I'm a sucker for souvenirs—anything that you can ‘t get where you live, especially things regular people use in their daily lives. I love the brightly colored bedspreads in Brazil, the scratchy plaid blankets in Wales, the blue pottery in Mexico, the handcrafted dolls in Guatemala, and the traditional leather thong sandals in India that jingle when you walk. And I love the symbolism of the orange Dala horse in Sweden, the masks in Venice, and especially the rooster with its alluring red plume of feathers in Portugal. So when I took my first walk through the Old Town in Porto Portugal, I was thrilled to see a make-shift stand with a man selling small tablecloths and dish towels for one Euro—what a bargain!
A few of the people I traveled with pooh-poohed these delightful pieces of textiles as very “Granny,” but I was immediately attracted to the good luck rooster with its bright colors and old world feel. Although these pieces of cloth are stiff as a board, I have high hopes they will soften up in their 50th trip in the wash. (Restaurants in Porto use them on their tables but they are washed out from years of wear.)
In my opinion, there's nothing more fun than exploring a new place and picking up a piece of the culture to commemorate your trip and relive your experience in your own home. And in Porto Portugal your Euro really does go far.
Mimi Lombardo is the fashion director at Travel + Leisure.