Every time I win a trip to any kind of tournament onsites (so far this happened three times, so I can generalize), I find myself facing a serious problem, named "souvenirs". I've settled this question once and for all as long as it concerns myself: the best souvenir is a pile of photos accompanied by a thrilling story. The second-best is a couple of Swiss chocolates, though I can handle both at the same time :-) But one can't live in a society and be free of it; and it's the souvenirs for people around me that become a real problem.
Take, for example, my last year's trip to Las Vegas. I went there with a t-shirt demand from my future husband's sister. Besides, my future husband himself stayed at home (his visa application was unexpectedly refused, and there's not much point in winning a trip without the visa), and I felt I had to bring him something to cheer him up. So my shopping plans were quite intense.
The t-shirt was easy - one sees them everywhere in Las Vegas, so all I had to do was to get comfortable with the mere concept of purchasing a t-shirt (see, for last four years or so my supply of TC t-shirts satisfies all my needs in this area). But finding a gift for my husband was really tricky. On one hand, Las Vegas is full of souvenirs, every building literally swarms with them, and that includes the zoo in The Mirage. On the other hand, I was looking for something special, something that would incarnate the spirit of the city, and not only its letter...
Finally I found what I was looking for, only about an hour before the Closing Reception, in the last shop I visited as some kind of a guided tour. Houdini's Magic Shop in Forum Shops at Caesars hotel turned out to be a fascinating place, especially compared to regular souvenir shops - dimly lit and covered in shadows, plenty of magic things and the main attraction - a salesman who performed tricks (oh, so that's what they need the shadows for!) and refused to explain them before you bought anything. I was impressed (you bet; don't think there's a similar shop anywhere in Kiev), failed to guess a single trick and felt that this place was the best match for the Las Vegas spirit I was looking for. Well, of course, the trick I chose (it involved a Chinese coin) was very simple (though a bit more complicated than the spirit lights). But the feeling of something magic stayed - and that's what they buy souvenirs for, isn't it?
Now it's your turn to share your stories of wonderful souvenirs from onsite travels. What do you bring home, apart from the standard gift bags from the sponsors?