Friday, 29 May 2009

Retro holiday souvenirs

Moving swiftly on from 1950s Great Yarmouth, where many spent their vacations within the happily controlled confines of a holiday camp, or in the dubious splendour of a thoroughly modern caravan, to more cutting edge travel in form of the first ever package holidays.

Cheaper air travel was becoming available for the first time and, although still not yet bargain priced, the British economy was booming - and society was becoming more adventurous and experimental in its taste.

Those with the spare cash wanted to travel further afield and sample the delights that new and exciting parts of the world had to offer. The fashion for air crew style carry-on suitcases and compact little vanity cases started around this time.

The Spanish tourist industry really began in the 1960s with the birth of package holiday deals, offering the irresistible combination of cheap air tickets, accommodation and car hire as an all-in-one offer. Resorts such as Benidorm on the Costa Blanca, Lloret del Mar on the Costa Brava and Torremolinos on the Costa del Sol took off in a big way.

Those lucky enough to venture on the first trips to these hitherto unadulterated shores were keen to bring back trophies of their explorations. Kitsch tourist memorabilia and holiday souvenirs ranged from cheap sombreros and straw donkeys to bottles of sangria, imitation bullfight posters and much treasured works by local artists – many of whom were called Juan or Carlos.

At ShopCurious, we’ve a pair of particularly fine examples of Spanish souvenir poster style paintings of flamenco dancers – totally original, and signed by the one and only Carlos!

Some travelled to even further-flung places and found more unique and unusual curiosities, like this quirky and individual hand painted oyster mushroom vase from Malta. The more design orientated sought out furniture and decorative pieces to bring back home – a curious Castillian lady lamp base perhaps?

At this time, Hawaii was the ultimate in stylish tourist destinations, as it included all the key attractions of the seaside, palm trees, sun, sand and even grass skirts. America’s 50th state, Hawaii, has always had strong links with the UK – after all, the Hawaiian Islands were discovered by Captain Cook. Hawaii’s fame was further added to by Elvis Presley (who adored the islands) and, of course, the cult TV show with the legendary theme tune, Hawaii Five 0. By the way, did you know that President Barack Obama was born in the state capital, Honolulu, in August 1961?

Anyway, I think that’s enough globe-trotting for now, my head’s getting a little dizzy, but I’d love to hear all about your retro holiday souvenirs. I’m sure you must have some really curious vintage tourist memorabilia that you want to share with us ...

Do you?

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