Monthly Archives: March 2012

Souvenir book hunting

When you travel, what type of souvenir do you get? For some people, it’s T-shirts. For others, it could be shot glasses, postcards, hats or fridge magnets. For me, it’s usually…you guessed it…BOOKS! (C’mon, people, were you really that surprised?)

I used to bring a lot of books back from my travels, but now I’ve cut back due to lack of storage space. However, the books I do bring back are wonderful; I love to go through them and relive my memories of the sights seen during that trip. One of my favorites is London from the Air by Jason Hawkes. This book is a great collection of aerial photographs taken from a helicopter, accompanied by brief descriptions. Here’s some images that I took from the London Eye to give you a similar sense of what you can see in this book:

London's Parliament building

Parliament in London.

London from the London Eye

Another shot from the London Eye. Buckingham Palace is near the center and to the right. Can you see the Queen waving hello from the balcony?

My other favorite souvenir book is a book about the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. This house has got to be the strangest house ever built. Sarah Winchester, the heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune, converted an eight-room farmhouse into a 160-room mansion over the course of 38 years. This house has bizarre architectural features such as staircases that go up to the ceiling and stop there, windows set into the floor, a “Door to Nowhere” that opens to a steep drop to ground level, a closet that is only an inch deep and a secret passage. The house is so confusing that movers removing furniture after Sarah’s death in 1922 needed maps to find their way back out.

Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House. Look closely at the second floor to see a black-colored doorway which is the “Door to Nowhere.” Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, CA-2107, and Wikimedia Commons.

According to legend, Sarah had the house built this way to confuse the spirits of people who had been killed by Winchester rifles. Personally, I wonder if she was just an aspiring but eccentric architect who liked to experiment. Oh, well. I’m sure that in future travels, I’ll still be picking up more souvenir books. I guess I’ll find space for them somewhere. (Anybody got a crowbar?)

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