I thought I could do it. I thought I could travel with cute, pointy, ivory colored leather shoes with perforated holes, a pasted on buckle and one inch heels; my mom’s old Bally shoes from the late 1990s. It was the most comfortable pair of shoes that I had brought with me for a three day scheme that comprised of a day in London, a day in Berlin with a next morning train to Cologne.
This ‘that-makes-no-sense’ travel itinerary had been devised from my ingenious belief that it would be cheaper to fly into London with a budget round trip from London to Germany than directly flying to Berlin, and perhaps it would have been if things hadn’t happened so that rather than Berlin, I had to be in Cologne the day I was arriving in Berlin. The whole mess was topped off by my bad choice of footwear. Why had I even worn this pair and did I really think it would sustain me? Well, reason number one for my defense was coming from the suburbs of Atlanta where the aforementioned shoes were not walked in for more than an hour a day, I was under the false impression that they were comfortable. Reason number two being I wanted to be cute for a guy that was picking me up at the airport. Both bad reasons to try and defy the laws of travel shoes.
Upon meeting the cute guy in the morning, I realized I had to kill time in various pubs all across London starting from Heathrow to Kings Cross drinking orange juice because the cute guy had turned into a cute pain in the ass. Luckily, I was awaiting a friend from Cambridge to show her around South London. Once she arrived, I wanted to enter the area in style so took her to the Millennium bridge to walk across to Tate Modern and then on to South London. I had mentally planned out a full afternoon of walking in order for her to see everything that was needed to be seen all the way to the Design museum which was 300 meters past Tower Bridge. However, I started to feel there could be a serious problem at around Borough Market, where I was starting to feel the pinch of my toes and the rain was slowly dampening my shoes making my whole foot cold.
Even with these warning signs, I showed no signs of stopping and it was actually my friend with her walking sneakers and money belt that suggested we take a break in a pub, which went on to last till it was time for dinner, at which point I had suggested another ingenious idea of meeting at the Green Point tube station to show my friend along with ex-cute guy the area of Mayfair up to Oxford Street, when we technically could have met at Bond tube station. Halfway through our walk, I realized my feet where killing me and the jetlag was starting to hit hard. The night went on to encompass more walking around to find a restaurant to eat in, and then going from Kings Cross back to Heathrow to sleep at a hotel near the airport.
The next day in Berlin, I just wanted to sleep but I felt obliged to the ex-cute guy to walk around various points of Berlin with him, which included Checkpoint Charlie and a stop at Friedrichstrasse and a walk down Unter den Linden. With each step I was starting to feel my middle toe on both feet throbbing and tingling and since it was also raining in Berlin, the repetitive contact with water puddles had completely soaked through to whereby there were light brown water stains surrounding the sole of my shoes. It was during this time that I realized that new shoes were a must but unfortunately it was Sunday and most of the shops in Berlin were closed. Luckily, I was able to rest in the late afternoon and only went out again for dinner near Hackescher Markt which required only having to go up and down Oranienstrasse once before a place to eat was found.
That evening as I lay in bed I felt my middle toe on both feet throbbing, a constant reminder of the injustice that I had done to them. The next morning, I didn’t think I could make it back to the train station to catch my train to Cologne. However, I did make it and went on to buy shoes in Cologne the next day. During the following six months, I was able to carefully assess the damage I had done and its repercussions. Turns out that although the other two middle toes next to the central middle toe were slightly effected resulting in a tingling sensation when I squeezed them, the middle toe was just numb, to the point where I couldn’t feel the fingers I was using to squeeze and pinch them. And as a punishment or a strange reminder of my vain ways, I was ushered to sleep by the throbbing of my middle toe for the next six months.
Places traversed with pointy shoes
Borough Market- Fascinating market with artistic spreads of fruit, real feathered game hanging by its feet on stalls, good food, and an atmosphere dating back to the 13th century Located at 8 Southwark Street directly in next to Southwark Cathedral, www.boroughmarket.org.uk, London Bridge tube Open: noon-6 p.m. Fri; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.
Ackselhaus Berlin- A pension where you get more than what you paid for with themed rooms, antique furniture, modern lighting fixtures, and a fully functioning kitchen. Located in Prenzlauerberg at Belforter Strasse 21, 10405 Berlin, Tel: +49 (0)30 44 33 76 33, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.ackselhaus.de