No need to shake your desktop or laptop, you ARE seeing a little double… Long time suki’s of this blog know it is predominantly food focused, with an occasional rant and an even stranger footwear diversion every once in a while. In June 2006, espadrilles were featured as part of an overall Barcelona shopping post. The first dedicated shoe post came the month after, relating a shoe shopping spree in Florence, and that post got phenomenal reader attention and reaction. Orange crocs were the subject of this post in October 2006. In June 2007, a New York shoe post again elicited a lot of reader comments and mail. While a sandal post from Athens the following year in June 2008 continued the growing annual tradition. We must not have purchased any noteworthy shoes in 2009, hence the lack of a post last year… By now, the bounty of driving shoes I had acquired in Florence four years ago were well-used, and starting to get a bit ratty… Time for some serious shoe shopping. After two weeks in Madrid and Marrakech, we had purchased a surprisingly tiny amount of goods, wary of the strict baggage allowances on European airlines. I so wanted to stock up on fantastic Spanish canned seafood but resisted the temptation to do so. A few grams of saffron was our most precious acquisition at that point in time. The teen had purchased several espadrilles (alpargatas in Madrid). On our last day in Marrakech, we hired a taxi to take us to several highly recommended leather and shoe shops in a modern section outside the Medina, and boy did we hit the proverbial shoe “jackpot”…
We had some horrible experiences attempting to shop in the souks within the Medina, so we hadn’t bought much of anything at all. But a wonderful conversation with a British couple also staying in our riad (hotel) resulted in a list of highly recommended shops with fixed prices. We made a beeline for Atika, a local shoe store. Atika had a huge and colorful array of locally made suede and leather loafers, driving and other casual shoes for men, women and children that looked similar to (but not outright knock-offs) extremely expensive branded shoes in the West such as Tod’s or Hermes, but at a fraction of the cost. I tried on a pair of driving shoes and was impressed with the fit as well as the feel and quality of suede or leather. At $50-80 (P2,400 – 3,800) a pair, these were very well priced. I ended up with five pairs of shoes for myself, and picked out another 3 pairs as gifts for family and crew. If the store had been stocked up with more size 11′s, I would have probably purchased more… :)
Mrs. MM and the Teen had an even wider range of styles to choose from, and these nearly glove-leather soft tassled loafers in various colors were a steal at about $50-60 (PHP2,400-2,800) a pair. They ended up with 6 pairs, including some for family friends.
Brightly colored women’s driving shoes were also a deal, and they came in both suede and leather, in a wild range of colors. They had the dotted rubber soles for the right traction while driving, but even if you didn’t drive (the Teen is years away from a license), they made for comfortable casual shoes…
With shoes sizes of crew in hand, we managed to get them some low-heeled suede shoes in various colors, and the Teen also found leather lace-ups and ballerina flats… After a couple of hours of shopping, we had nearly two dozen pairs of shoes picked out, and things were going so well until I went head-to-head with one of the most stubborn, uncustomer-friendly, wickedly bizarre cashiers we HAVE EVER come across! It was like a scene out of “Sex and The City” meets “Godzilla” with hints of “Psycho” thrown in. All of it in my escalatingly screechy and sarcastic English, translated by Mrs. MM into Parisian accented French, directed at an infuriatingly obtuse cashier communicating in Arabic French. I won’t go into the gory details (it’s too annoying to relive and write up the experience), but it was a minor ordeal. If we hadn’t invested so much time in selecting the shoes and were about to leave the country with empty suitcases, we would not have persevered… :)
212 Ave. Mohammed V
(I hope the same cashier is NOT there the day you visit)
Within the souks, the Teen was able to get some suede babouches or “slippers” of sorts for herself and her barkada. If you are buying the plainest of babouches, don’t pay more than $8-10 a pair or you are being fleeced.
Finally, a photo of the espadrilles or alpargatas that were purchased in Madrid, for an amazing $5-12 a pair. Yup, it was a good trip for shoe-shopping. Almost Imeldific. :)