10 Most Original Souvenirs To Take Home From a Journey

Souvenir shops

One thing all travelers are currently asking is – is it the right time to travel again? The answer to this question depends on your location and desired destination. Some parts of the world have been affected by the pandemic more severely than others. So, it would be best to wait a bit longer to be safe. After all, we waited this long. What are a couple of months more? However, just because we cannot travel right now, that does not mean that you cannot start planning for your upcoming trip. You can use this time to dig deep and research all the mesmerizing places virtually before visiting. And, while you are researching, it won’t hurt to get some ideas regarding souvenirs. This article is here to help you with that. Here are 10 original souvenirs to take home from a journey. 

1. Argentina – Leather Items 

Argentina is famous for many things, and leather is one of them. So, next time you find yourself in this amazing country, be sure to pick up some leather items. Those can be shoes, belts, bags, wallets, or even watch straps. And, do not worry, you will not get scammed – the leather pieces from Argentina are of excellent quality, so do not hesitate to pay a bit extra.

2. China – Teapots

If you decide to travel to China, one of the most original souvenirs you can come home with is a Chinese teapot. These can be found pretty much anywhere in China. Their prices vary depending on their quality, of course. If you have some extra spending money in your budget, we recommend getting teapots made from Chinese porcelain. And, if you want a complete collection to give you the ultimate tea-drinking experience, you can also get teacups in matching painted sets. And don’t forget to buy some Chinese green or black tea. All of these make for excellent birthday gifts for travelers, too, so keep that in mind if you want to buy a gift for someone special. 

A teapot and cup.
There is nothing more original than a Chinese tea set.

3. England – Cadbury’s Chocolate

Even though Belgium is the world’s chocolate capital, many people argue that England can participate in the competition. But it is not just any chocolate – it is the famous Cadbury’s chocolate. This will also be a perfect gift to an American as this chocolate can no longer be found in the USA. 

4. Belgium – Lace

Speaking of Belgium, this country has a lot more to offer than just chocolate. For instance, Belgium is known for its authentic, hand-made lace and tapestry. Some of the most intricate laceworks can be found in the cities of Brussels and Bruges. You can take this lace home and make curtains, table spreads, or some of the most beautiful pieces of clothing out of it. But, let us warn you – Belgium’s lace comes with a hefty price tag! 

5. France – Macarons

It is no secret that France is famous for its cheeses, pastries and desserts. Some of those famous pastries include Croissants, Éclairs, Crepes, Crème Brûlée, etc. However, one dessert found its way to all of our hearts. The one and only – Macarons. These delectable pieces of heaven come in many colors and flavors. You can buy them almost anywhere throughout France. And even though they look delicate, they will survive the ride home.

A selection of macaroons.
Your friends will love you if you bring them macarons from your trip to France.

6. Ireland -Whisky

Besides food, alcohol and other popular drinks are some of the original souvenirs to take home from a journey. So, in Ireland, do not even think about going home without trying their signature whiskies. Every bar offers a variety of Irish whiskies. Try a couple and then buy a bottle of your favorite as your souvenir from Ireland.

7. Germany – Beer Stein

Most tourists travel to Germany during Oktoberfest. This festival is an excellent opportunity to dance, eat, drink, and simply have fun. Unfortunately, Oktoberfest was not held last year due to the pandemic. Nobody knows what will happen this year, but do not let that stop you from visiting Germany. It is a common travel myth that all the attractions are closed now. They are not! You can still try Germany’s famous beers and buy a beer stein as your souvenir.  

8. Italy – Venetian Masks

If you are looking for souvenirs you can buy that will not only stay on your fridge or your key chains, consider looking for pieces that serve a purpose. So, for example, when in Italy, consider investing in a Venetian Mask. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. And, they can be used as art pieces for your home, not only as souvenirs. You can use them to add a personal touch to your office or your living room. 

A Venetian mask.
A Venetian mask can also be a great gift for somebody special

9. Morocco – Ceramic Items 

Morocco is a country famous for being one of the most popular honeymoon destinations. It is also famous for hand-painted ceramic items. Most often, you will see colorful bowls being sold on the streets. But, you can find pretty much anything made of ceramics – mugs, glasses, pots, figurines, and even tiles. What makes them so unique is the color choice and various intricate floral and geometric designs. 

10. Russia – Lacquer Box

One of the most popular souvenirs to buy in Russia is the Matryoshka doll. But, this doll has become a cliché over the years as everybody buys it. So, when in Russia, instead of buying a doll set, consider purchasing the Lacquer box. This is a fantastic souvenir to take home. It too comes in many colors and sizes, but what makes it unique are the pictures from Russian fairy tales drawn on it

And there you have it – 10 most original souvenirs to take home from a journey. What souvenir would you buy?

 

5 Reasons For A Ski Trip To Europe!

If you are a skier or snowboarder, there are at least 5 reasons for a ski trip to Europe. The Alps have a special mix of landscapes, style, glamour and après ski. And when you add the world-class ski terrain in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and France, it can’t be beat!

Olympiaregion Seefeld
Olympiaregion Seefeld

A European Ski Vacation blends skiing or snowboarding with the culture, history and alpine views only available in Europe. It’s a unique alpine experience – thermal baths for après ski relaxation; Italian cappuccino in Italy (after skiing in from Switzerland); drinking beer in Munich after skiing all day on nearby mountains. A European ski vacation is the perfect blend of travel experience and incredible skiing!

Here’s 5 reasons for a ski trip to Europe:

Why Europe?

Why not? If you haven’t been to Europe, you have to go (ski season or any season). Almost everything is different – time zone, language, food, and money, electrical outlets too. And now add the ski specific differences in Europe – over 4,000 ski areas; huge terrain; great snow; efficient lift systems and super long top of the mountain to bottom of the valley runs.

Skiing in St. Moritz, Switzerland
Switzerland

When To Go?

Generally speaking, most ski areas in Europe open at the end of November and close later in April, with some exceptions.

January tends to hold the best deals for European ski resorts and is less busy than peak holiday times. Most resorts have fewer visitors and are more peaceful. Fewer skiers on the slopes means shorter lift lines! Prices are much higher at peak times such as Christmas and New Year, and during school holidays around Christmas, Easter, and particularly with the now popular February Reading Week.

If you are going on your ski/snowboard holiday during late March-April (with longer and nicer days), you’ll greatly reduce the risk of poor skiing conditions by skiing at a higher altitude resort. Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France; Zermatt, Switzerland; Cervinia, Italy all come to mind. Zugspitze, near Munich, is a glacier and is skiable from early autumn until late spring. It has the highest elevation (2,100m) and is the most snow guaranteed mountain in Bavaria.

Skiing in Val D'Isere, France
France

Where To Stay?

There’s a wide range of places to stay from traditional Alpine chalets and guest rooms; to charming historic hotels; to fully equipped apartments. Deluxe and moderate accommodations are available at or near most ski resorts in Europe. Austria and Italy are known in particular for their great hospitality and value. If you’re after luxury, there’s no shortage of first-class trips with transportation, boutique hotels and inclusive experiences! A few top Europe luxury ski areas include Gstaad, Switzerland; Courchevel, France; and St. Anton, Austria.

Modern ski resorts, (purpose-built ski resorts) are of course built specifically for skiers and boarders. Purpose-built ski resorts are situated at higher elevations and have more consistent snow conditions. They offer ski in/ski out and true slope side lodging. The list of resorts includes the well known Val D’isère, and many other less known like Peyragudes, France (in the Pyrenees), St Johann, (Tyrol, Austria) and Geilo (Norway).

Historic Alpine villages provide both true alpine ambiance and the quintessential Europe experience along with skiing. Walk cobblestone streets; eat delicious local cuisine and stay in centuries old chalets. The nearby slopes are typically a short shuttle, train or cable-car ride away. Think Kitzbühel, Austria; Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; and St. Moritz, Switzerland.

What To Do? (When You Are Not Skiing)

Many European resorts offer a combination of spas, boutiques, bars, restaurants and other off-mountain activities. Cities near resorts offer city shopping, dining and sightseeing—perfect for a day away from the slopes. As an example, skiers in Seefeld, Austria can take a quick 20 minute train ride down the mountain to Innsbruck. Or do it in reverse – stay in the city and travel up to the slopes. Munich is the perfect springboard to the nearby mountains of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Nearby Wallberg or Alpspitze are great options too. You can ride all day, and then enjoy Munich beer and it’s beer halls by night!

Stay in Munich for A Ski Trip To Europe
Munich

Ski Terrain, Passes and Guides

Europe is home to literally thousands of miles of groomed and off-piste terrain, and several resorts are interconnected by lifts and trails. A multi-resort ski pass like the Dolomiti Superski Pass offers 700 miles of Italian Alpine terrain spread over a dozen resorts. The world’s largest ski area, Les Trois Vallees in France, includes Meribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens and 5 more resorts. The Milky Way Ski Area straddles both France and Italy and let’s you ski and snowboard across actual country borders (and have a French pastry or Italian cappuccino).

A local ski guide is a very worthwhile extra. An experienced local can take you through little known ski terrain, keep you safe and will have local knowledge on lunch spots and après ski parties. A ski guide in Europe packs a ton of value and can go for as little as 200 euros per day.

And at the end of your European ski holiday, you can still have more Europe! Add on a trip extension to an iconic city like Vienna, Frankfurt or Amsterdam, rich in history and culture. Europe ski vacation anyone?

Thinking Of Renting A Car In Europe? Here’s What You Need To Know

Renting A Car In Europe

Renting a car in Europe lets you explore and discover different countries and cultures. Renting a car gives you freedom to travel on your own schedule and time. You can get off the beaten path and get to smaller towns and sights with relative ease. There are potential challenges like “driving on the wrong side of the road” in the UK, different rules of the road and some country specific laws. But it’s all well worth it for the memories and potential trip of a lifetime. Here’s what you need to know if you’re renting a car in Europe.

Renting A Car In Europe? Book In Advance

Ca rental rates vary widely by destination and season. Generally speaking, rates are higher for any rental car company or location if you wait to book. (Especially if you walk up to a rental counter with no reservation). You will save money by paying for your car rental ahead of time. Auto Europe is one of the best options for car rentals in Europe. They’ve been in business over 60 years with more than 20,000 locations in 180 countries. They work with well known car rental companies and provide unbeatable rates on car rentals. You can book your car rental as soon as you book your trip with the option to modify or cancel your booking if your plans change.

Beyond the large highways in Europe, most roads are tight and winding. And parking is tight and tricky with limited street parking and small parking lots. A smaller car, typical in Europe, is the best way to get around and easier to drive. Many cars in Europe are equipped with a manual transmission. If you don’t drive a standard/manual transmission, you’ll need to book early to make sure that you get a car equipped with an automatic transmission.

Renting A Car In Europe

Renting A Car In Europe? You’ll Need Insurance Coverage

With Auto Europe, if you select a basic rental rate your price will include value added tax (VAT), public liability insurance, fire insurance and unlimited miles. If the inclusive rate is selected, it will include everything in the basic rate plus collision damage waiver (CDW) and theft protection for the rental vehicle. I definitely recommend the inclusive rate specifically to have full CDW and theft protection on your rental car. If you rely on credit card coverage or your own car insurance, you may not have enough coverage and/or you may have to pay in full for a claim and then seek reimbursement.

Renting A Car In Europe? You Might Need an International Driver’s Permit

Many European countries—like the United Kingdom and Ireland—recognize North American driver’s licenses. However, other countries—like Italy, Germany, and Spain—require that you possess and carry an International Driving Permit (IDP). The IDP is proof that you possess a valid driver’s license. It also translates your driving qualifications into ten of the world’s most commonly used languages, and allows travellers to drive in over 150 different countries.

You can get an International Driver’s Permit at AAA (U.S.) and CAA (Canada) for a nominal fee, and you only need proof of your driver’s license to apply.

Renting A Car In Europe? Be Prepared For the Unexpected

The unexpected can of course happen anywhere and at anytime. Be aware of what’s covered by the rental car agency if you have an accident or your car breaks down. Most offer some form of roadside assistance in the event of a break down. Traffic tickets and toll fees will naturally be billed to you if you don’t pay locally.

If your rental car is involved in an accident, it is imperative that you contact local authorities immediately. A valid police report is always required, regardless of how minor the accident is. The second number you should contact is the one listed on your car rental key chain. For further protection, take pictures of all the damage done to your rental car and any other parties involved.

Having your cell phone activated for use in Europe is a must for driving directions, destination information and in the case of emergency. A SIM card saves on roaming and data charges while keeping you connected. TravelSIM is my choice because its prepaid (providing cost control), works in over 170 countries and incoming calls and messages are free. Between driving and blog support, I need coverage while in Europe.

Renting A Car In Europe?

Renting A Car In Europe? Find Out the Rules of the Road

The autobahn actually exists in Austria and Germany where the drivers follow a strict code. The left lane is for passing only (most cars will be travelling at more than 160 km/per hour). The middle lane is for the average driver – 120-160 km/per hour. Anything slower is on the right lane.

In the UK, you drive on the left side of the road , and you pass on the right side. There are also numerous roundabouts where you need to know which exit you are taking ahead of time.

Turning right on a red light is not permitted anywhere in Europe, unless there’s a sign that indicates otherwise.

Renting A Car In Europe? Other Things To Know

  1. It’s not a bad idea to buy a traditional paper map as backup. Maps are readily available at gas stations and highway stops. Google Maps or offline maps work but you may not have service or data in remote areas.
  2. Most tolls can be paid by coins, cash or credit card. Some countries like Austria and Switzerland require the purchase of vignettes (driving stickers) that need to be displayed in your front window. They are readily available at gas stations and road side stores.
  3. Getting gas in Europe typically requires that you pay in advance before pumping.
  4. Parking in Europe varies greatly by town and city. Parking can be free, pay via parking meter or require a parking permit. Pay attention when you park or you will invariably get a ticket.
  5. You’ll get comfortable driving in no time. Enjoy the trip, lookout for great places to stop and enjoy the views!

Auto Europe Car Rental