It's hanging in my hallway so I walk passed it everyday!
I also get a magnet from everywhere we go so walking into the kitchen and seeing one side of the fridge covered in brings back a smile!!
I also keep a travel journal and since our last trip was last May, I read the corresponding day each day this passed May. That was my favorite of all!!

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472 posts

Talk about useful - one of our best is a potholder from the British Museum, fabric's a wonderful William Morris design. At the time it ticked the souvenir boxes of lightweight, small, & unbreakable, but it's become a daily smile (had to mend it yesterday, eek). No way it's one of doric's "re-discovered's", 'cause of its constant use, but now I'll look for potholders on future (sigh, we hope-to-have) travels. Great ideas, everyone!

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109 posts

My go to is tea towels. They are cheap, small, unbreakable, and easy to find. We use them as our everyday kitchen towels for drying hands and they always bring a smile when I unfurl a fresh one and remember the trip it was from. I am especially partial to "map" ones. So kitschy, but fun.

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980 posts

My EU spec De'Longhi full automatic espresso machine and German outlet and receptacle. Half the cost of a US spec one and heats up four times faster. Use it almost everyday.


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4174 posts

When I first read this post, I thought that I really didn't buy many souvenirs. Then I looked at the book shelves in the living room, the drawers in my kitchen, the linens in my closet and the jewelry in my jewelry boxes and realized just how wrong I was.

So I decided that I'd pick 10 to list.

These 2 are from when I lived in Nuremberg, West Germany in the early 80's.

Russian Pepsi-Cola bottle from a tour to Moscow and Leningrad. The label is faded and the bottle leaked, but it's still capped and there's still some rather faded and non-fizzy liquid inside.

I never buy books, but this one was published when I was there in 1984 and I just had to have it: Nürnberg Damals - Heute 1945-1984, by Ray d'Addario. It has photographs of the destruction of the city right after the war and from the same place years later after it was rebuilt.

This is the rest, all purchased in the last 11 years. You may notice an emphasis on easily packed jewelry.

2009: Ring from the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Made from the same titanium used on the exterior of the building.

2012: Tablecloth from the market in Aix-en-Provence. Gold and red with olives, olive branches and cicadas. I use it a few times each year.

2014: Replica of the Charioteer of Delphi. My husband bought this and had it shipped home as a surprise for me. It definitely was one and I can see it right now on the top of the aforementioned bookshelves.

2016: Rune ring from Sheila Fleet in Kirkwall on Orkney. It's a modern ring with what I was told is the earliest style of rune writing in the Orkneys. The inscription is " a blessing upon the soul" and I wear it everyday.

2017: Blue cameo and silver earrings from Venice. The shop was so small that the owner could only have 1 person inside at a time. He locked the door so that no one else could come in and patiently showed me blue cameo earrings until I found the perfect pair.

Hand painted egg cup from the Deruta Pottery. I developed a taste for boiled eggs in egg cups back when I lived in Nuremberg. I use this one at least 3 times a week.

Bialetti Moka Express coffee pot. I didn't buy this in Italy, but I used similar ones in the two apartments I rented before my 2017 RS Village Italy tour and got it after my return. I use it everyday. Thank you, Amazon.

2018: Thor's hammer (Mjolnir) silver pendant from the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. I wear it every time I go out in public.

So that's my top 10, at least today. It was fun remembering the stories connected to them.

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139 posts

In grad school 20 years ago, I took a study tour in Israel for 2 1/2 weeks. It was my first trip overseas, and I borrowed a big wheelie duffle, as advised by a friend. Had no idea what I was doing. But I filled that thing with books, materials, site guides, Palestinian embroidery (hand towels and a magnificent shawl), a glass plate from Jericho, olivewood ornaments, and beautiful painted tiles. I still use almost everything—materials and books in my classes, the incredible shawl. I’ve learned to pack much lighter, but still manage to bring home more books and textiles from each trip.

Four floral ceramic tiles from Jerusalem hang in our dining room, and I love seeing them every day. One says “Shalom” in Hebrew.