The dictionary definition of a souvenir – a thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place or event – is open to a number of interpretations. So I checked in with our Spotters to learn more about their favorite shopping spots – specifically, where you can find a souvenir that is remarkable, reasonably priced and most representative of the city. To find the perfect souvenir in any destination, use these three tips for shopping like a local.
Souvenirs don’t need to be interesting to be exceptional. An ordinary shop is sometimes the best spot to find the right memento. Spotter Ari Farber loves Asufa in Tel Aviv, which sells an assortment of jewellery, small appliances, paper goods and lighting fixtures. For the most part, you can find these products anywhere. But the unique, creative concepts by Israeli designers make for great (and useful!) keepsakes from a trip to Israel.
Daniela D’Avanzo, a spotter in Rome, suggests Kokoro for “real Italian fashion at good prices.” The clothes are handmade by an Italian designer, and they even make alterations in the shop. The spot is located in Monti, which Daniela says is the perfect neighborhood for avoiding popular brands in favor of smaller shops that sell handmade vintage clothing and accessories.
In true British fashion, London spotter Matt Bramford suggests bringing home tea. His go-to spot is Yumchaa, the self-proclaimed “curators of immodest tea.” The drink is typical for London, but this spot is far from conventional. In addition to cheeky humor (they “say no to tea-bagging”) you can buy black teas, green teas, rooibos and tisanes, white teas and unique tea-making equipment. Matt highly recommends the Notting Hill blend, and enjoying a slice of lemon-drizzle cake while you’re there.
Shop outside the box
New York has a historically offbeat and outlandish reputation. So don’t expect to find anything memorable in a big box department store. If you’re searching for something unexpected, look no further than Katz’s Deli – the undisputed king of New York. They offer nation-wide shopping which means you can send their famous pastrami, corned beef, matzoh ball soup, pickled, rugelach and more home with you. If you have to go the apparel route, a t-shirt, coffee mug or hat from Katz’s is preferable to the generic alternative from a souvenir shop.
Spotter Julie Gauthier also offers an alternative to “shopping in chain stores” and the “overly abundant generic stuff that nobody needs” in Montreal. Her favorite holiday shopping activity is checking out the Christmas markets. She recommends Souk@sat which features over 100 local artists. In its twelfth year, the market offers original, stylish and clever gifts in a colorful atmosphere. “Quel souk!”
Go off the beaten path
Some spots are hiding in plain sight, but many others are more concealed. Sebahat Gumusalan Tezcan, a spotter in Istanbul, recommends handmade slippers from Narin Terlik, a shop “hidden in a narrow passage on Tesvikiye Street.” It’s located in the Nişantaşı shopping district which is “famous for its well-crafted, original hand-made slippers.”
In Lisbon, Spotter Nuno Lopes de Paula says that, after Italy and Turkey, “there’s no better place to have a strong espresso like Portugal.” He recommends A Carioca, an art-deco coffee shop tucked away in the narrow and sloping streets in Barrio Alto. Established in 1936 the spot sells coffee of every kind, from Timor in Asia to Brazil in South America and Angola, Cape Verde and Sao Tome in Africa, as well as coffee-making equipment to take home.
This is only sample of the unique shopping spots covered on Spotted by Locals. Visit any of our city guides to find the perfect souvenir in each destination.