Travel Memories on My Shelf: Knickknacks from 20 Years in Europe

I’ve been staring at my bookcase recently — taunted by the top shelf of knickknacks and mementos from half a lifetime of exploring Europe. It’s quite the hodgepodge. I’m not much of a shopper, and I go entire trips without buying a single souvenir. But sometimes a special item just catches my eyeusually one of those quirky little cultural footnotes that get overlooked by blitz tourists.

Around the time our world went into lockdown, I reached my 20-year mark of working at Rick Steves’ Europe…two decades as a professional traveler. But it looks like I won’t be going anywhere, anytime soon. So, instead of getting depressed, I’ve decided to use all of those European artifacts to do a little armchair travel — reliving some of my most memorable trips. If you’re stuck at home too, join me on this little “knickknack shelf” tour of Europe.

Shirtless Vladimir Putin Riding a Bear Across a Map of Russia

Clearly, this is the star of the show (and, along with the final item on this list, among my most prized possessions). It also sets the tongue-in-cheek tone for much of my collection. Some items are sentimental, but most skew to the weird. I love the way this figure pushes Putin parody to the Nth degree: It begins with the famous photo of manly Putin riding a horse, plops him on a Russian bear, and then — for good measure — positions him striding across a map of Russia. It’s also the single best conversation-starter in my office: The first time a visitor scans my shelf, their gaze is stopped in its tracks by this knickknack, which instantly becomes the only thing they want to talk about. A few years back, I saw this online and knew I had to have it; my wife managed to order me one from Russia for my birthday. What a wife! What a birthday!

Pelota Ball from Basque Country

Every little Basque town and village has a pelota court, where locals play the traditional pastime, similar to jai alai. I appreciate how this ball is even embossed with the words “Pays Basque” in that distinctive Basque script. To me, it represents those beautifully quirky cross-border regions that make Europe so richly rewarding.

Mystery Flag

I love to quiz my well-traveled colleagues when they drop by my office: What does this flag represent? The obvious first guess is Norway…but what about the yellow trim? Nope, this is the flag of Orkney, the remote archipelago off the north coast of Scotland. The one-hour ferry crossing to Orkney brings you to a very different landscape than the rugged Highlands you left behind, and a different cultural flavor — this part of the British Isles really does feel more Scandinavian, thanks to the influence of passing Norsemen way back when. This flag reminds me that those distant fringes of Europe can be the most rewarding to explore.

Bottle of Cockta

I love the idea of this Yugoslav-era Coca-Cola knock-off more than I actually like its taste. The children of Yugoslavia (where real Coke was a rare luxury item) grew up on this stuff. To me, as a child of Reagan-era America, it tastes like Coke that’s gone bad. But because it’s “the taste of your youth” (as the slogan goes), nostalgic middle-aged Slovenes and Croats and Bosniaks still love the stuff. On my first-ever Rick Steves’ Europe tour — assistant-guiding our inaugural Best of Eastern Europe route — our Slovenian bus driver stocked the on-board fridge with bottles of Cockta, then couldn’t figure out why none of his (American) passengers wanted to buy any.  (I’d watch them file on the bus and ask, “Do you have any Coke?” And he’d just shake his head and shrug, with growing impatience. Why do they need Coke? This is Cockta!) This bottle reminds me that there’s no accounting for taste.

Slate from a Welsh Mine

I watched a miner hand-split this shingle of slate at the Blaenau Ffestiniog mine in North Wales. It’s a reminder that in addition to great art, great food, and great culture, Europe also has some fascinating industrial sights.

“Pooping Catalan Villager” for a Manger Scene

A few years ago, I heard about a unique tradition in Catalunya: Their manger scenes include a villager taking a dump, tucked in among the donkeys and oxen and wise men and whatnot. This character is called — wait for it — “The Pooper” (caganer). But this bit of cheeky, scatological humor comes with a theological point: It’s a reminder that the story of the babe in a manger is one of divinity mingling with real-world grit and grime…it’s not just a gag, but a commentary on how God chose to enter our world. In this highly agricultural region, the figure also represents the “fertilization” of the Nativity…making the world ready for God’s incarnation to take root on earth.

That’s all well and good. But I will also admit that I simply enjoy displaying a pooping dude that also has redeeming cultural value. (And, yes, my shelf also has a tiny pewter replica of Brussels’ Manneken-Pis. Because, deep down, I am a 12-year-old boy.)

Chewits Candy

When traveling in the UK, I get a kick out of seeing my name — almost — at every candy stand. (Get it? C. Hewitt…Chewits.) I keep this on my shelf to remind me to always be sweet to my co-workers.

Wooden Model of a Slovenian Hayrack

When I wrote the first edition of our Rick Steves Croatia & Slovenia guidebook, my editor thought it bizarre that I would wax poetic about a roofed hayrack. “Why such a fuss about a farm implement?” But anyone who’s spent time in Slovenia understands why these structures are so iconic: They are uniquely Slovenian, and they are absolutely everywhere. I have several of these little wooden re-creations of hayracks, scattered around my house, and this one injects a little more Slovenia into my office.

“Golden Pen” Prize

In 2009, I worked with Rick and our TV crew to write and produce an episode of our public television series about Croatia. The Croatian Tourist Board honored the show with their “Golden Pen” award, which we were flattered to accept. I’m honestly not sure whether Rick knows that I kept this trophy, but if he’s reading this and wants to reclaim it, he knows where to find it.

Hórreo from Galicia

In college, I did a semester abroad in Spain. Our professor took us on a multi-day field trip to Galicia, the green and gorgeous area in the northwest corner of Iberia. Up in that rocky landscape, locals build rustic stone igloos — called hórreos — for protection against the elements. To help us identify them, my professor would call them out as we rolled down the highway: “There’s one again! Hórrrelllo! Hórrrrrellllllooo! Hórrrre-órrrre-órrrre-llllllllloooooo! ” Many years later, I traveled back to Galicia to research and write a new chapter for our Rick Steves Spain guidebook — and I could not resist buying this as a souvenir of both trips. Every time I see this little stone hut, I think of that formative first study-abroad experience.

Eastern Europe Slide Carousel

When I started working at Rick Steves’ Europe in 2000, I was just about the only person in the office who had traveled a fair bit in Eastern Europe…and certainly the only one who would admit to enjoying it. So, essentially by default, I was deputized to present a slideshow lecture on the region, as a part of our free travel classes (which are still going on, virtually). And I’ve been doing a version of that talk ever since. Many years ago, I replaced this old Kodak carousel with a new, digital PowerPoint. But this vintage black-and-yellow box survives as a poignant reminder of how far I, Eastern Europe, and technology have all come in the last 20 years.

Pewter Vasa

I appreciate this tiny pewter model of the good ship Vasa — which sunk to the bottom of Stockholm harbor on her maiden voyage in 1628 — for two reasons. First, the Vasa Museum in Stockholm —  where they’ve restored the entire ship, bow to stern — is one of my favorite museums in Scandinavia (and that’s saying something). And second, it reminds me of one of my favorite pearls of Rick Steves wisdom: “For the cost of a pewter Viking ship in Oslo, you can buy an actual boat in Turkey.”

Hugging Solidarity Salt-and-Pepper Shakers

Since my first visit in 2005, I have been a passionate advocate for the northern Polish Baltic port city of Gdańsk — home of Lech Wałęsa and birthplace of the Solidarity movement that toppled European communism. Anyone who loves history and/or beautiful cities is happy as a clam in Gdańsk. A few years back, Rick traveled to Gdańsk (with a healthy dose of skepticism)…and quickly became a convert. This sentimental “I love Solidarity” salt-and-pepper set was his thank-you gift to me for nudging him to a place that he found just as fascinating as I do. (Rick and I were planning to travel to Gdańsk in 2020 to film a new TV show there. Those plans are postponed…but we’ll get there eventually.)

Orthodox Icons

I’m fascinated and entranced by the Eastern Orthodox faith, and I have two icons displayed in my office. The little diptych came home with me after a trip to Greece — I think I bought it in Corfu. I appreciate its packability…very handy for travel. And up on my wall is a bigger, hand-painted Bulgarian icon of Cyril and Method — those early Christian missionaries who first translated the Bible into the language of the Slavs (and in the process, created what became the basis for the Cyrillic alphabet). I bought this one from the artist who painted it, Rashko Bonev, in Veliko Tarnovo. (You can see him at work in this clip.)

Drinking Pitcher for the Healing Waters of Karlovy Vary

Spa towns compel people to do very strange things. And Karlovy Vary (a.k.a. Carlsbad), in the Czech Republic, is no exception. Shops sell these distinctive little pitchers, which are used to drink the local “healing” waters — tepid and infused with minerals. All over town, you see arthritic Germans and Austrians filling up these tiny pitchers from free-flowing taps, then sucking on them like miniature hookahs. I decided I could not have the true Karlovy Vary experience without investing in one for myself. (Unfortunately, the water tasted exactly the same.)

Chunk of the Berlin Wall

Inside this sealed jar is a real piece of the real Berlin Wall, which was a beautiful gift to me about 20 years ago. When I started working at Rick Steves’ Europe, Rick put me in charge of re-starting his treasured tradition of the “World Travelers Slide Club” — where avid travelers would gather on a Sunday night to take turns showing each other slideshows. One couple who attended religiously recognized my passion for Europe’s communist period. They had a few chunks they’d carved off the Berlin Wall, and I think they knew I’d give this one a good home. Over the course of other trips to Berlin, I also picked up a matchbox Trabant (the classic East German car) and an armband for the DDR secret police…creating a little tableau of East Germany.

Shingle from a Maramureș Wooden Roof

When I joined Rick to film a TV show in Romania a few years ago, I was determined to take our crew to the remote, rustic region of Maramureș — where woodworking is still as vital as computer programming is in most societies today. We went to a woodworking shop where I grabbed this shingle off of the discard pile as a memento. I also picked up a funny little straw hat, traditionally worn by local men. These remind me of the rich folk culture that still survives in Europe’s remotest corners.

Paper Model of Hotel Kranenturm by Herr Jung

So many members of the Rick Steves’ Europe extended family — from guides to tour members — were touched by the beautiful soul of the German schoolteacher Herr Jung, who for decades led tours around his little Rhine town of Bacharach. Herr Jung passed away recently, but his legacy looms large in the halls of our office. One of Herr Jung’s many hobbies was making paper models of buildings around his hometown. Many years ago, when he came to Edmonds for a visit, he gifted us with this model of the Hotel Kranenturm (another Rick Steves mainstay for decades). It made its way around the building until eventually the last person who owned it realized they didn’t have a good space for it. So they sent around an email saying, basically, “If nobody claims this, I’m afraid it’s going in the trash.” I immediately ran down and rescued the Kranenturm, and now it sits on top of my bookcase. Especially now that Herr Jung is gone, I like to think I’m preserving some small part of the sprightly spirit he so generously shared with many Rick Steves travelers over the years.

And speaking of kind souls who’ve touched many, I’ve saved the best item for last…

Autographed Photo of Mister Rogers

I work for a public television icon, but I grew up watching a different one. Recently, I was going through some old childhood papers — elementary school report cards, handmade Mother’s Day cards, and so on — when I came across this photograph of Fred “Mister” Rogers, signed (presumably) by his own hand. My Mom explained that I’d written to him as a child and he’d sent back this photo…but I never got an answer as to why it’s been buried in a manila folder in our attic for the last 30 years. I’ve now framed it, and it’s the highest thing on my shelf — reminding me that everyone is special and deserving of being treated with respect. You still can’t beat that Mister Rogers wisdom.

If you’re a frustrated would-be traveler, try this at home: Glance around and notice all of those little things you picked up in your travels, and have since become the wallpaper of your life. Look at them with new eyes and let them spark some memories. For now, that’ll have to do.

What’s your favorite offbeat souvenir from Europe? Which knickknacks and mementos fill you with happy memories that keep you going through this challenging time?

71 Replies to “Travel Memories on My Shelf: Knickknacks from 20 Years in Europe”

  1. My husband and I collected small painted tiles from the different places we traveled, mostly in Europe. He glued them to plywood and replaced our inside living room planter walls with the new boards complete with our travel tiles. Each tile is unique and holds a special place in my heart as I remember where, what and at least one thing special about buying that particular tile. I have stones from various places. My favorite stone is from Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, just near the bridge.

    1. That emerald green Neretva River and the colorfully painted mixed with old stone buildings was just so charming and beautiful. I started in an awesome room with a private terrace at Hotel Kriva Cuprija.
      I fell in love with Mostar. Must go back when I can spend more that 2nights there.

  2. I started bringing back coffee mugs from my trips and I have coffee each morning in a different country. My favorite is from Orvieto and is used every Sunday morning. I also have a collection of Christmas ornaments that I look forward to putting out each year.

    1. Me too! I love drinking my coffee from a different country every morning and thinking about my trips when I unwrap each ornament.

  3. Thank you so much for this lovely post. I have been a tad bit moppy about not traveling to Europe for the next few years. (We bought a 5th wheel trailer and were/are planning on doing some bucket list travel here in the U.S. and Canada.) I need to clean my office and as I do I am going to take time to really look at some of my treasures. As a newbie Euro traveler 30+ years ago I bought sets of wine glasses and other heavy stuff. Then moved on to fabric (I did some sewing back then but most is still in its original wrapping waiting for that special project…). I finally settled on Christmas ornaments, scarves and funky little local objects that mean something about the trip, the places I saw and the people I met – or old friends I was visiting. I am going to put on some evocative music, drink a cup of tea or a glass of wine and just enjoy a trip back in anticipation of a trip soon.

  4. What a fun read! We all have memorabilia but yours are so wonderful and varied! (We stayed in one of the Kranenturm tower rooms in October, 2013!)

  5. Great collection! I have several items from Chrisrmas ornaments to art prints (I also have a ‘pooper’ along with the rset of that nativity set). I am using time while at home to transcribe 17 handwritten journals from trips before I started journaling online.(seven trips on Rick Steves tours). I am having a great time reminiscing of those wonderful times, and hoping for more future travel. I still have a car lease scheduled in September…we’ll see if that works out.

  6. We buy either a Christmas ornament or a keychain that can be made into an ornament wherever we go. Our tree each year has memories from all our travels.

    1. Elizabeth,
      I discovered the keychain trick a few years ago. Easily portable & perfect size for Xmas ornaments! Love my Mouth of Truth keychain from Rome.

  7. My husband and I collect “Beware of Dog” signs in different languages from our travels. Our favorite one is made of enameled steel from Sweden. The signs adorn the outside of our dog run.

  8. I always try to find a local artist wherever we travel in Europe that makes etchings or watercolor art of the town we are visiting. My collection graces our dining room walls and I love looking at them and remembering my chats with each artist.

  9. My favorite is a little wooden figurine of a night watchman from Dinkelsbuhl in Germany. I was gifted it by the chaperone of a European tour i took in high school. I had accompanied him to a jail the night before to translate with the French police to get another student released from jail for stealing from Disneyland Paris. None of the chaperones spoke French and a firend, overhearing their conversation, recommended me as an impromptu translator.

  10. As I’ve gotten older, I no longer seek out souvenir shop souvenirs of my travels. Instead, I select a nice small smooth stone from a favorite spot and use a Sharpie to print the name of the place, and the year I visited. It doesn’t have to be a stone though. Sometimes, it’s a shell. I even have a walnut from a 2000 vacation. :)

  11. I collect prints from every country or favorite area I have visited. They are hung on my walls in every room of my house so I am reminded of my travels everyday. I also have jewelry from Germany, England, South Korea and Spain. And every Christmas I decorate with ornaments from all my travels.

  12. I collect charms. They are getting harder and harder to find. I also collect Christmas ornaments. Of the favorites… a black Santa made of lava from Mt Etna and a wooden Santa from Russia. I would love to find the Putin on a bear though. That’s fabulous! Thank you for sharing!

  13. What a great article, I so enjoyed reading it!
    I try to collect something from everywhere we’ve visited, like magnets, postcards, small models of buildings, etc. that will fit in the luggage. Your items seem to have a much more personal and sometimes humorous bent, I love it. New ideas for colkecting when we can travel again

  14. They’re not offbeat but my favorite memento at the moment is a pair of 18k gold lemon-lime topaz dangle earrings from Jaipur. I did not like any of the earrings that any of the jewelry shops in Jaipur had and told this shop the earring style that I like. Even though I was leaving the next day for another city (Udaipur), they promised to make the style of earrings for me and bring it to my hotel in Udaipur and said that I did not have buy the earrings if I didn’t like them. They made the earrings and brought them to me to my hotel the next day. The earrings were lovelier than I envisioned and were so reasonably priced so I bought them. I so appreciate all the effort that the store made for me and I love, love the earrings to this day.

  15. I try to acquire a grocery bag from each country that I visit. So much fun when the checkout person looks at my bag and asks about it. My favorite is a colorful yellow bag adorned with a smiling elephant from Sainsbury’s in London.

  16. I was doing some work in Slovenia in 2015 and asked for a coke… was brought some Cockta and almost spit it out after tasting it. I swear it must be made from some kind of industrial runoff… yuck!

  17. Oh my, I just loved this. After seeing your souvenirs I’m itching to travel even more, and inspired to organize my travel photos from my last several trips in the meantime.

  18. Great idea! Thank you for sharing. Will dust off my own travel memorabilia and thus give my memories a new shine. Greetings from Germany & Poland from a former Seattleite!

  19. My little house has enormous wall space thanks to cathedral ceilings. They are covered with travel posters and souvenirs. One of my favorites is a real, full sized metal road sign from our trip around the ring road in Iceland. Ein Bried Bru!

  20. The Karlovy Vary sippers have a purpose! They were invented in the 19th century, well before the advent of modern dentistry. Most of the people visiting KV for its healing effects were prescribed to drink several glasses of certain contains each day… for 4-6 weeks. But the water being overloaded by minerals did a job on their teeth if drunk out of a regular cup: they’d get big, unsightly plaques of tartar as the minerals settled on their teeth! As plaque and tartar removal then weren’t quite as easy as making an appointment, getting a fun-size dose of nitrous gas, and getting it peeled off relatively pain free, the tartar ended up on the tooth enamel, leaving it more at risk to develop cavities, gingivitis, and teeth lost well before their due time.

  21. I collect yarn from different sheep breeds when I travel since my first overseas trip in 1982 in Iceland. Then I come home and knit something with it.

    1. Connie, I do too. I love finding local yarn shops and purchasing hand dyed yarn and sometimes even a pattern. The items I’ve knitted with these yarns are extra special to me

  22. First off, I have to say I LOVED Gdansk and the only way I would have known about it was your guidebook. So, thank you. Gorgeous city.

    I buy charms and put them on a bracelet. I am on my third bracelet now. Also, I like to buy stickers that I put on vintage suitcases I pick up from the Goodwill. Almost filled up my 2nd suitcase.

    Both the charms and stickers have been getting harder to find though.

    I need that Putin on a bear!!! That is CLASSIC. Thank you for sharing your treasures. Always love your posts.

  23. How I wished I got a Slovenian haystack! You’re right – they are uniquely Slovenian, and just seeing a picture of yours reminded me so vividly of my drives through that beautiful country. I also love your Trabant matchbox. Great article!

  24. I love my collection of painted Eggs from Eastern Europe. I collect them whenever I find them and love the artistry and different techniques from different regions. I also collect nativities- the smaller the better- my smallest being one I found in Colombia inside of a pistachio shell. A treasure!

    1. Hi. Yup like everybody else these days Rick Steves Europe videos are mandatory. Everyday. I liked the last one the nice handmade church and the icons. Would love to own an autographed photo of Mister Rogers. Hes on a list all by himself.

  25. My souvenirs remind me not only of my travels, but also of my late husband. My current favorites are a (now framed) photograph of a cluster of cypress trees on a hill covered with flowers, labeled Cipressini in Val Dorcia, which we purchased from the photographer in Tuscany on our last trip together, and a large conch shell engraved with a women’s profile like a cameo from Pompeii (where there are thousands of souvenir stalls, and it’s not so easy to find one made locally).

  26. In the late 1980’s I spontaneously scooped a bit of beautiful white sand from the beach in Kaikora, on New Zealand’s South Island. When I got home I put it in a small clear glass stoppered bottle. Ever since than I have been collecting small handfuls of sand and gravel from beaches, lakes and rivers of everywhere I’ve traveled, and putting them in identical small bottles – all labeled with place names and dates. I love to gaze at my collection and let the memories come flooding back!

  27. We have a Coravin from the little wine shop in Bellagio. Owner shows us the Amarone he shared with Rick but we didn’t get to taste it.

  28. Where others see clutter I see the places I’ve been, the things I have done and the people I have met. De-clutter- not on your life. One item I regret not picking up was a sign being sold in a hardware store in Malaysia. In four different languages in three different scripts it commanded ” Do Not Spit”. Those who have been to South East Asia will know why it would have made a great souvenir.

  29. Cameron, This was a fun read. I had to laugh about your little pooping guy because I also wanted one. In 1987, during our first trip to Germany, we were enjoying exploring Berg Eltz. I was looking in the glass treasures case when what to my wondering eyes did appear but a little ivory pooping guy! I was gobsmacked, never having seen anything like it. Of course there were no reproductions of it to buy. I never have forgotten him. Last year, friends were in the area and I encouraged them to visit Berg Eltz, hoping there now was a figurine to purchase. Alas there was not. However, he now is featured on a postcard along with other objects d’arte from the treasure case. Next time you’re there, do have a look at “my” little pooping guy.

  30. That was an interesting story. I also have a bronze Mannekin Pis from Brussels. At 3″ tall it’s diminuitive, just like the actual statue.

  31. I like to buy a bookmark or a postcard to use as a bookmark so I can relive our travels each time I pick up a book at home. I’ve used many during quarantine.

  32. I like to buy a bookmark or a postcard to use as a bookmark so I can relive our travels each time I pick up a book at home. I’ve used many during quarantine.

  33. Aside from many store-bought souvenirs from our travels is a prized 4” rock crystal I found on the lakeshore, across our B & B in Dingle, Ireland. We were on a RS tour at the time. The innkeeper assured me it was OK to keep it, which surprised me.

  34. I enjoyed your article. Our house too has many treasures from our travels. Recently I have been picking up eggs – marble from Pamukkale, alabaster from Volterra, olive wood from Assisi. One small point though – your icons are beautiful, but for reasons I am not clear about, one refers to “writing” an icon, not painting it. Thanks for encouraging me to revisit all our lovely memories!

  35. Thank you Cameron!! What a lovely tribute to the art of travel. I have some postcards from my RS Paris tour…not much money to spend alas, but, the memories are priceless. My niece was inspired by my trip and from her I gained many treasurers from her travles…postcards from her European trip, salt from an Austrian salt mine, a glass bottle stopper and watercolor from Venice and a print from Regensberg along with postcards from Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia. What a wonderful world!

  36. True to the Rick mandate of traveling light, we have always had one Rick Steves carry-on each – so what can you bring home? small boxes! I have too many to count!

  37. Oh, this is too much fun! I too have a house full of wonderful memories! Glass “candie twists” from Venice, Sweaters from Ireland, Tudor Rose plaque from the outside of a pub In London, glass Limoncello bottle shaped like Italy. But my favorite is a Mother of Pearl and black Onyx Backgammon board from a shop in the 800 year old Khan al Kahlili Bazaar in Cairo, Egypt. I love to “bargain” with the Locals, it’s all part of the game! I miss traveling so much I can taste it!

  38. Great read, many thanks for taking me down my memory lane. For exactly 20 years this summer; my family has used RS’s Travel Books to plan the best times of our lives. My office shelves are stacked with your books and maps along with memento’s from every country visited. In addition to those souvenirs, I bring home a mandatory post card and the most “cheesy” magnet I can find. My refrigerator is lined with hundreds of reminders that i glance at every day.

    Thanks to you, Rick, and all the nice people at RS’s Europe Inc. for what you do!!

  39. I happened across a monk sitting on the steps near a monastery gate in Israel making beaded prayer necklaces who would accept no money but gave them to those who expressed interest. An artist in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London was sketching lovely glass enclosed figurines. I admired his work and he was so pleased, he gave his sketch to me even signing it. I took a wonderful photo of yet another bearded artist who looked like a work of art himself…drawing the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Picture travel books in each area are thin, inexpensive and catch many a photo I didn’t take. I love collecting small, unique items because they tuck easily into luggage. They are magically housed in the distinct corner of my home which savors stories to be told from distant lands. Your treasures were enjoyed by one and all. Thank you for sharing! I’ve reminisced with delight because of your interests!

  40. One thing I love to buy are different linens in each country. Particularly, tablecloths. They are very easy to pack and such a lovely memory!

  41. One of our favorite mementos is a sign my husband saw in a restroom in Budapest. It is a picture tutorial on ‘how to use a toilet’ starting with ‘do not stand on toilet’. He took a pic of it and after remodeling our powder room we framed it and hung it up. Great conversation starter after folks come out!

  42. Loved the article and enjoyed reading what others do. I have tried to become a minimalist in my travel souvenirs, so have turned to magnets. (I sometimes will buy a small trinket and turn it into a magnet as well.) I have two metal boards covered in these magnets in my kitchen, and I LOVE my little display of travel memories that I can see and reminisce about every day. It helps to alleviate my travel fever.

  43. What a great idea! I was always on the search for little animals, among other things. My kitchen window sill zoo had to be redistributed because it was getting very crowded. I hope that I can remember everything when I get around to this.

  44. My favorite travel souvenirs are street art. I have small, but beautiful watercolors (mostly) from Paris, Prague, Positano, Ho Ch Minh City, and on and on. The frames usually cost more than the art, but the memories are the most valuable.

  45. I love this! Having grown up in Europe before settling in the US, I have many of the same memories, if not the same souvenirs. Thanks for sharing!


  46. We have an enormous stack of postcards we’ve collected from our travels over the years. During the pandemic I’ve been sending them out to family and friends telling them about the scenes. I’m sending my grandson postcards from Legoland in Denmark 42 years ago when his mama was three and enjoying the rides.

  47. I sent myself postcards from the places I visited with a summary of the days events and special adventures. I then when they all arrived bound them in order…Europe in 21 days. So fun

  48. The Orkney flag, just wow. My paternal grandfather was born there. Though I never knew him, I made a trip to Orkney in 1976, having discovered cousins there. Only went out of curiosity, plus knowing about fine writers from those parts (Edwin Muir, George Mackay Brown). Then was entranced by the landscape, enthralled by the history, and delighted by the people. Did not know about the flag. Thanks for the recollections you share. I’ll have to “curate” my own tchotckes.

  49. My home is filled with travel memories. Framed art from China and Cuba, German wine glasses, Haiti table, jewelry and special small curios displayed on and next to all my travel books starting with Europe on $5 a day. One of my favorites is my angel tree topper with wax head and hands from Germany in 1969, my first trip to Europe. It goes with all the ornaments on my tree from all my local and 7 continent travels.
    Cameron thanks for making me more aware of all that I have from my travels besides the memories.

  50. Growing up just outside of Pittsburgh, Fred Rogers is a hero of mine. I have that same autographed picture received after my son (who is now 42) sent Mr. Rogers a birthday card. You’ve inspired me to frame it. BTW….Mrs. Rogers just passed away a few days ago. :-(

  51. My wife is a big collector of place-specific tea towels. I think that they are great as they weigh little, are easily packed, often have wonderful graphics, and as they hang (in rotation) in the kitchen,, are regular reminders of our travels. As an architect and artist, my focus is on getting photos of places that allow me upon return to recreate moments through series of travel paintings and sometimes custom building models that I create on a 3D printer. I find it easy to spend a year or more reliving moments in producing the works and have walls, shelves, and a website lined with the results.

  52. In 1985 we took our three kids (10, 12, 14) for 10 weeks through Europe in a Renault. We did hostels and had Ricks book at the time (Mario’s in Rome!!) We made a deal with the kids – they could choose one type collectible that had to fit in their pack. We would stop at the first trinket shop over the border, they could buy their piece and that was it for that sort of shopping. When we went to museums (husband an artist and on sabbaticle) they could go at their own speed, but had to buy a post card of their favorite work of art and be able to tell us why when we all made it to the lunch room. They worked on their journals till their dad finally joined us. Wonderful trip, still have their things (oldest boy got the small medals you could nail to a walking stick, middle girl got dolls, youngest girl got giant pencils/erasers) I wanted small hand crafted art pieces, hopefully bought from the creator .

  53. On our most recent trip, we traveled to The Netherlands. We purchased a small Viking couple statuette as another travel remembrance; among other items. Going through Customs, the worker unwrapped the item packaged for us at the little shop to inspect it. Upon seeing it, he said, “Oh, that’s really sweet”, then hurriedly stuffed it into the wrapping.

  54. We like to buy local art from the area we are visiting. I especially prefer to buy the art directly from the artist. We then have someone take our picture with the artist while we’re holding up the piece of art. When we get home we get the photo developed, tape the photo and a brief description of the place where we bought it. We have quite a beautiful collection and I’m hopeful we will be able to add to it again…hopefully sooner rather than later.

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