The Best Souvenirs Are Free


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.

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