Not Your Average Souvenir

Not Your Average Souvenir

Some travelers have a specific souvenir in mind wherever they go.

Maybe their fridge pays homage to the places they've been with a host of magnets from each destination. Others may fancy a postcard sent home, a pashmina, a piece of jewelry.

Whatever the ideal totem may be - think of this as an opportunity to support local businesses and consider bringing home something just a bit different.

Having lived in Granada, Spain for several years, I often saw the same set of souvenirs laid out each weekend. Not all tourists have the time it takes to compare the different shops and prices.

On quick trips, sometimes I can barely remember the street I was on when I saw that thing I liked, so I've adjusted my souvenir buying accordingly.

 

Some basic tips on choosing a souvenir:

* If it looks mass produced, it probably is: Those fancy leather sandals you've seen in the past three shops are going to be in the next three shops, too. If you really want a pair - start talking to the shop owner and if you like what you hear, make your purchase.

* Made in where? I'm a big fan of pashminas and scarves. I'm more particular about knowing where the scarf was made, as opposed to where I'm buying it from. If I'm in Rome, I'd prefer an Italian scarf, not an Indian one.

* The art of gypsies: The traveling artist / gypsy / bohemian culture is rampant in parts of Europe. In southern Spain, you'll encounter a handful of young artists hanging out on the streets with their handmade jewelry and brightly colored paintings.

As with many entrepreneurs, they'll have a story to tell. If you like what you see, ask about it. Once again, if you like what you hear, make a purchase.

* Small businesses: In Granada's Plaza Nueva, a recently opened shop called Estampora sells items created by local artists: paintings, jewelry, photographs, bags, and scarves.

My mom and I have fallen for the owner's own print of the Albaicin neighborhood, by day and by night. Supporting the local artist culture was just as important to us as having a unique souvenir, and the painting clinched it. El Ojo Bizarro is also a great choice, hard to miss with it's bright signage along the Carrera del Darro (from Pza Nueva to Santa Ana).

* The edible souvenir: So you really loved the stroopwaffles in Amsterdam, but can't swallow the thought of spending 10 euros on a small bag to fly home with. Don't! Go to the local grocery store instead. This is one of my favorite places to souvenir shop - find me in the candy aisle looking for curious (and far more affordable) sweets. You'd be amazed what you can find in the snack sections, like jamón (ham) flavored potato chips by Ruffles.

* The potable souvenir: Remember that beautiful red wine you had while traveling in Spain? Buy some. I used Wine Mummies (winemummy.com) on my last trip to Spain and came home with two bottles of my favorites.

The hardest part is resisting the urge to let it sit on the shelf for a special occasion... drink up, it's a Tuesday evening in February! While I love "Al Sur de Granada" wine shop in Puerta Elvira, I'm not above finding the same wine in a supermarket.

Travel safely and shop wisely!

 

Travel Tip shared by thisblonde
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