One of my great joys of travel is discovering the souvenirs different countries and cultures promote for tourists. I love walking through souks and bazaars, poking around in the merchandise, and listening to the shopkeepers push their wares.
We have schlepped more stuff around the world than I care to recall. We’ve stashed Chinese roof tiles and Moroccan rugs in our suitcases; and coddled an Indian Ganesha mask and Masai warrior shield on crowded airplanes. (That was obviously when airline carry-on restrictions were a lot more lax!)
I’ve come to realize that these souvenirs seem to fall into three distinct categories. And the bazaars of Bosnia do not disappoint.
1. The “Oh…Um…You shouldn’t have!” Gift Souvenir. Remember the item you thought was so unique and fun when you were shopping, but when you got it home, it just seemed tacky! (Ask my sisters. They’ve been the recipients of these gifts for years.) I hereby nominate the Bosnian Belly Dancing Outfit.
2. The “Bad Taste” Souvenir. In the USA we have so many souvenirs that fit in this category. You know the ones – they usually involve some inventive way to display toilet paper. In Bosnia, the award goes to “Ammunition as Art.” Here, bullets and rifle shells are turned into ballpoint pens. Bad form!
3. The “That’s actually pretty cool!” Souvenir. I always stumble across items that stop me in my tracks and take my breath away. In Bosnia I fell in love with these gorgeous little stained glass lamps that twinkle and evoke such a “Turkish coffee house” mood.
Alas, we have a rule. “You buy it, you carry it!” And my little red, rolling backpack is already stuffed to the gills. Guess I’ll just have to settle for the photo.