Carry a small journal with you, jot down notes written reminders of gardens, architecture, fragrances, food, cool gadgets, a special walk or view, or local music.
EXPERIENCES – Gardens- I love exploring gardens, my notes may describe the color & texture of a plant; at home, I suss out the plant for my garden.
Cooking classes are offered everywhere. In Argentina, I learned to prepare empanadas at the Cavas Wine Lodge kitchen with the chef and returned at 10 pm to pop them into the oven for dinner; truly a hands-on experience.
Dance classes are available in most cities, a silversmith class with a renowned silversmith in Buenos Aires, surfing lessons in Morocco or Costa Rica, ask me for exclusive options, memorable moments.
MUSIC – Always on the lookout for indigenous music; my guides are a marvelous resource for the best in local music, helping me determine which CD is authentic or new, especially if it is written in the local language. Played at home, it will evoke memories of your adventure; your home-prepared tagine dinner will be greatly enhanced by Moroccan music in the background!
Live Music – Local papers list music performances: if you are in Paris, Opera Garnier is not to be missed, Carmen or a rock concert performed in a Roman amphitheatre, sacred songs in a cathedral, an African opera in a vineyard in the Cape Winelands, these experiences create long treasured memories.
FOOD/SPICES – Spices are easily packed, food is sometimes considered contraband. In the Malaga airport, hanging racks of delectable Jamon Serrano were very appetizing; although, I was certain the customs agent would more likely feast on the Jamon if I attempted to stuff it into my all ready full luggage! The pigs that produce Jamon Serrano are pasture fed on acorns and it is this natural rearing which is so important in giving the meat its delectable and unique flavor. Jamon can be found at some of the best local markets here; purchase spices when you travel, much easier to transport!
On my recent jaunt to Argentina, I met a spice vendor at a thatched roof roadside-stand; he and his son were selling bagged local herbs. What a treat to converse in Spanish and purchase his fragrant spices. Seek out spice vendors in the Moroccan souks, where the visual display is as important as the exotic concoctions, the spices piled up like sand pyramids.
Arriving in Paris from Marrakech. I forgot to stow my exotic, endemic Moroccan Argan oil into my checked bag and those wicked French airline agents confiscated it; I begged to no avail and told them to at least retrieve it for their personal use, miracle oil!
My favorite Parisian Ladurée tea and macaroons are easily carried home, and can also be found at Harrods in London.
ART – I make a point to meet local artists wherever I go and always purchase a piece of art on every trip. Small prints, posters or large canvas paintings are available in fine galleries (who will ship) or seek out local artists at street fairs. Do ask your guide if there are export restrictions- some artists will instruct you to declare your art as a poster and to purchase an inexpensive poster and wrap it around the outside of the tube-I am not condoning this method, merely reporting my experiences!
Unusual objects for framing: menus signed by the renowned chef, who prepared your divine meal, maps, beaded African jewelry, tapestry or local weavings, Asian kimonos, vintage post cards, fans from Spain…You don’t need to spend a fortune on fine art; a small memento is a daily reminder of an exquisite escape.
PHOTOS – Online software has made creating photo books or calendars a snap or enlarge and frame your favorite images. My house is filled with photographic reminders of my journeys; a favorite is of a beautiful Maasai woman, mother of my Tanzanian tracker. She spoke Swahili; her son translated her proud description of her necklaces, including the oversize navy blue beads that represented each of her circumcised children, boys and girls. Her photo radiates an inner beauty- I love looking at it each morning in my kitchen, a daily reminder of a different culture and a marvelous day spent in a manyatta on a hot afternoon in Tanzania.
CLOTHING- gems, hats- lipstick- headbands- if you know me, it goes without saying that I always purchase a local African shirt, Parisian dress, handbag or lipstick, Gaucho cowboy hat or bauble to bring home for myself and my friends – those fabulous Moroccan slippers- babouche- are thin enough to slip into an already over filled suitcase! Again- your inspired dinners are not complete without the music, spices and attire! Oh, did I mention the Papal socks from the Pope’s tailor in Rome- magenta or red- marvelous gifts – how many people can stretch out a leg and declare: Papal socks from Rome, great fun and unique gifts for those who have everything!
MEET LOCALS – Travelers to Africa & India: take pens, paper and balloons, many children have never seen these objects; kids are never shy and love to meet visitors. Your tennis shoes and t-shirts can be left behind for lodge staff, lighten your luggage and make a difference.
Incorporating your cooking classes, music, and clothing purchases into your daily life extends the memorable moments, adding personal value and culture to your daily routine.
LOCAL RESOURCES- email me for a more extensive list:
African Art-call Andrew at Sujaro in San Francisco, he has a marvelous collection of masks, sculpture and furniture, much easier than schlepping some large pieces home!
All things Moroccan at Casablanca Market, Mountain View- clothing, furniture, tagine pots, spices.
Poilâne bread from Paris- by Fed x- Prepare an irresistible French dinner of Beef Bourguignon accompanied by a yummy loaf of Poilâne bread. One of my favorites is the Decorated Loaf, round Poilâne loaves embellished with a decoration made out of dough and flour. The motif is updated every month and is themed according to the season. Organize a wine tasting of your favorite champagnes or French wines and build the dinner around all these wonderful ingredients. Order online, Fed x 2 days later at your doorstep, Voila!
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” –- Miriam Beard