Sunday, May 31, 2015
Travel Link-Up: My Favorite Souvenirs
When Kara and Deborah arrived in London, our talk turned to shopping frighteningly quickly. "I want to get a shirt that says 'London' on it!" proclaimed Kara. I didn't hesitate to tell her exactly what I thought of that with my cutting reply of, "Ew, NO. You don't." (We're close enough that I can say stuff like that to her ... I think.)
She ended up getting a powder blue, featherweight Smythson journal at Fortnum & Mason instead. Much better.
I had to look up the word 'souvenir' before writing this post. Of course, I know what a 'souvenir' is, but what's the etmology of the word? What is its roots? According to the dictionary, a souvenir is a "token of remembrance; a memento". It's a French word derived from the Latin, 'subvenire', or "to come to mind". Not to get all Oxford don on you, but isn't that lovely?
To come to mind.
Though I've left my days of tacky keychains and fridge magnets behind, I still keep an eye out for souvenirs on my travels: a locally made straw bag in Vietnam, perhaps, or a hand-blown glass bead worn as a simple necklace in Santorini.
The following souvenirs I'd like to share with you are all tangible items that make the memories of places I've travelled to come to mind. When I look at them, I can close my eyes and remember exactly where I was, what I was wearing, how I felt, and the noises around me. I'm there again.
Pierre Hermé, Avenue de l'Opéra
Two years ago, John had a meeting in Paris, so we decided to make it into a long weekend, taking the Eurostar after work and arriving just in time for a carafe of red wine and steak frites. It was so nice. It was December, so we spent the following day Christmas shopping in Le Marais and admiring the Christmas windows at Printemps and Galleries Lafayette. Before I left, I wanted to take some macarons home with me: instead of stopping by Ladurée (which we have here in London), I dropped into Pierre Hermé instead (this was before the Covent Garden location opened!) and filled this sweet little box with macarons. Funny story: I selected a "truffle" macaron, confusing it with chocolate truffles, rather than the mushroom variety. Imagine my surprise when I bit into the pungent confection! Not my favorite combinations, I must admit.
Pierre Marcolini, Brussels
Not to be confused with Pierre Hermé, Pierre Marcolini is one of the most famous luxury chocolatiers in Brussels (and it's also now available in London!). When I visited the shop with Udita in February, we sipped thick, rich hot chocolate as we browsed the gorgeous chocolates. I loved the keepsake box by designer Olympia Le-Tan so much, Udita bought it for me when I wasn't looking, and filled it with beautiful macarons, which we enjoyed during the train ride back to London. This box reminds me of the short, but very sweet (literally and figuratively) trip with my best friend - our first international trip together. Like the little box from Pierre Hermé, it's perfect for keepsakes.
Barneville-Carteret, Normandy, France
That smooth stone in the background is a reminder of my first trip with John to his aunt's seaside summer home in Normandy. When we weren't grilling fresh mackerel on the BBQ and eating our weight in strawberries and double cream, we spent our days lying on the beach and reading aloud to each other from ... the final Harry Potter book! Ha - I have a hard time admitting that even now. It can be our little secret! I was still studying at York then, and John was working in Paris, I think, so it was a welcome relief from our time spent apart. It was the last trip his dear Uncle Chris (whom I was close to, and who had first introduced me to the wonders of London) took with us before he passed away from cancer. When I hold that flat, smooth stone, it fits perfectly in the palm of my hand - it feels safe.
Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
Shortly after we arrived in Galle Fort, it began to pour with rain. Mind you, it was about 30 degrees (Celsius!) outside, so it felt hot and sticky ... and wet. We ducked into a shop, where I found these vintage postcards, which called Sri Lanka by its colonial name, "Ceylon". I loved the colors of the prints so much, I bought four of them and framed them when I got home to London, intending to display them as a set of four. These remind me of our life-changing visit to Sri Lanka, where I visited a place that I never wanted to leave, and was left with memories like: eating the freshest papaya for breakfast, gently swaying in a hammock under a palm tree, and the screensaver-esque beach views.
Fifth Avenue, New York, New York
One of the most indulgent trips I've ever taken was to New York City - not because of the destination (well, that too), but because of the nature of the trip. John (again) had a meeting there and suggested that I join him for a long weekend. His meeting wasn't confirmed until Wednesday, so I bought my plane ticket on Thursday and got on the plane on Friday. Crazy, right? We stayed at a gorgeous hotel in Midtown Manhattan, right on Fifth Avenue. On Monday, while he had meetings, I met a friend for coffee and spent way too long in Bergdorf Goodman and Sephora, trying on Prada heels and testing out the new (at the time) Christian Louboutin nail polishes. I felt exactly like Rebecca Bloomwood from Confessions of a Shopaholic (minus the credit card debt!). Finally, I ventured into Lord & Taylor, where I ended up buying these adorable, gold-trimmed loafers with patent and snakeskin leather detail. Sadly, London sidewalks have wrecked them only eight months later, but I still love them - and they still remind me of a time when I felt carefree and very, very spoiled.
What comes to mind when you look at your favorite souvenir? How do you feel when you look at it? What do you remember? Let me know in the comments below!
Or, if you're feeling inspired, write your own post and add it to the link-up widget below.