Yesterday was the first warm-enough day we've had around Boston to wear a t-shirt. I found my Hard Rock Cafe Moscow T and proudly wore it for the day. I also have a nicer Moscow HRC shirt that I'll pull out when the weather gets nicer. For me, it's a nice reminder of the trip and a collection that continues to grow. Wherever I go, there's usually a Hard Rock there, and each has a "city T" design that is customized to the city, usually with some tip of the hat to a local culture or icons. I even started buying the shirts for my Dad, who now looks equally styling when he heads out to physical therapy or the rehab gym.
Other things I tend to pick up on every trip are a city mug or thermal cup from Starbucks. Sad as it is, Starbucks has become ubiquitous and since it's such a common part of my life at home, it tends to be some place I'll seek out when I'm away, if only to find the city mug or thermal cup. This morning as I ground my way to the train on a dreary Monday morning, it was sort of fun to sip my first coffee of the day out of my Moscow travel mug.
I also have a enormous collection of magnets. I like unusual magnets that show something of what I've seen while I'm away but aren't cheesy kitsch, if that makes sense. I rotate the collection, since now it's too big to have it all on my fridge at once. I think my favorite ones are the little ceramic white house from Capri, and the bike shop and waffle house from Amsterdam.
But here's the thing...don't go buying me all of these things if you travel some place cool. To me it only counts that I bought it there, and all of this serves as a reminder of my travels in little flashes of memory.
Now aside from those three oddities (you have to admit, those are strange things to seek out!), I do love jewelry and will look for something distinct for myself and maybe my Mom and sister. The amber in Russia was just gorgeous (and cheap!). I got a Majorca pearl ring in Seville. A Swarovski crystal pendant in Holland (not native to Holland, I know but a neat sister experience where my sister got the other piece as part of a set). A garnet ring and pendant in Prague. A gold filigree ring and bracelets in Florence. Murano glass pendants in Venice. You get the point...I like my jewelry!
I also keep an eye out for things that the region is known for. I have Prague crystal, Waterford crystal, Belleek porcelain, Delft porcelain, matryoshka dolls, faux Faberge eggs, Limoges boxes...the list goes on. And in the handy to have category, I love my Irish knit sweaters and the Irish woolen throw on the back of my sofa.
Most useful for memories though are the watercolors that I buy from street artists. They seem to be every where that tourists are and they paint everything that makes the location what it is. Usually I will bargain a 2 for 1 purchase, picking two that I like and deciding when I get home which I'll want framed (which always seems to cost about 10 times what I paid for the print!) I have a bunch of these framed now, as well as a couple oil paintings that I bought in Venice and Paris, that I rotate on my walls at home. It is always interesting to see how local artists paint their own hometowns.
While I don't shop my holidays away, I do try to keep an eye out for things distinctly local and that will make me smile when I see them (or wear them, or use them) back home.