Travel

Harry Potter and The Perfect Travel Souvenir

I wanted to write a more personal post and to share one of my travel quirks with you. Dedicated readers of this blog will know of my love for all things Eurovision and how blending the Eurovision Song Contest with travel creates the perfect travel combination. However, there is a second love in my life which I don’t write about so often. Harry Potter!

Not that I don’t enjoy combining Harry Potter and travel! I love to do this, but there are so many bloggers covering this already and a very limited list of locations I can visit. So although I love visiting places from the Harry Potter books, it’s not something I’ve ever blogged about.

However, I’ve found another way to combine my love of Harry Potter with my passion for travel, and it want to share it with you! I doubt I’m the only person in the world to do this, but I’ve found that this is a great way to explore new places and to collect memorable souvenirs.

So here’s the deal:

Everywhere I travel, I buy a copy of Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone.

It’s really as simple as that! There are a couple of rules that go alongside this but collecting these books has taken me away from the beaten track and to bookstores throughout the world. And sometimes, finding a copy of this book isn’t as easy as it would seem!

A picture of a Harry Potter wand on a copy of the book.

What are the rules?

  1. It has to be Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. Yes – there are 6 other books, not to mention the spin-offs. It would be great to collect them all but sticking to one book helps my budget and saves space on the bookshelf.
  2. I have to find the book while travelling. I’m not allowed to google the nearest bookshop, that would take away the fun. I have to wander the streets until I find one. I’ve broken this rule a time or two although I’ll explain why later.
  3. No duplicate copies – although same cover in paperback and hardback is fine.
  4. No buying the translation from Amazon – although I have also broken this rule but again for good reason.

Before I start sharing my ever expanding collection, I wanted to share why I find Harry Potter books to be such great souvenirs.

Books are the Perfect Souvenir

Souvenirs are great. I love browsing around souvenir stores looking for the tackiest things I can find. In fact, I often buy these items for my mum. She’s loves them! She has a glow-in-the-dark effigy of Fatima in her living room courtesy of yours truly. But how often do we buy souvenirs for ourselves, get them home and realise that they don’t really fit with anything else we have in our homes. And how many of these souvenirs end up in the bin?

Alternatively, how many times have you bought a souvenir that’s perfect for your living room at the time, but doesn’t work anymore after the house has been redecorated? Again, I’m guilty!

I hate to think how many of the souvenirs I’ve bought are now sat in landfill. It’s a waste of spending money and it’s bad for the environment!

I am a book lover which means that there will always be space for new books in my home. And it’s pretty safe to assume that I will always have a bookshelf somewhere! This makes books the perfect souvenir! It doesn’t have to be Harry Potter. As long as it’s a book you love and that will spark joy sitting on your shelf for years to come.

My Harry Potter bookshelf

Also, sticking to one category of souvenir is great for my budget. I no longer come home with a suitcase full of tacky souvenirs (although I still enjoy a browse in the souvenir stores). I come home with a single memento of my trip. And it sits next to mementos of my other trips on my bookshelf.

Buying the books can be interesting. The shop employees tend to assume that you’re a local and are usually quite confused when you tell them you don’t speak their language. That being said, most of them are very interested to find out why I’d be buying a foreign language book and to find out more about my collection.

My Collection

So now that I’ve convinced you that Harry Potter books are the perfect travel souvenir, I wanted to share some of the stories behind my book collection and what I’ve learned along the way. And the great thing is that I remember all of these stories because of Harry Potter.

Souvenir is french for ‘remember’ after all.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – My Old Faithful

This was the first edition of Harry Potter I ever owned. It’s far from being a first edition and probably isn’t worth much, but it has huge sentimental value. I’m not sure I would ever be able to part with this copy.

What also makes this copy unique is the illustration of Dumbledore on the back. This is a much younger Dumbledore and was changed into an older model before long (see below). Plus the copyright of the book belongs to Joanne Rowling rather than J.K. Rowling which means it’s an earlier version of the book. It’s not see easy to buy copies with these features today.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – London

My second copy is very similar although slightly different. I found this copy rummaging through the book stalls under a bridge on the South Bank in London.

I love browsing through the books here for a bargain so when I found a copy of Harry Potter I didn’t have, I was keen to add it to my collections. On this one, you can see the new illustration of Dumbledore as an older gentleman with a longer beard.

Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen (German)

I bought a copy of the German version in a tiny, but beautiful town called Mayrhofen in the Austrian alps. We came here to stay at the wonderful Stock Resort and to spend some time in it’s fabulous health spa, but wanted to spend a day in the local town while we were here.

German Harry Potter book

I found this copy in a quiet little book shop although we had to wait two hours for it to open as we didn’t realise all the shops closed for lunch in this part of the world. This wasn’t a problem, we spent time drinking coffee and breathing in the fresh alpine air while we waited for the shops to open again.

The Austrian Alps

You’re A Wizard Abraham – Hebrew Version

That’s not the name of the book, that’s me making a pretty terrible joke because the title of the book is written in Hebrew.

The Hebrew version of Harry Potter

Tel Aviv is a very book friendly city and there were plenty of places I could pick up a copy of Harry Potter during our travels here.

The first bookshop we passed was on the end of Sheinkin Street. This street is filled with small boutique stores, many of which are independently own. It’s also a great place to stop for a coffee or a spot of lunch.

Sheinkin Street in Tel Aviv

The cover is similar to the US edition, although books in Hebrew open on the opposite side to English books which makes it different from the other books on the shelf.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – Hard Cover (US)

I have to admit that I broke my rules when I bought this one. I was on a trip to Las Vegas and had just started to build my collection.

Since then, I’ve learned that very few people visit Las Vegas to read. In fact, we couldn’t find a single store selling books on the strip. After doing some googling, we found that nearest bookstore was miles out of our way and very much breaking my rule of naturally stumbling across the stores.

US Version of Harry Potter

I did manage to find a very interesting book store in the the Venetian, Bauman Rare Books. This shop specialises first editions and antiquities and has some pretty impressive books on display. It’s well worth a look although the books here were quite far out of my budget.

View of Las Vegas from Bally's Hotel

So I broke my rule and ordered the book from Amazon and had it delivered to my hotel room.

Harry Potter à l’école des Sorciers (French)

I picked up this beautiful hardback edition on a trip to Paris. We found a small bookstore in the student quarter. Most of the shop was given over to textbooks but there was a small fiction area where I found this beauty. I’ve not found this cover design or seen this hardback edition of the book anywhere else so it’s quite unique within my collection.

French hardback version of Harry Potter
View of Paris from Notre Dame

Harry Potter och De Vises Sten (Swedish)

I found this copy of Harry Potter when we traveled to Stockholm for a quick city break. We stopped for lunch at a great Italian / Swedish restaurant called Polpette, when I spotted a bookstore across the road. I made a beeline for the store as soon as we had finished eating.

Swedish version of Harry Potter

The shop assistant confused me for a Swedish person and was quite confused by my purchase. I’ve not seen this cover design anywhere else so it’s another unique one in my collection.

Skyline view of Stockholm, Sweden

Harrius Potter et Philiophi Lapis (Latin)

OK, I cheated again with this one. But it’s allowed because Latin’s a dead language. Where would I have found this? Amazon of course!

Harry Potter in Latin

A great addition to the shelf, but no travel involved with this Harry Potter book unfortunately.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stane (Scot’s Edition)

I found this one in Edinburgh and it’s my absolute favourite! I found it in a branch of Waterstones in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. It also has a fab cafe with views of the castle and Princes Street Gardens. A great place to watch the world go by.

Edinburgh Castle

The book has been translated into Scot’s dialect which makes it pretty funny to read. I grew up on the English / Scottish border so I knew some of the language being used but there were other words I have never heard of before.

It has been translated so well that it’s difficult to read in parts, but I still absolutely love it for it’s novelty factor.

I can’t wait until someone create a geordie translation (the accent / dialect in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne)! If you are a someone who can do this, please make it happen! I will buy ten copies!

Harry Potter and Travel

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and that you have been converted to buying books as travel souvenirs. I plan to add to this post as my collection grows so please check back for updates.

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