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Scottish plaid shawl

What to Buy in Scotland: Souvenirs in the Land of Whisky and Bagpipes

If I had wanted to bring home a true memento of my month in Scotland, I'd have found a way to bring home midges and rain. But given the difficulties of importing insects into the U.S. -- not to mention weather -- I settled on souvenirs that painted a rather ...
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south africa batique

What to Buy in South Africa: Souvenir Shopping from Diamonds to Rust

I'm at a street market in Port Elizabeth in South Africa's Eastern Cape province looking at carvings from West Africa. What strikes a visitor to South Africa is that this is a vibrating, pulsating, conflict-ridden country that doesn't quite know where it's going. And the same confusion reigns in its markets: ...
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An angel bought while on a trip to the Swiss Christmas markets on Lake Geneva.

What to Buy in Switzerland: Souvenir Shopping from Cowbells to Cuckoo Clocks

Unlike the trains in Switzerland, I don't always run on time, which is why I found myself standing at the platform at the Montreux railway station watching the train I was supposed to be on pulling away without me. It doesn't seem accidental that this is a country that runs ...
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Buddhas statues for sale at the Weekend Market

What to Buy in Thailand: Souvenir Shoppping in Bangkok’s Markets

I had thought I could find my way by retracing my steps through the highlights: The silk fabric shop, the market stall with the thousand Buddha statues, the little booth with the mango wood carvings. But a hundred silk fabric shops later, a hundred stalls filled with Buddhas and wood ...
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Baltic amber pendants

What to Buy in the Baltic: Souvenir Shopping on a Baltic Sea Cruise

So many shops, so little time…. That was my lament on a recent cruise of the Baltic Sea. Some women buy shoes, but it's pretty, exotic trinkets from foreign places that catch my eye. A cruise of the Baltic Sea promised to introduce me to a whole new group of ...
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Czech crystal is internationally renowned.

What to Buy in the Czech Republic: Souvenir Shopping in Prague

Everywhere I look, I see the contents of my childhood living room. My father was a Czech immigrant, a refugee from the communist years, and our home was a shrine to Czech traditions: Painted pottery, crystal, garnets, costumed dolls, and finely handpainted hollowed-out Easter eggs. I don't speak the language, ...
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