Let’s be honest, most souvenirs are tacky. They are cheap, trinkety and most likely aren’t even made in the place you’re visiting (unless you’re visiting China or Taiwan).
Come on, how many shot glasses and keychains do you really need?!
On the other hand, it feels good to bring something home with you. To have something tangible to remind you of your trip beyond your Instagram feed.
For me, I have three things I like to collect when I visit a new place: postcards, vintage posters & original artwork. All three are flat or can easily be rolled up to pack and bring home.
Artwork is probably my favorite thing to collect.
I love to support local artists and have collected some really unique pieces of work and stories of how I came to find them.
A few years ago I went to Paris to visit my friend Lesley who was studying there. It was Holy Week, so there were a ton of tourists. We tried to go to the Louvre, but there was a four hour wait to get in. I was only in town for a few days so the wait didn’t seem worth it. In Paris, there are street artists every few blocks. A lot of the artwork is the same, so when I saw a watercolor artist on a bridge near the Louvre, I was struck by his beautiful delicate work. I love the way he captured the City of Love! As we were talking to him and flipping through his paintings, the wind picked up and out of no where it began to hail! It went from sunny and beautiful to massive hail storm in less than a minute! Lesley even got a fat lip from one of the chunks of ice! So the two of us helped the artist gather his paintings and ran for cover! Every time I look at that painting I think of that story and smile.
Last Sunday I went to the San Telmo Market here in Buenos Aires. It’s a huge market/street fair that has everything - antiques, street performers, artwork, food and tango! I found a booth where an artist was working on a new painting of a bicycle. The artwork he had displayed was beautiful - large watercolors of polo horses to small silhouettes of tango dancers. We chatted for a bit and he showed me a collection of watercolor paintings of tango dancers painted on tango sheet music. I thought it was such a beautiful way to capture the passion of tango and a great way to remember my time here in Buenos Aires.
Someday when I settle down, I hope to have a wall full of pictures, posters and artwork from all around the world.