Albania and Kosovo Souvenirs

While in Albania and Kosovo I managed to pick out a few souvenirs to remember my time there. As I take the photos for this blog post, I realize that I actually quite enjoy the things I pick up.

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Traditional Albanian Bag This bag is one of the most common symbols of Albanian culture. Typically, they are hand woven (although in modern times they are mass produced by factories) in this same style that you see below. The shapes and symbols are part of the traditional Albanian weaving style. These symbols and style of weaving can also be seen in traditional hand woven Albanian carpets. I bought this particular bag in Kruja, which is the best place to get traditional souvenirs in all of Albania.

This bag is easily my favorite purchase throughout the whole trip. When I was a little girl, I had a mini version of it in red. I used to fill it with little childish trinkets and bring it with me everywhere I went. So when I kept seeing these bags all over the place, I decided I needed to pick one up.

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Postcards These postcards were purchased from the Ethnographic Museum in Prishtina. Not only is visiting the museum free, the tour guide option is free as well. As a result, I knew I had to find a way to give a little back to the museum. That’s why when I saw these postcards, I picked them up. Since then I have accumulated quite a bit of postcards from many places I have visited and plan to create some form of artwork out of them.

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Coin Purse This coin purse was also purchased in Kruja. There were so many of these pouches being sold in all the shops in a wide range of different colors and prints. I choose this particular one over all the others because the colors and prints are similar to traditional Albanian weaving. Fun Fact: Recently, I was in a Turkish bakery called Simit House Bakery & Co. in Montclair, New Jersey. As I pulled out this coin purse to pay for my sweets, the girl asked in shock if I got it in Turkey because she purchased a similar one from a bazaar in Istanbul. I told her I got it in Albania, but odds are the shop owner probably mass bought them from Turkish bazaars for really cheap and was selling them in his store. Do with that knowledge what you will. 

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Rock Magnet I usually try to avoid purchasing the typical tourist souvenirs. They end up just piling up and eventually getting thrown away. They also fail to have personality to them. But when I walked into a pottery store in Prizren and saw this magnet, with the glimmering rock shape of the Kosovo boarders, I realized I needed to get it. It’s pretty, isn’t it? (P.S. I have no idea why this photo is sideways. I have done absolutely everything I can think of to position it the right way and it does not work).

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Rock Art This rock was painted on to resemble an image carved into the ancient walls of  the Butrint ancient ruins. There is a slab of magnet attached to the back. But the rock is too heavy for the weak magnet piece to hold it up. So this just sits on my shelf with other rocks and crystals that I have collected over the years. I kind of like the idea of having an image that someone many centuries ago created.

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Carpet Bookmark I think it is no secret by now that I love to collect bookmarks. I have collected many from all over the place and continue to stay on the lookout for them whenever I visit someplace new. I saw this particular bookmark in a little indie shop in Prizren and immediately knew I had to own it. It is designed to look like a hand woven carpet which makes it particularly unique and special from all the other bookmarks I own.

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The souvenirs I have shared with you today are easily some of my favorite souvenirs I have ever picked up. What is a souvenir that is special to you?

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Vienna Souvenirs

When I was younger, I got a purple seashell on a family vacation. It currently sits on my bookshelf, always reminding me of that vacation whenever I catch a glimpse of it. That is why we buy souvenirs when traveling to new places. As reminders of the memories we made there. Here are the things I picked up while in Vienna to remind me of her.

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The Vienna Melody

The first thing I picked up, which as a book lover is no surprise, is an actual book. This one is called The Vienna Melody, translated to English by Ernst Lothar. It tells the story of the wealthy descendants of Christopher Alt, the piano key maker.

Many people have the tradition of picking up a particular souvenir item every where they travel to and growing a collection. I have noticed that one of the most common items collected are mugs. I have decided that I want to buy a book at every place I visit. In this way, I can grow a little international library. This particular book was purchased at Frick Ihre Buchhandung bookstore (www.buchhandlung-frick.at) located in the center of the city. I actually quite enjoyed it a lot because it was very modern and had a good diversity of both German and English books. It also had a good collection of architecture books on sale which was icing on the cake!

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Klimt Bookmarks

Speaking of books and collections, I also have a growing bookmark collection (hey, don’t judge me!) and picked up two with paintings of Gustav Klimt on them. I love how shiny they are.

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Klimt Mug

I actually do not believe I will ever be a mug collector. Mostly because there are only so many mugs you can use at a time, right? But right before this trip I actually ended up breaking my everyday mug. I decided to not go out and buy new one and instead pick one up on this trip. This is the one I ended up going with. And of course, it has a Gustav Klimt painting on it.

I actually did not buy this mug in the center of Vienna, where most of the souvenir stores are located. Instead, I got it at a store right across the street from the side (not the front) of the Hundertwasserhaus. There was the kindest old man who owned the store and it ended up being my favorite shop we visited.

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Sisi Compact Mirror

And lastly, I picked up this compact mirror with the fascinating Sisi on it. Actually, the legend and story of Sisi is quite the interesting one that I enjoyed very much learning about. I couldn’t help it. I might have fallen for Sisi.

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Do you pick up any souvenirs when you travel? Do you have a collection going on? Have you found a piece that you absolutely love?