Every place we’ve visit, I try to pick up a little souvenir. Nothing big- something that reminds me of the city and is easy to ship home. In Basel, I bought a snowman ornament. In Brussels, I bought a tin of baking chocolate.
Athens did me in though.
Maybe you’ve heard…They kind of like olives in Greece- and as an olive fan myself, I was happy to sample the goods.
I even bought an olive-colored scarf- though I wasn’t conscious of the color choice until after we were on the plane heading home. It must have been a subliminal thing.
My most exciting souvenir from Athens though? The sandals.
Yes, I realize it’s the middle of winter, but I think I’ve established my fondness for a good pair of shoes…or really, any pair of shoes.
On our first night in Athens, I stumbled across a blog that touted the “poet sandal maker of Athens“, Stavros Melissinos and his son, Pantelis, who has taken over the business. The blog talked about the general awesomeness of the shop- which custom fits every pair of leather sandals- and the celebrities the shop has fitted. The Beatles. Jackie O. Barbra Streisand. Jeremy Irons. Sophia Loren. The list went on and on and on.
I was intrigued- who wouldn’t want custom fitted sandals from Athens? – but I was a little concerned about the price, as I do not have a celebrity paycheck. But, we decided to check it out.
The shop was just past the Athens flea market, off of a very busy street- but it was kind of unassuming, and easy to pass if you weren’t looking for it. There was a placard of sandals outside the shop- but then there are placards of sandals on practically every corner.
Inside, was a different story.
Stacks and stacks of leather sandals of all styles and sizes. Poster after poster of the celebrities and their sandals from the shop. It smelled great (if you like the smell of leather, like I do!).
Once the sole was a good fit, Pantelis set to making the sandal fit my feet exactly. The main sandal strap was a bit large, but within minutes he shortened it so the sandal wouldn’t move from my foot. Then, as I was wearing the sandals, he punched holes in the ankle strap to get the perfect fit and cut the leather to the perfect length.
Brisket also chose a pair- but they didn’t have his size in that style. Not a problem- they could custom make them on the spot. Once they got the right sole, it was only a few minutes before Pantelis was adjusting the leather to fit his feet too- talking and joking with us and Li the entire time.
And the fit? Perfect. They are the most comfortable sandals I think I own- and the leather will form to our feet and get more comfortable as we wear them.
The final price? Only 30 Euro each. A great deal for a custom-fitted pair of leather sandals- and an experience I won’t be able to find in the U.S.
Is anyone heading to Athens soon so I can get another pair?