Jogging the travel memories at Christmas

In Christmas, Life, Memories, Our Journeys by JanisLeave a Comment

Little keepsakes we’ve collected along the way

I know some of you are going to think we are mad, but every year when I decorate the Christmas tree and our fireplaces, so many of our travel memories come flooding back.

We’re not so obsessed that we pick up a Christmas memento from everywhere we travel to. However, it does sometimes surprise me, that you see Christmas decorations around in the height of the summer months.

The lounge Christmas Tree

The lounge Christmas tree

The dinning room Christmas tree

The dinning room Christmas tree

Is this something that any of you relate to, do you find yourself picking up mementoes of your travels, or is it just us?

To save your sanity from the trips we’ve had to the German Christmas markets, I’ve narrowed that haul down.

What I love about the annual unwrapping of the tree decorations, is that a keepsake that we felt was slightly insignificant when we purchased at the time, then transports you back to that location and suddenly a memory comes flooding back that you experienced at the time.

Windhoek, Namibia

One of the weirdest places that we picked up a Christmas decoration was at a little roadside street market in Windhoek, Namibia in 2013.

I certainly wasn’t looking out for anything, we’d just parked up went for a stroll and spotted a lady making and selling the decorations.

Something from Namibia

Something from Namibia

The choice was to take it or leave it, the only difference between them was which colour beads to choose from.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Well perhaps the clogs & windmill don’t look too festive, but either way, they are hanging on the tree. These little keepsakes remind me of my birthday trip to Amsterdam in 2011.

The Dutch Clogs decoration

The Dutch Clogs

Orlando, USA

In the days when airlines didn’t seem to mind too much how much luggage you had, we brought some weird things back from the States.

In 1995 we decided to bring back two Disney stocking holders, the boxes are huge, at the time we didn’t really think it was a problem. 

Tigger & Pooh Stocking holder

Tigger & Pooh Stocking holder

The Disney stocking holders

Mickey & Pluto stocking holders

Every year these are placed on the fireplace.

West Coast, USA

Then to carry on the ‘size doesn’t matter’ theme we even brought a large wooden advent calendar back from Las Vegas, during a West Coast of America trip in 2002.

The closed Advent Calendar

The closed Advent calendar

This West Coast trip was epic, the memories we have of driving around in a Hummer, through Monument Valley, Bryce and Zion were fantastic.

The open Advent Calendar

The open Advent calendar

Strasbourg, France

We’ve visited Strasbourg twice at Christmas, the first in 2008 and picked up a snowglobe, then again in 2017 and bought a wooden Santa tree decoration, I just couldn’t resist him.


Our Strasbourg Santa

Our Strasbourg Snowglobe

Our Strasbourg Snowglobe

East Coast of USA

This trip we remember so well, we flew into Boston not long after September 11th 2001, and couldn’t believe how many Americans commented to us that they were surprised we made the trip.

Kennybunkport Christmas 2001 momento

Kennybunkport Christmas 2001 momento

Newport Rhode Island decoration

Newport Rhode Island decoration

These little decorations that we picked up from Newport, Rhode Island and Kennebunkport, Maine bring back fantastic memories of that 2-week adventure.

Bruges, Belgium

In 2005 we headed to Bruges, this was one of our first visits to a Christmas Market outside of the UK, (we hadn’t experienced the delights of Germany at that point).

I couldn’t resist heading into the Käthe Wohlfahrt store. I know Käthe Wohlfahrt is German, but these little shops pop up everywhere.

A Christmas Pyramid, Kathe Wohlfarht, Bruges, Belgium

A Christmas Pyramid from Kathe Wohlfarht


Then from 2006, we visited Cologne at Christmas and haven’t looked back since.

Most of our festive German collection comes from Cologne, and boy we have some wonderful memories from there.

Although, in recent years we’ve added a few more German cities and towns to our list.

Our Nutcracker from Käthe Wohlfahrt

Our Nutcracker from Käthe Wohlfahrt

Koln Bauble from Cologne

Our bauble from Cologne

One city that does stand out for me is Nuremberg, and not just for the fact that when we were there, it was freezing cold. It’s a lovely historical city, and we picked up a couple of little keepsakes that we had not seen anywhere else before.  An imperfect angel and a Zwetschgenmannle’ - Prune Men to you and me.

My guardian angel decoration

Our guardian angel decoration

The prune man, Nuremberg, Germany

The prune man

Of course, we are talking German Christmas Markets here, we’ve also picked up a few mugs.

A selection of German Christmas mugs from the markets

A selection of German Christmas mugs from the markets

Tallinn, Estonia

Who would have thought that in early August 2008 we would be buying a Christmas decoration in Tallinn?

Well, when I was a child I used to have a set of Russian Dolls, this reminded me of them so much, that they had to come home with me.

Estonian Santa doll

Estonian Santa doll

Ottawa, Canada

These little boots once again may not be too festive, but they certainly bring back memories of our 2010 Canadian road trip.

It was a little bit of a whistle-stop tour of the East of Canada, visiting Toronto, Niagara Falls, Kingston, Ottawa & Montreal.

However, it’s given us a taster to want to see more. 

Ottawa – Boots decoration

Ottawa Boots decoration

Texas, USA

So, we were in Stockyards, Fort Worth, Texas and not only had I treated myself to a pair of cowboy boots, I thought, I know what the Christmas tree is missing! Yep, I bought a cowboy boot decoration for the tree.

The Texan boot decoration

The Texan boot decoration

On this trip in 2011, not only did we tour Texas, we threw in New Mexico as well. There’s nothing quite like a road trip.

Costa Rica

In 2007 we piggybacked a business trip that Gary was on to Costa Rica and extended the visit by an extra two weeks.

What an incredible trip that was, sloths, rainforests, volcanoes & zip-lines.  

However, slightly limited choice for Christmas decorations.

Something from Costa Rica

Something from Costa Rica

Hong Kong

We visited Hong Kong and China in 1997 an unforgettable trip, and I brought back some awful decorations, really these should never see the light of day again.

Something from Hong Kong

Something from Hong Kong

Not just Christmas time

Although it isn’t Christmassy something Gary and I enjoy doing, is picking up cards and tickets for our kitchen memory board. So many times we stand there and look through it and reminisce.

The Kitchen Memory Board

The Kitchen Memory Board

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When you take your next trip why not pick up something you can bring out time & time again? 

Go on you know it makes sense.

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Jogging the travel memories at Christmas

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  1. Those are wonderful! So many great ornaments and decorations from your travels. The Christmas Markets sound like the perfect place to build the collection. We also love to collect items like this. We’re always looking for an authentic ornament when we travel around New Year’s or Christmas. We bought a set of Yule Lads after visiting Iceland a couple years ago and we put them on display every December. Great post! Merry Christmas! -Adam

    1. Thanks Adam, it’s amazing how many ornaments you collect over the years. Some are very traditional, and some are quite quirky, but they all bring back great memories.It does seem a little odd at times buying a Christmas ornament in the middle of Summer.Best wishes for the New Year to the two of you.

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