Are Your Amazing Travels Full of Smelly Memories?

Smelly Memories - Weekend Travel Inspiration
I don’t know about you, but when I’m traveling, my sense of smell is often in overdrive!

The Smells of My Mind!

When I get a whiff of a diesel engine, I’m often transported back to the country highways in Turkey.  I can close my eyes and picture over-laden trucks, with two or three men sitting on top of the cargo, barreling down on me with a vile black smoke rising up in the back.

Likewise when I smell bread baking, that distinct yeasty goodness, I can remember waking up in our village and seeing the hot ekmek coming out of the oven.  Yes, this is again in Turkey.  A lot of smells remind me of Turkey.

But it’s not the only place.  If I’m walking on a leaf-strewn path in fall, that smell of decaying leaves reminds me of my Grandmother.  That might seem weird to you, but for most of my life we did not live close to my Grandmother.  It wasn’t until my junior year in high school that my family moved back to our hometown in Connecticut.  And Connecticut smells like leaves, sweet, decaying leaves.  I LOVE that smell!

Then there is the smell of beer brewing.  Well, you can probably guess where that brings me to.  Jim and I met and married in Germany.  Bitburg is close to the western border and is famous for its namesake brew.  There is nothing like waking up on a dark, foggy, winter morning and smelling that mix of hop and yeast.  It’s not a smell that you easily forget.  Now whenever that aroma wafts in my direction, I feel like I’m sitting in the Bitburg town square right next to the creepy statue of the child crawling by in a goat skin (harkening back to saving themselves from some marauding tribes).


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Smelly Memories - Weekend Travel Inspiration


  1. Again we agree. I loved the smells of a country. I love getting up in the morning and smelling the bakeries. I love the smells from the trees, and remember the smell of smoke from the umu’s in Samoa as being very comforting.

  2. Haha! You’ve got a good smell memory! :p It happens to me when it comes to perfumes, when I smell a particular perfume, cologne or even soap – it triggers something in my mind and remember someone who uses the same. 🙂

  3. Yes, smells are very potent. I love the smell of malt roasting that Dublin gives off, though some people don’t like it at all. And Hanoi smelled like over-ripe fruit, lemongrass and diesel, less appealing but very memorable. that bread in the photo looks like it would smell good.

  4. I agree, Corinne. Smells are strong triggers for good or bad memories. Hyacinths for instance always reminds me of funerals, because the first time I attended a funeral as a kid they had a lot of them around the casket. It’s unfair for this beautiful flower, but I can’t stand its smell. It will forever remind me of dead people. Isn’t that funny?

  5. If I think of Germany, the first smell that comes into my mind is bread. I was impressed by the huge variety of breads and the delicious smell of plätzchen.
    By the way I also met my husband in Germany 🙂

  6. Bakeries are the smell we notice most. Probably because they are everywhere (a higher proportion of them in Croatia and Slovenia). Every culture in Europe has a bread culture in one form or another and even though we mostly stay in Airbnb places in the suburbs, there is always a bakery close by. Now I’ve started thinking about their pastries!

    1. Jan, That’s what I love about staying in Airbnbs…you can be right in the local area buying what they buy. It’s so much better than having to go to a large grocery store.

  7. You’re right about how evocative smells can be: both positively and negatively! I spent two years in Malawi back in the 1980s and vividly remembered the smell of the place; I think it comes from the distinct red earth of the countryside. Sure enough, when we went back a couple of years ago, and as soon as we got outside the capital city, that smell rushed back. I know what you mean about the smell of Connecticut, since I grew up there, but in my memory it’s very mixed up with the smell of the ocean, since I spent so much of my time in the summers on or by the sea.

  8. Indeed! I miss the curry smells of Little India in Penang wafting from the open air restaurants. My kids will always associate the stink of durian with Malaysia. In fact, I had a bag of durian candy for kids to smell at our primary school’s Multicultural Fair in Texas. It was fun to watch their faces as the scent hit their nostrils, and I was impressed by the number willing to try it despite me telling them that it tastes exactly like it smells.

  9. So, as I’m reading the comments out to my Vietnamese better half, she said the same thing as Michelle about durian tasting exactly like it smells. Ewww. (We both literally LOLed!) On the other hand, I’m reminded of the smell of rain in the desert on a summer night (by the article, not by durian!) and my cousin’s bakery in Albuquerque, filled with the scent of baking bread. Mmmm! Fun article! #wkendtravelinspiration

  10. I love how smells can bring us such great memories, and transport us back in time. Mine is bread baking, and fresh ground coffee brewing, which takes me back to my sweet and gentle grandma, working in the kitchen when I was a child. <3

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