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Cobblestone streets, 21 day Europe trip, sneakers or mary jane shoes, ?best soles

I have tried the highly suggested Ecco 7 sneaker shoe and they were too tight, so I took them back to Nordstrom Rack. I want something that would look good with Capris. I am 58 years old. I am considering athletic shoes just because of the cobblestone streets. However, I would like something a little more stylish. My favorite everyday shoes I wear with jeans are Merrill's. We will be in Europe for all of July and I do have a great pair of sandals. I have no significant foot issues. I hate to shop for shoes, but I know I need a closed pair as well as sandals. I thought I would try ordering from, with their free return policy. All suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

Posted by
867 posts

I love Merrill's, too, but am currently extremely comfortable in a pair of black lace-up Keens, "Presidio II" that I got at REI, and will be wearing them to Sicily soon. They have a great athletic-type sole, but a more "citified" top structure.

Posted by
7606 posts

I LOVED this trip! It is just fabulous but it is strenuous and you've got to keep your feet in good shape. One of the gals on my trip had shoes she wore easily to work but they did not hold up to the walking on the tour and thus she had serious foot issues thru the trip.

I'd go with athletic shoes that you can walk 10 miles in. I'm not kidding. We did 10-12 miles in both Amsterdam and Rome and that was the guided part! Going the time of year you are traveling, I'd have athletic shoes that are made of fabric and a little more ventilated than some of the leather ones are.

I love Zappos - I have a big, wide foot and just default to ordering from Zappos any more. I like Altras but they are a Zero Drop platform - meaning the heel and forefoot height are the same - and you have to get used to them. If you've been wearing shoes with a heel it may be uncomfortable on your Achilles until it stretches back out.

If the Merrills work for you and you can do that distance in them I'd consider taking them. I'm not a sandal person and the streets of Europe are dirty. I see many people on here using sandals like Keen Rose style but they are too narrow to me.

Shoes...and feet...are so varied it's hard to know what your feet will like. Whatever you do, get them soon and start bumping up your miles!

This may bore you because it's so old....but here's my TR from this trip.

Posted by
9388 posts

I use both athletic shoes and Mary Janes when we travel and I take only those two for,up,to two months of travel. The Mary Janes are my”dressy” shoe but I can walk in them all day. Critical for me is an orthotic insert which I buy annually at The Walking Co. If you go to their store, they will assess you and make a recommendation. My shoes last longer and the inserts are a barrier against those cobblestones or rough trails.

Posted by
16581 posts

I never had foot problems until 2017. Now that I'm retired, I can take long trips, and I basically live in athletic shoes (as close to solid black as I can find) both at home and on the road. I have a somewhat high arch, so I use non-custom Aetrex memory-foam orthotics if I'm going to do much walking (which is every day when I'm traveling), as suggested to me by a fitter at a good shoe store.

On the third of my four recent long trips I developed plantar fasciitis in one foot. The only thing that was different for that trip was the shoes I was wearing--waterproof (which certainly wasn't the issue) with a comparatively firm sole (which I assume was). On my other trips I wore On Cloudrunner shoes with what I call a "bouncy" sole.

Feet are very individual things; many people can get by with cute, sort of unstructured shoes. I could not do that; I need supportive shoes and inserts, and I now realize that I also need to avoid shoes with firm soles.

You may not need shoes that are or look like trail-runners, but the only way to find out (reasonably for sure) whether you can manage with something like Mary Janes is to try them out on several 7- to 10-mile days in a row while you're at home, with a backpack or purse carried crossbody (whatever you plan to do in Europe) and loaded with as much weight as you'll be carrying during the trip. (My plantar fasciitis cropped up on the side where I carry my purse.) Even that amount of testing isn't a guarantee. I was PF-free for more than 3 months during which I probably averaged 6 miles per day.

Posted by
123 posts

Take a look at the Mephisto AllRounder Niro shoe. Good sturdy sole, adjustable straps at the back and across the front, has some mesh in the sides that make it a good shoe for summer, and comes in a variety of colours, some of which are quite summery.

Posted by
226 posts

I hate tennis shoes and have found Mary Janes work really well for walking all day. Many if they have thicker soles but still look tourist-dressy. I have a pair of Arcopedias on now. They're my go-to winter shoe (for a non-polar vortex part of the country). They have an unusual fit but worked well for me. If you go with zappos, put them on for several hours at a time. If you stay inside, they can still be returned.

Posted by
669 posts

Even as you wear shoes around the house/work, keep in mind that the demands of your trip are much different. You will be in Europe in July, in which heat and humidity produce sweaty feet, and changes the impact and fit of the shoes on your feet. In addition, you will be walking up and down steep hills, which once again changes the way your feet strike your shoes. I have even noticed a marked difference between pairs of socks and shoe comfort.

Once you have chosen your shoes, I would suggest extensive practicing on hills prior to your trip, especially in humid weather, and with the exact socks you plan to pack.

I have had much success with Aetrex shoes and sandals, which I believe another poster mentioned. Also- Earth shoes seem to offer comfort and support.

And- forget stylish- comfort is primal- just crop the feet out of your photos!
Safe travels!

Posted by
3280 posts

I believe DSW also has free return policy, I have a brick and mortar store close for easy returns. I like to order online for best selection and sizing. They sometimes have better pricing than Zappos. I have a high arch, wider feet and a chronic problem with a morton's neuroma, that flares when I do a lot of walking/running without "perfect" shoes. I have "Perfect Step", insoles that I got for about $20 at a local running store. When I travel, I like my Merrill sandals and black Nike's. My daughter says "they don't wear running shoes in Europe". I long ago decided, so what, I do, and they do, too, actually. My difficulty has been what to wear with capris or dresses/skirts when its too cold for sandals. No ballet flat seems to work. Sometimes I do just wear the Nike's and I have some really comfy black Skeecher ballet type shoes, with a cushy, thicker sole, I love them, except they don't feel secure when I'm doing more active walking. It's like my feet don't stay in place and I worry I will roll an ankle. I found some black Jambu brand shoes on clearance at DSW so decided to take a chance. I love them. They have more coverage than a sandal with a covered toe and heel but they are fairly open on the side. I took them to southern and middle Spain in November. I did bring some lightweight black socks that I could wear with them with pants or jeans and they just look like mary Janes, then. It was warm enough that I never did add the socks. And they were like magical on my feet. People with "problem feet" will understand. It was nice to be able to switch between the Nike's and the Jambus, because even great shoes seem to need to alternate out on occasion.

Posted by
3317 posts

The shoe style that I’ve worn 95% of the time during our last six trips to Europe is the Keen Rose sandal. They are instantly comfortable for me, and the toe cover has saved me from breaking a toe on the cobblestones & a marble bathroom ledge a couple of times.

Posted by
3 posts

WOW!! So much help. I am overwhelmed. Thank you so much for taking the time to write. I will follow up on the suggestions. Thank you!

Posted by
70 posts

I love Taos sneakers. They look much better with capris than athletic shoes and have great arch support. They come in lots of fun colors, I have denim. A bit spendy but worth it, give them a try!

Posted by
16581 posts

One other thought: Be careful about taking two pairs of shoes with a substantial difference in heel height. Full-length slacks that work with thick-soled shoes may drag on the pavement if you wear them with thinner-soled sandals. I ruined a pair of slacks that way.

Posted by
5163 posts

Another vote for Keen Sandals. I love the Keen product. Have 8 different pairs.

Costly yes but worth Every penny IMHO.

Depending on weather Hike the Charlie Turner Trail in LA’s Griffith park in either my 7 year old Keen Newport Sandals or my 8 year old Keen low cut Targhee hiking shoe.

The latter also comes with me on my November - December UK sojourns. For casual wear during those months it’s one of these three options; the Keen Presidio lace up, Kaci slip on or Keen water proof zip boot.

Have worn them all. All comfortable, durable.

Guess for your summer sojourn take a look at their Mary Janes.

Posted by
2296 posts

For July, Keen Rose is the way to go for a lot of us. They are absolutely worth the money-I lucked out and got mine on Amazon for $65 but after wearing them on a trip to Spain and Portugal, I would pay twice that without blinking an eye

Posted by
432 posts

Guy here, speaking only from anecdotal conversations with women who walk.

Skechers has a new model of their women’s walking/travel shoe that is highly regarded, the GoWalk4. Personally, I rely on Altra Paradigms, maximum cushioning, zero drop. The ladie’s version is a fabulous shoe.

Find an athletic shoe company in your town and get your shoes professionally fitted and your feet evaluated. Five decades of buying cheap or inappropriate shoes has contributed to my foot problems.

Shoes are incredibly important when traveling. You’ve got to know you can walk two to twelve miles on a wide variety of terrains and surfaces and not hurt your feet or damage them, which could end your adventure. You buy the best shoes you can afford and that your believe in and then you test them for fifty or more miles—not to break them in, most of the shoes we buy these days don’t need to be broken in—but to make sure they don’t cause any issues or aggravate existing issues like plantar fasciitis, compromised metatarsal padding, arch weirdness, or neuroma inflammation.

Posted by
328 posts

Rieker (Remonte) has stylish sneakers that are very comfy.

Posted by
40 posts

Another vote for Taos or Jambu products. I have had a few pairs of either brand at this point and they are worth the money.

Posted by
685 posts

I agree that shoe requirements differ according to the feet and body of the wearer.
In my every day life I wear only Keens. There are a lot of different styles to match every situation.
For European travel I wear Teva de la vina lace up boots. I find I do better with laces as they can be easily adjusted for foot swelling. I also want the ankle support of the boot. No foot rolling while walking on uneven medieval streets while looking up at something. I travel spring or fall, so no need for capris or shorts. I do wear light weight nylon slacks which are fine for warmer days.
As a second pair of shoes I take a pair of keen CNX Zephyr shoes. Pack small and still have good tread on the bottom.

The only time I have noticed another traveler's shoes was when they were more stylish than functional and the person was suffering.

Posted by
4 posts

I just recently developed foot issues, sesamoiditis (ball of foot tendon issues), and was informed I also have high arches which contribute to this condition. I purchased Hoka Bondi 6 at the recommendation of my podiatrist, and inserts for my arch issues. So far, I really like the Hoka athletic shoe, light, cushy, and allows me to walk with more comfort. We will be heading to Europe as well and I plan to take the Hokas along. Thanks for the ideas on alternate shoes, as I am also looking for non-athletic shoes to wear in the evening/dinner outings, etc. And yes, your feet don't have to be in photos! :-)

Posted by
14 posts

Here's what i have found. Just about every area has a running shop that caters to runners. They typically have a staff that have been trained on fitting a proper shoe. This is not fitting just as to your size but what will work for you and typically have you walk on a treadmill while they watch you move. My wife does running (I do cycling) and she suckered me into a half marathon. So the shoes i used were not working but after getting properly fitted, running was more comfortable but for doing trips with long walks, they are better than anything out there because they work for my body type and geometry. I went through 10 pairs until I found the right ones. For me, it was a Brooks Glycerine and they are not cheap but i can tell you that they have been great for those long walks and especially out on the street where the surface is not great.

So, those running shops are typically dead in the middle of the day during the week and they will spend as much time as you need to get the right fitment.

Posted by
64 posts

How about the best of both world's? Allrounders by Mephisto are great for serious walking (including on cobblestones). I first saw their Nero style (a Mary Jane) on a fellow Rick Steves tour member & have purchased several pairs over the years. I travel all over the world (for months at a time) & usually wear the Nero or Nimbo styles as my basic walking shoe, as they are cuter than sneakers, but have a lot of support & shock absorption. Allrounders (made in Asia) are the less expensive brand of the more expensive Mephistos (made in France). Depending on where you live, you might have to purchase on the internet, although Allrounders are available in Mephisto stores in major cities. I bought my first pair in Paris, but often purchase through various internet stores, including Zappos. There are many colors (both neutral & very colorful) & various fabrics. You might be lucky enough to find some styles/colors on sale. Prices & colors vary from store to store, but black, navy, brown & some kind of beige are always available somewhere. I would suggest going first to the Mephisto Allrounder website, in order to read the features of the shoes & glean the latest selections. However, some of the internet businesses might have other colors. I just got back from India & Nepal, where I wore black Neros in mud, snow, dust & puddles. I cleaned the fabric with a damp cloth & washed/scraped mud from the soles, as needed, making them as good as new for the next day. I hope this is helpful & that you have a wonderful trip. I, too, will be in Europe in July (& June, August & September) & will be wearing my go-to Allrounders much of the time. I love them!

Posted by
613 posts

Sneakers/athletic shoes don't have the rigidity needed to battle cobblestones. Some Merrills are OK. Best: anything with a classic Vibram sole (absolutely no slip in rain)-- check Cabela's & Rockport. I need a little more experience but I'm close to saying that Natural Balance' most expensive waking shoe is first choice.

Do not use sandels.