TRAVEL TRINKETS: What’s on your memorabilia bookshelf?

What’s in your wallet? No, not money. Have you heard that phase on TV advertising a certain credit card? Well, this article is not about “what’s in your wallet” but rather, “what’s on your bookshelf” — such as the travel memorabilia bookshelf in my living room.

Who doesn’t gather mementos from their travels, albeit spoons, charms, postcards, coins, gifts for others and so forth? I usually don’t purchase any of these things but I do make memories via my favorite way — through photography.

Back in the day, I would take the usual film pictures and put them in a photo album with those sticky back pages. Then I migrated onto photo album books but with the clear photo sleeves.

Then came the advent of the digital camera. It was a great concept for us travelers. We could take picture after picture and just delete the “bad” ones. When I got home, I transferred the pictures to CDs. Great idea, but whoever pulls out those CDs and watches them?

Along came Shutterfly, MyPublisher and PrinterPix, and other self-made online photo books. I really liked the process of designing my own book. At one of my previous jobs, I had self-taught myself the PowerPoint software to create slideshows for my boss’ worldwide presentations. I loved the creative process, so to do my own photo books, well, I could spend hours just moving pictures around, adding text boxes and changing fonts.

To date, I have 15 photo books. To me, they are my “coffee table” books. At any time, I can pick up a book, curl up on the sofa and reminisce.

I also would write about my trip in story form such as the time I was on a business trip to Nice, France, with two co-workers. I called my journal entry “A Tale of Tree Women in the South of France.”

Here is one excerpt:

We finally left the Negresco Hotel in our rental car (after picture taking in front of hotel) at about 1:30 p.m., and drove to our hotel several blocks away. After finally finding the right street entrance, L. left the luggage and myself off at the front door while she and M. went to park the car in the underground parking garage (I am very claustrophobic in underground parking garages). When I had taken all of the luggage (four pieces on wheels, plus three duffles into the lobby), I said “Bonjour” to the man at the desk. And he, in very plain English, said back to me, in a jovial manner, “What, little girl, did you pack up and leave home?” They were all so nice to us during our stay.

Or this entry titled “Rivercruise x2”:

The high-speed train to Amsterdam from Basel, Switzerland, was to take about six hours. We had to sit backwards. It was hard to watch the scenery outside as we traveled so close to buildings. It gave me a headache and nauseated me a little. We didn’t arrive in Amsterdam until almost midnight, then took the trolley to the Best Western Hotel near the NH Hotel. When we got there, the only room available was on the fourth floor, so I sent the luggage and my travel companion in the elevator and I walked up. (I don’t do elevators … claustrophobic, ha-ha). But when we got to our room there were voices inside. What to do? Luckily there was a phone in the hallway and I called the front desk and said, “Somebody is sleeping in our beds.” The clerk came up, and there were people in our room. He was confused but he found us a room on the second floor. Strange!

What else is on my shelf? Some pottery pieces. One is a 5-inch pot I recently brought back from Costa Rica. It was made by a young man in a family pottery business who explained their pottery-making process. There’s also two 11- by 9-inch pottery vessels my husband brought back from his travels while turkey hunting in Mexico. He only travels to hunt and fish. Of course, it has a turkey design on it, but how he ever got those two pieces home on an airplane without breakage is a wonder.

Then there are the two pottery dinner plates I bought at a megaflea market in Paris. Divided into three sections, these plates are stamped “Salins — Gramit Charbonnier France.”

While visiting my ancestral hometown in Leimen, Germany, 10 years ago, I brought home a beer bottle labeled Leimeiner Pilsener Premium, Made in Leimen. The bottle was empty when we left Germany. I don’t remember what happened to the liquid. I know I didn’t drink it because I do not like beer. Either my companions drank it or it went down the drain — I just wanted the bottle souvenir.

There’s a special music box on my shelf too. When you travel with a group or tour company, do you ever wonder why they ask your birth date on your registration or emergency contact paper? Apparently, I completed that section back when I made my first trip to Europe. We traveled in May and I celebrated my birthday on that tour.

We were in a beer hall in Switzerland. Also there were other bus tour travelers enjoying a fondue luncheon. Then, they called “birthday” people up on stage. Up I went. We all were given a big mug of beer to gulp from. As I noted before, I dislike beer, but I faked my gulps. Then we each had to blow on an alpine horn, one of those 6-foot-long horns you see in Ricola cough drop ads. It took a lot of air to blow and make a noise, but I did it.

Our tour guide gave me a wrapped present. Inside was an authentic Swiss musical movement music box that played “Edelweiss.” The outside of the wooden box was decorated with an edelweiss flower. It was a very special gift.

My favorite recent purchase was items for my then 11-month-old grandson to keep at Grammie’s house. The Czech Republic is noted for handcrafted wooden items and, in particular, wooden puppets. I fell in love with the creations and finally decided on a colorful Pinocchio and a shaded-brown giraffe sitting on swings with spring coils to bounce up and down.

My travel memorabilia is special to me. What’s on your bookshelf?

Readers, send Judy your questions and comments at