My first ever trip abroad was back in 2008 when I studied abroad in Spain. After a month long intensive Spanish language program in Salamanca and El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain, I strapped on my backpack for a 6 week trip through Europe. Throughout my travels, the urge to buy knickknacks everywhere I went was unbearable. But, my backpack was filled to the brim and I had to abide by the strict weight regulations for baggage of European airlines.

Sorry everyone. Hope you like postcards.

One day, while on a weekend excursion to Segovia during my Spanish program, I came across a street vender with little stuffed animal bulls (or “toros” in Spanish). I had a two year old niece back home and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get her a little toy from Spain. I told myself, “That’s it. You’re cut off. No more souvenirs.” But I was satisfied because at least I got something for my baby niece. It was just a couple of hours later when a stroke of genius hit me (a little bold I know). My friends and I were messing around taking funny pictures with my little Toro when I came up with the perfect idea to bring Europe home to my niece.

My stroke of genius!

We all take a million-bajillion photos when we travel. I was going to take my little stuffed Toro and photograph him at all of the amazing places I went to around Europe. Once I got home, I would use a program like Shutterfly to create a picture book for my niece. I could then share my experience with someone as young as a 2 year old, show her the wonders of the world and she would get to physically hold Toro, a character from a story that had been to all of the places in her picture book. I would call this masterpiece,

“The Amazing Adventures of Toro the Bull”

Pages from the book I made

Here are some moments I captured with Toro!

(Note: Not all pictures were used in the book. ie. Toro with beer, statues with man parts, etc.)

Segovia, Spain

The ancient walls of Avila, Spain

The Roman ruins of Merida, Spain

Plaza Mayor of Salamanca, Spain

The Bull Ring of El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain

Toro loves tennis (Osborne winery in El Puerto, Spain)

Seville, Spain

Working on his bronze in Cadiz, Spain

The Mosque of Córdoba, Spain

The Alhambra of Granada, Spain

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

Grabbing a Guinness in Dublin, Ireland

Hohenzollern Castle in Germany

German beer in Stuttgart, Germany

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy

The statue of David in Florence, Italy

An incredible view of Florence, Italy

The leaning tower in Pisa, Italy

The O2 Wireless Festival in London, England

Last stop… London, England

So as you can see, it’s not about bringing back gifts from your travels for every family member and every friend. The book only cost me about $20.00 to customize and have printed and the bull was something like 2 euros. My niece is 5 now and she still treasures the book. You can make something like this for anyone of any age too, not just for kids.

A simple and very special gift for any loved one!

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Kiersten Rich
Kiersten Rich is the bikini-obsessed author of award-winning solo female travel and lifestyle blog, The Blonde Abroad, featuring travel tips, fashion, food, festivals and photography from around the world.