Senior Living: A Lifetime of Collected Memories Brings Sweet Memories

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This writer’s living room is full of important travel trinkets.

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Well, not exactly in the world, just around my apartment, where I have collected memorabilia from my travels over the years. I used to take home just a little souvenir of the places I visited. So let’s start our visit.

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We will start at the beginning, it is a long time since I left my homeland, Hungary. My destination then was the hotel school in Lucerne, Switzerland. I spent several months in this beautiful country. Sitting on my bookcase, two elements remind me of my stay. Both made of wood, one a small bear, the emblem of Bern, the Swiss capital; the other a pretty little wooden box engraved with the words “Château Chillon”, a souvenir of my visit to the medieval castle located on Lake Geneva.

After my stay in Switzerland, not wanting to return to Communist-ruled Hungary, I gratefully took advantage of the welcome opportunity to settle in Canada. My subsequent trips were from my new home in Montreal.

Frequent trips have taken me to Mexico, where my maternal uncle and his wife had settled, and of these I have several recalls. Two tiny Aztec sculptures, a man and a woman sit contentedly on my bookcase. Also on the shelf is a black candle disguised as the head of an Aztec warrior, with a headdress.

Sitting on the window sill is a colorful candle holder that I picked up in Cuernavaca, the beautiful city of Eternal Spring near Mexico City where my loved ones lived. There’s also a lovely coffee set sitting on the buffet, bought in the silver mining town of Taxco, and, of course, some silver jewelry that I couldn’t resist.

Another journey with personal connections took me to South America. I was visiting my childhood best friend, Marika, who also left Hungary and moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I couldn’t wait to see her again. Along the way, I stopped in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. From there, my bedside table contains a tiny wooden statue of Christ the Redeemer whose huge original guards the city on top of Corcovado Mountain.

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Memories of my wonderful stay in Argentina include a gourd, with straw. It is the container of El Mate, the traditional Argentinian drink. El Mate is also the motif of a tea towel hanging in the kitchen which represents the many variations of the calabash container. In the hallway, a small painting of a colorful house in San Telmo, the historic district of Buenos Aires, was purchased from a street artist.

After enjoying Marika’s hospitality, we both flew to the Iguazu waterfalls. Located in both Argentina and Brazil, the falls have over 275 waterfalls, making them – sorry to say – wider and taller than Niagara Falls. Iguazu Falls, with their exotic birds and wildlife, are also pictured on a t-shirt I brought home. I always wear it proudly on hot summer days.

On a less personal level, I have enjoyed water travel over the years. Among these, one in particular stands out, a river cruise from Vienna to Amsterdam taken 20 years ago. The cruise took us along the Danube, Main and Rhine and the new canal connecting Danube and Main.

From small villages and vineyards to Cologne Cathedral, the unforgettable cruise was like “European History Comes to Life at Royal Rhine”, the title of an article I wrote at the time for the Travel section of the Montreal Gazette, then travel publisher, the late Paul Waters also contributed.

My memories ? A very nice scarf picked up, as well as 4711 Cologne – the original – during a stopover in a village on the Rhine. Also, an egg cup, with a windmill motif, purchased at the end of our cruise during a visit to the “open air museum” on the Zaan river near Amsterdam. Not much in the way of memories, but a lot in the memories.

This concludes our visit today. There could be future tours to other destinations. I took pleasure in remembering myself and I thank you for having accompanied me on my travels. Happy New Year everyone !

– Alice Lukacs writes the column Life in the 90s

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