In November of 2004, after a particularly difficult year, I travelled to Europe for the 2nd time. In July of 2005, after a particularly wonderful six months (and by happenstance, directly before the start of the hardest period of my life thus far), I travelled once again to Europe. The routes went something like this:
November 2004 – flight from New Orleans to London, immediate train from London to Cologne, immediate train from Cologne to Vienna, day trip by bus from Vienna to Bratislava, bus back from Bratislava to Vienna, flight from Vienna to London, then back to New Orleans. The trip was about 14 days in all, including my birthday, and the majority of it was spent in Vienna visiting my friend KT. It was amazing, and just what I needed right then to get me through the sadness of the last year.
July 2005 – flight from New Orleans to London, train from London to Bruges, train from Bruges to Vienna, train from Vienna to Venice, train from Venice to Nice, train from Nice to Paris, train from Paris to Chartres, train from Chartres to Paris, train from Paris to Versailles, train from Versailles to Paris, train from Paris to London, then back to New Orleans. This trip was also about 14 days in all, including the 4th of July (spent along the Danube, drinking imported American beer and listening to Credence Clearwater Revival on a little radio). The premise of the trip was to visit my friend KT in Vienna again, but this time my other friend Trinity was also in Europe, and the trip was magical. After visiting Vienna, Trin and I left for Venice (not so great), then we parted ways. She went on to explore the rest of Italy, while I went to sun on the beach in Nice, then hang out in Paris for a couple of days before heading back to London.
My trusty black Converse low tops went with me on both trips.
They accompanied me to six different countries. They were there when KT and I missed our plane to see The Decemberists in Berlin for my 23rd birthday. They were there when I prayed in the catacombs of Stephansdom. They were there when I saw how rowdy a bunch of Irish kids can get when U2 comes on at the pub. They were there to see the great cathedral at Cologne, and to witness the soul-aching beauty of Notre-Dame de Chartres. They were there to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle, and to fall in love for just a second with a fellow tourist in Versailles. They (and two heroic Swedish backpackers) were there to help me run away from a knife-wielding lunatic in the dead of the night outside of Paris Nord, and to help me find some amazing Indian food just down the street from the London Eye.
I loved those shoes, and took photos of them all over Europe. In the end, I was wearing them to wait tables in 2006 (yes, they were also there to escape Hurricane Katrina with me) when I accidentally spilled bleach on them. I was so upset that the manager had to take over my tables while I went into hysterics in the back store room. Now, they live in a box. I wore them until the soles began to wear out, then didn’t have the heart to throw them away. One day I mean to frame the stinky old things in a shadow box, along with a map of their travels. I’ve been through two more pairs of black Converse low tops since then, one of which went back to Europe with me in 2007. They just aren’t the same, though.
Last summer, in 2012, I went back to Venice, and to Croatia, Perugia, and Ancona for the first time. I wore TOMS. They were much more comfortable than my Converse. Not as sturdy, though. Not as emotionally fulfilling.