TBT – Souvenirs from Seville and Castilla-La Mancha (the heart of old Spain)

"If you're feeling fancy free, come wander through the world with me, and any place we chance to be, will be a rendez-vous. Two for the road, we'll travel through the years, collecting precious memories, selecting souvenirs and living life the way we please." ~ Henry Mancini.

Sketchbook painting of ceramic Spanish dolls

As so many tourists do, I come home with a few (and sometimes many) souvenirs from the countries I have visited.

As an example, last fall during our river cruise in Europe, I bought watercolour paintings and Delft pottery in Amsterdam, hand made lace bookmarks and embroidered napkins in Germany, clothes in Austria, wooden hand painted dolls in Hungary, and a few other items I just can't remember at the moment. Most souvenirs were gifts for friends.

At times, my suitcase was so loaded with souvenirs that the zipper gave up and the suitcase was split open on the "arrivals" carrousel at the airport. That was the case on the return flight from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, when I purchased two rather bulky 8" ceramic dolls (one for my sister) and several ceramic plates as well.

Then there was one trip to Italy where I brought back ceramics from my grandmother's hometown, a small musical table with the inlaid wood designs typical product of the Sorrento region, linen clothes made in Italy, and jewelry.

inlaid wood musical table from Sorrento
musical table from Sorrento
ceramic plates from Codroipo, Italy
ceramic doll from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Top photos: Inlaid wood musical table from Sorrento. It plays the song "Isle of Capri". Bottom right: Ceramic figurine bought in Puerto Vallarta holding caged parrots. Bottom left: Plates from Codroipo with the dialect Friulan sayings written on them. With its accents on some words (cûr as an example), it looks nothing like Italian, but it is a language I can still understand to some degree today).

In Greece, I bought handmade linens and pillow covers and jewelry as well as ceramic dolls.

O.K. You have discovered my secret. I love to shop when I visit foreign countries.

So today's Throw Back Thursday sketch is from my 2016 travel sketchbook.

Each little bell that sits on my kitchen window sill reminds me of the wonders of the world that I have seen in the past ten years, in this case, in beautiful España.

Spain will once more add pages to my travel book

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." ~St. Augustine.

first page in sketchbook for trip to Spain

In a few weeks we will be enjoying, along with our lifelong friends, a glass or two of sangria on the shores of the Mediterranean.

This will be our second visit to Spain's Costa del Sol. Our first trip was in 2014 and we stayed in Marbella for a few nights and travelled to Mijas and Torremolinos but those visits were far too brief.

Spain kept a piece of me...I had to return.

This time, I am bringing along a travel journal, a sketchbook where I want to record our daily activities and add drawings as I did when we were in Havana, Cuba, in June 2016.

Parque Central sketch - in the lobby (Havana, June 2016)

Last fall, I regretted not having my watercolours and other paraphernalia with me on our Rhine/Danube cruise. However, if truth be told, I probably would not have had time to sit and sketch. This will not be the case in Torremolinos.

You might wonder what is so special about a travel journal?

Contrary to photos, a travel journal makes you more aware of all the minute details of your surroundings. You might record:

- snippets of overheard conversation
- stamps from different areas
- maps or sections of maps
- quick, on-the-go, gestural type sketches
- more leisurely, detailed sketches
- quotations
- lists (sites to see, things to do in and around the area)
- bits and pieces of travel brochures
- the joys of discoveries, the disappointments and irritations that sometimes occur while travelling
- the best gelatos, tapas, beer, wine, etc. that you enjoyed and where you found them
- caricatures of people

In a world of instant this and that, a travel journal seems old-fashioned and maybe even quaint to some people.

But putting pen to paper forces the writer/artist to examine the surroundings without any filters of a camera lens and find the particular in the general setting, as well as people to sketch, and conversations to listen to (eavesdropping is permitted at such times), and chronicle the highlights of the trip.

More often than not, as I am sketching, someone will look over my shoulder and begin questioning me, and that will lead to more fascinating discoveries.

A travel journal/sketchbook, I would argue, heightens the senses.

The world is a book and those who do not read each page thoughtfully, savouring each word, will easily forget the wonders they have seen.

You can quote me on that!