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When your walls tell a story, your home is a lot more interesting.
During my sophomore year in high school, I tagged along with my parents to visit my oldest brother in Spain who was studying abroad in Toledo. During that trip, my parents purchased a traditional Spanish hand painted tile mirror for the house. Oh the memories of carrying the 2.5′ x 3′ mirror through international airports and praying it made it home in one piece.
On another such trip, we visited my middle sister in Ecuador where my parents purchased a brass mobile at the Guyasamín museum. Another adventure getting it home, but all worth it, as it has become another wonderful reminder of an amazing trip that I see every time I visit my parents.
So, I owe it to my parents’ own habits for inspiring my approach to how I purchase souvenirs when traveling. Since high school, when I became a bit more aware of my surroundings and style, I started buying things on trips that I could display as decór somehow. The best place to find such treasures? Often in open air markets, bazaars, street fairs and such. A new book, Nomad: a global approach to interior style, coming out soon from Chronicle Books reminded me of my own travel buying habits, and so I thought I’d share.
The most common item I buy are little paintings, ceramics and the occasional photograph. Sprinkled into the mix are three dimensional items such as a cobbler’s foot mold I picked up at a vide grenier in France, or hanging elephants from Mumbai that cost less than $1. When looking for your own treasures to remember a trip by, make sure to think about the following:
- How the item will travel: Too fragile? Do you have space in your suitcase or carry on? Is shipping an option?
- How much the item costs: Can you negotiate? Is it something that will remind you of your visit?
- What will you do with it at home? Will it actually go with what you already have? What room do you see it in?
- Is it unique to the place your visiting? Find out if your destination is known for certain goods (ie: Italy – Leather, Spain – Shoes, China – Silk, Prague – Crystal, etc.)
- Limit your buying to one or two nicer items vs. a lot of little trinkets.
Best way to display? Wall collages of course! Check out more inspiration found by SF Girl by Bay (vintage inspired, but you get the idea).
I would take the Nomadic lifestyle one step further and extend it into fashion. The other things I look to buy, if not something to decorate my home, are jewelry pieces or a fashion item that is significant to a place. I find people striking up conversations with me about the turquoise earrings I picked up on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Or the Feather Hat Pin from the Neuschwanstein Castle gift shop in Germany for €5.
The wedding shenanigans were centered on the beach so we rented a lovely beach home with a few friends there. The house was great and just 2 blocks from the beach and pier, and 3 blocks from Folly’s main street. But even with its proximity, we did our fair share of walking.
Friday was our day to explore so we got an early start and headed into Charleston.
First stop was The Market after which we took a stroll to get our bearings, stop in a shop or two, and marvel at the historic buildings. The city is beautiful!
We then aimed our feet in the direction of the noon ferry to head out to see Fort Sumter. If you have time, make the trip out to the fort. The entire “tour” is 2 hours with ferry rides, a history lesson and time to walk around the fort plus you see more of the city as you head out. It’s a relatively cheap trip (you just pay for the roundtrip ferry ticket) as it’s a national park.
The rest of the afternoon was spent poking into more shops along Kings Street before heading back to Folly Beach for an evening of pizza and wine with the wedding party and friends.
Saturday morning the bride and a few of us ladies went to get our nails polished up in Charleston. With newly buffed and shined nails, we headed down Kings Street to enjoy bottomless Mimosa’s and a delicious brunch at Virginia’s on King. The shrimp and grits were the perfect complement to my mimosa (or 4). After brunch, the bride snuck out to get her hair done and a few of us carried on with some additional shopping.
Lucky for us Marion Square Farmer’s Market was happening in the park near the restaurant so we started there. I purchased my one souvenir there, a great necklace made from a vintage pocket knife. Love it!
The rest of the day was spent celebrating with the bride and groom.
Sunday, of course, came too fast and we weren’t ready to leave. After checking out of our beach house and stowing our luggage at a friend’s place, we hit brunch at the Folly Beach Shrimp Company, and then strolled down the fishing pier to get a panoramic view of the beach.
Lesson learned. Our one regret about the trip was not renting a car. If we had simply stayed around Folly Beach the entire time, no car would have been fine, but with our day trips into Charleston, renting a car would have saved us a bundle in cab and airport shuttle fares.
Also, Charleston is hot and humid even in late September (low 90s). I think I would avoid a visit in the dead of summer. My next trip will be mid-spring or October.
Points of Interest. I love picking up random knowledge and history about a place I visit. Here are a few tidbits in case you’re interested:
- The waiter at Virginia’s told us that the area and its cooking style are referred to as “Low Country.” I thought perhaps it was because of its elevation in relation to other parts of the state. Turns out, it’s due to the Dutch settlers from way-back-when that used the same term for their region in Holland. I can’t confirm nor deny that he’s right, but it made sense to me!
- Fort Sumter was named after General Thomas Sumter, a Revolutionary War Hero, and was the place where the Civil War began.
- Gullah coiled sweet grass baskets are a traditional art that was brought over from West Africa and passed down from generation to generation.
- During the civil war, dried Palmetto Roses were given by the ladies to the men going to war to symbolize their undying love.
We had a great time and saw a lot of Charleston, but we didn’t have time for a plantation tour. Tip! There is a shuttle service that leaves from nearby the Charleston Visitor Center that will take travelers out to the plantations. I guess it’s good to leave something to come back for and I will definitely be back!
SO, if you haven’t been to Charleston, I highly recommend it. If you have, what was your favorite experience?
P.S. View more photos from the trip, here!
I’m off this week on a whirlwind adventure to my home state of Michigan! We’ll be passing through Traverse City on our way to my family’s cabin at which point computers and t.v. are not allowed. Fine by me!
But in case you’re curious, I’m hoping we make a stop at a few of my Traverse City favorites before heading to the cabin.
3. Grand Traverse Pie Company :: Why make a pie when theirs is the best around?! My favorite pies are the Lake Shore Berry Crumble and Apple Dumpling.
4. Chefs In Sandwich Shop :: Mouth is currently watering for their Vegetarian Sandy.
5. Cali’s Cottons :: Whimsical women’s clothing and home retail store. (Like Anthropologie, but local!)
…among other stops of course…but who knows what we’ll have time for!
I’ll catch you in a week.