Here is THE footwear post from our recent trip to Greece and Turkey. It’s funny how “traditions” seem to grow, even on a blog, and whenever we go on our annual trip, I now get several emails asking for “the shoe post, the shoe post”! Talk about regular readers! The first time I posted a shoe post, it was about our finds in Florence, Italy. That post got quite a bit of attention, and it made me think bout that “extra shoe gene” in most Filipinos (and yes, that applies to both females and males). Anecdotal evidence at best, but some of the comments were a bit rabid, in a nice way, if you know what I mean! Then a trip last year to New York, yielded another shoe post and the same strong reaction, so I figured a number of you would be interested in this post… We didn’t buy shoes on this recent trip, we bought sandals. And a LOT of sandals at one fairly well-known sandal maker in Athens…
There is a lot of mention in guidebooks about a well-known poet sandal-maker named Stavros Melissinos who has a handmade leather sandal shop near the Monastiraki metro stop. Over 50 years old, the shop is now run by his son, also an artist. Between the poetry and paintings, Melissinos designed and manufactured several styles of sandals, and they still customize the sandals to ensure a good fit for every buyer. Friends of our who had been to Greece a couple of years ago brought a pair of his sandals for Mrs. MM and she wanted to check the shop out for herself… A short 2-3 minute walk from the cheesier, touristy sections of Monastiraki, this small shop is packed to the rafters with sandals and leather bags. It smells quite literally like tanned cow hide…
There are just 27 styles on offer, some just for women, some for men, and several unisex appropriate. The leather is quite light in color, but with exposure to the sun and elements, they will darken beautifully over a few months or so (you can speed the process by wiping them with olive oil). Mrs. MM and The Kid tried on several pairs, and then, as if divined by the shoe/sandal gods, we suddenly had a pile of nearly a dozen sandals by our sides.
The next step was to customize the fit to our feet, and that involved removing some of the straps, shortening or widening and re-nailing. This is the KEY to the wonderful fit of these sandals. The chafing asociated will ill-fitting and hard leather sandals is minimized due to this part of their service offering.
There are hundreds of sandal makers and sandal shops in Athens, but only one Pantelis Melissinos. If you are looking to buy sandals, you might as well make trip to this place. With prices at Euro 18-23, these are very well-priced and will last several years. The shop has attracted several celebrities who have vacationed in Greece, and some of the sandals are named after their famous patrons such as the Jackie Onassis sandal, her husband’s Aristotle’s favorite design, John Lennon, Sophia Loren, and several others whose names escape me at the moment.
As for Marketman? I ended up with two simple pairs, this one called the “Felipe” after Prince Felipe of Spain, who prefers to don these on his jaunts to Greece or casually walking about Marbella, and another strappier version. In the photo up top, one darker pair of sandals was purchased by The Kid at another shop, but everything else was from Melissinos. Highly recommended for a nice and classic souvenir from Greece.
Agias Theklas 2