Showing posts with label souvenirs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label souvenirs. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Greece ~ A Souvenir Studded Staycation

It isn't difficult to self-distance when living in our Stone House on the Hill, in the Kalamata olive-growing area of the Peloponnese. With five of six neighbors trapped in varying places around the globe and a nearby non-English-speaking Greek couple taking sheltering in place with gusto, we sometimes don't only feel rather isolated - we ARE rather isolated.

Isolated in Our Stone House on the Hill during the pandemic
Our second week of our Greek government-ordered self-distancing has come to an end. As I reported last week, we are allowed go out for only six destinations or reasons and must complete required notifications before doing so or face fines if caught.

The two-week lockdown has been extended for another three, until  April 27th.  While we've adjusted quite well to the permission-to-go way of life, social media is burbling with speculations about possible tighter rules coming the closer we get to Greek Easter, April 17th.  We'll deal with that, if, and when it comes.

Going out for a glass of wine 'to go'

For now I am preferring to think of this experience as a rather strange 'staycation'. One we are managing with mental escapes to some of our favorite places, thanks to souvenirs we've collected along the way. Those things that remind us of another time, another place in our lives . . .

Souvenirs - Are The Keys to Escape

Souvenir - the noun, as defined by the dictionary, as a memento, keepsake, or token of remembrance collected or purchased and taken home by a traveler. It comes from the French verb which means 'to recall or have in your memory'.

The word has been in use since back in the 1700's. But the act of collecting mementos dates back even further, according to travel writer Rolf Potts in his book, Souvenirs.  He tells of Egyptian Prince Harkhuf  who collected skins and tusks on his journey to Sudan about 2200 BC. His souvenirs were gifts for the pharaoh.

I was re-reading the book (it IS a good read) last week when one passage in particular seemed to speak of this time in our home-bound world::

'People feel the need to bring things home with them from the sacred, extraordinary time or space, for home is equated with ordinary, mundane time and space,' scholar Beverly Gordon observed. 'They can't hold on-to the non-ordinary experience for it is by nature ephemeral, but they can hold on to a tangible piece of it, an object that came from it.'

A Souvenir Studded Staycation

While a few of our souvenirs do represent some sacred, extraordinary time or space, all of them  bring back happy memories of the place from where they were purchased.

Lake Chelan - between Chelan and Manson

I am sipping a cup of Starbucks Italian coffee while writing this afternoon. It was made from a bag of coffee we tucked into our suitcase back in February while back in the States. We love the stuff and it isn't available anywhere near us in Greece. This bag, purchased at the store in Chelan, Washington reminds us of the other village in our lives.

Last week another edible souvenir took us back to Washington State 'for dinner'. I made soup using a mix purchased from the kitchen store in Chelan.  On cold and blustery days in Greece as we were having on the day of the soup-making,  it is nice to be warmed by the memories of that other place we hang our hats.

A taste of Budapest

Another night we 'traveled to' Hungary and to Thessaloniki, Greece when I used paprika purchased in Budapest in November for Hungarian goulash which was accompanied by a red wine purchased on a trip to a vineyard in northern Greece last summer. We had taken a tour of the wine country and enjoyed chatting with the wine maker at Domaine Florian. As we sipped wine at dinner a promised ourselves a return trip when 'this' ends.

Domaine Florian a highpoint of Thessaloniki trip

The table cloth I am using these days, with its pattern of lemons, was purchased in a small Italian town many years ago. I took it back to the States and for years it served as our taste of the Mediterranean in our suburban Seattle home. It has come back across 'the pond' with us and still brings back memories of our time in Tuscany. Who would have thought that one day I would have a bowl of lemons sitting on it that had been grown in our own Mediterranean garden?!

That time in Tuscany

Some of our souvenirs though do take us back to places that were so extraordinary that we remember them with almost disbelief. 'Were we really there? Did we do that? Suppose we will ever get back there again?'

Turkey and Egypt travel memories

Take the metal teapot on our fireplace mantel. Even better than a magic carpet, it transports us back to the Nile River each time we look at it. When we first spotted it in the dimly-lit shop in Aswan, Egypt, it was amid a hodge-podge of other dust-covered items. The elderly galabeya-clad shop keeper, a man of few words, was a no-pressure salesman. He explained the inscription on the handle was likely the name of the person for whom it had been made. And yes, it had been used for tea in a Bedouin camp. The price was roughly $25US. It took two trips back to the shop before we decided it would fit in the suitcase.

The Tree of Life is the subject of the ceramic plate that hangs above it.  We had just purchased our Stone House on the Hill and had been looking for something to fill the empty space on the fireplace.  While wandering the streets of Kusadasi, Turkey rather aimlessly and on our own (our favorite way to do cruise ship stops) we happened upon a ceramics store. Just looking at it takes us back to that  cruise adventure few years ago.

Jordan, France and Greece on a table top

Another cruise introduced us to the wonders of the Middle East. One of the most amazing wonders was Petra, Jordan where we watched an artist create one of our smallest souvenirs - and one of our most treasured. The little bottle of sand art is like a talisman that we hope will make us lucky enough to return to the Wadi Rum and Petra one day.  It sits next to a small tray purchased in Paris many years ago and behind a piece of rock art made in Greece - a souvenir from a friend. Tiny items can stir big memories.

Until we can travel again. . .enjoy the present

One thing we've discovered is that when you are not focused on researching and planning future travels, you have plenty of time to bask in the memories of travels once taken. Our souvenirs have managed to keep the travel bug from going completely dormant during this time of pandemic isolation.

At our ages, the consumable souvenir is probably the most practical.  We know one day these treasures of ours will just be items of which someone will be tasked with sorting and disposing.

Rolf Potts, in his book, writes of being offered some of his aunt's belongings after her death. Most of the things he describes as being without much usable or resale value; among them, souvenirs she had collected.

'Looking at those items, I was struck by how much we collect in life ultimately becomes depleted of meaning: without any sense of memories or desires that led [her]] to save these keepsakes, they felt like a sorrowful menagerie of lost objects.'

For now, our souvenirs are tickets to travel if only by memories.  How about you? What souvenirs have you collected?  Where are they taking you during your own 'staycation'?

That's it for this week from Greece. Thanks for the time you've spent with us. Stay safe and stay well! Hope you'll join us again next week!

Linking this week with:

Mosaic Monday
Through My Lens
Travel Tuesday
Our World Tuesday
My Corner of the World Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Silly Souvenirs: Something to Crow About

Pelop2013 084We don’t buy many souvenirs that can’t be consumed within a few weeks or months of our return. Honey and spices are among our favorites because they tuck so well into the suitcase and are flavorful reminders of good times and tastes we have had during our travels.

From a practical standpoint, when you spend a good deal of the year traveling, as we do, the last thing you need is more ‘souvenir stuff’ to collect dust in your absence.

So I can’t explain when I became focused on ceramic roosters; the kind that are often used to decorate European kitchens. It was somewhere between Italy and Portugal or possibly, France that I decided in order to look more European, our kitchen ‘needed’ a colorful ceramic cock!

The Rooster’s ‘Tale '’

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Portuguese tile
Before you label me quite feather-brained, let me tell you a bit about the rooster in Europe. 

Take Portugal for instance. . .

As the legend goes about the Galo de Barcelos, a man accused of stealing was sentenced to death by a judge who was about to dine on a roasted rooster. The convicted man told the judge that the rooster on his plate would rise and crow to validate his innocence. And sure enough, as he was placed on the gallows, that rooster raised up and began crowing – and spared his life!

To this day, the rooster represents faith, luck and justice in Portugal. And roosters like those in the photos above and below are found in every tourist shop!

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And then there is Italy. . . .where the story is told that back in 1516 a crowing rooster in the middle of the night is credited with waking the powerful Medici family and foiling an assassination attack on them. As a result, Guiliano Medici ordered the creation of a ceramic rooster pitcher and they were given to the peasants for good luck. The rooster continues to symbolize blessings, prosperity and well-being.

Back to ‘my’ rooster quest . . . those  beautifully sculpted Italian ceramic roosters don’t fit in our small travel suitcases and I am not birdbrained enough to carry one back in my lap on a 10-hour flight from Europe. 

Meet “Dooley” – our kitchen rooster:

Sometimes things are just meant to be.  At a recent auction that our animal-loving friends at Dooley’s Dog House in Kirkland had organized for homeless animals, I found my rooster. 

While he isn’t quite the sleek, tall, good-looking Italian ceramic version I had in mind, my somewhat reasonable (okay. . .$15 bid) secured his homecoming at our house. (I did note no one else seemed interested in bidding on him, let alone taking him home)

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kirklandprt2 002While he isn’t a suave Italian specimen, he is turns out to be one talented cock!

He’s actually a cookie jar – one of a collection of whimsical jars made by a long-ago company AMC in New York – and he crows - every time you open the jar!) 

And by coming home with me, he’s already provided some good fortune  for some homeless animals out there. . .

So what about the souvenirs you buy? What are your favorite things to bring home? Practical or silly?  Tell us about it in the comments below or shoot us an email.  Hope to see you back here on Travel Photo Thursday!
And stop by The Tablescraper for some Sunday reading at "Seasonal Sundays" - you'll find some posts by us and many, many other entertaining writers!

Until then, hope your travels are something to crow about (sorry, I couldn’t resist)!!!


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