Oh, the joy of footwear
Have you ever tried to pack your stuff up into one suitcase and one carry-on to live away from home for a year? What is important? What isn’t? Do you really need to bring all the scarves Santa has brought you over the past few years? I still do not know everything that is important and I always catch myself packing things that I know I won’t need, but who am I to argue with myself? Besides all of this, I found out the hard way that great footwear is not an option, it is ESSENTIAL to smart packing!
I am going to take a moment to reflect back on my trip to Paris during the semester I spent abroad. Throughout that semester, I did a lot of traveling, I made a lot of rookie mistakes and now, a few short years later I am back at it. I am hoping for less rookie mistakes and more…I don’t know what I want more of, I will tell you when I figure that out. The goal is to have less mistakes. At this moment I am going to discuss a trip where my rookie mistakes truly made an impact on my trip.
Rookie mistake #1: AWFUL FOOTWEAR
Please, take note of that lovely picture (on the right) of me in Paris in early October, 2010. Ah, what a happy tourist I seemingly am, “look I can touch the top of the Eiffel Tower”, so clever, so so clever. FALSE. FALSE. FALSE. I am not clever. No way. You did not look at my feet. If you didn’t, look now. Oh, cute black flats you say? More like flats that were born like an Orc in Lord of the Rings. These awful creatures still give me nightmares. Ladies and gentlemen, the center of France does NOT have the same climate as the South of Spain. This little naïve tourist was not prepared for the impending colder climate nor the rain. Oh, the rain. The rain that resulted in continuously soggy and cold feet for a long, long weekend. Reflecting back, I could have bought some different shoes or some socks. Again, I was a rookie, these things did not even cross my mind. Probably because I was flying Ryan Air and I didn’t want to make my bag any bigger than it was for fear that I would have to check it and then pay the extra fee! If I ever go to Paris again, I promise you, that my shoes will be comfy and I will be able to wear big warm socks with them. That brings me to my second mistake which goes hand in hand with the first.
Rookie mistake #2: Forgotten socks
Socks, didn’t even cross my mind when packing my bag to fit just right to Ryan Air standards. (It can’t be too big or you have to check it!) Somehow, we made it to the airport in Malaga, who even knows now how we got there, but anyways, we arrived at some random hour of the early morning and that meant that we had a few hours of nap time before take off. While napping in the freezing cold airport that is located in the lovely city of Malaga, Spain. I noticed the impending cold creeping up my body that began at my toes. I searched my bag, nothing, no socks, nothing really warm. Oh no!! This is where my friend lent me his hoodie and gave me his black socks. I think he intended that I borrow them. I gave back the hoodie but I ended up wearing the socks for four days (Blaack socks they never get dirty the longer you wear them the thicker they get…anyone?) Needless to say, he didn’t want his socks back and these socks were great but still did not help in the big scheme of things.
The facts were that I still had crappy shoes and one pair of socks really doesn’t stay dry THAT long when wearing small flats while traipsing through puddles in search of Metros, tourist destinations and the lovely blue door that led to our sleeping quarters. (The bed was like heaven, this could be because the mattress that I slept on at my homestay was awful or because my feet were killing me and I just wanted to lay down, either way, it was amazing). We didn’t spend much time at the apartment though because we had four short days and lots of touristy things to do! Thus, my socks, even while on the heater while we were at the apartment, never truly dried. I was grumpy. Don’t get me wrong. I had an amazing time and I did a lot of fun things! However, no one wants to be grumpy with cold/soggy feet in Paris for a weekend, right?
So with every mistake comes…learning from your mistake…? Something like that.
Lesson learned: Happy feet are never out of fashion.
Happy feet=happy person=positive experiences. Now, reflecting back, I still had many positive experiences, even without proper footwear (It is even documented in the photos above!). However, I would have thrown away my black flats and brought with some boots and wool socks, had I known what to expect. Then what would I say to Paris in early October? I would say, BRING ON THE RAIN & COLD! Puddles? No problem. Cold feet? No way. I’ve got boots and warm socks. I am ready for anything! Except when it comes down to finding a bathroom. Why is it so hard to find a bathroom in Paris? That’s a whole different story.
Whats the moral of the story, you ask?
Black socks truly never get dirty and comfy, broken-in shoes are never out of style.
I think I walked more in one semester living abroad than I ever had in my entire life. I imagine that living abroad for a year I will set new personal records, weather I want to or not! However, this time I am prepared with comfortable shoes. Here are three pairs of shoes that I would never dream of leaving for Spain without.
- A pair of black leather boots: Franco Sarto, TJ Maxx: circa 2010. They have survived three midwestern winters, I get compliments on them ALL the time, I think because people can’t see how beat up they are! (I melted a little part of one side with a straightener). I still love these boots and they are perfectly broken in and oh-so comfy! I put a leather treatment on them each year at the beginning of the season and when I think they really need it (to make them last FOREVER! haha). Anyways, If they have gotten me this far, they will be perfect for a Spanish winter!
- A pair of brown leather boots: Ralph Lauren, Macy’s: Feb 2013 (Orig $200, bought for $60 #winning). These are perfect and practical. I broke them in this past Spring because we all know Spring in the Midwest might as well still be winter. Again, perfect and practical.
- Neutral flats: Nine West, Nine West Factory outlet: Spring 2013. Nine west has really comfortable shoes. I wear these a lot! They are officially broken in and my feet LOVE them!
Hope this helps when you are choosing what shoes you want to bring! Best of luck!