09 Jul
These Shoes Were Meant to Travel


I am back!! Every now and then, I guest blog for Maureen Haddock, unbeknownst to her, of course (click here to read my last blog).  Maureen is slowly recovering from her Viking River Cruise in Russia.

I am Ivory, metallic leather with patent toes, and I was born to the Spring 2013 collection of Pluggz shoes. I consider myself to be a classic, because my design has been carried-over for several seasons. Maureen is a fan of ballet flats by Pluggz, Ivory in particular. I often travel with her, in her tote or on her feet. She says I am comfortable, fashionable, the correct colour, and featherlight to carry.

Let me tell you about Russia from my vantage point. The important paperwork was done long before our arrival, so everything went well in the Moscow airport. The female customs official didn’t smile, but stamped passports, aggressively. Her shoes were part of her uniform, and they refused to make eye contact with me.

Viking representatives met us, escorted us to our transportation, and placed us on one of three Viking boats in port. I had met a lovely pair of Mephistos on the plane, conversed about the upcoming cruise, and fully expected we would be on the same boat. Alas, the Mephistos boarded another ship. We boarded the Viking Rurick, and I felt at home, immediately. Coincidentally, the hotel manager, named Wilhelm, had met us the previous year on the Viking Skadi. I remembered his well-polished shoes. They were as down to earth and friendly as their owner.

Moscow is a busy city, and smiles are rare. If you know Maureen, you know this left her feeling unsettled. Me too. In fact, since our trip to Russia, I wake up in the night from a recurring dream. I am at a walk light in Moscow, surrounded by very high-heeled, front facing, officious shoes. When the light changes, hundreds of long legs propel these very high-heeled shoes right past me, mumbling brusquely for me to move out of the way. When I waken, safe at home in the dark closet, I am filled with fear of being trampled. I admit that it takes courage to be a ballet flat in a high-heeled world. Even for Maureen, I sometimes fall short of her beloved pewter pumps.  

As we travelled by bus, boat, or on foot, through the busy centers of several cities and large towns, I observed hundreds of tall, beautiful Russian women. It seemed unusual that so many well-tailored women walked with determination and speed, while wearing these formidably high-heeled shoes. Maureen was inclined to look for too long at the shoes, actually staring, therefore failing to get a photo of the selection. Although the shoes were glamorous, they were strong and self-assured. No one was going to step on those toes, if you know what I mean.

Maureen wore her blue boots to a Russian family home, in Uglich, where everyone smiled. I was in her purse but could see the moonshine being served. Tsk-tsk! The family had a large TV, a computer, electric lights, but no running water, which affects washing, bathing, cooking, gardening, and much more. The husband wore a pair of waterproof sandals, because he gardens, fishes, raises rabbits, and dries or smokes food for their harsh winters. Both husband and wife are educated, but must live frugally, making supplementary money in tourism. They are very proud of the accomplishments of their three children and are close to their own parents. In fact, the moonshine was made by the woman’s parents, but endorsed, enthusiastically, by her husband, and now by Maureen’s husband. I overheard Maureen ask her husband, Gord, if he could be happy living with her in that setting. His answer was, “Well, there is running water across the river. I think we would find a way to move.” What he probably meant to say was, "I'd be happy with you anywhere, my love." The Russian couple had been told, each year, that running water was coming in the spring, and for twenty years they believed this to be true. Their happiness was visible though, and they were wonderful hosts. They also have better tasting water in their well than is available on the other side. People ask to have water from their well, when it is pickling season.     

We made stops in Yaroslavl, Kirillov-Belozersky, Kizhi-Island, and the beautiful Mandrogy. Mandrogy was wet and rainy. Maureen wore those darn blue boots again, but I was able to peek over the edge of her tote to see the art and architecture so I appreciate the passion that the builder felt. Destroyed in World War Two, Mandrogy disappeared from maps until 1996. An enterprising Russian named Sergei Gutzeit rebuilt the town, as an open-air museum depicting a traditional Russian Village. Sergei opened the first privately owned restaurant in St. Petersburg and became a very successful entrepreneur. It would be nice, one day, for me to meet his shoes. 

I believe the best tour was my visit to The Hermitage. It is a rare gift for a pair of shoes to glide over inlaid wood and tile floors, no two the same, knowing royalty walked the same path centuries ago.

I know that sometimes the ceilings inspired the floors, but my line of sight was lost beneath Maureen’s skirt.  At one point, we were expected to wear shoe covers, to save a very special piece of floor, and while I was nervous at first, I found my other senses were enhanced by the darkness. It was a moderately exciting and mysterious experience. 

The next day, Maureen’s husband was setting up a perfect photo of the enormous St. Isaac’s Cathedral. In order to capture it completely, we ended up in the park across the street. I peeked over the edge of Maureen’s purse and saw three pairs of shiny pumps, smiling and calling to me. Before long, we were posing for a photo with three beautiful Russian police officers, on their graduation day. I tried everything to get into the photo, but Maureen kept tucking me under her arm. The Policewomen likely have work boots for regular days, but they looked like a public relations dream in their fitted uniforms, hats, hosiery, and pumps. 

One night, at dinner, I lamented, to a pair of kitten heels, that we didn’t have a photo of a single sexy high-heeled shoe on a beautiful Russian foot. The lady wearing the kitten heels drew Maureen’s attention to a wonderful pair of legs, accessorised with a fabulous pair of shoes, just a few tables over. On impulse, Maureen approached the table, openly asking to photograph the lady’s shoes. She was given permission to do so, and to publish the photo on this blog.

I am sure Maureen never intended to suggest this was a typical Russian career woman, but the similarities can't be overlooked. However, since I am doing this blog, let me tell you, clearly, that this gorgeous creature is from Los Angeles and is a busy executive. She may not be Russian, but, clearly, no one will step on her toes either.

And then, we were off to Paris for meetings and fun. I will always remember Paris, where we spent four days with friends, touring the city, and sitting on the balconies of the Victor Hugo Hotel. I rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I was awestruck by the Galeries Lafayette. I climbed the stairs to Sacre Coeur, and posed by the Arc De Triomphe. I stood near the Louvre, but I felt the four-hour wait to enter might have challenged even me. I peeked inside the Moulin Rouge, and, next time I am in Paris, I will take in a show. Even the airport, in Paris, is lovely. 

So, all in all, Russia, Paris, and Viking River Cruises provided adventure, even from my line of sight. Did I mention Maureen found an Alain Mikli store in Paris? I’ll let her tell you about that…Au revoir mes amis.

XX Ivory

Galeries Lafayette is one store, not a mall! It is the second most visited attraction in Paris, after the Louvre. Oui oui!







Comments (3)

  • Isabelle Mills
    July 25, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    I'm looking forward to your stories of your wonderful experiences on this last great journey

  • ralph johnstone
    July 13, 2014 at 09:55 am

    Maureen What an enjoyable, entertaining and interesting travelogue. Well done. I really enjoyed it.

  • Carol Senger
    July 11, 2014 at 02:55 pm

    Maureen, It's always nice to read your writing about your holiday adventures. I am looking forward to when we can actually get together.

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