When I was 15, my parents took my siblings and I on a trip to Europe for several weeks. It has been, to date, one of the most wonderful vacations I've ever been on. I don't have any digital photos of the trip, save this very blurry one. My mom, dad, me, sis, and brother...in front of the castle Vianden in Luxembourg. (Don't you love my Nike swoosh and cheerleader bangs?!)
There was something magical about that trip that sparked in me a real love of other countries, cultures, and histories. In Europe, there seems to be a castle on every corner, and my dad had a blast showing off sites he visited as a boy when his own family was stationed overseas with the US Air Force.
Somewhere along the line in Germany, I noticed that many of the little boutiques and shops were selling the most beautiful little painted pewter keepsakes. They were small, light-weight and flat, mostly depicting traditional German homes, villages, and pastimes. My favorite was a castle with fairy tale characters. Many of the shops carried the castle, but each one was completely different because they were all painstakingly hand-painted.
My parents took one look at the hefty price tag and told me "no," but being quite a gifted whiner/cajoler, I pleaded for the better part of a week until my dad relented and I got to choose a castle to bring home with me.
You can spot all kinds of characters: Merlin, Sleeping Beauty, the Pied Piper, Puss in Boots, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, the Queen from Snow White, the Princess and the Frog, Cinderella, the Musicians of Bremen (a folktale), and a dragon.
I also bought a Hard Rock Cafe shirt in Austria, pomme frites in Belgium, and candy in Iceland. Funny how none of those items lasted, but I still cherish the pewter castle.
As a grown woman, I don't display it in the main living area of our home, but it has a special place in my oldest's room. Now that she shares a room with her sister, we'll find a new home for it.
Choosing the castle was a good lesson to me in choosing things that have meaning and will last. When we travel now, I look for an item or two that I can display in my home or something that is special to me. Christmas tree ornaments from the Bahamas, NYC, and the Caribbean, a bead for my Pandora bracelet from Disney World...
What's your favorite travel souvenir?
*Did you miss my Disney Autograph Album tutorial yesterday? I'd love for you to check it out!
Linking to Centsational Girl