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Montreal's Jean Talon Market

What to Buy in Montreal: Souvenir Shopping at Jean Talon Market

I didn't prepare for the sensory overload. Peruvian flute players perform in the street in front of me. The smells of flowers and freshly baked cannoli tickle my nose. The vibrant colors and textures of the world's produce dance around me. I had come to Montreal's Jean Talon Market expecting a large ...
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Detail from Nepal Mask

What to Buy in Nepal: Souvenir Shopping in Kathmandu

I am not sure whether there is anywhere in the world where you can see more color per square foot than in Kathmandu. Walking through Thamel, one of the city's main tourist districts, I see shops that virtually explode with multi-hued fabrics, jewelry, Thangka paintings, rugs, and masks, not to ...
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This hand-knitted sweater is made of hand spun and hand-woven yarn.

What to Buy in New Zealand: Souvenir Shopping in Aotearoa

I have a thing for the color green, and I have a thing for jade, so New Zealand -- Aotearoa, to its indigenous Maori population -- was not an especially good place for me to take my wallet out for a walk. Come to think of it, my wallet should have ...
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Peruvian flute

What to Buy in Peru: Souvenir Shopping in Lima and Cuzco

I am squatting in the dirt, peering intently at some dishes placed on a vibrantly striped blanket. I have been told I have to play this game: The prices offered, I have been assured, are ridiculous, sky-high; they are prices for ignorant Norte Americanas. I scrunch my face and try ...
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Necklace made from large amber beads

What to Buy in Poland: Shopping for Amber in Gdańsk

Shopping wasn't on my mind (really!) when our tour headed for Gdańsk. We were going to the Solidarity exhibition at the shipyards (where workers organized the revolt that crushed Communism in Europe). Besides, my view of northern Poland was darkened by the typical climate, and the dramatic changes endured by ...
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Baltic Amber

What to Buy in Russia: Souvenir Shopping in St. Petersburg

Some 20 years after the fall of communism in the Soviet Union, I found  myself engaged in the most capitalistic of interactions: trying to figure out how many rubles equals how many dollars while negotiating the purchase of a pair of painted wooden Easter eggs in St. Petersburg. The calculations ...
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