The best souvenir!

I’m having some friends over tomorrow for the kickoff of the college football season (go Buckeyes!!).  So tonight I was going through photos from my recent trip yet again (digital is easy on the road but more labor intensive once you get home) and putting them in albums so they can be easily viewed if anyone cares to take a gander.  While I was doing this I could not help to think (again) that they are the best souvenir I can bring back from a trip.

When I went on my first trip abroad I was in between my junior and senior year of high school.  I worked at a grocery store to earn enough money for the trip.  I came back with an entire suitcase full of souvenirs.  Something for everyone in the family and many of my co-workers, many of whom will probably never leave the US.  I had to buy a new bag in France (which I still have 🙂 ) and check the bag I had used as a carry on because I bought so much.  I got off the plane and my parents first question was “where did you get that bag?”

Over the years I have cut back significantly on my purchase of random mini Eiffel Towers and the like.  I have realized that other people really don’t want a souvenir from my vacation (why would they??) and I just don’t want to carry anything more than I have to.  If anyone makes a special request I’m happy to oblige but otherwise I bring nothing back.  This last trip I brought back French tea (a must whenever I’m in Paris, I can’t buy it here in the States), Belgian chocolates (I’m milking those as long as I can, there will be tears shed when I finish the box), French macaroons and an Italian Nativity set carved in Assisi (I collect Nativities from places I travel and it turns out the first Nativity was staged in Assisi by St. Francis so this was a must buy on the trip).  I had a couple of other small items but that was about it as far as my purchases.

More importantly I brought back almost 1,000 pictures.  That’s a lot for me, even if I was gone for 3 weeks.  I had to go through them when uploading from my camera to my computer and again when I uploaded them to Costco to print out and I just put the best of the best in some albums so my friends can check them out tomorrow.  Every time I’ve gone through them I’ve been instantly transported back to the time and place where the photo was taken and what more can you ask for?

There are so many things you can do with the pictures when you get home.  A few years ago I made Christmas ornaments with a group picture from our pilgrimage to Germany, I’ve received a collage print from the pilgrimage we did to Australia and I’ve used a number of pictures taken while traveling on my Christmas cards.  This year I had so many amazing pictures it was hard to decide where to start.  I made photo albums for a few of my fellow pilgrims.  It was also suggested to me that my fireworks pictures would look great blown up on a canvas and it was true!

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I get to look at that first thing every morning and last thing every night.  What a great image to start and end the day!  Thinking about sitting at that rooftop bar with wine, cheese, friends and a bunch of random French and other foreigners celebrating Bastille Day.  Vive la France, indeed!

I used this photo as my wallpaper at work.

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I think nothing says “serenity now” like this photo.  It just makes me take a deep breath and keep plugging along.  I’ve used other photos on Facebook and my personal computer.  And don’t worry for all my Christmas card friends there is a picture just waiting for a card!

Next time you hit the road think about this.  That t-shirt, key chain or other random chachkies that will fade, break or wear soon after you return.  The pictures you take can last a lifetime.  I hope when I’m old and have forgotten most of the fine details of this trip I can still take a look at my albums and be transported back to the beautiful places I had the amazing opportunity to visit.

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