Souvenir bells, spoons, caps, key chains: They remind us more of factories than they do of any place we’ve visited and so we’ve always kept an eye out for the slightly offbeat homegrown item when we’ve been on these 1-2-year work excursions, beginning in 1985.
Then we returned from an 18-month posting in Thunder Bay with a baby boy. This makes him an anchor of sorts to our memory of when we were there. Any time we forget the year, we have only to ask him his age. Not everyone will agree this makes him a souvenir, especially not his wife, but there it is.
We tend to favor geological souvenirs – stones of all sorts and sizes. We packed back a didgeridoo or diggery doo from Australia, a stone-flint-pocked threshing sledge from Spain that we converted into a coffee table, and from Atlanta, we brought back an enduring addiction to Honey Baked Hams, Krispy Kreme donuts and homemade ice cream. The addiction is as palpable as the threshing sledge and the diggery doo.
Some months ago, we discovered a pair of ancient wood cross-country skis that were made in Nidau – the town that adjoins Biel/Bienne.
Skis seem the perfect thing to bring back from the land known for its Alps and rugged mountaineering traits, but the hiccup is that without a car, we would have to carry the things on the train, not to mention through Zürich’s vast airport.
The weight of these skis is shocking to us – and they also explain how it is the Swiss are so robust that they think nothing of clambering up cliffs and traversing endless miles by foot or bike. Ten minutes a day on these skis over a period of six weeks would give anyone Herculean strength.
But the question is whether we the withering have the power to carry them several city blocks along with the rest of our luggage. In the meantime, we visit them on weekends to seesaw our way through the debate to buy them or not.