We started traveling in Europe in 1972 and how we do our souvenir shopping has changed greatly since then. There was a time, 1955 to sometime in the 1990s, when buying just about anything in Europe was exotic and a bargain compared to prices in the USA. Not so much today since most of the EU is now about as wealthy as the USA and there is now an EU 25% VAT. For example, in 2019, I bought an item in high end department store in France for $120, including the VAT (there is no additional sales tax). In the USA, the same item cost $120-130 + sales tax. Globalization is another adverse effect on souvenir shopping because its now difficult to find things in the EU that can't also be bought in the USA.
In today's world, here are the things we would suggest considering if you want souvenirs oaf your trip to the EU:
In the United States, the average retail price of a three month supply of Xarelto 20 mg was around $1,600. In Italy, I paid $333. In the USA, it requires a prescription. In Italy, its OTC. I went into a pharmacy in Florence to check on Xarelto. When I ordered a year's worth, they told me it would take until 2:00pm the next day to get Xarelto. I told them we were leaving for Venice at 9:00 am the next morning. He said, 'no problem. What is your hotel in Vienna?' I told him. He played with the computer and said, "the closest pharmacy to that is hotel is [name and address]. Your Xarelto will be there at 2:00pm tomorrow, and so it was.
With Medicare Part D, 100gr Diclofenac is $87-150 with a prescription. In Germany, less that $10 OTC. Double strength $19 OTC (not sold in the USA).
A Loden coat or jacket is one of the best and most unique things to buy in the EU. I found a Loden overcoat from an online US source for $650. It looks just like the one I bought in Germany for $306.
Geiger is a somewhat well known Austrian maker of loden jackets for women. My wife got one in Austria for $65. A few weeks later, back home in the USA, we saw its twin in a store window for $380. Geiger is a higher end Austrian fashion house. I got a similarly styled no-name loden jacket for $35.
My first full length loden coat is a trench coat style custom made coat. I went into a tailor shop in Vienna, got measured, and picked up the coat 3 days later, a perfect fit-- $514 (in today's money).
So what is a loden coat? Loden is a type of wool. The classic recipe goes like this. Make a bolt of standard wool clothe. Boil it. Put it out in the sun to dry. It will shrink 50-65%. That's the point. When it shrinks, it tightens up the cloth, making the spaces between threads too small for water drops (rain) to get through. It is water proof wool with out any need for chemical water proofing coating. Think of it as natural Gor-tex because, being wool it is a breathable fabric-- all the comforts of wool and it never gets wet in rain. Unlike Gor-tex, loden does not make crinkling sounds when you move.
EU clothes are cut differently than in the USA. They often feel like something is wrong when you wear them. Triple this for wearing EU shoes.
Leather goods. Many EU countries make excellent leather goods, but tourist areas, even in relatively obscure place like Cochem, are flooded with cheaply made over priced junk. In the USA, "genuine leather" means it is either full or split leather-- its all leather all the way through. In several European counties we have run into this: Genuine Leather refers to a paper thin piece of leather glued onto a card broad interior. It lasts about as long as it took me to write this sentence.
You get more for your money in some countries than in others, so it pays, if you are visiting several countries, to do your shopping where you get the best deal relative to how local prices translate into dollars. One way to figure this out is to compare the PPP-GDP to per capita GDP. For Hungary in 2018, it was $33,000 vs $16,000. That means I bought a $50 wrist watch for $24, and it was not on sale. The price of everything in Hungary was half off, compared to what it would cost in the USA because of the "strong dollar".
You can also use the Big Mac Index to figure out where you get the best buys for a limited number of countries. Any country with a Big Mac Index less that 100 is a bargain. The Big Max Index is easier to use, but covers only a few countries (and the price of a Big Mac in Norway? $16).
The Duty Free shop at the pier in Malaga, Spain. Bell's Scotch, one liter $10. In Barcelona, $18 at airport duty free, $17 in town. $32 in USA. Johnnie Walker Rd Label, about $2 more per liter in the EU.
Hands down, the best prices (see Geiger above) we found were at the discount shops on the town square in Lofer, Austria, but its been more than 10 years since we have been there (how much loden do you need?), so I don't know if they are still operating given the way businesses are destroyed in Trump World. Otherwise, there are full price specially shops across southern Germany and all of Austria selling loden..
Top rated and most charming Slovenia attractions in one single tour – from the Alpine jewels of Bled and its surroundings to The mystic underground of the Postojna Cave, most prominent karst cave in the world, with the Predjama Castle, listed among the Guinnes World Records as the largest cave castle in the world.