It seems that no matter where I travel in this world, I always end up finding shoes. I don’t do it on purpose, I mean, I don’t go shoe shopping. I just seem to find them, like a dog finds a buried bone.
Also, I should mention, I am not a shoe fanatic. Don’t get me wrong, I like shoes, but I don’t have excessive amounts of them even despite my years owning a woman’s boutique. But, when I travel and find a great pair of shoes that are different and fit well, I scoop them up.
Recently, my clever friend Rachel (aka the Messy Minimalist), wrote a post on her blog titled Traveling Without Souvenirs. (Check it out, it’s good.) Her query into a trip sans souvenirs got me thinking about my own dislike of dust collecting knick-knacks purchased with the hopes that in years to come the act of looking at them might transport me back to that great vacation or help me to remember the experience better. While reading her article I declared out loud and rather self righteously, “no!, I don’t buy souvenirs” …. but then I remembered the shoooes. I guess I do buy souvenirs …. “souvenir shoes”.
I was on business in Dusseldorf, Germany, a fashion trade fair, and, like I mentioned in my 4 Secret Gardens in Paris post, I often take half day or even a full day to “wander” when visiting cities; even when I am on a business trip. I justify the time spent as a “self-care” day to recharge my creative batteries. Where I live, there isn’t urban culture and the kind of creative stimulation that only a city can provide. My wanderings usually consist of picking an end destination somewhere in the city. It might be a restaurant, museum, shop, garden, or other place of interest. The point of these “wanderings” is to work my way to my end destination via a route that I have not yet explored. If, along the way, I find something else to see, do, or experience and I never make it to my final destination, it’s all good. The point of the wandering is to just let things unfold.
On this trip to Dusseldorf, I decided I would take a day and wander in Cologne. For this wandering, my goal was a bit different. I had never taken a train in Europe from one city to another by myself. I like to challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone when traveling. It has led to all sorts serendipitous experiences and leaves me feeling a bit more empowered. So the goal was to go from Dusseldorf to Cologne by train on my own. It is a short trip and one that can be accomplished in a day with the added benefit of a whole day’s worth of time to wander in the city. To give this wandering a bit of structure, I did have a couple of destinations within Cologne that I wanted to see. The Schokoladen Museum (the chocolate museum), the Cologne Cathedral, and a boutique called Das Werk but the rest was left up to fate.
The Cathedral, was very beautiful and, since it was just steps from the train station, it did not lead me on much of an adventure. The Chocolate Museum, which required quite a long but nice walk through an old part of town and along the Rhine River, was closed. (Ummmmm …. and I fancy myself an experienced traveler … note to self: always remember to look up the hours and days of operation.) The real wandering happened as I made my way from there to Das Werk.
I wandered westward from the Chocolate Museum winding my way in the general direct of Das Werk. I got a little mixed up in a residential neighborhood with nothing to see but housing, schools, and offices. This is one of the hazards of wandering, I sometimes end up in an area I don’t want to be in. Nothing that a cappuccino can’t fix. I found a sweet little place to stop and have pick me up coffee … even in this dull part of town there was a darling cafe to enjoy, Cafe Libresso.
After the coffee I was refreshed and ready to wander my way out this neighborhood. Pointing myself in the direction of Das Werk, I finally found this amazing shop! Its cave like atmosphere with exposed brick walls was the perfect setting for this emporium of avant- garde handmade clothing. Despite my efforts to find something that worked for me in this shop, that day I did not find a suitable piece. Hmmm …. I really should put some thought into the idea that I might also have “souvenir clothing” in my closet.
Bummed that I didn’t score a new tog, I went in search of a cancellation prize …. lunch at the historic Metzgerei & Salon Schmitz. After lunch, that’s when it happened …. I had wandered pretty far to the west of the train station and the day was getting on, I thought I should start to make my way back. Turns out my nose for shoes pulled me around the corner from the restaurant to Flandrische Street. A block in, there is was, a Trippen store! This corner shop is housed in a classical style building with a gleaming white facade; not what you imagine for a Trippen store. Inside, however, was a clean well lite space; a gallery of Trippen shoes and boots for men and woman each displayed in their own nook and individually lit from above like a priceless piece of artwork.
The sales person was beyond nice and since it was a quiet day on the streets (a rainy Monday) we had a long talk about business and fashion. He helped me try on several choices and in the end I decided on this one.
And so my “souvenir” from Cologne was in hand or should I say …. on my feet. Along the way, I had a wonderful day wandering in Cologne and I remember if fondly each time I put on my Trippen Boots.
Safely, back in Dusseldorf after my solo train trip and day long city adventure I treated myself to what everyone in Dusseldorf does …. a cold Alt beer. I don’t really like beer but EVERYONE said I must have one and it wasn’t too bad!