Commemorate your trip with a collage of “incidental” souvenirs – Souvenir tip

Next time you unpack after a vacation, comb through your luggage to see what you’ve collected. Chances are, you’ll find itineraries, attraction brochures, guidebooks, maps, local coins, postcards, matchbooks, ticket stubs, and even packaging from small purchases.

Arrange the most attractive pieces (you can enlarge them with a color copier) along with favorite photos, and mount them in a frame. Now you’ve got a conversation-piece and souvenir that reminds you of what you did rather than what you bought.

Need a how-to for collages? Check out Wikihow.

Want to frame your incidentals the easy way? Check out AOL Shopping.

Photo of the Day (12/16/09)

Taken outside Tyn Church in Prague, this shot by uncorneredmarket does a lovely job of capturing an important aspect of the Czech Republic’s holiday season. Christmas markets offer visitors a variety of Czech crafts and food that are served up with twinkling lights and evergreens.

A cup of hot wine, a traditional beverage of such markets, would make a perfect accompaniment for such an evening.

If you have captured an aspect of your travels, send your best photos our way at Gadling’s Flickr photo pool. One might be chosen for a Photo of the Day.

10 souvenirs to buy in Honduras

A hammock
Hammocks aren’t just places for tourists to relax, they are a way of life for the people in Honduras. A lack of modern conveniences like air-conditioning in a place where the tropical heat can be oppressive means that families tend to do their socializing and relaxing outdoors. So everywhere you look, hung between trees or strung up on porches, you’ll see a hammock. Bring a little bit of Honduran life back with you by purchasing one for a souvenir. If it matters to you, just ask to make sure that yours was made in Honduras. Especially in Copan, many of the hammocks sold are actually made in Guatemala. The quality is just as good as those made in Honduras and the cost is the same – about $35.

Coffee liquor
With all the coffee produced in Honduras, it’s no surprise that coffee liquor is a popular souvenir. Drunk straight or added to milk, the liquor is rich with a smooth coffee taste. Large bottles sell for $6-8.

Honduran Mahogany has long been prized for its durability, beauty and resistance to cracking when carved. If you can’t quite afford to buy a set of intricately designed Mahogany doors, take home a carved Mahogany box instead. Small boxes range from $30-$50 while large trunks can cost upwards of $150. On a smaller scale, a necklace made of Mahogany beads will cost under $10.

Copan, in the northwest of the country, is the heart of coffee production in Honduras. You you can find coffee, and coffee from Copan, anywhere in the country, but you’ll find a greater selection nearer to the source. Available in beans or ground up, a small bag will cost you about $3 .

A corn husk doll
The Maya Chorti, descendants of the ancient Maya culture, still make traditional corn husk dolls. Spend an afternoon walking the hilly cobbled streets of Copan Ruins and you’ll probably see some children selling the dolls, which cost just $1 each.

For centuries, the women of Honduras have been making Lencan pottery by hand. The pottery is traditionally decorated in patterns using brown, black, white, cream, red and grey. Every pattern is different as it’s all done by hand. Prices can vary widely depending on what part of the country you purchase it, but most small pieces should be under $10.


The Mayans sculpted Jade into figures representing gods; now shops all over Copan Ruins sell replicas alongside beautiful Jade rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Prices can fluctuate wildly and, unless you are knowledgeable about gemstones, it can be hard to tell if what you are looking at is real Jade. One test is to feel the stone – if it is cold to the touch, it’s real. Depending on the quality and size, Jade pieces can cost up to a few hundred dollars.

Coconut shell jewelry
For a cheaper jewelry souvenir, pick up some earrings made of coconut shell. You can find them at the crowded Guamilito Market in San Pedro Sula or for sale from the many vendors who sell local crafts in the Bay Islands. A pair of earrings or a necklace will be $2-3.

Mayan figures
Sure, it’s a bit like buying a souvenir tequila bottle in the town of Tequila, but if you have an interest in Mayan culture, don’t forget to pick up a small stelae. Modeled after the stelae of the ruins at Copan, you can find figures of Mayan ruler 18 Rabbit for $7-15.

When many of the cigar producing families of Cuba left the country to escape Castro, they settled in Honduras and resumed the cultivation and processing of tobacco for cigars. Now some of the world’s best cigars come from Honduras. The San Pedro Sula airport even has a cigar bar, complete with walk-in humidor. If you aren’t an aficionado, just a casual smoker, you can pick up a box of good quality Honduras cigars for about $7.

Most vendors in Honduras accept both lempiras and dollars, though you may get a better exchange rate by paying in lempiras. And feel free to negotiate on price. Many vendors are willing to haggle, especially in the current economy. Don’t take advantage of the situation, but do offer the price you are willing to pay.

This trip was paid for by the Honduras Institute of Tourism, but the views expressed are entirely my own.

You can read other posts from my series on Honduras here.

Dover castle gets medieval makeover

For nearly two years one of England’s most famous landmarks has been undergoing a radical transformation. Blacksmiths, woodworkers, painters, embroiderers, and craftsmen have been working with historians to recreate a 12th century interior for the Great Tower at Dover Castle. It’s now open to the public and gives an idea of what it was like to live the good life in the Middle Ages.

Dover Castle was built by King Henry II, who ruled from 1154 to 1189. He was one of England’s most powerful kings, asserting control over an often unruly church and nobility and strengthening the rule of law. Dover Castle was his most important fortification and he often stayed there because it was on the coast, where he could keep an eye on his extensive lands in France.

This project is something new for English Heritage, which manages the castle. In the past it has avoided doing reconstructions when researchers weren’t sure what the original looked like. Records of day-to-day rooms and objects from the Middle Ages are scarce, and most of the things that have survived from that era are trophy pieces like armor or jewels, not mundane things like cushions. To the folks at English Heritage, the historical accuracy of cushions is a big deal. So they made a compromise. The artisans used techniques and materials common to the period, scoured medieval art books, and made things in the same general style.

The result is impressive both in its detail and its vibrant color. People in the Middle Ages loved bright colors and painted every surface they could with brilliant tones. They even added natural dyes to their food to give it a nice neon look, even though neon hadn’t been invented yet. If it had been, they would have put it everywhere. The main hall has an ornate wooden king’s chair painted deep blue and bright gold with vines spiraling up the legs, and a rich red standard hangs behind it. The smaller details are interesting too, like the simple yet durable ironwork, and the expressive carvings of animal and human heads that decorate many of the wooden objects.

These aren’t simply vacant rooms. Costumed actors and soundtracks bring the period alive and as visitors wander through the rooms they’ll realize that a lot is going on, from the deadly diplomacy of the rich and powerful to the gossiping of the servants. There’s even a court jester named Roland the Farter. The man actually existed and was granted a manor and thirty acres of land in Suffolk in return for acting as the royal flatulist.

All in all it’s a stunning wok of historical reconstruction but perhaps English Heritage could have been a bit less accurate with the royal flatulist.

Civil War driving tours in Southeast Tennessee

Here is a part of the U.S. that makes travel to it easy–and inexpensive with planning.

Southeast Tennessee tourism has handily divided aspects of travel to this region of the U.S. into various themes. There’s the Music Trail, the Farm Trail, the Artists and Fine Crafters Trail, the Religious Trail, and the Civil War Trail.

Each theme highlights a unique aspect of Southeast Tennessee culture, traditions and history. Click on the Music Trail link and there you are in a history lesson from Blues to Bluegrass. A calendar provides info about where you can hear the area’s music and purchase music-related items.

The Civil War Trail is a do-it-yourself driving tour that takes travelers past the places where soldiers traveled. There is a mix of museums, battlefields, railroad beds and historic houses that span 10 counties. (Click here to order a brochure.)

Even if you don’t have the chance to head here any time soon, the Web site offers a fascinating trip into the past.

For example, did you know there was a group of female rebels who made up an all female unit? Click here to find out more.