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Part of the fun of traveling is bringing back loot that conjures up visions of your vacation. But not just any loot will do. Here are a few of our favorite -- and meaningful -- mementos from a handful of places.

1Belgium and England 
While the comic-book adventures of the famous reporter/ explorer Tintin are available Stateside, certain toys are available only at official Tintin stores in Belgium and England. $8 to $25. Rue de la Colline 13 (Brussels), 011-32-25145152, www.tintin.com; 34 Floral Street (London), 011-44- 020-7-836-1131, www.thetintinshop.uk.com

Thinking of old London? Check out the cannonball key ring ($4), the knight key ring ($7), and the jeweled sword letter opener ($60) at the Tower of London. EC3N 4AB, 011-844-482- 7777, www.hrp.org.uk/toweroflondon/shopping/default.aspx

Marzipan imports in the United States tend to feature fruits and holiday themes. Go to Café Niederegger or to Marzipan- Land in Lübeck for many more variations on this delectable candy treat. $5 to $30. Breite Strasse 89 (across from the town hall steps), 011-49-451-53-01- 126-127, www.niederegger.de; Drechslerstraße 6, 011-49-451-8- 973-939, www.marzipanland.de

Hnefatafl is an intriguing, chess-like Viking strategy game. You can play it online, but the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde has the real deal. $65. Vindeboder 12, 011- 45-46300200, www.vikingeskibsmuseet.dk

If you’re craving sweet drinks with cane sugar, visit Galco’s old-time grocery store, Soda Pop Stop, near Pasadena, California, for more than 450 soda varieties. The store carries everything from Apple-Beer to High Mountain Huckleberry, and the bottles make great keepsakes. $1 to $3. 5702 York Boulevard, Los Angeles, (323) 255-7115, www.sodapopstop.com

Celebrity Finds

Julie Benz
(Rambo, Dexter)
“I collect antique rings from every country [I visit]. I’ve been all over Europe and to Thailand. My favorite is a beautiful antique emerald ring I found in Knoxville. It was my biggest splurge.”

Michael Emerson
“I’ve become a collector of masks, and I try to find something authentic and theatrical wherever I work. When I filmed The Legend of Zorro in Mexico, I brought back an interesting El Moro mask that was used in the ceremonial telling of the story of the Moors and the Christians.”

Judge David Young
(from the eponymous court show)
“I collect penguins and hunt for penguin-obilia wherever I travel -- figurines, bed sheets, ice cream scoops. I found a piece of penguin folk art in Quito, Ecuador, carved out of a gourd and covered with indigenous symbols. It now sits proudly in my rookery.”

Ivana Milicevic
(Casino Royale)
“When I went to the town of Itacaré in Brazil, they had these long necklaces made from beads and açaí berries, which are from the Amazon. They were in one of the stores [off a little] street.”

Ana Ortiz
(Ugly Betty)
“My mother-in-law went to Mumbai, India, and bought me 100-year-old earrings that are gold and amethyst and are the most exquisite things I’ve ever owned. They were from an Indian princess.”


Be a Savvy Shopper

1. Never look too eager to buy something; otherwise, you run the risk of spontaneous price gouging on unmarked items.
2. Try bargaining -- market sellers are often willing to cut deals if you pay in cash.
3. Compare prices with those in nearby stores that sell similar items.
4. Inspect the quality of the merchandise; make sure it will last.
5. Determine how rare the item is. It might justify the splurge.