The Best Souvenirs Are Free

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I took my first trip overseas when I was 17 years old and it’s been non-stop journey ever since. Almost every summer I strap on my globetrotting shoes and take off to explore all the beauty this world has to offer.  I always find a little piece of myself hiding in some far flung place as though it was waiting for me to bring it home.  Perhaps, that’s why I don’t buy souvenirs. The best memories come from experiences and the epiphanies that follow.  None of which can be bought in a tourist trap. Instead, I look to where my feet land and pick up what lies in my path.

Upper left: Prague

The larger block is a cobblestone from a sidewalk I strolled along every day.  In the morning I’d wonder what I would see that day and in the evening I was filled with awe.  The strength and beauty of this place taught me to never give up  . . . ever.

The white stone is from the Vltava River.  In the middle of the river is an island park filled with large trees and park benches.  The shade and quiet made for a nice afternoon of reading and picking up stones.

The gray stone is from a walkway that winds through Prague’s infamous Jewish graveyard.  The Jewish Quarter of Prague tells a story that spans centuries of segregation when Jews were relegated to one small part of the city and one small graveyard.  The result is an overcrowded cemetery filled with gravestones piled one on top of the other.  I picked up this stone to remind me of the struggles that so many endured on account of racism and hate.  It symbolizes my hope that humanity will one day learn this lesson for good.

Upper Middle: London

The white shell and flat red stone are from the shoreline of Thames.  In a previous post, Sand in My Shoes, I wrote about fulfilling my bucket list wish of walking along the Thames at low tide.  These two items are my mementos of crossing that item off my list.

Upper right: Ireland

The large gray stone is from the Burren region.  I picked it up after walking to the edge of a cliff that towers over the ocean.  I looked straight down a couple hundred feet and watched the waves crash against craggy rocks and into a hollow ravine.  There was no rail to keep me from falling and no one around to hold me back.  There’s nothing quite as terrifying or liberating as looking out to the open sea and realizing there is nothing to catch me. The stone serves as a reminder to be brave and put my toe to the edge.

The ragged gray rock is a piece of mortar from Blarney Castle.  If the castle comes crumbling down, I guess you can blame me.  This little piece came from a spot near the bottom of the back wall of the castle.  It was already loose, so I just finished the job.  I wish I had a better reason other than I thought it was a cool thing to have, but I don’t.  How many people can say, “I have a piece of Blarney Castle?”

The seashell  crescent and the two stones beside it are from the coastline of Waterville .  I’m not much of a beach person, but the ocean is beautiful no matter where it crashes ashore.  It was a rainy, cold day but the sound of waves lulled me out to the sandy beach.  This part of Ireland is very serene so I picked up a few smooth stones as a way to take that feeling home with me.

Click for more . . .

Sometimes travel takes me a little closer to home . . .

Lower Left: Wisconsin

The Maple and Birch leaves are from the woods around my aunt and uncle’s cabin.  Wisconsin is home to many wonderful childhood memories.  As an adult, I still take leaves home to keep the Northwoods with me as much as possible.  Sometimes I think my inner child lives in those leaves.

Lower Middle: South Carolina

The purple seashells and shark teeth fossils are from Myrtle Beach.  When I was younger I went to South Carolina number of times to visit family.  Saltwater has never been a friend to my skin, so I walked up and down the beach instead.  I enjoyed the time to think and the treasures that often appeared in the sand. A sharp eye will find dozens of shark teeth in a single day (I have hundreds more!).  Both the shells and teeth are like little testaments of history and I love feeling that connection with the past.

But I always end up wandering off to somewhere far away . . .

Lower Right: French Polynesia

The coral comes from the coast of Huahine, a tiny less developed island near Tahiti.  I loved the solitude and peace of this island, but the coral kept me on my toes.  One lapse in attention and it’ll cut right into your foot.  Ouch!  This particular piece didn’t get any blood out of me, but it very well could have!  I picked it up for its beauty, but also because it reminds me to always be aware of my surroundings.

I keep all of these items on a shelf where I can see them every day.  Not only do they conjure wonderful memories of the places I’ve been, but they keep me curious of the next place awaiting my arrival.

c.b. 2011

261 thoughts on “The Best Souvenirs Are Free

  1. A friend of mine collected gutter covers – not the real iron ones of course, she took photographs. After a few years she had an incredible collection of decorated gutter covers from all over Europe.

    Thank you for this post, It woke up some nice memories 🙂

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    • What an interesting collection your friend has amassed! 🙂 I don’t think I’ve ever noticed gutter covers before, but I’ll be looking the next time I go to Europe.

      Thank you for reading . . . I’m glad it brought back some good memories.

      Like

  2. I love this… I’m a collector of shells and rocks as well, and it’s so fun to see my boys doing the same thing now. We all have our own little boxes of travel memories. I’ve always wanted to visit Prague…. you write beautifully of it. 🙂

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    • Prague is one of those cities that grabbed onto to my soul and never let go. It’s a truly beautiful city and I hope to write about it more if inspiration calls.

      How wonderful that your sons have adopted your love of collecting rocks and shells! 🙂

      Like

  3. You have lived an interesting life. Thanks for sharing. Once again I am made aware of my own environment and the small momentos I have collected, but in a drawer there, or on a shelf here, or up or under….not organized but happy rememberances when I happen upon them.

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    • It’s always fun to find a memento when you least expect it. There is one I’m missing and I keep hoping I’ll run across it every time I open a drawer or a cabinet. It can’t have wandered too far away!

      Keep your memories close for they are an amazing source of inspiration! 🙂

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  4. Wonderful post! (why am I not surprised 🙂 ) We are twins it seems, in picking up the things others would walk upon unnoticed, and keep them as a memory. I don’t pick up physical memories as much as I used to, for no matter how much they mean to you, on a Pirate ship, they’re merely ballast. 🙂

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  5. Susanne

    Prague, London, Wisconsin, South Carolina….an Island off Tahati I think maybe you could parlay this into writing a travel article! Ooops I forgot Ireland. Smart of you not to spend a ton of money on silly trinkets when you can bring home objects, at no cost, that are touchstones to your memories. That way you have more $ to spend on travel again!

    Like

    • Better stories come from free stuff, too. If I bought it in a store, there wouldn’t be much to tell! 😉

      One of these days I’ll get around to writing more about the trips I’ve taken. I’ll turn this blog in to National Geographic once a week. Ha ha!

      Like

  6. It amazes me that you know such detailed history for each item. I adore post cards but it’s not the same as having a tangible piece of a place that really means something to you. You must have such a rich and intriguing cabinet or bookcase full of little bits and pieces of the world; it must be wonderful to be able to pick up a stone and be brought back to that moment.

    You’re so right that something that most people overlook or take for grated as part of the scenery can be the most special.

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    • Well, I remember the important stuff, but detailed journaling takes care of whatever slips my mind, (for example, I had to look up the name of the town where my Irish stones originated). 😉 Aside from the little things I pick up, the best thing I bring home from any trip is my journal filled with pages of entries and thoughts. I can relieve any trip whenever I want!

      Thanks for reading!

      Like

  7. James O'Shea

    Before one of my cousins knew what was a ‘legitimate’ gift, she gave me a collection of rocks from her favorite places (all within 20 feet of her house) when I was in a really bad accident. There must be something deep down in people that can connect deeper meaning and memory with simple objects. I like that you’re showing you don’t need expensive souvenirs to remember.

    Like

    • How sweet of your cousin to give you something that was so important to her. 🙂

      My pebbles and shells are priceless to me, yet meaningless to everyone else. 😉 They were here long before I ever existed and I’m sure they’ll end up in the ground once again after I’m gone. But at least for a little while they carry some beautiful memories.

      Thank you for such an insightful comment and I hope you stop by again.

      Like

  8. Nice to know I’m not the only sentimental fool who gathers pebbles and sticks from travels.

    (And no, I’m not calling you a fool. Just a sentimental fool. There is a difference!)

    Great pieces — great post!

    🙂

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  9. A really neat idea you have about souvenirs. Gift shops are so full of stuff that’s frequently made in places other than where you buy it. Finding souvenirs along the way seems more unique to your visit, and you have great stories to go along with them.

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  10. You made me think about the jar that sits on the window ledge in my studio. It is an old pint mason jar filled with sand and shells from the first time my husband went to the ocean. I have a snapshot showing how the north Atlantic captured him. I seldom pull out that snap shot, but that jar sitting there day in and day out always brings back so many memories of sharing that experience with my husband. I can hear the sound the ocean makes, the smell of the ocean, and see the waves rushing in. All from a free souvenir 30 years later. Thanks for you post,

    Like

    • What a wonderful story! 🙂 Thanks for sharing. I’m always amazed at how an object can bring back memories. Smells, sensations, sound, color, etc all come back with vivid detail as if you were still in that moment.

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  11. Very interesting post! I’ve not traveled as much as I would like to, but I have spent extended periods of time in Israel and the best souvenir for me was a rock I picked up in the Negev desert. I keep it safe in a small box on my nightstand and it has become a kind of good luck charm for me. It holds memories of my incredible trips to Israel.

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  12. Haha! I also took a piece of Blarney Castle with me before I left! So don’t feel too badly if it comes crashing down – you have someone to share the blame with. 😉

    Great post and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

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    • Oh my! You just reminded me of something I forgot I had! Thank you! I’ve also collected pine cones from places throughout the States! I’m so excited to go find them. 🙂

      I’ll bet those Italian cones are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your story! 🙂

      Like

  13. I love the way you look at the world with your simple and natural souveniers. My best friend does something similar. Whenever she goes somewhere, she looks for heart-shaped rocks on the floor and collects them all into a jar. Whenever I travel to another city, state, or country I always look out for those and bring a bunch home! I enjoyed reading your post, and thanks for sharing!

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  14. tyler

    This is interesting… I have been to Prague and it is a fantastic city. Really, if a person goes to one European city in their lifetime (not including the one they live in, if living in europe) then it should be prague. I liked just walking around the city more than visiting the tourist sites.

    Like

    • Wandering is my favorite way to travel. A place opens up with all sorts of possibilities when the tour book is tossed aside. 🙂

      You’re so right about Prague. It’s a secret Europe has kept for far too long – I’m so glad the world is rediscovering this beautiful city.

      Like

  15. I have to agree with you on this. One of my absolute favorite souvenirs from my trip to the beach this summer was a large piece of smoky white sea glass that I found. It was special to me because I found it while out walking with my boyfriend, and until then I’d only found sea glass of a quarter to a half inch in diameter, but this piece was about an inch wide.

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  16. janachantel

    Those are some really neat souvenirs. Next time I go on vacation I’m going to do something like that instead of buying something from a gift shop.

    I’ll appreciate it if you checked out my blog http://janachantel1.wordpress.com/ it’s about me trying to become a successful published author. And please feel free to subscribe!

    Like

  17. Habitual Traveler

    Great post, I shared it with my husband who always laughs at me for bringing home rocks and bits of nature as souvenirs of my trip. I recently returned from Mexico and had to leave my books behind to bring back a large rock, luggage was over weight…oh but it was worth it! It sits in my bathroom has the latest crown jewel for my collection….so unique. Can’t wait to find my next treasure, here I come West Palm Beach!

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  18. I couldn’t agree more..I love going through my treasures and remembering happy and sometimes sad memories. Some day I think I will gather them into a chunky scrapbook and journal so the memories will last when I am gone. Thank you for sharing your treasures.

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  19. Fantastic post. Although I’m not widely traveled like you, I tend to collect little trinkets like the ones you’ve picked up because they have a connection to experiences and the places I love. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. I love this little glimpse inside your travel journal ~ almost sweeps my heart away to those places you describe: the cliff, your family’s cabin, the Carolina shore. Thank you so much for sharing your memories and these special artifacts. oh! and muy congratulations on being freshly pressed!! my best, Diane

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  21. Hi Colt:) Ha ha – I was so sure it was your blog when I saw a link on my WordPress homepage with CB Wentworth. Very proud to see you’re still blogging and that your posts are still as interesting as always – keep it up:) Love your travel collection photo too! Nicci

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  22. What wonderful treasures! I must agree, collecting little finds along the way of a trip is satisfying knowing you found it and not to mention–it’s free! I always love taking shells from the beach, and I know some people snagged a rock or two from sites like Machu Picchu in Peru when I visited a few months ago–although it’s not preferred. Still, they’re such great little earthly remembrances.

    Like

    • You really can’t beat free! The value, however, is priceless. 🙂

      Wow . . . Machu Picchu! The memories attached to those stones would be nothing short of incredible. Hmmm . . . if stones could talk!

      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

      Like

  23. I’m a stones, rocks, shell and leaf collector too. My sister tells me I’m the only one she knows who goes to Australia with a half full a rucksack, and comes back with a rock inside it. I think not! There’s pleny of us out here. Lovely post and blog.

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  24. i have this fabulous glass container with a glass lid, and i keep shells, coral, beach glass, and coins in it as a reminder of my worldy adventures. and i didn’t pay a cent for any of it. great blog!

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  25. aunaqui

    “I looked straight down a couple hundred feet and watched the waves crash against craggy rocks and into a hollow ravine. There was no rail to keep me from falling and no one around to hold me back. There’s nothing quite as terrifying or liberating as looking out to the open sea and realizing there is nothing to catch me.”

    Absolutely. First of all – you write very, very well; you describe with such detail and color that the entire scene is clear in the mind. Secondly, I can identify with this quoted passage: realizing your potential, vulnerability, perhaps your own mistrust of self — coming up to a situation where decisions are crucial, life changing and terrifying — I’m sure that up there, you could experience all of those emotions and stand in awe of the fascinating nature and capabilities of humanity.; the power we have been blessed with, and simultaneously, the mortal and weak side of our natures.

    “Sometimes I think my inner child lives in those leaves”.

    I have the same appreciation for leaves (and other natural treasures). I have a leaf taped into my (8th) journal — I picked it up during a memorable walk with my husband and dog one day. When they look so beautiful, I hate to think of the next person walking along and carelessly crushing them.

    Aun Aqui

    Like

    • Thank you for such kind words. Ireland was indeed the first signal of some life altering decisions that later took place. It was a year that changed everything. 🙂

      Ah, but for the trees to grow the leaves must be crushed, (save those that serve as conduits for our memories).

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Like

    • A few years ago my dad went to Egypt and back a bag of sand because he knew I’d love that more than anything else. He was so right. Egypt is on my bucket list and when I see that sand, it reminds me to keep dreaming.

      I’ll be checking out your blog! Thanks for reading mine. 🙂

      Like

    • Memories are close to home as well. After I wrote this post, I realized I did not have a memento from home. Next time I go for a run I’ll be on the lookout for my “home” rock.

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Like

  26. From a fellow traveler I completely agree that “the best souvenirs are free.” When I buy things as souvenirs for others I find that many of them enjoy being given the commercialized gifts such as bracelets or key chains with the country’s name printed on it (ridiculously over priced). But when you are the traveler I have noticed that you do not remember as much the souks or hats you have jokingly put on in a souvenir shop as you do the amazing sunsets and the morning smell with fresh bread being made in the local shops saturating the air or the motorcycle rides weaving in and out of traffic. One sea shell may bring back so many more sensory memories than any cheaply printed name of the country hanging from my key chain or wrist ever could.

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    • Very well said! Anything you buy in those shops usually breaks or becomes meaningless over time. The only exception to the rule for comes when I buy something from a local artist, like a photograph or painting. I’ll spend my money at a local bookshop as well, but only because I always form an emotional attachment to my books. 😉

      Still, the very best souvenirs come from the place itself. They carry not only our memories, but the memory of so much more, (I always wonder how long a shell has been thrown around the see or how long a rock had been sitting in that particular spot).

      Thanks so much for reading! 🙂

      Like

  27. hmunro

    What a wonderful post! Beautifully written, and especially appreciated for two reasons: First, because I loved your wistful descriptions of some of your favorite places; and second, because it’s a comfort to know that my habit of collecting rocks and seeds and shells during my travels isn’t all that unusual, after all. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed … very well deserved!

    Like

    • Thanks for the congrats! 🙂

      As the slew of comments here proves, we are definitely not alone. It’s nice to know there are a lot of people who find a strong connection with nature even if its just a small piece. Those little rocks and shells keep us grounded and focused on what matters most.

      Thanks for reading!

      Like

  28. What fantastic souvenirs! Much more personal than the usual tourist tat. My collection of sand from the different coastal resorts I’ve visited started inadvertantly when i emptied my suitcase out on the floor. Now I have 24 different sands layered in a bottle, each it’s own shade of beige, each strata holding an individual memory! Congrats on beng FP and look forward to more interesting posts soon!

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  29. I still have stones from an ice-cold lake in the Wicklow mountain area of Ireland. I can still feel the freezing water when I touch the stone. A much better souvenir than the Guinness hangover I got in Dublin!!!

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    • Oh, I’ll bet that stone came from such a beautiful place. How cool that the sensation still finds you when you touch the stone! A memory like that will stay with you forever! 🙂

      (Guinness did the same thing to me. Lol!)

      Like

  30. Thank you for a stroll around the world. It was a refreshing few minutes of stress free reflection in an otherwise stressful day. What a gift both your post and your photograph were to me. Thank you!

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  31. betweenbluerocks

    I have jars and jars of rocks picked up in various places, but I generally forget their stories. You inspire to try to remember them better.

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  32. I love this blog! Manhole covers comment made me laugh so hard. We collect rocks everywhere we go. Last place was Devils Canyon Arizona. You can find some amazing rocks there. I think we both left our hike about 24 pounds heavier. So much fun. Great blog!

    Like

    • A heavy backpack is worth the memories, right? 😉

      There are some really beautiful stones in Arizona! In my car, I keep a small stone from Sedona in my car because it reminds of a fun road trip I took with family.

      Thanks so much reading!

      Like

  33. Thanks so much for your inspiring posts! I’ve reblogged you at least a few times since starting my blog and you’re always a great read and help to me. Have fun and stay safe out there!

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  34. Optimisme

    A very different & delightful post. I liked the way you have connected the artifacts with lessons you learned while visiting these places. Will definitely remember this post when I travel next time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  35. I love your collaboration of globetrotting pieces! The best memories come from that one object, that one picture, that every time you view it, you are instantly transported back to that moment when it was found. It brings a nice nostalgic sense, as well as decorations to be constant reminders! I myself am a rock, seashell and leaf treasurer. It’s so wonderful you have all of the stories on the dot of each memento- you could make yourself a little book with all of your stories! Wonderful, wonderful!

    Like

    • Those little objects really testify to just how powerful your imagination can be when coupled with memory. I’ve gone on all my trips hundreds of times!

      All my stories are in a series of little books . . . my journals. 😉

      Thanks so much for reading! Keep collecting those beautiful objects!

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  36. Nice entry! I have always tried to collect a typical rock, slightly smaller than fist-sized, from every mountain top I reached – even small walk-up ones. It’s interesting to compare the different colors and tectures and how much they reflect the larger mass they came from.

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  37. writingisl0ve

    I loved this article, as a fellow travel lover. It really hit home though cause I definitely share same views! I’ll be checking back for more 🙂

    Like

    • I do the same thing! Anything that’s left over is kept in a little box. Currency is always so representative of the place and its like having a little piece of art. 🙂

      I’ll be sure to check out your blog!

      Thanks for sharing your story!

      Like

  38. College & Other Pesky Things

    I wish I traveled abroad more. I have never had the opportunity, except to Canada once. It is a requirement for my major (Global Communication) to go abroad, at least for a week, so I will surely take advantage of that! Now, it is just picking where to go…

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  39. Very well thought-out post. Your sharks’ teeth reminded me of Myrtle Beach as well- so glad to see that I guessed correctly! I used to go every summer, also to visit family. My mom and I would walk on the beach, looking for sharks’ teeth- she always found a lot. Somehow, though, they never made it home with us. Maybe next time, we’d always say. Congrats on FP.

    Like

    • Thanks for the congrats! 🙂

      Definitely slide a few shark teeth into your pocket next time you go. You’ll treasure the memory with your mother. I found mine with my father and those memories are among my favorite of him.

      Thank you for sharing your story!

      Like

  40. Nice post! I agree with the small memento as you walk by approach. I have a small pebble as a reminder of when I jumped off a cliff many years ago. (The story isn’t that dramatic, but here goes:)

    I was on a whitewater rafting trip in NZ and the guide decided we weren’t getting wet enough. He made everyone get out, climb up a narrow cliff above the river (only about 20 feet) and jump into the water from the top (lifejackets on of course)

    I was at the top not wanting to jump at all, but didn’t want to be the one to hold up the whole group. As I was debating what to do, my eye caught sight of a small green pebble near my foot. It looked out of place and without thinking about it any further, put it in my pocket and jumped.

    It’s a reminder that sometimes one should just… take the plunge…. 🙂

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  41. Beautifully written! The best souvenirs are free and I even think that some of the best souvenirs are the memories and the amazing people you meet on your travels. Your post has given me itchy travel feet!

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    • While I was writing this piece all I wanted to do was jump on the next plane. Never mind, that I was out of the country for most of the summer! Lol.

      I hope you’re next trip is an amazing adventure!

      Like

  42. I’de happen upon things that caught my interest as a child. I always thought they had magical powers.
    Now that I am grown I still collect these things – mostly because I find them fasinating. I don’t travel as
    much as I like too – nor do most of my treasures hail from forign lands – except maybe the seashells –
    Mostly I collect oak galls from the tree in my yard – when they are perfect enough, broken spiral snail
    shells from a muddy local beach – as they resemble vertibre and I call them sea bones – but once or
    twice there have been moments. I once visited an old abandoned sulpher mine, reported to be haunted.
    It was not far from one of those roadside shrines they erect where a person suffers a fatal accident –
    the shrine was in the center of a makshift local dump – someone had recently dumped a load of crab
    shells and the smell was awful. Their were fresh flowers on the cross – someone whould have to wade
    through garbage to reach their pathetic memorial. I followed my parents to the mine building – it was
    beautiful – giant sprawling black oaks everywhere, something that looked like an armadillo made me
    step off the path – where I got that overwhelming sence of rightness I often get when amoungst trees
    almost as if there is nothing mother nature can’t erase – can’t whipe clean. I looked down and found a
    bit of dead root that bore an uncanny resemblence to a dragon. I’ve always liked dragons. It felt like a
    gift so I took it home – it rests on the most prominent place in my shadow box, amoung things old new
    bought and found.

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  43. I can feel and see each place through your mementos. Your heart and soul come right off the screen in your depictions. Keep traveling so we can share in the joy!

    Like

    • Travel is all about taking a place and accepting all the beauty it has to offer. In return, it becomes part of who you are. It’s almost too easy to have passion and joy for that sort of relationship. 🙂

      I will always travel and I hope you’ll always be along to experience it with me, even if from afar.

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  44. Patty

    That’s the best way to go about things, I think. A rock with a story behind it holds way more value than an expensive, impersonal trinket from a tourist-trap shop. Then again, they won’t let you get away with picking up rocks and corals in some places. I hope your collection keeps growing!

    Like

    • Sometimes, you have to operate on the sly! 😉 I actually found out after the fact that you’re not supposed to pick up the coral on Huahine. Ooops. Even still, its one of my favorite memories and I don’t think I could have left it behind even I if was aware of the rules!

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Like

    • I love that you’re teaching your children to keep the tradition going. 🙂 Not only will they have memories of the places they’ve been, but anything they pick up will hold wonderful memories of you.

      Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂

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  45. Zephyr

    Something touched a deep chord for me in this wonderful post. It brought to my mind that the simplest things are the best and carry the real poetry that stays with us for a lifetime. When someone in my family went to Europe in 1996 I asked her to please bring me back a small stone from each country she visited–Ireland, Germany, England, Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Morocco, and the Czech Republic. She was having so much fun she only remembered to bring me four stones. And while it’s true my memories can never be hers, at least I have a few free souvenirs from places I wish I could go, places I can carry in my imagination. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    Like

    • Thank you for the congrats and the kind words. It’s very much appreciated! 🙂

      I love your story . . . sometimes souvenirs from places we haven’t been can be our “dream stones.” Your stones are all about keeping the dream alive. I have a small jar of sand from Egypt so I never lose hope that I will one day set foot on the Giza Plateau, just as I’ve always imagined.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your story. 🙂

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  46. really admirable…your post reminded me of the good old days when i was kid and we used 2 collect all little things as though they were treasures,despite the fact that they might not be of any significance….Your habit of taking back leaves reminds me of my habit of taking back maple leaves and keeping red roses in my diary….You took me back to lot of memories..thanks 🙂

    Like

    • It sounds like you have a lot of lovely memories. 🙂

      You reminded me of some pressed flowers I haven’t thought of in years. I’m going to go through some of my books tonight to see if I can find them!

      Thanks for reading!

      Like

  47. What a cool post!
    I also remember picking up beautiful goldenly-orange leaves from the streets in London.
    People looked at me like I was mad 🙂
    But you really bring back a true sense of the place when you pick up stuff like this 🙂

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    • In Ireland, I got some pretty strange looks when I picked up my seashore rocks. 😉

      I’ve never seen London in the Fall, but you’ve given me a wonderful visual. Those golden leaves must be a marvelous sight!

      Thanks for sharing your story.

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  48. This is beautiful and I love your stones. I too collect random pebbles and shells from places that I visit, its so true that these mini keepsakes bring back far more vivid memories than another cheap souvenirs. I have a vintage frame that i keep a bunch of beautiful sea rocks and broken tiles on from a holiday in Portugal. I have been meaning take a pic of it, think you would totally appreciate 🙂

    Tammy
    http://iamsentimentalme.wordpress.com/

    Like

    • I checked out your blog earlier today and really enjoyed your posts! I love the idea of using a vintage frame as a way to display your sea rocks. From what I’ve seen on your site, I’ll be its absolutely amazing. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

      Like

  49. I love this so much! My holiday in Scarborough begins tomorrow so I shall be sure to take a walk on the beach and have a look for a beauty of a pebble that will remind me of my time there.

    It’s so refreshing to hear blog posts like this…inspirational! Thank you!

    Like

  50. Congratulations on your post. I simply loved the way you chose to showcase your travel memories, with unusual souvenirs, filled with tons of meaning – people tend to really forget what’s important when you’re away, and an overseas experience just takes us to that next level. Thanks for sharing your impressions and for, so perfectly, describing how places were important to you. Maybe one day, I will ask for permission to “steal your idea” for sharing my travel memories, using “heart souvenirs”… :o) way to go!
    Thanks for making my morning much brighter and much lighter! Definitely a must-be freshly pressed post… :o)

    Like

  51. Beautiful post! I agree with you!!

    The best souvenir I collected when I was in London, on holiday, was probably the Tube Map!! What could remind you of weeks of travelling inside London than a battered tube map, right?! 🙂

    I am sure that a miniature Big Ben would never succeed in taking me back to all the good times spent in London, as effectively as a tube map would!

    Ashwini

    Like

  52. My most precious souvenir is the piece of church stone that I have from visiting my grandfather’s birth town in Italy. The church was closed, but magnificent on top of a mountain. That piece of stone represents to me the many things about my grandfather’s journey to America at 16 and becoming a stone mason. Life really is about the little things, like a stone!

    Like

  53. Diary Scope

    “There’s nothing quite as terrifying or liberating as looking out to the open sea and realizing there is nothing to catch me.”
    this has to be my favorite line and This is definitely the best blog I have read so far.
    You expressed with such simplicity and earnestness that you took me along into your memories, into your childhood. The rainy cold beach of Ireland, The calm of the Wisconsin woods and the sunny brightness of south Carolina will stay with me in my imagination. Thank you for writing so wonderfully.

    Like

  54. “The best memories come from experiences and the epiphanies that follow. ” – strongly agreed!
    I collected sea-shell and pebbles, leaves when I travelled but given away when I move to new location, still left some of the pebbles with me :p

    Like

  55. Jack Campbell, Jr.

    When I was a kid, my parents would buy me a pennant everywhere we went on vacations. The crazy things were lining my bedroom walls. Every cave visited, theme park experience, or town with anything in it, had a pennant.

    I would lie in bed, look at the wall, and think of all the places I had been, but also all the things I still had left to see.

    Like

  56. You are an amazing writer! We travel a lot and our 8 year old daughter has travelled with us since she was 8 months old. I had her read your blog as we have always taught her that the best memories are not found in cluttered junk bought on beaches and at markets (although it may seem like a “cool” item in the moment) but rather in the experiences and treasures that cannot be bought for any money. I have collected very small samples of sand from every beach I’ve ever been to and have them layered in a vase (well several now). Each layer holds a memory for us and our daughter has started her priceless collection with a maple leaf we picked up off the street outside her uncle’s house in Toronto. Thank you so much for sharing your writing!

    Like

    • Thank for sharing such a nice story – you’re vase sounds so lovely with layer after layer of priceless memories. 🙂

      How nice that your daughter has embraced the tradition you have so lovingly passed on to her. 🙂

      Thanks so much for reading! Your kind words made my day.

      Like

  57. One of my favourite ‘souvenirs’ of my travels is a fragment of a tile that I found in a desert ruin in Iran – hundreds of years ago, this little piece of blue ceramic graced the wall of a beautiful mosque. There’s something special about finding things, little objects that might not look particularly exciting but have their own stories to tell.

    Like

  58. Free souvenirs are the very type of memento from a trip, as they are more personal than any store bought item. Items like the ones you mentioned in this post hold special memories for you, and nobody else in the world has a souvenir exactly like them! Great post.

    Like

    • You bring up such a great point. The cookie cutter feel of souvenir stores is what keeps me away from them. I don’t want something thousands of other people have! There’s something special about having a one-of-a-kind object from a place that holds meaning to me as traveler.

      Thanks so much for your comment. 🙂

      Like

  59. Pingback: | Sea of Info
  60. I have a piece of the ancient Roman wall that fell at my feet as I walked to lunch near my hotel in Rome. It means more to me than most of the things I paid good money for. I know exactly what you mean.

    Like

  61. Your travel post was really good, I just came back from Prague and I loved it there. Nice to hear that someone felt the same way as I did. It was such a beautiful place, I never wanted to leave.

    Like

    • My journals are the second half to documenting my travels. No matter how long the day was or how late I have to stay up, I won’t rest until I write about my experiences. I know when I get home all the effort will be worth it, because the memories are preserved by my own hand. 🙂 The souvenirs are a bonus!

      Like

  62. Great piece! I love to travel, and I’ve brought back a whole variety of things, from local stamps and newspapers and even sales receipts! They mean so much more than the usual store-bought souvenir. Congrats on being FP!

    Like

    • Thanks for the congrats! 🙂

      Newspapers and sales receipts are also favorites of mine to bring home. Even though they aren’t free, they are so cheap it seems like a steal. I brought three newspapers home from England because they are a wonderful way to remember the atmosphere of culture and daily life when I was there. 🙂

      Like

  63. soniabc

    The title of your post grabbed me immediately. It is so true…our daughters have a collection of ‘found’ treasures from our travels and whilst they may not mean much to anyone else, to my daughters, they vividly re-live the wonderful times we spent whilst away. Magic.

    Like

  64. Thats sweet and indeed a better collection of souvenirs! We buy fridge magnets, easy to display but I wonder what would happen if I travel to place where I may not find them (say villages in India, my home country). My Dad picks up rocks and shells whenever we visited places, so yes they are free and unique way to remember places one visits.

    Like

    • It’s amazing what you find when you just look down. Even in villages and cities, there is always something on the ground that is unique and will tie you the place where you stand. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

      Like

  65. I like this post. I agree with it fully. I enjoy taking photos and sketching by a wonderful sight when abroad as a unique souvenir of the place! I still do drop by the tourist shops but usually to collect a memorabilia to complement photos, writings and memories. This is a meaningful post – sophisticated and un-materialistic travelling! Great!

    Like

    • Thanks! 🙂

      I admire those who can sketch what they see. There’s nothing more personal the capturing a place through your own perspective. It’s something I wish I could do, but stones will just have to do instead!

      Thanks so much for reading.

      Like

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