Yes, a whole post devoted to shopping. That’s how important shopping is! When we go on vacation, I always want to bring back items that will help me remember the true spirit of the place we visited. I long to buy items made by craftspeople and artisans who live in the place we visit and which are made with local products. Having these souvenirs keeps the trip alive for me and lets me take a piece of the place home. I have many treasured trip souvenirs: a sailor’s valentine from Cape Cod, English bone china from England, sheep from Scotland, a sea grass basket from Charleston, painted tiles with ocean scenes from Maine, a photo of the ocean and a sea turtle from
Hawaii, a lightship basket from Nantucket, as well as bookmarks and Christmas ornaments from many places. Because of this, a vacation is always judged by how good the shopping was!
People say there is good shopping in the Bahamas, but those who say that don’t understand the kind of shopping I crave. Yes, there are tons of t-shirt shops and straw items made in China, as well as jewelry and designer purses that are supposedly sold at good prices in Nassau. I wasn’t interested in any of that. Yes, we visited the Straw Market because you can’t go to Nassau without going there. The Straw Market is in temporary housing under a tent after a fire wiped it out years ago. It’s a tightly filled space with tons and tons of cheap junk for sale. Interestingly, I have a straw purse my grandmother bought there when she went in the 60s and the items they sell today are identical. We didn’t buy a single thing.
After walking up and down Bay Street in Nassau where all the shops are clustered, I started to worry. I couldn’t find anything to buy! Soon after I discovered a small shop, Uniquely Bahamas, in our hotel that sold items made in the Bahamas. It was the mother lode. They had jewelry made from conch shells. I bought a bracelet and pendant. Teen Martha got earrings and a bracelet there. I also bought a fish carved out of conch and a small print of the ocean.
When we visited Atlantis, we took a walk through the Marina Village, a shopping center placed in a marina. In between gawking at the giant yachts, I managed to find a nice shop called The Plait Lady. This shop sold authentic Bahamian-made straw baskets. They are incredibly heavy and are water tight. I bought one of those as well as a Christmas ornament carved from conch. I also picked up a magnet – I’ve decided to buy a small magnet each place we go and stick them on the file cabinet in my office.
One last shop that I stumbled upon was in the Wyndham hotel, next to our resort (don’t stay there though – it doesn’t compare to the Sheraton – see my previous post). They had some very interesting wire sculptures. I bought one that has a woman sitting on a piece of coral, with a straw basket at her feet, holding a blanket that has the names of the different islands on it.
When we visited Goodfellow Farms for lunch (again, see previous post), I picked up their cookbook, Living Off the Land and Sea. I haven’t had a chance to read it, but it looked very interesting, with lots of recipes for seafood and tropical fruits. I’m thinking I need to start buying cookbooks on trips too!
I was happy that I came home with a few authentic souvenirs, but was surprised they were so hard to find. It was a stark contrast to Hawaii, which was filled with many beautiful shops selling handcrafted, gorgeous items.
Where have you done your best vacation shopping?
I’m with you. When I travel I like to find the authentic.
I especially love it when travel books or blogs tell me what I should be looking for. I didn’t know about lightship baskets or sea grass baskets until I read about them before our trips.
Before child, I used to like to buy some sort of local jewelery whenever I traveled. In Greece, I got an evil eye necklace (or blue eye? I can’t remember what that design is called). That sticks out. But lately I just go to get away and to eat.
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When mine were small, getting away was the main concern too! And it’s always wonderful to not have to cook.
I loved the knick knacks. I used to collect lots of neat stuff and then realized I had to dust them all so I got rid of everything. What I loved about Bahamas is NO tax!
No tax was a great thing.
Fun! Where have I done my best vacation shopping? Italy, I think. There is a tiny paper store that has the MOST GORGEOUS journals in Rome. I think it’s a Cartoleria. It’s the best place EVER to shop. I haven’t been there in years but every time a friend goes to Italy I tell them about it and give them the money to bring me back a journal… Maybe it’s time to plan a trip to Italy…
We’re thinking about Italy as a trip! I’ll let you know and if so will get you one!
What a great idea–to buy cookbooks from the places where you travel! I like that. Even if it’s not Martha Stewart, you might find some really great recipes to try out here, recipes even Martha would love!