Salzburg Window DisplaysI don't know why we don't wear dirndls. They look innocent and sexy at the same time. The bodice is made with stays that push you in and out in all the right places, and the white petticoats and lacy blouses peak out coyly top and bottom.
Salzburg window displays are an art form. Lit up at night even though the shops are closed, they make it fulfilling just to browse.
In my travels I've satisfied my lust by window shopping, writing down color combinations, or drawing some of the displays in my journal. It gives me ownership. I've also discovered I can keep anything I want with my camera. I brought these exquisite ensembles home with me from Salzburg last year and they didn't cost me a euro!
Shopping for souvenirs can be frustrating when there's not a lot of money to spend. I have discovered that when I'm searching for particular keepsakes that I know I can buy, I have as much fun as when I'm accumulating a suitcase full of random loot.
We travel light so we collect mementos that are cheap (or free,) unique, and easy to pack. Dee calls it eclectic collecting. Some ideas are:
- Matchbooks. These are harder to come by now that restaurants are smoke-free, but they look great framed as a collage.
- Buttons. Antique stores often have big jars full of unusual old-fashioned buttons. It gives me a reason to go into these quirky places.
- Art postcards. Tonight I worked on a card catalog containing my favorite works of art from museum store postcards. I now have over a hundred. These are also fun to search for in antique stores.
- Cardboard coasters with colorful insignias of the local brew are sometimes sitting right under your glass. Don't spill, and take them home.
- Napkins are much cheaper than tablecloths, but can be just as beautiful with lace or embroidered details. I buy a variety that I can layer on top of a solid colored tablecloth. It's fun to take notes of how they are displayed in the stores.
- Local crafts. I can't afford to buy each of my 20 grandkids the darling toys and trinkets I see different places, so I buy something for my Oma Kits. In Salzburg I bought ten tiny wood carvings with magnets on the back. They are each about two inches long, and are made like little marionettes, with dangling arms and legs.
- Coins, stamps, or cool business cards with interesting logos or foreign writing.
- Menus. Some restaurants will give you one if you ask, especially if you offer to pay.
- Toiletries in a different language seem exotic. Toothpaste or even tiny kleenex packages make me smile after I'm home.
- Books. This is where we splurge. We always ask if the bookstore will send our purchases home. If that isn't possible we take them to the post office where we buy boxes and tape and ship them ourselves. A few days after we get home, our treasures arrive: a package containing colorful maps or antique book plates from a tiny, hidden shop down a winding path where we spent a cozy hour one rainy afternoon.
Two of my aunts went to Europe together in 1955, and brought me home a collection of little silver spoons from each of the places they went. I still remember the one from Holland—it had a little windmill that really moved. From that little present when I was six, my interest was kindled and I began dreaming of the day I could visit "faraway places with strange sounding names." As the song says, they were "calling, calling me."
What do you do with all the little stuff that you collect on a vacation? My sister artistically framed her memories of a trip to England. On a map, she used string (I think) and map pins to mark their route, and then attached ticket stubs, menus, photos, etc. to create a collage. I'm sure she bought a few pricey momentos, but her arrangement of the free bits and pieces is striking.
Although I spend money every chance I get, I can have fun traveling without it. I've realized that the real souvenir isn't a purchase. The memory of dodging horses in a rainstorm, remembering a long forgotten vocabulary, noticing that even the old ladies in Austrian capes and alpine hats are talking on cell phones as they stroll the 12th century streets—those are the things I want to take home. Genuine souvenirs aren't in the shops. They are free for the taking anywhere you make a memory.
~ What do you collect on trips? How do you display your collections?
~ Do you have a unique souvenir in your home? Tell it's story: where did it come from, how did you get it, who should inherit it?
~Who inspired your desire to travel? Write them a thank you note.
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