Souvenirs From Europe

9Here’s a collection of souvenirs you can buy during a trip through Europe.

· Andorra

Andorra, VAT-free so far, has been a popular destination for shopping for everything upscale – electronics, jewellery, perfumes and high end fashion.

· Austria

Just one thing – Swarovski crystals. More things – Sacher Torte, Lebkuchen, dessert wines, schnapps, pumpkin seed oil. Art lovers can add Gustav Klimt posters, calendars, notepads and handcrafted wooden Nativity scenes to their collection.

· Balkan Peninsula

If you had to pick just one souvenir from Bulgaria, it would definitely have to be a vial of essential rose oil. You can get it in traditional wooden dolls or decorative wooden bottles.

· Baltic States

Glowing amber in different shades from the Baltic Sea is shaped into decorations and neat jewellery, widely available throughout the region. You could also pick up some Estonian marzipan, which is available in various shapes and Laima chocolates from Latvia.

· Belarus

In Belarus, straw is elegantly crafted into various shapes and dolls, which make good gifts. Belarusian linen is also of high quality, with interesting designs.

· Benelux

Belgium is where Tintin comes to life, and a comic souvenir is a must. Also on the must-buy list are pralines, originally made by Neuhaus. Belgium has a huge range of strong, exotic beers, only some of which are exported. Take your pick of the finest, you may not find it elsewhere. Belgian laces, very pretty with intricate patterns and impeccable finishing, make breathtaking dresses and veils.

If you find yourself in Netherlands, a pair of Dutch wooden clogs, tulips, and blue and white Delftware would be great additions to your home collection. You can also get miniature windmills, which are dainty and look lovely.

Luxembourg produces ethereal crystal, but it is the cuisine, influenced by France, Belgium and Germany that is the real revelation for travellers. Ardennes ham, black pudding and plum tarts are real delicacies, and worth carrying if you live a short flight away.

· Cyprus

Handicrafts has been a traditional industry in Cyprus, with artisans producing pottery, jewellery and beautiful embroidery. Halloumi cheese is a Cypriot speciality which is great for barbecues back home.

· France

France is a gourmand’s delight, and if you have an epicure for a friend back home, you will be spoilt for choice. Reblochon cheese, Herbes de Provence, Armagnac and the range from Bordeaux may require an extra backpack. For someone with a sweet tooth, the Laduree macaroons and gourmet chocolates are a real delight. Perfumes, Laguiole knives and exquisite Puy lace make expensive but memorable gifts.

· Germany

Souvenirs from Germany are the best and the wurst. Take home a cuckoo clock from the Blackforest as an archetype of German precision. Classic beer steins are a favourite with all, and Edelweiss pins and Hummel figurines are cute and small enough to tuck into a corner of your handbag.

· Greece

Statues of the Greek Pantheon are easily available and very “touristy” buys. Also ubiquitous are the owl souvenirs – the owl being associated with Athena, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom. Most Greek households also display Matia (evil eye), which travellers really fancy.

· Ireland

In Ireland, you can get a piece of the Auld Sod or Irish soil to take home and also Shamrock seeds to create an Irish corner in your garden. Take away an Aran sweater and Whiskey to continue experiencing the Irish warmth at home. If you have extra luggage space on the way back, you may consider a Guinness tankard and Shillelagh.

· Italy

Buy a food basket, you’re in Italy! Fill up with Limoncello, Vinsanto, Cantucci, Tradizionale Balsamic vinegar from Modena, Panforte. A fashionista’s paradise, you can find ties, scarves and high boots to suit all wallets. Balance out a David apron with rosaries from the Vatican or Renaissance memorabilia. A trip to Venice is incomplete without buying a Murano creation and a Venetian mask.

· Kazakhstan

If you cannot afford to get caviar for all, despair not. Kazakh handmade felt camels and yurta are incredibly cute and surprisingly inexpensive. Leather whips (kamchi) and saddle bottles are other gifts to consider.

· Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein has interesting souvenir postage stamps – take one for the memory. Pottery and Balzner marble sculpting are traditional arts here, with a huge range of creations to choose from.

· Malta

Handblown glass and filigree silverware are Maltese must-haves.

· Moldova

Ceramics, rugs and woodwork here have a distinctive Moldovan touch. Moldova is also known for its wines.

· Nordics

A Dala horse, or soft stuffed moose are instantly evocative of Scandinavia. Another piece for the mantelpiece would be a Swedish angel chime or a Toikka bird. Reindeer hide from Sweden or a cozy Norwegian sweater will keep you warm for several winters. Puukko knives and handwoven ryijy rugs are traditional Finnish memorabilia. Last but not the least, don’t forget to buy some surstromming for your enemies back home.

· Portugal

The Portuguese love their port wine, but their green wine, Madeira and Ginjinha are also worth a mention. The ubiquitous azulejos are also beautiful souvenirs.

· Romania

Finding mementos in Romania are really easy for a Dracula fan. But if you are not one, you can choose from the traditional vibrant artwork – Bucovina Easter eggs, Horezu pottery and plates and carved wooden figures from Maramures.

· Russia

The nesting Matryoshka dolls are intriguing and alluring, appealing to people across all ages. Traditional handcrafted Birch boxes and intricately painted Lacquer boxes are fine examples of Russian workmanship. Jewelled Farberge eggs are exquisite and worth splurging on. Vodka was once upon a time a parallel currency in Russia, and is available in interesting bottles – even one shaped like an AK-47! A warm ushanka, though available widely in most cold countries, is also a good gift from here.

· Slovenia

For the connoisseur of fine food, Slovenian salts from Primorska are a real delight. For the foodie, you can also pick some Prsut, traditional Slovenian wines and schnapps. If you are looking for something more lasting, delicate lace from Idrija is perfect for coffee tables. The dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana, and several souvenirs around this can be found in souvenir shops.

· Spain

In Spain you can find premium leather at reasonable prices, so go in for a leather jacket or handbag, or a more traditional bota for holding liquor. Mantillas and capes are also interesting gifts to consider. Delicate Lladro porcelain may require some handling with care, but you can definitely throw in a box of delicious rabitos anytime. If you make the trip to Toledo, you definitely have to buy one of those famous swords and steel jewellery. If corny is your style, then go in for a Barca t-shirt.

· Switzerland

Switzerland produces peerless army knives, watches, chocolates, cheese and well, tennis players. Swiss army knives from Victorinox are widely available and the best. You need to set aside a few hours if you love fine watches, the extensive collections are exquisite (and expensive!). You could also buy an elaborate cuckoo clock if watches are not your thing.

· Turkey

Ward off evil with a charming blue nazar, which every household here displays. Turkish carpet weaving is an ancient art, perfected over centuries to produce opulent designs. Boxes of Turkish delight and apple tea are available in every corner, make sure you load up on these. Sculpted onyx vases and bowls can also be easily found, and lend a very ethnic and unique buzz to your home.

· Ukraine

Pick a basket of Pysanky – traditional painted Easter eggs. Straw has been traditionally used in Ukraine for creating adornments, which are widely available. Straw bells are believed to bring good fortune, and also sit pretty on a Christmas tree.

· United Kingdom

The souvenir shops in London are always awash with the Union Jack and its colours. Pick a replica of the iconic red telephone booth or a double decker bus. An English breakfast tea box with a cosy is perfect for tea junkies. You also must pick up one of those tacky tourist staples, such as a replica of Big Ben or a I Love London shot glass.

· Visegrad

If you are travelling through the Visegrad, you will have a hard time picking out just a few items from the myriad beautiful displays. Czech crystal is flawless, and Moser and Ruckl are highly famed for their production. If you are on a food trail, you have to pick some excellent Czech beer, Hungarian wines, Polish honey, Tokaji, Unicum, palinka, sliwowica, zubrowka, Torun gingerbread and paprika. Amber from the Baltic Sea is abundantly available in the region, and jewellery made from it is inexpensive and striking.

Asian Souvenirs

8A souvenir is a life-long treasure and it helps to bring back the memories of people, places and events that belong to a travel experience. Purchasing souvenirs for family members, relatives and friends is an exciting experience for the tourists. There are many ‘push-factors’ and ‘pull factors’ that attract tourists to buy souvenirs of a particular place. It is often found that female tourists buy more souvenirs than their male counterparts!

The joyous shopping experience of buying souvenirs is different in different Asian countries. Many of the Indian crafts and arts that are reasonable and unforgettably native are purchased by our world neighbors. The heady mix of silk, cotton and wool fabrics designed with embroidery, bead-work and delicate motifs has become a passion among tourists. Hand-made jewellery, native handcraft items, leather footwear, paintings, traditional sweets are some of the Indian souvenirs.

Kuala Lumpur is a treasure house of traditional goods made in other Malaysian states. There is a large variety of cultural souvenirs that are both ornamental and of practical use. Jewellery, key-chains, figurines, wood carvings and pottery, etc are some of the popular souvenirs crafted with precision. Traditional Malay garments such as ‘Kain Songket’, ‘Batik’ are a craze among tourists.

The tax-free option in Singapore gives maximum convenience for the tourists to amass souvenirs in plenty. A wide range of spices, handicrafts, food, jewellery, electronic goods, and perfumes are some of the popular souvenirs of Singapore.

There are superb awesome souvenirs that can be bought to relate and remember Japan. For example, yukata, old haori and kimono, geta and zori shoes, daruma-san, the limbless doll, good chopsticks, beautiful things made of Kyoto paper, etc. The Japanese sword and scabbard, baseball uniforms and caps, etc. are also popular souvenir items.

In conclusion, souvenirs offer a majestic mystery and we are drawn to them by the hypnotic stance they put us on. But care should be taken to see that they are an expression of our trip, our destination and that they are authentic and something that we are proud to have. They should be able to effectively commemorate our trip and give pleasant memories.

Souvenirs One Must Not Forget to Buy From Finland

7Flag of Finland

Visitors returning from Finland often purchase its flag as a reminder of their visit to Finland. You can get a large Finnish flag to hang on the wall of your living room or a sweet miniature one to add to your flag collection. The Finnish flag is also printed, painted or embroidered on a number of other souvenirs from Finland like plaid blankets, sweaters, wooden mugs, knives, handicrafts etc. Tourists often get the flag of Finland as a souvenir. The flags are readily available at tourist shops in Finland.

Finnish Knives and Wooden Mugs

These are one of the most famous souvenirs from Finland. The engravings on the handles are often of different animals and birds found in Finland. You can find a huge variety of knives to choose from in terms of style, color, size and shape. Mugs made from different types of wood are a great keepsake from Finland. You can get an elegant looking plain wooden mug, a carved wooden mug or a large mug with a deer painted on it. These mugs are nice and can be used as decoration pieces or for drinking your favorite hot beverage. Alternatively, you could gift a pocket size knife or a mug to a favorite uncle of yours as a memento from Finland. There are many stores where knives and mugs can be bought at great affordable prices.

Finnish Plaid and Lappish Hats

Finnish plaid is well known worldwide and is used to make shirts, skirts, dresses, sweaters and many other forms of apparel as well as blankets. These are available in a range of colors – both subtle and attractive. You can get a pretty plaid blanket, scarf for your grandmother or aunt; or some nice plaid dress for yourself. Another thing to look out for in Finland would be the Lappish hats available there. Colorful hats divided in four parts are perfect gifts for children. The top part of a Lappish hat has four parts symbolizing the four parts of the world and the lower part is often embroidered in striking and attractive colors. Such hats are especially popular among children and they love to wear these amusing hats.

Miniature Animal Figures, Glass Birds, Handicrafts and Jewelry

Another good souvenir to buy from Finland would be figures of animals inhabiting Finland like reindeer, elk and deer. You can get hold of such figures from various souvenir shops in Helsinki, Rovaniemi, Vantaa, Tampere, Turku or any other city you are visiting in Finland. Glass birds are decorative pieces made from glass and shaped as birds. It is yet another gorgeous memento to get from Finland. Available in an ample array of colors and sizes, these pretty glass birds brighten up any room they are placed in. You can also purchase some pieces of Finnish handicrafts like Finnish boxes; or a piece or two of exquisite Lappish stone jewelry. A big stone pendant, a bracelet or some pretty earrings would be wonderful.

So hurry up, pack your bags with some of these lovely goodies from Finland, and keep them with you as a reminder of your trip to this beautiful country.

Traditional Bulgarian Souvenirs

6Bulgaria is a country of many traditions and customs preserved through time. With more than 1300 years of history, the country has been involved in many wars with its Balkan neighbours who left their cultural imprints in the time.

Still the Bulgarians managed to save their traditions and folklore untouched. Visitors and tourists in Bulgaria will be able to take home a slice of this distinctive history by purchasing traditional souvenirs and gifts.

Traditional costumes exist in many varieties and forms depending on the different Bulgarian regions. The main parts of the women’s costumes are long cotton shirt dress (soukman), apron with traditional embroideries, belt, kerchief and the so-called “tsarvuli” – woollen or leather traditional shoes/slippers. The male costumes include white or black traditional trousers, shirt, embroidered vest, wide woollen belt and black or white sheepskin hat (kalpak). The shoes (tsarvuli) are hand made from calf leather and are typical for all Bulgarian regions. Other popular traditional textile products are handmade woollen carpets and rugs. The most popular ones are produced in Chiprovtsi, a small town in North Western Bulgaria. Another major centre of the carpet industry is the southern part of Rodopi Mountain. Very popular carpet patterns are abstract geometric shapes as well as flowers and birds shapes.

“Martenitsa” is traditional decoration from red and white thread which is related to the Bulgarian custom “Baba Marta” (Grandma March). It symbolises the end of the winter and the beginning of the spring. Bulgarians give each other and wear “Martenitsa” during the month of March. The belief is that “Martenitsa” brings good luck. It comes in different varieties, but the typical one is in the form of male from white thread with the name of “Pizjo” and female from red thread with the name of “Penda”. On the last day of March most of the people hang their “Martenitsa” on blossoming fruit trees.

Bulgaria is known as the country of the rose and is the biggest producer in the world of rose oil, which is used in the perfume industry. The Rose Valley is the major rose growing region and is located in southern Bulgaria with town Kazanlak being centre of the rose oil industry. The most popular rose souvenirs are vials of rose oil essence typically around 2ml. They are sold in packs of ten or individually hidden in a wooden traditional doll or carved wooden bottle.

Woodcarving and decorative ceramic pottery are the other areas where the Bulgarian customs are very well preserved. Well-liked souvenirs for tourists and visitors are wood carved boxes, wooden dolls in traditional costumes, wine or water bottles (baklitsa) and decorative wine cask (bure). The most popular pottery souvenirs are plates and bowls from the town Troyan which are brown coloured with beautiful white, black and blue droplet patterns.

The traditional musical instruments of Bulgaria are great choice for tourist gift or memorabilia. They have been used through the centuries and the 500 years Turkish rule to preserve the Bulgarian spirit alive. Typical folk music instruments include goat or sheep bagpipe (caba gaida), flute (kaval), traditional two- headed drum (tapan), rebec (gadulka) as well as bells, clappers and whistles.

The roots of Bulgarians are going back in the time to Slavic’s, Thracians and even the mighty Genghis Khan. Whether you are purchasing for close friend, relative or yourself the traditional Bulgarian souvenirs are great piece of the preserved history of this European country.

Class Reunion Favors and Souvenirs

5If you’re planning a class reunion, you may be looking for some new ideas for unique favors. Will you be sending home your classmates with cool souvenirs that remind them of a wonderful time reconnecting with old friends? Or will those party giveaways end up in a box in the attic or the trash? Here are the top do’s and don’ts to help you find class reunion favors that everyone will love.

1. DON’T do the same old thing. Items like imprinted pens, shot glasses, mugs, water bottles and mouse pads have been done over and over again. There’s nothing wrong with them, but they have no wow factor. If you want to give your classmates a memorable memento to bring home, then think outside the box.

2. DO choose useful. Forget the imprinted stress ball. It will end up in the back of a drawer. Instead focus your search on finding class reunion favors that everyone can use. There are lots of things that you can have personalized that are also practical. How about a pocket magnifier, mini flashlight, memo board or little sewing kit? Search for fun, but functional items like a frisbee, backscratcher, mini spiral notebook or pocket mirror.

3. DO consider seasonal. If you’re having your reunion in the spring, an imprinted ice cream scoop, sand pail or pocket fan may be appropriate. If the party is in the fall, you might want to go with an ice scrapper or holiday ornament.

4. DO think retro. Your high school reunion will be a time when all of your classmates will be remembering the good old days. Play up the nostalgia with party souvenirs that boost the reminiscing. Custom CDs with songs from your graduating year is one possibility. Another idea is personalized year you graduated notebooks, magnets or bookmarks that feature prices, top songs, TV shows, winners in film and sports from your graduating year. Give out these favors and conversations will spark.

5. DO look into something edible. This is always a crowd pleaser. There are many options for every budget.  All your reunion information could be printed in your school colors on a candy bar wrapper that covers a gourmet chocolate bar. Or you could select a mint tin with a custom reunion design on the cover. Some of these tins even come with premium chocolates or other candies.  How about hot chocolate mix? You could have cookies made with your school and class year written in icing on the top. Do a little online browsing and you’ll find everything from personalized M&Ms to fortune cookies with your message.

6. DON’T spend a lot of money. Unique doesn’t have to mean expensive. Invest some time online searching for these giveaways for your classmates. You should be able to find something great for a couple of dollars for each souvenir.

7. DON’T wait too long. Favors may not be the most important part of the class reunion party, but if you procrastinate, you might find yourself limited to what you can get on short notice. Keep in mind that custom, imprinted items will take longer to receive than products that aren’t personalized.

8. DO seek inspiration. Check online forums and reunion websites for other people’s ideas. They have an abundance of information and advice. Also ask friends and coworkers for suggestions.

9. DON’T consider a favor that would exclude anyone. For example, imprinted golf tees are fun, functional and unique. But they wouldn’t appeal to people who don’t play golf. When deciding on reunion souvenirs, ask yourself whether or not this would be something that all of your classmates could use.

10. DON’T let it drive you crazy. These little giveaways at your reunion party are meant to be fun. Choose something you think your classmates will like, and then don’t second guess your decision.

You really can find class reunion favors that will be the hit of the party. You don’t have to go with the same old thing or spend a lot of money. Just give yourself a little time, do some online searching, check out reunion websites and forums and it won’t be long until you discover fun, functional and unique souvenirs for your classmates.