Souvenirs Of Summer

September 03, 2006|By Michelle Deal-Zimmerman | Michelle Deal-Zimmerman,SUN REPORTER

Summer's fading faster than the tan you got last weekend in Ocean City. Along with it, the travel season is winding down to fall cruises and leaf-peeping bargains. But we don't want to let go of the summer of '06 that quickly.

We want to remember the glorious beauty of French Polynesia, the castles of Prague, the smell of the sea in Maine. We want to forget the long lines, the tossed toiletries, the credit card bill and that night in Vegas.

Luckily we have a few treasured souvenirs of our vacations. So whether it's a refrigerator magnet or a tattoo, it's the memory we'll hold onto. We asked readers to tell us about their summer souvenirs. Here are some of our favorites.

PAUL WILKES, SALISBURY

DESTINATION: MAINE

SOUVENIR: REFRIGERATOR MAGNET

On a first-time visit to Maine, the Wilkes family toured Freeport and Kennebunkport. "I was mostly struck by the rugged coastline and the lack of commercialism," Wilkes said, adding that his souvenir "seemed the perfect combination" of two Maine attractions. Another attraction was the Bush family compound, but there was no sign of father or son. "President Clinton was visiting during that week, too, but we did not see any presidents, or moose, but mainly enjoyed the back end of a few lobsters."

SANDY MOHR, White Marsh

DESTINATION: CARIBBEAN CRUISE

SOUVENIR: SOMBRERO

Mohr took a nine-day cruise from Baltimore on the Grandeur of the Seas, visiting five ports of call, including two in Mexico. "One of the Mexican ports, Cozumel, had been devastated by Hurricane Wilma. Although the Mexicans had suffered, they still retained their cheerful dispositions," Mohr said. "This colorful sombrero will always remind us of our wonderful trip and our charming Mexican neighbors."

FELIX POWELL, Catonsville

DESTINATION: MARQUESAS ISLANDS, FRENCH POLYNESIA

SOUVENIR: TATTOO

When Powell and his wife first visited the islands of Marquesas four years ago, they happened to arrive during an international tattoo festival. "We enjoyed the people, culture and sheer natural beauty" of the islands, he said. On their visit this summer there wasn't a tattoo festival, but Powell decided to get one anyway in honor of Polynesian tradition. "The Marquesan cross is a symbol of wealth and a favorite design," he said about the tattoo he got while visiting a village on the island of Tahuata. Plus, as a souvenir, "it's easy to pack."

MARY JEAN O'KEEFE, Perry Hall

DESTINATION: ST. LOUIS

SOUVENIR: TABLE LAMP

Mary Jean O'Keefe says she never wins anything. But this "gaudy but good" lamp she won at the Red Hat Society's convention in St. Louis proves otherwise. The Red Hat Society is a group of women older than 50 who celebrate the freedom of being who you are and wearing what you want -- mostly purple outfits and red hats. "I was surprised" to see my name on the list of winners, O'Keefe said. After lugging the heavy lamp home on the plane -- it barely fit in the overhead compartment -- she tried to give it to her sister, a fellow "red-hatter." Then she offered it to her mother. No luck. "I even thought about selling it on eBay," O'Keefe said. "But in the end, I decided to keep it as a reminder of the good time I had." Now, all she needs is a light bulb.

MOLLY MORSE, ELLICOTT CITY

DESTINATION: CZECH REPUBLIC

SOUVENIR: MATRYOSHKA

Molly Morse traveled to the Czech Republic and Austria this summer with her parents and her younger brother. Prague was the highlight of her trip. "It was cool," she said. "We visited a lot of churches and castles." She was most impressed by the city's churches and cultural history.

"There are lots of matryoshka (the Russian word for a set of dolls that hide inside each other). Many of them have the Beatles, President Bush, Disney characters ... to appeal to American tourists." But her family chose a more traditional set of dolls. "When we bought the matryoshka, the man who sold them to us kissed each of them goodbye."

CRAIG HANKIN, Cockeysville

DESTINATION: ITALY

SOUVENIR: MUSEUM AND CHURCH

ADMISSION TICKETS

When Craig Hankin says he had been planning this trip for a long time, he's not kidding. "My wife, Esther, and I had talked about returning to Italy since our first visit there in 1978, shortly after we were married. Back then, it was just the two of us in a rented Fiat, staying in cheap pensiones." This time, the Hankins rented a villa with their friends in Tuscany. "Besides having the most beautiful paintings and sculpture in the world, Italy has the best-looking tickets as well. Whether you pay 1.50 euros (about $1.85) to tour the Ornithological Museum in San Gimignano, or 6 euros (about $7.50) to see Piero della Francesca's breathtaking Resurrection in Sansepolcro, you will come away with a lovely souvenir."

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