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Prized Possessions

Its maybe an odd question but I am wondering what favorite things people bought in Europe that are not not necessarily the typical items associated with the area they are from. I am not a big shopper but would look forward to finding a few special things from Western European countries.

Posted by
9363 posts

For me, it's the Celtic design jewelry I brought from northern Spain. Many people are unaware that northern Spaniards are of Celtic heritage, not the darker Moorish heritage of the south. Much of their ancient art is Celtic designs that are familiar in Ireland. I've been complimented several times on one of my "Irish" pendants, and I like being able to say it actually came from Spain.

Posted by
227 posts

Mine were the little carved Christmas pieces I purchased in Seiffen from a very small shop. The carver could not speak English but summoned his son from upstairs to come down and help us. They had made very piece in the tiny little shop - we wished we had purchased more.

Posted by
3580 posts

When in Paris, I like to buy the inexpensive checkered kitchen towels at Monoprix. I use them at home and give them as gifts. I'm always reminded of Paris when I use these towels; I have a whole stack of them.

Posted by
9344 posts

I think it's a great question... For me, there are so many, from many trips, that I cherish... a gold pendant that looks like an old coin that I bought in a tiny shop in the small town I grew up in outside Paris, a gold ring I bought in a little shop on Ile St. Louis owned by a wonderful Scottish man, a gold scarab pendant and gold hoop earrings from the Louvre, a wrought-iron candle holder from Beaune, an ashtray I bought for my mom (now passed away) at the Tour d'Argent gift shop in '89.... Not to mention all the prints I've bought over the years and had framed that are hanging on all my walls... All these things bring back such happy memories!

Posted by
9332 posts

I second the notion of dish towels, although I usually get mine at BHV or Lafayette Maison. They don,t have to be the expensive Jacquard Français (although those are nice); even the store-brand ones are fun and French. Not to mention easy to pack!

Posted by
779 posts

I love to have lots of reminders of my trips to Europe around my house (and I do). Our newest addition is a nine piece handpainted tile mural of Positano that we bought in Vietri Sul Mar in Italy last summer. It is now the focal point of my new kitchen. But, I have many, not all so expensive!!! The photo's of my kids that I take on our trips are my favorite prized possessions. How can you beat a picture of your seven year old daugther delighting in playing with bubbles (from a gigantic bubble machine) in the middle of Versailles gardens? It's priceless!

Posted by
1568 posts

My most prised purchase is the Menorah and Shield of David set with opals(Star of David) which I purchased In Jerusalem for my daughter. Other than those, we collected pill boxes among other things.

Posted by
7209 posts

Go to flea markets which are commonly held on weekends. There are multitudes of things you will find there. I've brought home several pewterware objects some of which have dates of 1750 or earlier stamped on them. A set of hand pounded copper candlesticks was also a prized find. The best markets we've found have been in Zurich and Lucerne on Saturday mornings.

Posted by
527 posts

Hats. Everytime I have visited Austria I have purchased a hat from Nagy Hute in Vienna. Last Christmas while in Salzburg I bought one at Collins Hute (EXPENSIVE). Purchased another hat last August from a vendor in Varenna at Lake Como, Italy.

Posted by
3049 posts

My most prized possessions from Europe are Judaica from antiques stores. I found a 100-year-old Hanukkah menorah in Lindau, for example. It's kind of sad, but it also seems hopeful to be able to put these objects back in use.

Posted by
403 posts

A leather wastebasket bought at the market in Florence. Lingerie from Paris. Not to get too graphic, but I am eternally fascinated that you can walk into a tiny shop and the saleslady will "size" you in a mere glance. The stuff fits perfectly every time. How do they do that? My kids say: any Lego set you can't get in the US. And Playmobil people from Malta.

Posted by
818 posts

I live these ceramic swallows that hang on walls in Portugal. Must return for more.

Posted by
5422 posts

I'm also not a big shopper, but here are a few things I've enjoyed over the years: - My Orrefors wine glasses and some Kosta Boda glass pieces (Sweden) - Ekelund tableclothes, runners, and placemats. Ekelund is a Swedish company that makes lovely woven pieces.
- A lovely traditionally painted piece of pottery from Deruta, Italy. It sits on my kitchen counter and holds my kitchen utensils. - A print of "Lake Keitele" from the National Gallery in London. It is one of the most beautiful paintings I've ever seen at a museum.

Posted by
3696 posts

I am not a big shopper while I am in the US...but I guess all bets are off when I go to Europe. As I sit on my sofa and look around most of the things decorating my home are from my trips... a beautiful mask from Venice, Turkish cotton towels from Grand Bazaar, linen sheets from France, silk purse from Spain, fan from Spain, handpainted Ceramic sink from Mexico in my bathroom, Sea salt from the Carmague, Herbes de Provence, lots of my clothes, scarves, cheap jewelry, fragrance, olive dish from Portugal, and on and on... I always try to buy things that are somewhat practical and I use my items all the time, but the best thing I bring home is my journal and my photographs.

Posted by
711 posts

Since my husband is a photographer... The many shots from all over Europe that remind me of our trips.I collect hand tinted old French postcards . They are wonderful. Many I bought at the brocante markets, but also have some very nice ones from the various postcard dealers in Paris.Porte Des Vanves has many postcard dealers.I have ones of animals , children,men,women, holidays, sports,singers, actors.

Posted by
711 posts

Since my husband is a photographer... The many shots from all over Europe that remind me of our trips.I collect hand tinted old French postcards . They are wonderful. Many I bought at the brocante markets, but also have some very nice ones from the various postcard dealers in Paris.Porte Des Vanves has many postcard dealers.I gave ones of animals , children,men,women, holidays, sports,singers, actors.

Posted by
125 posts

I like to get a Christmas ornament from any place I travel including Europe. Some of the ornaments are tourist trinkets; some from wonderful market shopping and some just fun. I have a special tree I put up with the ornaments each year and this has become a fun time to share travel stories. I have noticed over the years how my grandchildren (5 thru 10 yrs old....4 of them) now rather help decorate "grandmas travel tree" rather than the big one. They ask questions and want stories of the ornaments. We often bring out maps so they can find the place to match the ornament. I think I have some budding travelers!!!!!

Posted by
6925 posts

OK, this is going to seem like an odd answer to your odd question, but besides a couple of small items from each trip, I really love to keep the soap from each hotel. We use each soap bar as long as possible while we're in the hotels, so I usually have 2-3 from each place to bring home. Besides the name on some of the wrappers, the scent of them...even the plainer ones, remind of me of that special location. I have enough that I might have a nice display rack made for our guest bath - conversation piece and great memories.

Posted by
4132 posts

My most prized possession was a tear- shaped ski touring backpack I bought in Amsterdam in 1977. Way back then the choices for backpacks were very limited. I was packing very light and didn't want a big clunky framed pack, so I got a messenger-type bag and a very small duffle before I left the US. It took about 2 weeks in the UK for me to realize that carrying that duffle at end of my arm was not the optimum choice. I was in Amsterdam and just happened to walk past an outdoor sports store. I saw the pack and fell in love. It was perfect for me. It fit. The back was padded leather designed in such a way that it was very comfortable. It saw me through 4 months of trains and hostels (pre-Schengen days obviously). Unfortunately, it was stolen from my car while I was camping in a park in northern CA after my trip. They were nice thieves though. They took what they wanted out of the pack, kept the pack, but put what they didn't want under a log with a rock holding down the name and address label I had in the little plastic window on the side of the pack. I loved that pack and even with all the technological and design improvements since 1977, I have never seen one or tried one on since that could compare with its size, quality or comfort. Hmmm? I'll be in Amsterdam in April. I wonder....?

Posted by
513 posts

For years I have been collecting small (ususlly not larger than 6 X 4 inches, and often much smaller) etchings of street scenes from various cities in Europe. For example I bought one of Puerto del Sol in Madrid at the El Rasto flea market and one of the main market square in Bruges. You often have to spend a little time looking, but they are there. I don't think I've ever paid more than Euro 15 or 20. My wife frames them and they are on the walls of our home.

Posted by
571 posts

My prized possessions are a few museum posters that I've collected from my favorite sites in Europe. I try not to buy the standard gift-shop museum posters ("Plants of the World", "Kings and Queens of England"), but rather ones that advertise the museum, particularly if they are in that country's language. My favorite is a poster from the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna advertising in German and English the reopening of the ancient artifacts gallery. I frame them and decorate a part of my home with such items. My most-used items are my 10,000 lira neckties I bought in Italy in 2001. Ten thousand lira converted to $5.00 each, and every one of them is still more attractive and in better condition than any expensive tie I bought in the US.
All the best souvenirs turned out to be things that I could either appreciate (see) EVERY day or items I could actually use (ties, bottle openers, tea towels) on a regular basis.

Posted by
1717 posts

From FRANCE : A Lagiole Lotus folding knife, blonde horn on the handle. It looks more elegant than most other Lagiole folding knives. Made by a knife craftman at the town Thiers. (Some of the best knives in France were made at Thiers during the past 400 years). A cutlery business in Connecticut might have some Lagiole folding knives in its mail order catalog. Germany : A ceramic German wine bottle. They were made many years ago. A colorful picture of a Medeival prince of a German state is on the side of the bottle.
ITALY : A wall calendar (12 months) that has 12 photographs of rural places in Tuscany. Available in Florence.

Posted by
28 posts

A china teapot from the Lomonosovsky Factory from Russia, which was the factory used during the time of the Tsar and is still in existence. It is beautiful and I was so careful caring it back!

Posted by
11613 posts

Most of the things I prize are things I give away - a yod (for reading the Torah) made of Murano glass, a small black leather purse with lots of zippers for my goth teenage neighbor who take care of my mail, those kinds of things are memorable if the recipient likes them. A friend who has difficulty traveling collects rocks, so it's my mission to get rocks from the major volcanoes in Italy. Scarves and perfume from Italy - the scarves last forever, the perfume gets used up but the scent brings the memories back until it's gone and I have to go back for a refill. Yes, I can buy the same perfume here, but it's small enough to not be a bother to pack. My office wall is full of photographs.

Posted by
27 posts

Over the years of living in Germany, I picked up many things. However, this question brought to mind two things. I have a bracelet made by attaching coins from countries I visited. Most of those coins have been replaced by the euro but it is fun to remember what once was. My husband's favorite thing is a tall slim mug that has the Lord's Prayer in German winding around it. Of course,I am most fond of the husband I married in Wiesbaden but he doesn't really count since he is American born Chinese!
Ann

Posted by
1568 posts

Very interesting Subject and Posts. Thanks Jan.

Posted by
965 posts

For me the Swiss Potato Peeler wins hands down! It is also a great little present to bring back - unusual, useful, good quality, reasonable price and best of all you can easily stick a few in you luggage without much difficulty.

Posted by
449 posts

During my trip to London this summer I attended the stage version of "Chariots of Fire" at the Gielgud Theater. I purchased my prized possession of the trip at the theater: a gold colored circular key ring on which was engraved: "For Honor For Country Forever Chariots of Fire". I purchased 17 of these to distribute to co-workers and friends.

Posted by
42 posts

I really get a kick out of hearing what some of you got in Europe. Keep em coming. Thanks.

Posted by
3580 posts

I have kept a paperback book I bought at Shakespeare and Company in Paris. It has the inked stamp inside the cover. Nothing special about the book, but I love having a book that is authentically from that bookstore.

Posted by
143 posts

I love to shop anywhere! Scarves are so easy to pack and they last forever. Even everyday items like cotton balls, kleenex or mascara are fun to use up after you get home, and it's a mini-adventure browsing to find them in another country. My all-time favorite,though, is a wine poster we bought from a bouquiniste----cost only about 7 euros and much more than that to have framed but it's in the kitchen by our wine rack/glasses.

Posted by
1248 posts

I too bring art home to frame. I have a nice scene of Tuscan poppy fields that a local artist from Assisi painted that I love. Speaking of framing inexpensive art, I love the coffee bean bag from Monteverde, Costa Rica that I had framed. It is set on the large accent dining wall. The bag probably cost no more than $5, whereas the frame was just under $300. Although it isn't a souvenir from Europe, I wanted to mention it as an unusual item picked up on my travels. Linda

Posted by
1285 posts

I like to bring home things that I use in my everyday life that will remind me of my trip. I have bandanas from Switzerland (with edelweiss on them) that I use hiking and biking. In 2008, I found a metal hiking boot with 2 hooks. I brought it home, hung it in my garage and it holds our hiking poles. I also have beautiful table cloths I have bought at town markets for 5 euros each. (I bought 2 in Italy and 1 in France-they say "made in Italy" and "made in France" right on them...I hope that is true) Most of my finds are inexpensive, but I do love the wood carving my husband and I splurged on in 2001.

Posted by
1501 posts

I bought some black and white post cards in Spain of Flamenco Dancers & guitarists in action. Meant to mail them out, but didn't. I brought them home and took them to a framer who did a beautiful job matting and framing them in one frame....... two on the top, one in the middle, three on the bottom, and everyone who comes to my house remarks on the beautiful art
! They're so surprised to find out they are post cards! I also bring home prints usually from every city/country I go to.