I love travelling and have been privileged enough to visit many extraordinary places on my adventures. I always like to have a souvenir of my visits but tacky plastic Eifel towers and Coliseum ashtrays really don’t do it for me! Every major attraction the world over has a plethora of hideous artefacts for the gullible tourist to waste their money on and I have no interest in this appalling rubbish. The best souvenirs are the ones you find yourself and they really are everywhere. Best of all they are free! Here are some of the treasures that I keep to remind me of happy days.
As a child I was taken on a family trip to the Scottish Highlands. On one bright and sunny day we were all hiking somewhere near Glen Coe when my uncle suddenly took off and ran up a hillside. On reaching the top of the hill he bent down and then stood upright brandishing a magnificent set of antlers which he presented to me. As we had driven to Scotland I was allowed to keep my treasure and this find started my collection of natural wonders.
Yellowstone National Park
Apart from some extraordinary photos that keep this spectacular place fresh in my memory I also have a unique memento on display in my bedroom. On one of my days in the park I took a hike into the back country and sat down by a crystal clear river to eat my lunch. Staring at the water I noticed something white that did not look like a stone and took a paddle to investigate. What I found was an enormous buffalo tooth which I retrieved and carried with me for the rest of the trip. Yellowstone is packed full of natural wonders and so a piece of nature was the ideal souvenir.
It had long been my ambition to scale a volcano and to actually see the crater. It was therefore the highlight of my trip to the Bay of Naples to hike up Vesuvius, the volcano which provides the dramatic and somewhat sinister back drop to the region. This was a mountain which was very much alive as I discovered at the summit where numerous plumes of sulphurous gas vent from the crater and there were signs of earth movement all around me. As I walked around the edge of the crater the floor was littered with small pieces of volcanic rock and it was more than I could resists to take one of these pieces and put it in my pocket. I am now the proud owner of a genuine piece of volcano. Much better than a tea towel!
As a child on our frequent trips to the Alps I would collect rocks from the lakes and sit examining them outside of our tent in the campsite. The different forms and colours always fascinated me and one day a neighbouring camper wandered over to see what I was doing. It turned out that he was a mountaineer and he promised to bring me back a great specimen from his next climb. The following evening he presented me with an amazing lump of quartz crystal and it was that piece of rock that spawned a huge collection much of which I found myself on the mountain sides in the Alps. Most visitors to Switzerland buy chocolate, army knives or Tissot watches, I explore mountains for crystals. Much more exciting!
Forget the Plastic
There is no need to invest in plastic rubbish or to flash plastic of a different kind to get yourself a great souvenir. Just look around you and you will find a wealth of treasures just lying at your feet!