Souvenirs from all over the world Tue, 20 Apr 2021 10:19:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 32 32 Top 10 Eco-Friendly Souvenirs Wed, 10 Feb 2021 10:51:46 +0000 If you are trying to travel as ecologically as possible, it makes sense to buy...

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If you are trying to travel as ecologically as possible, it makes sense to buy only sustainable souvenirs along the way. Watch out for locally made souvenirs and try and buy them directly from the local artisans, as this is always much more fun. Seeing them working on the gift you have just bought makes the gift extra special. The best hunting grounds for this type of gift include the local street markets and craft workshops. 

It is really good if you buy souvenirs and gifts that are locally made as this supports the local economy – a look at the ‘made in X’ label will reveal all! Local handicrafts are particularly special as they cannot be bought anywhere else. If the country you are visiting produces spices, teas or coffees, these all make good buys and other foodie gifts such as local honey, cheese, conserves and wine are all great gift ideas too.

* If you are traveling with a cabin bag only do check the regulations carefully regarding liquid and foodstuffs.

There are some types of souvenirs that should definitely be avoided:-  

Plants and animals including rare woods

A variety of pretty souvenirs including jewelry are made using shells and animal bones. Even though the trade in ivory is illegal you will still find items made with ivory, turtle shell, and real feathers as well as real fur. All of these should be avoided because if demand drops so will the killing of the animals. Rare woods are also not a good purchase nor are gifts using rare flowers and endangered plants.

It is essential that the message to local manufacturers is loud and clear – stop killing animals because nobody wants to buy the souvenirs you are producing.

Avoid any souvenirs made with plastic

The world was given a rude awakening by the recent David Attenborough documentary ‘Blue Planet’ which revealed the scale of damage being caused to our oceans by plastic rubbish. Cheap and fun though plastic fridge magnets and fashion jewelry plus other such knick-knacks should be avoided because they are not going to be made locally and plastic is certainly not an eco-friendly natural material. 

The most important point is not to buy gifts and souvenirs impulsively, but to spend time thinking about their origins and what materials were used to make them. A great alternative gift to give the folk back home is a collection of artistic photographs taken during your travels…

Clever gift wrapping…

Get ecological with your gift wrapping too! Don’t use paper but have a go at the Japanese art of Furoshiki- wrapping gifts in fabric. Once the gift has been unwrapped, the piece of material can be used as a scarf, table mat, etc.

1. Treat everyone to some bamboo

Lifewithpaulo, via Wikimedia Commons

Travel essentials made from bamboo are not just a good investment for your own use but make a novel gift for friends and relatives who like to travel too.  Bamboo cutlery is light and comes in a travel wallet and is so much nicer than single-use plastic. Bamboo toothbrushes are great as they can easily be re-cycled and are often sold with charcoal teeth cleaning powder – don’t worry though, it doesn’t taste like you’ve swallowed the barbie as most are flavored with mint!

Everyone who tries bamboo socks thinks they are great! They are not cheap, but having said that, they are so kind to your feet as they are soft and comfortable. They also manage moisture so your feet stay cooler and fresher for longer. They are a great gift idea as they come in some colourful fun designs. If you feel like treating yourself to something extra special, a bamboo watch would fit the bill perfectly!

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2. Pamper yourself with solid shampoo and conditioner

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These are great ideas for your own travel luggage as they take up little room and they also make an unusual gift for family members who only want the best for their hair! Solid shampoo and conditioners are only made from natural materials and are really good for your hair and help keep it well-nourished. They are not presented in plastic bottles – good grief no- but in attractive recycled packaging.

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3. Do your bit to save the oceans

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Watch out for organic sun protection lotion which is just beginning to appear in really good supermarkets and shops selling natural body products. Along with trying to reduce the huge amount of plastic in the oceans, it is vital that chemicals are prevented from getting into them too. These sun lotions are totally organic and contain no chemicals whatsoever. They are very good at protecting the skin from both UVA and UVB and because they are totally natural, they are ideal for sensitive skin too.

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4. Treat your pals to a collapsing drink cups!

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There has been plenty in the international press in recent months about the obscene amount of rubbish created by the disposal of single-use coffee mugs. Whilst you are on your travels, look out for really well designed collapsing drink cups made from sustainable materials as these will go down a storm with friends and work colleagues! There are many different designs on the market, but the best are those that collapse into a flat shape that can be slipped in their protective sleeve and popped into a pocket – ready for the next offer of a cup of coffee, tea or cool beer!

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5. Buy some extra shopping room!

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If you are looking for some fun souvenirs that are practical too, there are some great folding shopping bags on the market! Many are made totally from recycled material and sacking and are cleverly designed so that they fold into their own integral carry pouch. They are available in a spectrum of colors and designs and are relatively cheap and cheerful- but oh so useful to always have in hand! If you are buying several, another bonus is that they are light and easy to pack! 

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6. Invest in some eco footwear!

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Why not make a stylish fashion statement with some snazzy footwear?  Tropic Feel shoes are lightweight and sturdy so are ideal for your holiday as they can be used for walking, trekking and swimming- with the huge bonus that they dry very quickly. They are actually made from recycled bottles and a portion of the sales money is donated to wildlife protection organisations. 

Look out for Planet flip flops as these are made in Brazil from natural rubber harvested from rubber trees so are very eco-friendly. There are some great colours to choose from and they are a fun gift idea too.

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7. Look out for unusual notepads

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Everyone likes to receive an attractive new notepad as a gift and there are certainly some unusual ones on the market that are very eco-friendly! A number of different companies worldwide are now making notepads and other stationery from recycled paper and consumer waste. If you want to take things a step further, Poopoopaper is a company in Toronto that makes sustainable and chemical free paper from dung collected from elephants, cows, horses, donkeys and buffaloes – now that makes an unforgettable gift!

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8. Don some sustainable shades!

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These might well be a souvenir ‘to you from you with love’, but you deserve to look cool as you travel! There are several brands of sustainable sunglasses on the market, with the leaders being ‘Proof’. The sunglasses are made from FSC certified wood and cotton-based acetate. If you do buy a pair from ‘Proof’ the company pays 12% of its annual profit to charitable projects working in poorer countries. 

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9. Invest in a solar powered charger

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This is a definite ‘must have’  as it is the ideal and totally free way to efficiently charge mobile phones- and more as many models have triple USB ports. You will find the charger so useful whilst you are away and a really practical gift for your nearest and dearest as it uses not electricty. Most models are waterproof and foldable with a smart protective case.

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10. Search for a good vegetarian cook book

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Eating less meat is one of the best ways to help the environment. The combination of deforestation to make way for grazing land plus the methane emissions from livestock and fertilisers causes more damage than all the transport in the world – including aircraft. Everyone is urged to switch to a plant-based diet and eat meat just a couple of times a

 week. The mainly vegetarian diet eaten in Crete which is high in vegetables, pulses, and olive oil is regarded as one of the healthiest in the world. Spend time browsing the bookshelves in good book shops to find the perfect vegetarian cookbook.

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Top 10 Unusual Footwear Souvenirs Sat, 04 Jul 2020 15:39:25 +0000 Whilst footwear is often just a fashion statement, if you can discover the traditional footwear...

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Whilst footwear is often just a fashion statement, if you can discover the traditional footwear in the country that you are visiting, it will give you an insight into that country’s culture. Many types of footwear have evolved to meet the needs of the people and although you may not want to wear the boots or shoes yourself, they will certainly make an unusual and much-admired souvenir!

1.  Treat yourself to some wooden Dutch klompen

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Dutch wooden clogs have been worn since Medieval times and were originally made with a leather top and wooden sole but later were made entirely from wood – usually alder or willow. Each clog is carved out of a single piece of wood and variations were made in France where they were called sabot. Clogs are very practical for walking across dirty fields and for protecting feet from something falling on them. If worn with a pair of thick socks, clogs are surprisingly comfortable and are still popular in the Netherlands with farmers and gardeners. There are beautifully painted and decorated pairs on sale, that make perfect souvenirs to take home and plain wooden ones can also be bought, that can be taken home to wear!

2.  Look out for Bast shoes in Finland

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These shoes are actually popular in several countries (including Russia) that have wide areas of forest but are particularly popular in Finland. Bast shoes are actually bark shoes that are made from the bark of birch or linden trees. The shoes are used making a special weaving/ plaiting technique. They are very cheap and relatively comfortable as they can be worn on feet bound with cloth or they can be worn as overshoes. Bast shoes are very effective at protecting the feet from mud and snow. The big disappointment is that this type of shoe only lasts for a maximum of one week!

3.  Keep your toes snug with some reindeer boots!

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Saami reindeer boots can be found all over Scandinavia. These boots are very distinctive looking with toes that curl upwards which apparently makes them easy to wear with skis! Saami are made from reindeer fur so they really are warm to wear and are named after the indigenous Saami people who first made them. The boots are made by specialists as there is an art in their construction. The skin from the forehead of a reindeer is used for the soles of the boots, whilst skin from the legs of the animal is used for the uppers of the boots. The Saami are tied using colored ribbons and the colors used denote the sex of the wearer or the region they live in. The most popular ribbon colors are blue, green, and red.

4.  Wear some distinctive Tsarouhi

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These very distinctive shoes, decorated with extra-large pompoms, are a familiar sight as they are worn by soldiers of the Greek guard – the Evzonas – as part of their uniform. The shoes are often worn by folk dancers too. This style of footwear was widely worn until the 19th century and the shoes were made by hand, in soft leather with a pointed toe. Apart from always being decorated with a large pompom, Tsarouhi is often decorated with handmade lace and embroidery.

5.  Slip-on some Indian Khussa

Khalid Mahmood, via Wikimedia Commons

Elegant and pretty, khussa have been worn in numerous Asian countries since the 17th century. These beautiful shoes are totally made by hand in the softest leather. There is no right or left shoe and certainly no sizes, as the craftsman will make them measure to fit your foot. Khussa is often richly embellished with gems, beads, and embroidery so that they look rich and ornate for special occasions.   

6.  Get curious glances wearing Tabi boots

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These unusual boots were invented in Japan 100 years ago and are based on the same idea as the ‘tabi’ sock- split-toe socks. Tabi boots are long tight and light fitting boots. The upper of the boot is made from leather or rubber and has ‘split toes’ and the sole is made from soft, really flexible rubber. It is amazing to watch people who are accustomed to wearing Tabi boots, as they use their feet like extra hands and can even hold objects between their toes! Tabi boots are popular with farmers and construction workers for this very reason! 

7. Try wearing some Japanese Geta

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These are traditionally styled wooden slip-on sandals that often have two strips of wood across the sole to form a platform that raises the sandal off the ground. The platform is for very practical reasons because Geta are the traditional footwear worn with a kimono or yukata and there is no point wearing an expensive outfit like this and having it trailing in the dirt. Geta are popular in summer as they are cool to wear. They are completely open and just have a V-shaped cloth thong between the toes. Geta can be worn by both men and women, but are slightly different shapes – rectangular for men and oval for women. During the winter months, Geta are worn with the traditional split-toe socks.  

8.  Put on Mexican pointy boots to dance

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Very smart ankle boots with exceptionally long pointy toes are all the fashion in Mexico!  The fashion started a few years ago in Matehuala and has moved across the country – proving very popular with young men who like dancing to electronic music and musicians that enjoy playing it! The boots have really elongated toes that can measure nearly a meter in length and curl upwards towards the knee. As well as plain colored boots, there are glittery pairs and others decorated with colored stones, chips of mirror, and LED lights.

9.  Buy some beautiful Moroccan Babouche

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Babouche is elegant slip-on slippers with intricate stitch work. They are comfortable to wear as they are crafted in soft leather of goatskin, sheepskin, cowhide, or camel hide. Babouche can be easily bought in any of the markers in Morocco. Babouche is distinctively styled as they have no back to the shoe as it has been folded flat inside the shoe as this makes the slip-on style easier to take off at prayer time. It is worn by both men and women and is available in every color imaginable. They are often richly decorated with sequins, jewelry, and embroidery.

10.  Shoes you can barely feel

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Vibram Five-Fingers has been described as ‘foot like gloves’. This type of shoe is not traditional in any way, but certainly makes a fun and practical souvenir if you can find a pair to buy!  Five Fingers are minimalist shoes, very light to wear with flexible soles and space for each toe – just like a glove. This style of shoe was first designed for yacht racers as they enabled the racers to stand steadily on the deck- even in the roughest seas. Since then, the shoes have gained popularity, not only with all types of yachtsmen but runners and wall climbers too.

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Top 10 Souvenirs For Nature Lovers Wed, 24 Jun 2020 13:54:55 +0000 If you are an ardent conservationist or have a friend who enjoys being out in...

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If you are an ardent conservationist or have a friend who enjoys being out in the open or even the wilderness and is passionate about saving the environment, there are some really appropriate gifts to buy. You will definitely want to do some very careful souvenir shopping. The type of souvenir that you will be looking for will be the one that has been made using sustainable materials, has a really good purpose, and is something that can be treasured for years.

1. Enjoy the wild birds

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Everyone enjoys watching wild birds in their garden and the chance to watch them feeding just a short distance away is really special. There are some really good bird feeders on the market that are made from clear acrylic and are fixed using suction pads straight onto a window. This style of feed is really good as it can be enjoyed by everyone -even someone living in a flat.

Other similar gift ideas include bird nesting boxes. You might well be able to find a flat pack kit for making a box and this could be far easier to try and get home in a suitcase than a ready-made box! There are a variety of styles available; some are cylindrical, some square, and both types can be hung from a branch. Some styles are for fixing to a tree trunk or house wall. There are bird boxes that are made in decorated natural wood, whilst others can be painted and there are many in the market that are beautifully decorated to look like mini log cabins.

A ‘variation on a theme’ is to buy a small insect hotel to hang in a garden. These smart-looking little homes attract pollinators such as bees into the garden which is definitely a bonus. 

2. Buy a coloring book for doodlers!

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There are some lovely coloring books on the market that are aimed at adults and feature some really complicated botanical designs that will take a while to complete! Many of the books are sold with a pack of coloring pencils so that no time will be lost in getting started! 

If you have children to buy a gift for, coloring books are always a popular gift and you can choose one with pictures of some of the wild animals you have seen on your travels. Another idea is a ‘teach yourself’ book on how to draw animals and birds which will prove quite compulsive.

3. Enhance a corner with greenery

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A hanging planter makes a lovely souvenir and very acceptable gift – especially if it has been made from local materials such as coconut shells. The planter can be hung inside the house, on a balcony, or in a garden from the branch of a tree so it really is a versatile purchase.  

4. Treat yourself to some wooden jewelry

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Watch out for some locally made wooden jewelry that has been created using organic wood or other types of jewelry that has been made from dried seeds. There are a number of community-based projects worldwide that are working with the local artisans to create beautiful jewelry, made from sustainable materials that can be sold to raise valuable funds for the community. In many cases, if you visit craft workshops or markets, you will be able to meet the artisan and even watch them making your bracelet or necklace – how special is that!

5. Keep a travel journal

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What better way to record all you see and do on your travels, than by having a travel journal. Look out for a really lovely notebook- one either made from recycled paper or better still, one with a wooden cover crafted from sustainable wood. You will see notebooks made from a variety of natural products ranging from papyrus to paper made from animal dung.

6. Buy some souvenirs from the WWF

The World Wildlife Fund has some really great souvenir and gift ideas and you can rest assured that in supporting the WWF you will be helping to fund its many projects that help to protect animals everywhere. There is a great choice of tee-shirts including ones with the famous WWF panda logo, plus countless others depicting zebra, fish, owls, and hummingbirds- all you have to do is choose your favorite! 

If you want to invest in some smart boxers – either blue and decorated with polar bears or grey and adorned with the famous panda logo, there are also socks, nightwear, and other gift ideas too.

7. Look out for a reusable water bottle

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There are some really smart reusable water bottles on the market that are perfect for those who don’t want to use plastic. There are bottles that use magnets for ease of opening and many are shatterproof, can be popped in the dishwasher, and can also be used to keep drinks warm.

8. Adopt an endangered animal!

What better gift idea than taking part in one of the adoption schemes that enable you to adopt an endangered animal or bird? The World Animal Foundation runs such as a scheme as do a number of zoos and wildlife parks around the world – and it’s great because you can renew the annual adoption as many times as you would like.  

9. Buy some great extras for your mobile phone

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These ideas are perfect purchases to make before you head off on your travels, or as a gift for a nature-loving friend. The first idea is a set of lens for use with the camera on your mobile phone. The lenses come in sets of five and fit snugly into a small protective bag and are perfect for photographing wildlife and all types of local scenes. 

If you are camping or traveling from one hostel to another, you may well find a mobile phone lamp a really good buy. The lamp is small and unbreakable and draws power from our mobile to emit a light that is strong enough to ready by. 

10. Is this the ultimate purchase?

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Whether you are hiking, cycling or horse riding, it is almost impossible to be able to carry enough bottles of drinking water to last the day. The Lifestraw will definitely be perfect for your travels or to give as a gift to a like-minded friend. The Lifestraw is small and fits easily into its protective case. The Lifestraw means that you can safely drink water from a mountain stream or river as it removes 99.99% of waterborne bacteria – meaning it actually exceeds the required EPA water filter standards.  

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Top 10 Strange Foodie Souvenirs Thu, 11 Jun 2020 15:05:26 +0000 Food souvenirs from your travels are always a popular buy and usually make a very...

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Food souvenirs from your travels are always a popular buy and usually make a very acceptable gift too. There are some very strange foods that you can buy in countries around the world and they may sound wacky, but they will not be the ideal gift for the faint-hearted! You will find your palate challenged by pungent, sour, and truly scary foods – and not always in remote places off the beaten track!.

1. Tuna eyeballs from Japan

HmanJpHmanJp, via Wikimedia Commons

Well, this is definitely ensuring that nothing goes to waste! If you have a look in the chilled fish section in the Japanese supermarkets, you will see pre-packed trays of Tuna eyeballs – and not surprisingly, they are incredibly cheap! But what to do with them? Cook the eyeballs either by boiling or steaming them and then add some garlic or soy sauce. They don’t taste as bad as they look and in fact taste a little like squid. 

If Tuna eyeballs sound too mild, look out for some wasp crackers containing digger wasps that do have a nasty sting! The ultimate scary food in Japan must be Fugu – pufferfish- as this fish contains enough poison to kill 30 people! No wonder it takes chefs years to master its preparation!

2. Munch some crispy tarantulas

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If you are traveling in Cambodia, you will soon discover that deep-fried tarantulas are a popular snack and you will see roadside stalls selling bags of them to eat! They are particularly popular in the market town on Skuon. The tarantulas are collected from the surrounding forests and deep-fried and flavored with garlic before being enjoyed. The tarantulas are crispy on the outside and gooey inside and taste quite like chicken. Connoisseurs will tell you that they are meatier to eat than fried grasshoppers!

3. Enjoy a glass of Airag

Brücke-Osteuropa, via Wikimedia Commons

This is a popular drink in Mongolia and considered the national drink. It is definitely an acquired taste, but not unpleasant! Airag is also known by its Russian name, ‘kumys’. It is fermented horse milk and is slightly fizzy, sour-tasting, and slightly alcoholic (3%). It is traditionally served in a bowl-shaped cup. There is a much stronger version of Airag, called shimni and this is about 12% alcoholic

4. A cheese to avoid in Italy

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Casu Marzu is a Sardinian specialty and its name means ‘rotten cheese’. Casu Marzu is made from Pecorino cheese that has gone bad. Larvae of cheese flies are added to the cheese and they quickly hatch into thousands of maggots that start eating the fat in the cheese. This hard cheese changes consistency and becomes soft and creamy – with a strong aftertaste that lasts many hours! There are are two types of Casu Marzu to buy – either with or without the maggots!

5. Sample moose nose preserved in jelly

Rocky Mountain Oysters || Vincent Diamante, via Wikimedia Commons

This is a Canadian delicacy that is much loved – by just a few! The nose of the moose is boiled with onions and spices and then finely sliced before being popped into glass jars and covered with a flavored meat jelly. 

Whilst you are in Canada, watch out for another delicacy – Prairie Oysters/ Rocky Mountain Oysters. These are no oysters, but the bulls’ testicles that can be bought fried, stuffed, or raw, ready for you to prepare!

6. Taste a century egg in China

Laughlin Elkind, via Wikimedia Commons

Century eggs – Pidon are literally old eggs! The eggs are packed into clay, ash, and salt and left for many months. When deemed to be ready, they are then sold as a delicacy. When you open the egg, the yolk has turned to dark green/ black and the egg white has changed to a dark brown translucent jelly with an almost overpowering sulfurous smell.

7. Chocolate covered locusts in Israel

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Israel has had problems with swarms of locusts for centuries, but now some enterprising chefs have found that they are quite palatable if they are either deep-fried and spiced or dipped in thick melted chocolate.

8. Pipe in the Haggis

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If you are enjoying some time in Scotland, it will not be long before you learn about the national dish – haggis. Traditionally, haggis is ceremoniously piped in by a piper in highland dress, playing the bagpipes for Burns Night on 25 January, when the haggis is served with ‘neeps & tatties’ – turnips and mashed potatoes. Haggis, tastes good and is lovely and meaty and enjoyed with a dram of whisky.

Haggis is made from the meat of a sheep’s head and also sheep’s heart and liver which is all mixed with oatmeal, chopped onions, stock, and spices. This mixture is then spooned into a sheep’s stomach before cooking it by simmering in boiling water. If you decide you would like to take a haggis home, any traditional butchers shop has them on sale.  

9. Savor some surstromming

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Fresh fish is plentiful in Sweden and one of the local specialties is surstromming. This is made from fermented sea herring – with just enough salt added to prevent the herring from rotting. The fish is caught in the spring when it is spawning and fermented in barrels, before being popped into a can and sealed. These cans can be easily found in supermarkets. When you do decide to open your souvenir from Sweden, do so outside in the fresh air because boy, the is smell overpoweringly strong!

* Please note: Certain airlines have banned these cans from being taken on flights, as they consider the pressurized cans to be potentially dangerous – like carrying an explosive. 

10. Salo – a popular topping for rye bread

Adam Jones, via Wikimedia Commons

There are many people around the world who enjoy eating a little fat on their cooked meat, but this is definitely taken a stage further in Ukraine, where the fat is eaten with no meat! The fat is cut into slabs and these are smoked and then matured for one year in a cellar. The fat is then prepared ready to sell, by thinly slicing the fat and popping it on display in the delicatessen. The idea is that you place a slice of fat onto some rye bread as the perfect snack.  

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10 Top Natural Beauty Souvenirs From Around The World Fri, 29 May 2020 06:46:15 +0000 Why not take advantage of your travel to foreign countries to get yourself some really...

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Why not take advantage of your travel to foreign countries to get yourself some really top quality beauty souvenirs?  Many countries have some really lovely products available and they make a really good souvenir and are also very acceptable gifts for family and friends. Natural beauty products are good for all skin types as they are gentle and unlikely to cause any irritation or reactions to the skin. They sometimes take a little longer to work on the skin, but their long term effects are usually really noticeable – and not just to you!

Apart from being really ideal for you and your body, natural beauty products are good for the earth too, as chemicals will not have been used in any stage of their manufacture. Buy your natural beauty souvenirs with confidence, knowing that they are made with natural ingredients provided by Mother Nature.

* An important point to remember is that if you are flying with cabin baggage only, there is a restriction on the size of bottles of liquids you can take with you– 100ml is the limit.

1. Choose gorgeous skincare products from France

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If you are traveling to France, why not treat yourself to some of the beautiful products made by such famous names as La Roche- Posay, Yves Rocher, Bioderma and Avène? French skincare products have a worldwide reputation for being really excellent and many contain only natural ingredients – including spring water which is known to have miraculous qualities for helping sensitive skin and improving skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Eau thermale Avène Spring Water Spray is a fine misting spray that rejuvenates your skin as you sleep. Some particularly good products to watch out for include Cicaplast Baume B5 by La Roche-Posay, which calms red skin caused by a variety of skin conditions and the range of sunscreen products by the same company are amongst the best available. Yves Rocher youth intensifying serums are popular and the Caudalie range of natural products has been created by a vine grower in Bordeaux and incorporates all the active ingredients from grapes. 

2. Drink top quality water from Hawaii

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If you would like to drink the purest and most naturally clean water imaginable, Mahalo water is desalinated water that is piped up from a source under the sea bed off Hawaii at a depth of 914 meters (3,000 feet). The water is rich in minerals and free from pollutants and is proving very popular – especially with the Japanese.

3. Enjoy bathing with natural sponges from Symi

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The Greek island of Symi has long been famous for its lovely natural sea sponges which have been harvested by local divers since the 19th century. The first divers would jump into the sea holding a heavy stone so that they were weighted down enough to reach the sponges which grow on the sea bed. At one time, the island had the largest sea sponge fleet of boats. Today, when you step off the ferry in the harbor, you will see a number of stalls selling the sponges in all different sizes. 

If you are looking for a special souvenir, a natural sea sponge is perfect and if you have a baby in the family, they are perfect for gently cleaning babies’ skin. Natural sponges are perfect for everyone as they are biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and are totally free from chemicals and toxins. They are very absorbent, but importantly, do not absorb smells and in fact, contain enzymes that prevent any mold development. Apart from being perfect for babies, cars, motorcycles, and aircraft owners love to use them on paintwork as they are so gentle!

4. Pamper your skin with rosewater from Cyprus

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Whilst you might think of rose water being a popular flavoring for many eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern pastries – and you would be absolutely right- in Cyprus rose water is used, both as a flavoring and as an effective skin cleanser and moisturizer. Roses are grown in the mountain village of Agros where the essential oil is carefully extracted.  Rosewater is one of the purest products to use on the skin, so it is suitable for everyone and it leaves the skin lovely and soft and very fragrant. Rosewater also has excellent antiseptic and astringent properties and can be used to successfully lessen redness on the skin. In Cyprus, rosewater is also used as a natural treatment for eye infections, postnatal depression, and depression. Rosewater can also ease problems with the stomach and liver. 

5. Treat skin problems with the Australian papaw ointment

Papaw ointment was developed in 1906 by the Australian botanist T. P Lucas. It is a totally natural product  – the first in the world of its kind. Lucas’ Papaw ointment is really effective at soothing sunburn, rashes, and cuts and is also good for easing dermatitis.

6. Wash your face with Swedish egg white soap

This might sound a strange thing to do, but Swedish women have been using the traditional recipe for making this soap for generations. In the past, women would make the egg white soap to treat their skin once a week as it ensured pure glowing facial skin, that felt particularly soft. Today, Swedish egg white soap is just as popular and certainly makes a great – and novel souvenir.

7. Treat your skin holistically the new Indian way

The range of Karma Ayurveda products was created nearly 20 years ago using totally natural ingredients that are usually found in the kitchen! This range treats hair, skin, and the body holistically and is available for men, women, children, and babies. The products are presented in a stylish packaging and the range can be found in the top Spas and stores worldwide. The range includes natural henna colorants for hair and a selection of organic khus soaps.

8. When in London pick up some green balm

For centuries, the herb yarrow has been used to heal and repair skin and in recent years has been ingeniously used to produce Móa Green Balm.  Easy to apply and very soothing, the balm can help fade scarring and also stretch marks after pregnancy. In recent years, its fans have included those who have used it to soothe new tattoos and piercings.

9. Protect your skin from stress – the Icelandic way

The stress of daily life can take its toll on your skin – especially the delicate skin around the eyes. Inspired by nature, specialists in Iceland have created a range of products that help to nurture the skin.  Inspired by nature, the products include mineral-rich water, berries that are rich in anti-oxidants, soothing marine algae, and angelica which is known to boost the immune system. The results have been impressive and ‘skyn’ products have been described as ‘magic in bottles’!

10. Beautify yourself with Japanese honey!

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Honey is widely known to be really good for you. In Japan, Hacca Beauty Honey takes this a step further. The honey is blended with a variety of other natural ingredients and the idea is that you add some of the honey mixture to your shower gel, shampoo or skincare products to really keep your skin in top condition. The various honey beauty products have been made to suit various skin types. 

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10 Bizarre Souvenirs From Around The World Thu, 14 May 2020 10:28:28 +0000 Everyone enjoys shopping for souvenirs when they are traveling to other countries. A recent survey...

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Everyone enjoys shopping for souvenirs when they are traveling to other countries. A recent survey found that 56% of travelers felt that shopping was an important part of their holiday and 20% of them said that they spend more than $500 each holiday on gifts.  Finding the perfect gift can often take time and usually involves browsing in smaller shops and markets.

Bizarre and wacky gifts can certainly give a surprise to the recipient, but after the initial shock, they are often felt to be an extra special gift as they certainly have a unique story to tell and can be a real conversation piece!

If you are off on a holiday, look out for bizarre souvenirs to buy and see if they beat this collection!

1. Select a bottle of cobra wine!

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If you are visiting Vietnam, you will definitely see bottles of rice wine on display – each containing a dead coiled cobra! Apparently, the poison of this venomous snake is neutralized by the alcohol, so the wine can be enjoyed – safely! In fact, this wine has a reputation for being an aphrodisiac. If you prefer spirits, you should be able to track down a bottle of grain spirit containing a tightly coiled snake.

2. Opt for a kangaroo back scratcher

You may be surprised to learn that you can buy kangaroo products as after all the Australians, love their ‘roos’. This is absolutely true and they are certainly protected, but every year, the Australian government has to control their numbers. There are various souvenirs available including ‘roo paw’ back scratchers – and they are effective too.

3. Delight relatives and friends with a scorpion!

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There are a number of different wacky souvenirs that you can buy made with scorpions! If you are traveling through Phoenix, Arizona, watch out for the large glass paperweights containing scorpions or the colorful scorpion lollipops – which are said to be totally safe to eat!  If you are in Thailand, you may well have the opportunity to buy a chocolate scorpion. Really scorpions are first oven-roasted until they are crispy, cooled, and then dipped in thick plain chocolate. After being left to dry thoroughly, the chocolate-coated scorpions are then popped in presentation boxes. Fans of this bizarre chocolate treat report that chocolate scorpion is tasty as it has a crispy, smoky flavor. 

4. Grab a can of fresh NY air!

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Surprise, surprise this is one of the more bizarre gifts you can pick up in New York. Sold in a distinctive and smartly designed can, the air is carefully collected from eight different locations in the city – all well-known attractions – to ensure that your can really does contain the ‘real’ thing!

5. Indulge in superb coffee- made in a very strange way!

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Would you believe it? Smooth, strong coffee made from elephant dung? This is definitely a more unusual souvenir from Thailand! The coffee beans are fed to the elephants and eventually they reappear in the animals’ dung. They are collected and processed and produce a really excellent cup of coffee! The most expensive coffee in the world is made in a similar way in India and is called Kopi Luwak. In India, the coffee beans are fed to Asian palm civets which are rare forest animals and are collected and processed in a similar way.– with the same results, truly excellent coffee.

6. Think elephant dung gifts!

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A strange but wonderful range of gifts can be found in Chiang Mai (Thailand) in a shop called ‘Elephant Poopoo Paper’. The elephant poop is scooped up regularly, processed, and turned into paper including pretty purple poop notepads! The poop paper is also made into colorful chunky beads that are strung into necklaces or fitted with clips for earrings. Visitors to the ‘poo-tique’ are invited to take a tour of the pavilions behind the shop to learn how these amazing products are made!”

If you are visiting the Natural History Museum in London, you will definitely be able to buy some 100% natural elephant poop and in Japan you may be able to track down some elephant poop beer! The beer is called Kono Kuro and one of its ingredients is black ivory coffee beans that have passed through some elephants! The beer is described as a ‘stout’ and is comparably expensive, but nevertheless, regularly gets sold out! 

7. Choose a beautiful Bezoar stone in India

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These lovely stones are available in grey or chestnut brown and are speckled. They are much coveted in India where they originate,  as they are said to have healing powers. They certainly make an attractive gift, but many would be less than happy if they knew that the stones are removed from the gall bladders of goats or camels. 

8.  Buy some souvenirs made from Finnish tar

Tony Webster, via Wikimedia Commons

In Finland ‘terva’ syrup is a thick, strong-smelling syrup that is made from pine resin. The terva was originally used on ships’ decking and ropes.  Although it doesn’t sound very appealing, terva is certainly a popular topping for pancakes! If you aren’t feeling brave enough to give the syrup a go, you can always buy a bar of soap made from the tar.   

9. Give the ultimate toothpick!

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If you are in Morocco and trying to find a gift for the person who has everything, take yourself for a wander in a bazaar and track down some Berber toothpicks! They are made from the dried head of a plant (Ammi visnaga) and the idea is that you pull a frond or two from the stem and use it to clean between your teeth. Definitely the perfect gift idea as they cost very little and are light and easy to pack!

10 Hold your business card in place with an alligator claw

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Whilst you are visiting the United States, a rather unusual if not bizarre souvenir is a business card holder that is made from alligator leather to keep about a dozen business cards in. On top of the container, there is a real alligator claw for holding a card in place, ready for you to hand out. Certainly weird and the rightful place for an alligator claw is on a live alligator!   

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Top 10 Souvenirs To Buy In Spain Thu, 30 Apr 2020 19:02:46 +0000 Being home to some of the most exquisite architecture and culture, Spain receives millions of...

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Being home to some of the most exquisite architecture and culture, Spain receives millions of tourists each year from different parts of the globe. Apart from incredible beaches, wines, and heart-rendering histories, it is also home to unique souvenirs. If you are planning your next visit or vacation to Spain, do remember to leave space in your luggage to ensure that you can carry home the best reminders of the country, the trip, and a few gift items for friends and family members.

Major tourist attractions sell the most exceptional craft and are the right choice for gifting it to the loved ones or as a remembrance of the trip. Nonetheless, it is imperative to keep in mind about the travel restrictions and additional screening required at an airport. Before beginning the journey or making a purchase, check with the guidelines of your airliner to understand the constraints.

The following guide will help you pick up the best and most exciting souvenirs from Spain:

Seville bullfight poster

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The one thing that encapsulates the trip to Spain is the visit to the streets of Seville. A bullfight poster with your name or the names of your loved ones is an exotic purchase. Although you will come across them throughout the country, especially, bullrings, they are more prevalent in Seville.

Blue Wine

Ah yes, of course, the wine is now blue! The traditional wine community raised their eyebrows when GiK, one of the leading Spanish winemakers, launched the world’s first blue wine in 2016. The company created the mixture using the traditional red and white grapes with a few alterations to pigments to achieve the blue color. You can buy a bottle from any wine shop or try a glass before purchasing one from any restaurant.   

A Bota

flydime, via Wikimedia Commons

Also called as a wineskin, bota is a drinking vessel native to the Spanish community, especially, wine. Nonetheless, the container can hold any form of liquid. The design is such that one must keep it at an angle to enable the contents to shoot out into the mouth without the need for the drinker to touch bota’s mouth. Due to this, it is possible to share the drinking vessel even with strangers.

Spanish Fan

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Also termed as the Albanico, the Spanish fan is a popular souvenir. Many of the dance troops and forms still use it as the primary prop for a concert. It is an exceptional addition to the list of the souvenir that you can buy in Spain, especially for the older generation. These fans are available in different colors and designs with various prints embedded on the surface.

Toledo Sword

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Until firearms replaced the swords and shields, Toledo supplied the finest steel swords and shields for centuries. It helped in equipping the cavalry of Europe and held a prominent position. However, today, a few of the manufacturers make them exclusively for tourists. They are intriguing and of good quality. If you find carrying a sword home a challenging task due to airline restrictions, you can choose a letter opener. Do remember that you must ship either the sword or the opener by storing them in the check-in luggage.

Jerez Sherry

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Wine is a prominent drink and produced across Spain. However, the only one that is distinctive and stands apart is the vino de Jerez, also called as Sherry in English. The taste will be different from the usual products. Make sure you prepare yourself if you are tasting sherry for the first time. The reason why the sherry tastes different is the environment and fortifying conditions. Jerez has a unique atmosphere, which helps in acquiring the unusual taste. You can purchase several bottles, for they are available for as low as $6. Jerez is likewise home to brandy, the grapier version of cognac, which is easy on the palette.


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If you are enthusiastic about music and like to follow in the footsteps of Bob Dylan and others, then complete the fascination by owning a flamenco guitar. You can visit the Conde family for they are a family of guitar maker for over a century. Do mind that the instruments are quite expensive but worth every penny. If you are considering a lifetime investment, do ensure that you have appropriate cash reserves before heading to the store.

Spanish Cured Ham

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Like French boast about their wine, Spaniards boast widely about their cured ham. Also called Jamon, it is part of every citizen’s daily diet and cured for at least a year. Finding an appropriate seller is difficult. It can be unpalatable for all those who never had ham. Consider buying Jamon from Huelva, Salamanca, and Granada. These locations sell some of the finest cured ham in Spain.


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Although you can buy one even in your home country, getting a genuine product is possible only in Spain. If you are in search of a high-quality product and a well-known manufacturer, do consider Casa Hernanz in Madrid. They are in the business of manufacturing espadrilles and rope-soled shoes since the 1840s. They were the shoe of the working class. However, they rose to prominence and as a summer fashion accessory when Lauren Bacall wore them for Key Largo film in the year 1948.

Granada Saffron

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Saffron is an essential commodity in any Spanish dish. It turns a recipe into a more authentic one. You will be saving a couple of hundreds of dollars when you are purchasing them domestically in Spain. You will further have a quality product for the price that you are paying. Granada is the right place for you to come across authentic saffron along with other spices.

Make sure to add a bag or carry less luggage to pack with items that you can bring back from Spain, as you have a clear picture of the different souvenirs that you can get in Spain. You may even come across several other fascinating products. Make sure you have something for all your loved ones back at home!  

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Top 10 Souvenirs To Buy In Kathmandu Mon, 13 Apr 2020 08:46:18 +0000 Kathmandu is a special place to visit and you will thoroughly enjoy going souvenir shopping...

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Kathmandu is a special place to visit and you will thoroughly enjoy going souvenir shopping there! Thamel is the central district where absolutely everything is on sale and for the last few years, it has been ‘car-free’ which makes things easier. There are beautiful hand made crafts at amazingly good prices and these can be found in the Fair Trade shops on Kupondole Hill on the way to Patan. There are several other Fair Trade shops to explore in Lazimpat in the north of the city.

The Labim Mall in Patan is very attractive, with five floors of retail space plus restaurants, a cinema and a rooftop terrace bar on level 3! In complete contrast, one of the best markets is Asan Tole and it is definitely the best place to buy spices. If you are interested in buying clothes, Pote and Raki bazaars in Indra Chouk have a good selection. Importantly, for those needing it, ‘The North Face’ trekking gear and other top brands can be found in Thamel, along with ‘Sonam’ – the best Nepalese brand.
Bargaining is acceptable in the markets and some smaller shops in Kathmandu, but interestingly, even if you are successful, you will only be able to get the price down by 10-20%. If you are looking to buy an expensive article such as a piece of jewelry, a pashmina or Tibetan carpet, it is well worth taking your time and shopping around until you find what you really want at a good price.

1. Choose a beautiful pashmina

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Nepal has not been producing cashmere for many years but has already gained a reputation for the high quality of its scarves, shawls, and pashminas. The soft hair from the underside of mountain goats is used and is incredibly light and warm. There are a number of specialist shops in Kathmandu and it is a good idea to buy from these as it guarantees quality. The cashmere is often mixed with 30% silk to make it longer-lasting, but you will find many cheaper products that don’t feel quite so soft as they contain nylon. The pashminas are available in a rainbow of beautiful colors either plain or with all types of patterns.

If your budget does not stretch to cashmere, a great alternative is a yak wool shawl. These are easily bought, easily packed and are very cheap to buy!

2. Lovely jewelry

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Silver is the most common precious metal and is really good quality as it is 92% sterling silver. Ready-made pieces can be easily bought or you can get your own unique design made by a craftsman. It is well worth checking the current cost of silver before you begin negotiations. If you prefer gold, there is a small goldsmith’s shop located between Thamel and Asan. There are many beautiful semi-precious stones for sale too, but if you do not know how to recognize good quality stones, take someone along who does.

Bead jewelry is very popular in Nepal as it signifies a woman’s marital status. All the tourist shops have a wide range to choose from but if you are wanting something truly authentic, it is worth visiting one of the bead specialists in the old shopping quarter in Asan. The shops are well worth seeing as they are filled with thousands of different strings of stones. If you prefer, you can buy the beads loose to make your own necklaces and
bracelets. If you are looking for an unusual piece of jewelry you will find some made from carved yak bone and also Bodhi and Rudraksha seeds.

3. Admire the brassware

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The local brassware artisans can be found at work in Patan. They make a wide range of objects in both traditional and modern designs.

4. Treat yourself to a tuneful singing bowl

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Singing bowls are musical instruments that have been used for centuries as a traditional method of healing. The small rounded bowl is made of metal including brass and has a short stumpy wooden stick that is rubbed around the outer edge quickly to make the sound. The bowls are heavy and are either plain or patterned and their cost varies depending on the metal used. The dull and unevenly shaped singing bowls are the best as they are usually handmade. The singing bowls make a variety of sounds, so it is well worth spending some time finding the one that sounds particularly melodious.

5. Buy a colorful Thanka

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Thankas are beautiful hand paintings that are done on cotton or silk and portray scenes from Buddhist life. Thankas are important in Nepalese religious culture and are used both for meditation and festivals. They are rolled up so that they can be easily transported and they do make an unusual souvenir. The best quality Thankas are those painted on silk with the finest brush strokes.

It is possible to find Thankas that have been beautifully hand embroidered rather than painted. If you would like to see Thankas being painted by artisans, Durbar Square in Patan is the place to go. A Thanka with a complex design will not be cheap to buy because such a piece can take up to 18 months to complete. If you do buy a Thanka, make sure that you are given the certificate of authenticity showing the name of the craftsman and where the Thanka was made.

6. Invest in a gorgeous Tibetan carpet

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Tibetan carpets and rugs are real works of art that are colorful and have intricate designs. The quality of the carpet varies, depending on the density of the threads. The Tibetan refugee camps in Kathmandu and Jawalakhel (Southern Patan) are good places to look for colorful hand-knotted Tibetan carpets to buy.

7. Select a traditional khukuri (kukri)

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The khukuri is probably the best-known emblem of Nepal. The khukuri is a distinctive looking dagger with a curved blade that is still used by Nepalese Gurkha soldiers but is also found in most homes. The khukuri is used both as a weapon and for practical uses and is supplied with two small knives (chak mak) to help keep the blade razor-sharp. The hilt of the khukuri is decorated with a traditional design and the khukuri is kept in a
decorated leather case. It is said that every time the khukuri is removed from its case, that blood must be drawn.

Certainly, a beautiful khukuri makes a fine memento of your time spent in Kathmandu. They can be bought in souvenir shops, but for really good quality knives, visit one of the specialist shops. Do remember that your khukuri must be packed in hold luggage for your flight home.

8. Enjoy some Nepalese ‘chiya’

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Tea is very important in Nepal and its crop is one of the highest quality teas in the world. To ensure that the tea you buy is really good, it is best to visit one of the specialist shops in Kathmandu, where you will have the chance to taste the tea first, or you can combine souvenir shopping with a visit to one of the country’s tea estates.

It is fun to take part in some tea tasting as the ‘first flush’ is made from young leaves and tastes lighter and more floral, whilst the ‘second flush’ is made from mature leaves and is much stronger and full-flavored. The tea is sold in beautiful presentation packets and varieties include oolong, Earl Grey, Ilam, and masala as well as golden and silver tip.

9. Smell the gorgeous herbs and spices

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Nepalese food is full of flavor derived from the clever use of different herbs, so what better souvenir to take home than some of the fragrant herbs and spices? There are so many to choose from including ginger, coriander, cilantro (made from coriander leaves) timmur which is a Himalayan pepper, chili, and turmeric. The herbs and spices are so fresh they smell amazing and of course, they make the ideal gifts to take home as they are cheap and easy to pack!

10. Feel the softness of the lokta paper

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Lokta paper is also called ‘rice paper’ as it produced from rice husks. The paper really is lovely to feel as it is so soft and smooth and perfect for a travel journal. Lokta paper can be bought made into notepads and writing pads as well as loose sheets and made into lovely little paper lanterns. Lokta paper is nice and easy to pack, but it is fragile and needs to be treated with care.

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10 Great Countries For Chocolate Souvenirs In Europe Mon, 06 Apr 2020 05:19:48 +0000 There are many European countries where you will be enticed to enjoy the magical world...

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There are many European countries where you will be enticed to enjoy the magical world of chocolate! The top producing countries are Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland which together produce 35% of the world’s chocolate. There are chocolate makers with a long history as well as innovative young artisans creating new, refined and unusual chocolates for everyone to enjoy. There are chocolate museums to explore and workshops to visit where tasting is obligatory! Chocolate always makes a lovely gift and great souvenir but always buy double the amount you think you will need as they will prove truly irresistible!

1. Gorgeous pralines from Belgium

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Belgium is well known for its beautiful chocolate and amongst its best-known brands are Neuhaus, Lady Godiva, Leonardis, and Wittemar. All present their chocolates in the most beautiful boxes that make them almost too good to eat! Probably the best-known brand is Guylian with its pretty boxes of seashell shaped pralines. Many of the chocolate companies have a long history such as Neuhaus which dates from 1857. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy Belgian chocolate as there are more than 2,000 specialist shops in the country!

Have you ever tasted a beautiful Belgian praline? The taste is velvety smooth and perfectly balanced. Belgian pralines are made with fresh cream which makes them perishable. They comprise of a chocolate shell that is filled with cream, caramel or seasonal fruits. Interestingly, they were invented by a Belgian pharmacist as the perfect way for his customers to swallow their medicine! In every city, artisan chocolatiers can be found like Château Blanc in Antwerp which is known throughout the city for its wonderful pralines. Their most popular type is the round white chocolate praline, which is filled with cream and decorated with a walnut on the top. 

If you are visiting Brussels, allow time to join the 2.5-hour walking tour of the city which includes visiting six different chocolate shops!

2. Champagne truffles from Switzerland

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Switzerland is another country that is famous for its excellent chocolate and such brands as Lindt and Suchard immediately come to mind. Teuscher Chocolate is another brand, which has been made since 1932 and is regularly named as one of the best chocolates in the world. The Teuscher factory is in Zurich, where its best seller is its plain chocolate Champagne truffle. Another Swiss brand to watch out for is Favarger which has been making chocolates since 1826. The Aveline is a type of praline and the company’s best seller. Probably the best known Swiss brand of all is the Toblerone chocolate bar in its distinct cream and red triangular box.

Each year in Versoix there is the Festichoc – a chocolate festival that attracts chocolate artisans from all over the world. There are some very special displays including some amazing chocolate sculptures. 

3. Pack some German chocolates 

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Delicious German chocolate is always a popular gift and if you are visiting Cologne you are particularly lucky as it is known as the ‘chocolate capital of Germany’! Stollwerck is one of the biggest German brands plus Milka (which was originally Swiss) and the perennially popular Ritters Sport. If you are looking for an attractive gift to take home, the distinctive boxes of Merci chocolates with their individually wrapped sticks of chocolate are perfect. 

Many German chocolates have marzipan centers which are made totally from almonds with no added sugar. Niederegger is one of the country’s top brands for this type of chocolate and the company’s factory is not far from Berlin. There are a number of specialist chocolate shops scattered throughout the country such as Bitter & Zart in Frankfurt that has a selection of over 100 different varieties….decisions, decisions!

4. Enjoy some great Italian chocolates!

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Probably the best known Italian chocolates are Ferrero Rocher which are foil-wrapped balls of milk chocolate that are filled with roasted hazelnuts and covered with small pieces of hazelnut too. As well known are the globally popular Kinder chocolates which are produced by the same factory.

The Italians love chocolates and cakes and combine the two in the truly delicious treat.

Pangiallo Romano which was first made in Rome is a mixture of nuts, honey, raisins and chocolate, and Panpepato is a slightly different version with even more chocolate and lots of spices. 

In Milan, Venchi chocolates are much loved – in particular the ones made with a filling of gianduja which is a tasty cream made from ground Piedmont hazelnuts. The Venchi shop can be found near Duomo de Milano (the cathedral). In Perugia each October, the Eurochocolate Festival lasts for nine days and attracts thousands of visitors. There are tasting sessions to enjoy as well as the chance to buy plenty of good chocolate. In 2003, the largest chocolate bar ever was made at the festival – weighing 5,980 kilos.

5. Fine chocolates to tempt in France!

Paris is known for its beautiful dark chocolate. The French capital has a high concentration of chocolatiers and hosts the very popular four day Salon du Chocolat exhibition each year – which even has a fashion show featuring outfits made from chocolate! Maison de Chocolat is one of the top award-winning chocolatiers in the city with an amazing display of handcrafted truffles, caramels, and macarons. The current favorite flavor is salted caramel chocolate. 

If you are visiting Marseilles, watch out for L’Espérentines. These special chocolates were created in the city to mark its 2,600th anniversary in 1999. The chocolates are shaped like an olive leaf with a filling of almonds, orange peel, and mint. The outside case of each is in bright green colored chocolate! 

6. English chocolate is a worldwide favorite!

This has to be at the top of the souvenir list for anyone visiting England! Cadbury’s chocolate has been made in Bourneville on the southern outskirts of Birmingham since 1910 and it is possible to enjoy a tour of Cadbury World which tells the story of the company and includes plenty of samples of chocolate along the way!

Other well known English chocolate companies include Rowntrees of York and the Mars company – well known for its Mars bars and Galaxy chocolate bars which are retailed in many European countries under the brand name Dove. Terry’s of York is another famous company, well known for its elegant gold box of dark chocolates, called ‘All Gold’. 

7. Amazing Chocolate sculptures in Spain!

Oriol Balaguer is very well known in Barcelona as he is a master of chocolate who makes the most amazing chocolate sculptures and was the creator of the award-winning eight texture chocolate cake – which can be enjoyed in one of his chocolate shops in the city. Born in 1971, he is certainly viewed as a true innovator in his profession – make your own decision by sampling some!

8. Sicily for wine, pistachios and great chocolate

Bonajuto is definitely the name to watch out for when visiting the island of Sicily. This family-run chocolate business was started in 1880 and is now in its 6th generation. The chocolate is very distinctive with a strong, powerful taste achieved by the special production method. There are 17 different flavors in the range, with cinnamon, vanilla, and cardamom being amongst the favorites.

9. Treat yourself to some Mozart chocolates in Austria

Herzi Pinki, via Wikimedia Commons

Mozartkugel (Mozart chocolates) have been made in Austria since 1890 and are very popular. They are made from balls of pistachio flavored marzipan that have been dipped in thick dark chocolate. They are named after the country’s famous composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Whilst these are the most traditional Austrian chocolates, Zotter chocolates are proving very popular because they are created by a team of experimental chocolatiers who have created such unusual fillings as cheese, tequila and lemon and coconut and trout!

10. Buy a bar of Wedel chocolate in Poland!

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E Wedel is a very well known name in Poland as it is the largest manufacturer of chocolate – really good chocolate, either plain or milk. There is a huge range of different chocolates to choose from with an array of fillings including jelly, yogurt, jam, and fruit. 

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Top Foodie Countries For Souvenirs In Europe Sat, 29 Feb 2020 13:14:15 +0000 Part of the fun of visiting a different country is having the opportunity to sample...

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Part of the fun of visiting a different country is having the opportunity to sample its national dishes, as well as drinks, cakes, and sweets. It is fun to take a browse in the local markets and the supermarkets looking at all the different products. As well as enjoying all the local food whilst you are in the country, foodie souvenirs can be great fun to take home for you to enjoy and also as the perfect gift for family and friends. Each country has a wealth of different foods to enjoy.

France – perfect for cheeses, wines, and macarons

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The top of the list of places to visit if you are a food enthusiast has to be France! There are countless different cheeses to try made with dairy, goats and sheep’s milk. The markets and supermarkets have plenty of choices and if you visit one of the local markets, you will discover many regional favorites made by local producers.

France is world-famous for its wines too, with the excellent wines from the Bordeaux area in the south-west, ranked amongst the best wines in the world. If you enjoy something sweet, the delicious pastel-colored macarons of Paris are irresistible and the most famous brand of all is Laudurée. If you happen to be in the city of Bordeaux, look out for Canalés. These small fluted cakes have a lovely vanilla filling and are available in pretty gift boxes. Each city has a number of excellent chocolatiers to visit too!

Great cookies and chocolates in Germany!

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Germany is another place that is regarded as a ‘foodie heaven’ with some really great sausages to enjoy (wurst) including the popular bratwurst and much-enjoyed currywurst! These are not the easiest things to transport in your suitcase but many do! Germany has great cheeses and wines too; with the green wine bottles of Rhine wines and the brown of the Mosel area. If you prefer beer, there is certainly plenty of choices!

German chocolate is well worth investigating as the country is home to Ritter Sport, Milka and Kinder Eggs! If you are a Haribo fan you are in for a treat as these are German too! The Germans like marzipan and a number of sweets are made from local marzipan which tastes quite different as it is made with honey. There are plenty of lovely cakes and biscuits including Lebkucken – the heart-shaped gingerbread that you can have inscribed with the name of your choice.

Enjoy wonderful hams and spices from Spain

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There are some fun foodie souvenirs to buy in Spain with extra virgin olive oil being a very popular choice as the Jaén province in Southern Spain is one of the world’s largest producers. Jamon (ham) is very good and you will see huge legs of ham hanging in shops and tapas bars. Jamon Ibérico de Bella is regarded as the best as it comes from Black Iberian pigs that are free-range and have enjoyed a diet of acorns! Jamon Serrano is another good choice!

If you love smoked Spanish paprika there are three types to choose from – dolce (sweet), semi-dolce (medium) and, if you like ‘hot’ opt for ‘picanto‘. If you like cooking with saffron, look out for Spanish saffron – still pricey, but excellent quality. There are good Spanish wines to buy and good sherries like Pedro Ximénez, which is smooth, dark and sweet and is lovely to sip after dinner or to enjoy poured over a rich vanilla ice cream.

Portugal – great for Port and much more!

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Portugal is famous for Port, its sweet dessert wine made in the Douro Valley which classically has been a deep red color, but is now available as a white and rosé too. Port is available for every budget including vintage Ports with a price tag of around €100. Portuguese wine is really good too – Vinto Verde, Alentejo wine, Sebúbal, and Madeira all being excellent varieties. If you enjoy liqueurs, a bottle of local Ginjinha – the popular cherry liqueur – is a good choice! Other great foodie souvenirs include olive oil as Portugal makes seven different types and cheese made from cows, sheep or goats milk or a combination of all three! Another classic souvenir is a box of Pastéis de Belém- but be warned, these little custard tarts taste really good, so buy two boxes as you will need them!

Italy – the land of great pasta and much more!

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The land of wonderful pasta is sure to have some great foodie souvenirs – and it does! Dried pasta is a great buy because the choice is phenomenal! There are different colored and different flavored pasta to choose from and some excellent tubes of tomato sauces too! There are good Italian wines and extra virgin olive oil to pack in your case and some tasty cured meats which can be bought freshly sliced or pre-packed. Other goodies include Italian biscotti which are hard to resist and of course porcini mushrooms which taste marvelous and are available dried in jars and can be easily reconstituted once you get home! The sliced porcini are good ones to buy as they are perfect for popping on pasta.

Italian cheeses are a good investment especially Parmesan either in a block or freshly grated as it will taste nothing like you are used to! If you love your risotto then pop a bag or two of arborio rice in your case for using when you get home.

The really daft but gorgeous present to buy during your stay in Italy is ‘pocket coffee’ or more accurately, a box of pocket coffees! These are espresso coffee enclosed in a chocolate casing and you simply drop it in a mug of hot water for a taste explosion – buy plenty to dazzle your friends!

Enjoy the cheeses and olives of Greece

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The perfect destination for food lovers is Greece, so not surprisingly, there are many food souvenirs to consider! Greece makes many excellent kinds of cheese including its much-loved Feta, Graviera and tasty Myzithra which is available fresh or dried and ready to grate!

Do you like olives? You will be spoilt for choice with green, black, large or small olives with kalamata olives regarded as the top variety. There is plenty of honey to enjoy too, some flavored by the flowers of the mountains and others by citrus blossom. Thyme flavored honey is said to be best of all and if you pack a jar to take home, you will certainly get a pang of missing for Greece whenever you spoon it on your Greek-stile yogurt!

The UK

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A visit to the UK will certainly give you the chance to enjoy many British foods including pork pies and Cornish pasties plus of course, real fish n’ chips which are best eaten straight from their paper wrapping!

Chocolate is the No 1 souvenir to pop in your suitcase and Cadbury produces delicious bars of milk, plain and white chocolate plus all types of tasty chocolate bars including Crunchie and Curly Wurly and of course, lovely hot chocolate powder! The UK is well known for its tea and there are just so many variations to choose from which makes deciding difficult but it is well worth trying a variety before you decide! If you want to have the classic biscuit to dunk in your tea, McVities digestives are the perfect buy!

If you head north of the border to Scotland, there are two main foodie buys – excellent shortbread which is the crumbly, sugar-dusted Scottish biscuit and the very best whiskey in the world! You will have to decide which is your personal preference which will involve visits to several whiskey distilleries – I will drink to that!!

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