It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Jordan, it was the sickest I’ve ever been while traveling. Like the classic A Tale of Two Cities, my trip to Jordan left impressions in my mind – and on my soles – that I won’t ever forget.
When I decided to set off on this seven-month journey, I spent a long time deliberating what to bring, and how to pack. In reality, it’s not hard for me to part with most of my wardrobe: I’m a bit of a Mark Zuckerberg in that I like to have all of my clothes very similar, and just wear the same style over and over… I’ve discussed this several times in my ‘What to Pack‘ posts.
Shoes, however, will always be the death of me. It’s not that I’m a huge fan of shoes. But in packing for seven months, I knew I would need to have some options: casual shoes, running shoes, boots, heels, and flats.
I decided to pare down to three shoes for the first several months, and packed my boots in a box that will meet Mr. Valise and I in Germany in September. I also ruled out heels, reasoning that if the only time I could guarantee wearing them was at the one wedding I have this summer, I couldn’t justify the space they would take up.
Flats were also a challenge for me, strangely enough. For the past year, I’ve been a devotee of the TOMs Jutti flat. Like all TOMs, once they break it, they’re so comfortable you never want to take them off. Unfortunately, they also have about a three-month shelf-life before the suede stretches out so much that they start to fall off. I needed something new, and was in the market for something compact that could last for more than a handful of months.
In my research, I came across Tieks by Gavrieli – I had also seen their awesome Facebook page and colorful, engaging ads. On the whole, women raved about their flats: the hand-made Italian leather was super comfortable and they loved the colors, but I was a bit put off by the price: $175 per pair. Ouch! That’s worth more than most of my wardrobe!
I finally made the leap just before we left Seattle, and was pleased from the start. For starters, they fold in half and fit inside a bag about 4 inches-by-4 inches. From a space-saving perspective, they’re a great choice for traveling. They also offer so much more (including great customer service, as I had to exchange sizes and they made the process totally painless).
This is the story of the journey my Tieks took with me to Jordan, how far we traveled together, and why I’m now a customer for life.
In the patterned stone courtyard of the Blue Mosque, Amman.
From the first day of my trip, I knew packing my Tieks was the right choice: as I picked my way across the dusty stones in Jerash, my feet were comfortable and agile. As I donned the shapeless black robe at the King Abdullah Mosque later, I felt demure enough to blend in among the fashionable Jordanian women I had been secretly observing all day. My matte black flats aren’t as flashy as some of the other patterns and colors they offer (like Leopard, Fuchsia, or Tangerine!), but they are the perfect color for nearly every other occasion I encountered.
On the stone streets of Dana.
While I didn’t wear them while hiking in Dana Biosphere Reserve, I did slip them on to wander the roughly cobbled streets to enjoy the sunset – and sunrise several hours later. They became my in-house shoes, my sight-seeing shoes, my sit-in-the-hot-car shoes, and more.
I put them on again when I woke up and needed to go to the hospital for anti-histamine shots. They matched the black shorts and hoodie I wore them when the nurse examined me; they also went with my black encircled Chrysalis Cardi when I got dressed to visit Petra-by-night.
Near a lantern in the sand, at Petra by Night.
Wearing my Tieks made me feel like Princess Jasmine in Aladdin, when I finally gave into the heat and invested in a pair of loose cotton pants and lightweight scarf for the second half of the trip. I wore them in the back of a pickup truck exploring Wadi Rum, and the next morning atop a camel to watch the sunrise over the desert. They were splattered with red wine when I broke a bottle against a stone (I was trying to open it!), and I shook sand out of them more times than I can remember. My feet have left their prints inside – you’ll never mistake my Tieks for anyone else’s!
On the shores of the Dead Sea, about to take the plunge (sans shoes!).
I even wore them on my walk to the Dead Sea on the last day. Picking my way slowly down the empty dirt road that lead from the hotel – an oasis of luxury – to the quiet beach and calm water, I realized that I had worn them every single day of my trip, including the plane ride, two hospital trips, from Amman to Aqaba, and everywhere in between.
Partly borne of necessity, having no other shoe choice than my running shoes, I ‘broke in’ and fell in love with my Tieks during my trip to Jordan. They served me well in so many situations, protecting my feet, keeping them cool, making them look good, and ensuring that I didn’t have to worry about comfort no matter the terrain or surroundings.
A few days after I returned home, I was walking to the train in Brooklyn, unprotected from a steady drizzle. Just like that, the rain was washing away all the sand and stains from my Tieks. The scuffed toes and heels – a souvenir from scaling the stone walls of houses in Dana – are still there though. My Tieks flats are no longer the beautiful, well-cared-for shoes I hoped they would be, but they have a story to share. That’s worth more to me than the price I paid for them.
Prints in the sand of Wadi Rum.
This review was not sponsored by Tieks by Gavrieli. I highly recommend them based on my personal experiences, and would love to share more details of my experience wearing them, if you’re deciding whether to invest in your first pair.