From Russia with Love…


11 babushka dolls that all go inside each other. Wooden. Photo: ©nini.tjader.2014

From Russia with Love… or what I brought home from the trip to the Soviet Union that J. and I did in 1985. Gorbachov was the new leader then and the Soviet union was getting somewhat friendlier. That did not mean we were not supervised and checked during our trip through the the Soviet Union. The supervising was at times felt. Our tour leader almost got thrown into jail because he was drunk after a dinner we had and said stupid things. In russian… They had at the time a no tolerance law against public drunkenness.


Russian souvenirs. Photo:©nini.tjader.2014

We were doing the Transiberian Railway trip. Flew from Stockholm to Moscow. Were in Moscow a couple of days. It was summer. Moscow was – to my surprise – beautiful. And my more interesting than I hade expected. Yes, we were at the Red Square. No, we did not visit the mausoleum of Lenin. Moscow and surrounding (when being transported around with the tour bus) was the only place were you could buy some souvenirs. That has probably changed a lot since.


Souvenir from Tashkent. Photo: ©nini.tjader.2014

Then we went onto the Transiberian Railway from Moscow to Irkutsk where we went off the train for a busride to the Bajkal Lake. From Irkutsk we continued by plane to Tashkent. Interesting town. And big. We walked and walked and walked on those straight wide streets they built after an earth quake that destroyed a lot of the town. I remember that we got the above embroidered thing in a theater we visited to watch local folk dances. From Tashkent we flew via Alma Ata (just transit) on to Samarkand.


Samarkand 1985. Photo: ©nini.tjader

Samarkand was fantastic. Really interesting. We had three days there. That was during the time when the Russians were leaving Afghanistan. They passed through Samarkand in their way out.


Russian souvenir. Photo: ©nini.tjader.2014

When we came to Samarkand there were vegetable salads at the hotel for the first time during the entire trip. We all ate salads. We all got stomach problems just about the time we were to fly back to Moscow (on the most rackety plane I’ve ever been… everything was loose on it…). That is, all but me. I didn’t get it until back in Moscow. And very mildly too. J. wasn’t all that affected either. In fact, we were the only ones standing on our legs the next day. Tours were cancelled and we had the day to ourselves. So we went on the underground inte central Moscow all by ourselves. Now and then there was need for a WC. And yes, I’ve visited the ones in the wall around the Red Square… Very clean.

After we came home, we were home for about five days. Made laundry, got well and then went off again to the former Yugoslavia and to Ulçinj in Montenegro. We felt we needed some sun and warmths that summer too. That was the year of visits to countries that no longer exist in the names they had then. Much has happened since.


Russian souvenirs. Photo: ©nini.tjader.2014

I love the things the Soviets did and sold as souvenirs. They are all handmade. Above two painted colored and lacquered wooden boxes for small things, two silver chains, one with a hand painted flower decoration on glass, one with a flower-patterned charm that you can open and put a picture inside, one pill-box with glass mosaic in the lid and a wooden brosch, hand-painted.

If you are interested in our trip with the Transiberian Railway, there are photos on my old website here. Mind though that the site is undergoing re-build and that I will be exchanging the photos for bigger versions when I do. It was done for much smaller screens and really out-dated techniques so the images are very small. Some of the navigation also doesn’t work as supposed to.

Posted by nini in handicraft, Thoughts, Travel, Various, 0 comments

Things around me


Ceramic object from a local artists shop in Naxos. Photo:©nini.tjader.2014

Iv’e always kept all kinds of small things around me.  Just because I love them for one reason or another. I sometimes put some of them away and exchange them for other ones. Have collected them for quite some time. They get numerous and you cannot have them all out all the time. Some of them might be considered souvenirs. I move them around and create small still-life groups. These are some examples.

I would never be able to have a home that did not have all those small things scattered around…

couplehorse, woman, headwoman, head

iron bird

Photos: ©nini.tjader.2014

The black ones are objects of iron. Heavy ones. The white ones are from white sandstone. They are all from various places in Greece.

Posted by nini in Furniture and Decoration, 0 comments



Babushka doll, 10 dolls in total. Bought in the then Soviet Union in 1985. Photo: ©nini.tjader.2014

These wooden babushka dolls ar from Jannes and mine trip to the then Soviet Union in 1985 when we went on the Transsibirian Railway from Moscow to Irkutsk and then onto Tasjkent and Samarkand by plane and back to Moscow again. Not the only souvenir from that trip, even though the tourist shops that we were herded into were the only opportunity to buy something and made shopping difficult.

Like most people who go on a trip I buy souvenirs. They are of all kinds. Reminders of a trip to somewhere. Not always specifically typical for the country or region, but simply something that appealed to me at the time and often still does. Objects small enough to bring home in the suitcase without risk to damage them. Ceramics are tricky.

From Wikipedia:

“A souvenir (from French, for a remembrance or memory), mementokeepsake, or token of remembrance is an object a person acquires for the memories the owner associates with it. The term souvenir brings to mind the mass-produced kitsch that is the main commodity of souvenir and gift shops in many tourist attractions around the world. But a souvenir can be any object that can be collected or purchased and transported home by the traveler. The object itself has no real significance other than the psychological connection the possessor has with the object as a symbol of past experience. Without the owner’s input, the object’s meaning is invisible and cannot be articulated.


Seagull from Tel Aviv. Photo: ©nini.tjader.2014

This seagull hangs in the ceiling of my livingroom and has done for many years. Bought it in Tel Aviv in 1991 when I was back after many years absence. It was a very nostalgic trip where I reconnected with old friends that I hadn’t seen for a long time. I stayed for five weeks. Upsetting, nostalgic, and good to be back at the same time as not so good for various reasons.


This handmade glass-decoration that hangs in my bedroom window was bought in Tel Aviv at the weekly arts and crafts market at Shuk HaCarmel, in 2006 when I last was there. Has the typical middle-eastern hand of Fatma in  the center. (Pardon the poor quality of the photo). I doubt I will go back to Israel again. It is too many memories and the people I loved are almost all gone. Very few left from then. Both want to go back and don’t. It is complicated. Would like to visit Tedy’s grave again.


Photo: ©nini.tjader.2014

This wooden owl comes from Sicily (2008). Handcarved with a smaller owl inside it done from the same piece of wood. Love it. I loved Sicily. Went there as a brake from all my greek islands, to get a change. Sicily is beautiful and has very good food. Wouldn’t mind going back there. Stayed just outside Çefalu, an interesting old town. Very genuinely sicilian.

Malta glass

Photo: ©nini.tjader.2014

Malta glass

Photo: ©nini.tjader.2014

The above glass-objects all three come from Malta (1996). The only beautiful things I found at Malta. Mostly they had kitsch and really ugly stuff. But these glass objects I love. Bought them at the glass factory where they made them. I will never go back to Malta. Terrible food that tasted nothing and not a particularly interesting island. The beaches… well not very good. Yes, I went around the entire island (it is not that big).

Wooden bird

Photo: ©nini.tjader.2014

This wooden bird (lives in my bedroom above the bed on a picture list) comes from Lanzarote. Might also come from Africa, but I bought it at Lanzarote (1998). What I loved about Lanzarote was the nature, the volcanos, the lava, the sterile nature… Had a good hotel with five pools where it was impossible to get a poolside sunchair during my entire stay as the Germans booked them from sunup and all day. I am never up at sunup if I don’t have to… Beaches were fine. Food was not all that fun (too adjusted for tourists).  That I had a severe cold and was coughing all my stay didn’t make things better…

Then there are all the small objects from Greece, where I’ve been several times. Will show you those another day.

Posted by nini in Furniture and Decoration, Various, 0 comments