Travel memories and trinkets #2: Croatian souvenirs

Although it’s only been just over a week since our trip to Croatia, it feels like months ago after a busy first working week back in Berlin. In a city that seems to be in a decidedly autumnal mood, with lots of rain and chilly evenings, summer days at the coast seem a lifetime away. So this morning was a good time to look over our souvenirs from the trip. I decided to put them all together for another post in the travel memories and trinket series.

It’s always fun seeing what items other countries have for sale. In Croatia, many of the towns have the distinct scent of lavender, with all the lavender sachets sold. The climate on the coast allows many aromatic herb plants such as lavender and rosemary to flourish, we saw a lot of it growing wild, and on the mountain we also saw sage. Olive trees and fig trees were also common, and delicious figs, both fresh and dried, were easy to come by in the markets. Candied orange peel was another sweet treat available. There were also many people selling honey, both along the roadside and in towns, from many different flowers including lavender. A liqueur containing honey, called medica, was also available and we saw lots of bottles of it for sale in Primošten.

A big surprise was coming across the multitude of souvenir stalls selling their wares in the basement level of the palace of Diocletian. Amongst other things, jewellery and other objects carved of local stone were for sale. We found a stall selling products made from onyx and bought two little cups as well as some beautiful dice.

Our final souvenir we bought on our very last day in Croatia, in which we spent the morning on one of the pebble peaches swimming in the clear, green waters of  the Adriatic coast. It was a huge beach towel on which a map of Croatia was printed. The reason we liked it is that during our road trip we’d been to many of the places on the map. Every time we use the towel we will remember our wonderful trip to Croatia, the beaches, mountains, ancient Roman ruins, fish dinners and lively towns.

Have you been to Croatia? Which were your favourite local products, and did you take anything back home?


Travel memories and trinkets #1 Spanish souvenirs


Whichever travel destination you go to, you are bound to come across souvenirs for sale. Why are souvenirs so popular? Well, after a great trip, it doesn’t take long until the realities of everyday life make the holiday seem like just a lovely dream. That’s when it’s nice to look at or hold your souvenir and remember: I was really there. The word souvenir itself comes from the French word for memory. Looking at the souvenirs triggers memories of the place where you found them. And of course, some people like it when you bring back some little presents!

Leanne, author of the blog Nihongojapongo about life in Japan and other travels, has come up with a blog challenge: the Travel Trinkets and Memories challenge. J and I just got back from a 4 day trip to Spain, so I thought I’d write a bit about my Spanish souvenir and some of the other Spanish souvenirs on offer.

I guess not many women could resist coming home from Spain without a fan. They are both beautiful and functional! We visited Seville (Sevilla) in Andalusia, the home of flamenco, where the fan is used artistically by flamenco dancers. Seville is also in the hottest area in Spain, where a fan seems almost a necessity (we were there in a cooler spell – 38 degrees every day rather than the 41 degrees they had on either side of our visit!). Fans were first pictured in ancient Greek art from around the 4th century BC, and in China there is still a fan in existence that was made in the 2nd century BC. The European fans used to be rigid fans, until the folding fan was introduced from Asia in the 17th century via the travels of explorers, and became very popular.

My friend living in Spain said that fans are usually cheaper there because they are a specialty of that area. It’s true that they were cheaper than in Granada. There’s many different kinds of fans, made of different materials and with different paintings and decorations. I came across mine within an hour of arriving in Seville, as my friend had mentioned that there was a market on Feria street near to her apartment, so we stopped there on our way through the narrow cobblestone streets from the train station. At the market were lots of interesting secondhand toys, books, ornaments, music, stamps and so on. A lady sold me this beautiful blue fan for only 1,50 euros.

Other souvenirs we saw for sale in Andalusia included summery colourful skirts and dresses in Granada, orange, bergamot and jasmine scented soaps and perfumes in Seville, little bull and flamenco dancer figurines, bottles of Spanish olive oil, and books about the different towns, as well as Andalusian and Spanish history. The library in Granada was especially good for picking up some Spanish history books, and because of the heritage of Islamic architecture in the area, they also had colouring books of Islamic geometric patterns, which are very tempting once you have seen the beautiful designs at Alhambra and feel like decorating your own house. In fact many souvenirs for sale (notebooks, pencils) were decorated with Islamic patterns, and they also sold tiles in some places, although these were more expensive. And in case you wanted to remember Spain by preparing some local dishes back at home, they also had many books of tapas recipes for sale!

What interesting souvenirs have you seen in Spain, and do you have any favourite Spanish trinket or memory?