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?

 

How to Avoid Common Mistakes On The Mountain

A great day of skiing
Photo by Melvin Wahlin on Pexels.com

As a ski patroller and veteran skier, I’ve seen more than my share of mistakes on the mountain. And there is a theme with common mistakes – not being prepared and/or not skiing smart. Here’s how to avoid those common mistakes on the mountain:

1. Be prepared for a Workout

Skiing and snowboarding are great workouts. A day on the slopes requires stamina, a strong core and leg muscles. If you plan on hitting a big mountain with long runs, skiing will be harder still. If you have a decent fitness level, you’ll have a good base for your day on the slopes and adjust easier to the demands of skiing and boarding. A regular fitness routine will help you to ski or snowboard better and longer.

2. Avoid heading straight to the Black Diamonds

A skier on a black diamond run
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Start out easy at the beginning of the day. Experienced skiers always take it easy for, at least, the first few runs before heading off to the diamond runs. Warm up and get your focus on movement, turns and technique before you crank it up on more challenging stuff. Gain confidence with easier runs before moving to diamond runs. Work your way up to the more serious, advanced, narrow, thrill rides.

3. Use common sense

There is something called the Alpine Responsibility Code which many skiers know, and many don’t. It’s typically posted on a yellow sign at the bottom of most lifts. It’s a combination of safety rules and common sense for skiers and snowboarders. For example, always stay in control; do not stop where you obstruct a trail, before starting downhill or merging onto a trail, look uphill and yield to others, etc. Follow these rules (ski smart) and you’ll stay safe and avoid the common mistakes of others.

4. Pay attention to lifts

Walking back to the chalet after a great day of snowboarding
Photo by Visit Almaty on Pexels.com

Getting on and off lifts is prime for accidents. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll quickly find that the chairlift is unforgiving. High speed chairs pick you up slowly, but then move fast. Be ready, line up with skis pointed forward and poles in hand. Getting off a chairlift can be a challenge for novice skiers and boarders. At the offloading area, simply stand up and let the chair push you. T-bars or other vintage lifts are completely unknown to new or young skiers, so ask for help from the lift operator or ski patrol if you need it.

5. Don’t think you can ski all day (with no break)

If you only ski while on a ski vacation, you’ll need to pace yourself for a full day on the slopes. As a Canadian Ski Patroller, I’m on shift all day and break the day into parts: a few hours of skiing and then take a break. Back out again for a few more hours then take a lunch break. After lunch, I’m back out again with a break in the afternoon. Don’t over do it and your last run will be as good as your first run.

6. Avoid borrowing your Dad’s old equipment

2 skiers taking a break from skiing
Photo by julie aagaard on Pexels.com

Chances are your Dad’s equipment is old, worn out and/or doesn’t fit. Take a pass. If you don’t have your own equipment, rent from a ski shop where they will provide decent equipment based on your skill level. Boots need to be comfortable. Bindings should be set so that they will release your skis when needed. Tuned up skis make it easier to hold an edge and get down the hill. Helmets are very much in style and should be mandatory for their obvious protection. A helmet can’t prevent a concussion, but it could reduce the severity of one. Use quality equipment that fits you and your level of ability.

7. Not Layering Up

I’ve become a bit of an expert at dressing for winter. Wearing the wrong type of clothes can result in a not-so-happy ski day. For example, don’t wear cotton socks and a cotton shirt as your base layer. You will not be warm. The best way to layer up for skiing is to have three high-quality layers: a thin base layer (long johns); an insulating mid-layer (fleece or ski sweater) and then ski pants/ski jacket. Keep active, take rest breaks and keep nourished (your body stays warmer with fuel intake). If your clothes get wet, change them.

Get ready for a great day on the slopes! If you are going on a ski vacation, check out my TuGo post – What to Pack for a Ski or Snowboard Trip. And don’t forget your travel insurance if you travel outside your home province or Canada. Have fun, stay safe and enjoy the great outdoors!

A Foodie’s Travel Itinerary for Italy

This Post Was Originally Published on the TuGo Travel Blog on May 21, 2019 by Mark Crone

A foodie’s travel itinerary for Italy—where to begin? When it comes to food, Italy is in a league of its own, with so many possible itineraries and meal choices for every palate. Yes, Italian food is available outside of Italy, but the fresh, local ingredients make Italian food jump to another level when you’re there! If you need a reason to travel, or need a reason to see Italy at all, food is certainly a good one.

Italy has 20 different regions, each unique with its own food specialties. A single travel itinerary with all 20 regions would be a dream come true! But to be more realistic, this foodie travel itinerary includes a few hand-picked regions this time (with a return trip to follow).

Venice

A great starting point for your foodie travel itinerary is Venice. Tourists are everywhere, and the streets are always packed. The main walking routes offer quick Italian takeout foods like slices of pizza, baked goods, and gelato. When you venture off the main routes, you’ll find side streets and squares or “piazzas” where the locals are. The small neighbourhoods with cafes and restaurants are where you’ll enjoy an authentic Italian meal. Venice is not particularly known for a cuisine of its own, but you’ll find seafood and pasta aplenty.

Gondola boats on the canals of Venice

Naples

If you’re a fan of stone oven pizza, the birthplace of pizza, Naples, must be on your itinerary. In the 18th century, an inventive chef was said to have added tomato to traditional Roman focaccia flat bread. Authentic Neapolitan pizza has a thin crust, flavorful sauce and a dusting of cheese.

Among the many pizzerias in Naples, there are a couple that stand out. Gino’s is Italian-style fast food, and pizza at its best. Big, delicious, and ready in 5 minutes. You’ll be lining up for a table unless you book in advance, but it’s well worth the wait. The Neapolitans also head to Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba—the oldest pizzeria in the world, dating back to 1830. Even with just the traditional ingredients, there is a marked difference in taste.

A delicious pizza in Naples

Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is all about the views, and getting there adds to the excitement. From Naples, we drive south along the highway, then onto the winding roads of Sorrento and its long mountain tunnel. Positano, most famous for its incredible coastal views, is our first destination on the Amalfi Coast. It also has some of the region’s top hotels, including Le Sirenuse, with its Michelin-starred restaurant, La Sponda. It’s not cheap by any means, but well worth the 5-star experience. Down on the beach, there are some great restaurants including Chez Black and Le Tre Sorelle–both highly rated and right beside each other. From Positano, you can easily make day trips to Amalfi, Ravello, Scala and others.

A sunset view of the Amalfi Coast

Rome

A foodie’s trip to Rome is akin to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain. Within the ancient city and its grand architecture lie restaurants that combine fresh ingredients into simple dishes. Perhaps the best example is the classic Roman dish, Cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper). This dish is made with 3 ingredients – black pepper, pecorino romano cheese, and pasta (normally spaghetti). A gastronomic euphoria takes over when these ingredients combine to create a dish that has been indulged since ancient Roman times.

A plate of pasta in Rome

Roman food also has the adept ability to use “poor man’s” ingredients known as quinto quarto. These are the animal parts that are often frowned upon including tongue, tripe, brain, and liver. If you’re adventurous, you’ll enjoy trying these dishes. If you’re a picky eater, why not give quinto quarto a try under the adage ‘when in Rome!’

Hostaria Costanza is the place to go for traditional old Roman dining. Built from the ruins of Pompey’s Theatre, Hostaria Contanza is overflowing with Roman/Italian atmosphere. Some of my favourites include fried artichokes with cheese stuffed zucchini flowers, crepes funghi e tartufo (mushroom and truffle), ravioli di carciofi (ravioli with artichokes) and a tender beef fillet with Barolo wine sauce. And of course, all meals are enjoyed a little more with a glass of the house red wine.

Tuscany

There are so many reasons to include Tuscany in your foodie Italian travel itinerary. The wine, the food, the scenery and the people. Among the many wines, the Classico Chianti (with the black rooster on the bottle neck) stands out. The other well-known wine in the area is the Super Tuscan, blended from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. Among the very best wineries to get a Super Tuscan (and other quality wines) is Villa San Andrea. The small 400-year-old winery provides an intimate tour and wine tasting for just 10 Euros.

Cobblestone streets in Tuscany

Among the many places to visit in Tuscany are Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca, Montalcino and of course, Florence. You really can’t go wrong wherever you go, but San Gimignano stands out. It’s an amazing, well-preserved medieval village with several small hotels, shops, museums, and Tuscan restaurants.

My favourite restaurant is Le Vecchie Mura. It has both a restaurant inside and an outside terrace area across the lane. Authentic dishes feature pasta, steak, rabbit, deer, wild boar and of course, local wine. Eating a Tuscan meal overlooking Tuscany views is hard to beat.

An experienced travel agent will save you time and money in planning your foodie travel itinerary for Italy. You’ll need to book airfare, accommodations and a car rental to make this Italy dream trip a reality. Start planning and get packing–and bring your appetite!

Safe travels,

Mark