Of course, my perception of these cities was vague at best. They took hundreds of Kodachrome slides, of course, but the single most valuable connection I would absorb from their trip was a plastic model - a 1/87 scale German hotel they bought for my fledgling train layout. That little building, which my father and I built together, became representative of the far-off lands across the city, where things looked kind of familiar, but were a little different, and the signs were in languages I didn't understand.
I looked endlessly at that model, which was a vintage three or four story building, with a cafe on the ground floor that included an outdoor patio. It featured a somewhat alpine architecture rarely seen in the USA. It transported me in a way that simple photographs or a traditional souvenir couldn't. Not only was it a miniature slice-of-life, but it was a 3D passage to that strange world.
I still have that model. Though I've traveled widely since then, it still retains some of the magic. Now, though, it not only transports me to another place, but to a magical time.