An Ode to my Traveling Shoes
I tend to be a pretty simple and natural woman when it comes to clothes and shoes. Yet I love my heels. Good thing too, because I’m only about 5’2” without them. But I’m not so worried about that cause I like being short. There are great heels out there that are worth the cost for great quality, which in my mind means longevity and comfort. And if anyone is going to put heels to the test, it’s going to be this woman!
My shoes de amor on this latest solo travel extravaganza are my soft-rich-yellow Seychelles, a brand I have come to love and rightly so since they continue to hold up for me under excruciating and rigorous tests. They have a unique design that draws appreciation from both sexes and especially envy from the females, I have noticed. The short wooden heel is a perfect height for going casual or dressy, while the strappy design with open toe and gold brass buckle keeps it classy all the way around. Made of leather, they have stretched appropriately and are conformed to my feet as a perfect fit that is soft against my skin and has always left my feet blister-free, even from day one. What more can I say? They are wonderful to walk in and look fashionably gorgeous!
These babies start way back though. I originally bought them over a year ago in one of my favorite boutiques in downtown Denver, called Common Era. This is my second – oops…make that third – pair of Seychelles I have bought there and I love them all. Yet my strappy yellows were the lucky ones to make it with me to Europe these past six months. Here’s what their life has looked like and what they have traversed and supported me through…
Starting with Home
Downtown Denver sidewalks complete with concrete and marble steps, occasional impromptu salsa dancing at La Rumba and perhaps even in random bars and mountain ski-towns in the summers, if I remember correctly. Soft squishy grass lawns, replete with dew drops and spread out in the many parks of Colorado, yet particularly in towns and cities like Denver and Boulder. One of my Denver favorites was atop my vintage 1946 cruiser bike Hercules, the heels hooked along the back edge of the original pedals attached to the lovingly worn royal-blue steel frame. This is where the heels started to get a little chewed away at, yet it was only the beginning of what I like to think of as adventurous fraying.
On Foreign Ground
This great birthplace of Denver led to the exciting streets of London. From airports and planes, to trains and subways, taxis and walking…so much walking! Hopping from metro to metro, my London-cruising shoes never failed to “mind the gap”. Yet this was just a taste of walking and let me tell you…I don’t think Americans know half of what it means to walk a lot on a daily basis. Not like Brits and Europeans do. After clip-clopping around, in and out of the pubs and parks of London, my Seychelles carried me via plane to Milan, Italy. Our first time to Italy and we were there for an Italian/Sicilian wedding! No wonder my original plan of three-weeks turned into over two months…I have amore for Italy to say the least.
In Milano (as it is called in Italian), my little heels walked on cobblestones, bricks, cement, marble, and stone. Sometimes slightly tottering yet never once did a heel give-way or make me tumble. Here is also where the leather was put through the “washer” and almost literally….with all the rain we had there, they got soaked through more than a few times, yet always dried back to their fine color that in my mind has only grown more beautiful with time. There was a slight reprieve from Italy to Switzerland where more walking commenced all over Geneva. Then came the town that really tried to do a doozy on my Seychelles, yet finally just fell in love with them like the place of amore that it is…from climbing up and down stairs made from stone and marble, rugged and hard, to stepping amongst chipped away cobblestones and brick pavers, occasionally interwoven with veins of grass and dirt winding their way throughout for my little heels to perfectly slip and sink into…to stepping into gondolas, water taxis, and private boats in such a way that the movements appeared dainty and elegant and yet! – Still kept me balanced while out on the water and waves of Venezia’s canals and sea. And the walking…the continuous standing and walking, for what an amazing unique world Venice is with no vehicles at all. I loved it and for all the rigor it was on my shoes and feet, my Seychelles loved it too! We even returned for a second visit, staying over a full week each time.
Venice was like the pinnacle that granted my shoes official status of travel-worthy durability. It is no surprise then that they helped me cover almost all of Italy from North to South. Through Ferrara and Florence we enjoyed bike rides and villas. Then the region of Tuscany captivated us in Volterra and Pisa, and eventually we made it all over Rome and in and out of Porsches there too…and into the mountainous remoteness and countryside of the region of Abruzzo, home of some of the best Montepulciano wine worldwide. The grand finale was a week in Calabria right on the beach and a week in Pulgia, where they enjoyed some rest and relaxation in my friend Rachele’s trullo villa, named Madonna dell’Arco. My little shoes turned on quite the charm as well, contributing to some wonderful dates with romantic Italian men. From moonlight walks in ancient castles to sunsets and boat rides on Venetian canals, they blended right in with the romance and elegance of romance-renown Italy. But all good things must come to an end, si? With one last weekend in Rome, my Italy loving heels and I managed to escape what I had come to affectionately refer to as “Italy, the lovely black hole that is sucking me in”, and we moved onward to Spain.
The Other Latin Love – The Spanish Family Roots
The other Latin country, Spain, held for my traveling-feet-loving-shoes similar terrain and elements to walk on, such as the ancient cobblestone and rock. This was especially true for my visit to Granada where an entire day touring the Alhambra proved my heels to be experts by this point at not sinking in between the random-sized pavers of stone and marble. We strolled all over Seville, enjoyed the beach and narrow old streets of Cadiz and Rota, and lived a daily local’s life of walking to the market for groceries and swims at the community pool in Higuera la Real, which lies in the rural countryside of Extremadura. There were castles and old churches that we tip-toed into so as not to cause echoes to sound off the vaulted Romanesque architecture, reminding us fondly of similar explorations in Italy. Eventually, my Seychelles supported me to Madrid to do some more extensive walking to view the sites of that amazing lively and beautiful city. And after all of this, we arrived at our current destination of Oviedo.
Here in Oviedo, there is still a lot of walking that keeps me and Seychelles in shape, yet it’s not quite as intense in terms of the many hours and long days. The heels have certainly seen a little bit more dancing here though and tapped away rhythmically to more and more fantastic jazz music at all the local gigs we’re finding. And, like the wanderers we are, we have not kept to just Oviedo in this northern region of Spain called Asturias…we’ve enjoyed languid and relaxed strolls through the tiny villages of Tuna and Tineo in the mountainous green countryside here. And we enjoyed steep ancient roads and inspiring sunset beaches in the larger port city of Gijon, which you can read about in another post of mine: A Glorious Day in Gijon, Spain. Looking at them now, I appreciate every fray, scratch, and stain, even though those are hardly visible but I know exist from olive oil and wine splashes. I am excited that there is yet more to be traveled and had with them! After all, it’s still three weeks till we board a plane again and cross back over to Colorado…hhhmmmm, we may have time for that excursion to Lisbon, Portugal after all… (note to reader – since writing and actually posting this, I decided to stay indefinitely in Europe and did enjoy a wonderful week in Lisbon, where, yes, my Seychelles explored new ground and beautiful amazing sites and people! I am now writing this from Spain.)
Looking back over all the amazingly beautiful foreign places I have covered in my Seychelles, what especially and most endearingly comes to mind, are the people. Those fellow travelers and local hosts that we have walked with, met along the roads and paths we have explored, danced with in bars that we’ve relaxed in, and enjoyed meals with in authentic local restaurants. All the walking and wearing and tearing make it that much more sweet and precious for my Seychelles and me when they rest so lite and comfortably hugging my feet, swinging gently under a dinner table in the friendly warmth and loving company of a welcoming home that embraces us and our travels with their family-like hospitality.