Sparkly Silver Salsa Shoes

20 01 2010

The gold stilettos are pouting. There is a new addition to the shoe rack, and they are getting a lot of attention these days—a lot more than the stilettos are (especially in light of the frigid weather of late). For some months now I have been meaning to properly introduce these snazzy new (and highly alliterative) shoes, so here they are…

I’ve been enamored of salsa for a long time, officially since I first took lessons in Spain during my summer abroad in Granada. Since then, I’ve tried to no avail to convert countless friends, until finally I met Liz in Buenos Aires. As regular readers know, we bonded instantly over our mutual love of travel (specifically Latin culture) and sweets (specifically alfajores), but even more fun—and perhaps a little surprising—was the discovery that we both loved salsa. This led to the infamous night early in my Argentina trip where I (and my poor feet) learned painful lesson that dancing shoes should not be purchased in a hurry (cue silly Arthur Murray song, which really has no relevance, but I like it).

On Liz’s visit to New York, we of course went dancing, but it was a major struggle to find a place. I searched Salsa New York until my head hurt, but it was simply too overwhelming to figure out where to go. We ended up at a club called Latin Quarter, but only managed to get a few dances in. She left, and I continued to say I was going to find places to dance (shouldn’t be hard in the city that is said to have coined the name, right?), and continued to fail in my pursuit.

Finally, this past September, I gave up on trying to cajole friends into coming with, and started taking classes at Salsa International. Fascination quickly turned into obsessed, and soon I was shopping for my very own salsa shoes, which have now been in the family for a couple months and are already very well loved. Their suede bottoms slide easily on the dance floor (though require that I periodically brush the soles to maintain the suede) and they’ve been getting so much use they’ve started to feel a bit like a second skin. I’ve also made a whole new set of friends as equally obsessed with salsa as I, so I’m no longer strapped for people to go dancing with.

The lesson learned here is twofold: 1) don’t wait around for friends to develop the same interests; if you want to do something, go out and do it; and 2) the shoes make all the difference. (Just don’t tell the stilettos that.)





Elda, Spain Shoe Outlets – Take Me There

4 06 2009

It’s come to my attention that Avenida Camila Jose Cela in Elda, Spain (just a few hours outside Madrid) is also known as the Spanish Shoe Outlet Route. Hello. Someone sign me up.

It is here that several designers, including Paco Gil and now Chie Mihara, have outposts, and sell their shoes at a discount. I loved Spain before, but our love affair just got a little deeper. Sure, outlet prices are still probably pretty steep, but it never hurt a girl to look, right?

Also in Elda? Museo del Calzado, also known as the Museum of Footware. It’s sounding like I need to take the stilettos on a little field trip…





Living the Dream

19 09 2008

Yes, I survived Fashion Week. (Barely.) My feet are still a little angry with me and have refused to wear heels since Saturday, but they are gearing up for Saturday, when the fabulous Liz, my Buenos Aires friend comes from London. I am still getting over the cold I acquired and I have finally found the floor in my room.

But don’t feel sorry for me. I certainly don’t. Fashion Week was rough, but absolutely amazing too. I met some great people, made a new friend, saw some gorgeous clothes, and wrote a lot. I also got to have my photo taken with Tyson Beckford and spoke to  J. Alexander from America’s Next Top Model.

But here is the best part of all. Every day at Fashion Week I watched photographers get women up onto the runway and photograph their outfits. I vied with people for views of these women, thinking they were famous, only to find out that they weren’t. The photographers just wanted to capture their outfits. And their outfits were generally fabulous. And enviable.

Come Thursday, I was walking out of the tent, clad in my very favorite Club Monaco (which is not terribly Fashion Week) skirt with the drop waist, and a giant bag containing my laptop, totally out of it and on my way to another show, when a phtographer stops me. He wanted a photo of my outfit. My outfit. I was stunned. And quite not a little thrilled. And so shocked I forgot to ask who he was with. Oops. So there is a photo floating around somewhere of me in my new favorite outfit. Oh well, still exciting. (But don’t mention it to the gold stilettos. They are still seething that they were not along.)

And here, since I don’t have that photo, Tyson:

With new friends, and prettiness.

With new friends, and prettiness.





Shameless Self-Promotion: Happy Feet!

9 09 2008

Or, rather, make that Happy Shoes. My feet, on the other hand, may never be the same. But it’s all in the name of fashion.

(Enter Shameless Self Promotion…)

The gold stilettos are officially in heaven. And I’m blissfully happy (though insanely sleep-deprived) too! We’ve both gotten to attend one of New York’s coolest and most hyped events: Fashion Week. That’s right: yours truly is covering Fashion Week for Timeout New York! Huge, huge deal.

I started attending shows on Wednesday and am officially fascinated. It’s a whole other world, with great people watching, lots of lusting after gorgeous clothes, and very little sleep. But I’ll take it. I will post more thoughts later, but now that’s all the time I have. I will, of course, implore you to read about the shows, here.





Everything I Need to Know…

30 05 2008

…I learned from Sex and the City?

New York has Sex and the City fever this week. Movie theaters all over the city have had signs up all week advertising pre-sale tickets, the papers are all buzzing with the hype and anticipation, and I must admit I’m not immune. I discussed it yesterday over lunch with a friend, have been emailing about it with Liz (my Buenos Aires buddy) in London, and the girls here have been playing email tag all week to decide on a move-viewing date and post-movie outing. We won’t be in the throng this weekend, though, mainly because Libby will be out of town, and we can’t see the movie without one of the girls. That would be something akin to sacrilege.

But today, when I saw a group of women standing out in front of a movie theater, all dressed up and ready for the show, I got to thinking: what it is about SATC that gets us so excited, that makes groups of women not only plan seeing the movie, but plan travel so they can see it in New York?

The other night, when a friend mentioned she’d love an alcove apartment, “like Carrie’s,” another (male) friend commented on how strange it is that the show has influenced women so much. And sure, it has stimulated the way we dress, the places we eat, even the way we talk, but there are a few things far more important about the show (and now, I think, movie) than the really great style.

There’s New York, for one, which SJP has called the fifth character. The show is as much about New York as it is about the girls, and living here now I actually understand it. (At least in the summertime.) There’s something about New York City that captivates and overwhelms. It’s not just the Empire State Building and Central Park, but the Shake Shack, and the Union Square farmer’s market. It’s a crisp fall day, or better yet the first warm day after a brutal winter, when everyone comes out of hibernation and the parks literally hum with excitement. It’s the feeling that you’re part of all this, that in a city of nearly 20 million people from all over the world and all walks of life, you’re part of a community. Not to mention that New York (and SATC does likewise) makes the perfect companion for the single girl. Just ask Carrie herself.

And the reason that New York is a single girl’s companion is yet another reason we love SATC: New York, and the show, stand for independence, risk, and being an individual. I often tell people who ask how I like it here that my favorite thing about living in New York is that eight out of 10 people I meet are transplants, and not only are they transplants, but they moved here to follow some sort of dream (even if that dream was just to live in New York) and they took a huge risk in doing so. The SATC gals are grand because they refuse to be “tamed.”

But most the most important reason we love SATC is what it says about female friendship. Strong, unafraid (and stylish) females are what Around the World is all about, and my favorite part of that is celebrating girlfriends. The ones who help pick out date night outfits, and are there the next day to rehash every detail of said date, the ones who celebrate our triumphs and help clean up our messes, the ones who join us on trips, to stuff our faces or climb a mountain.

And with that, as a strong, risk-taking female and New York resident (and a Sex and the City tour veteran) myself, I welcome all the girls (and girlfriends) who have come to celebrate the movie. (Before, that is, I climb under my rock so no one spoils it for me.)

Oh, and did I mention that SATC is also about shoes?





More With the Shoes

12 03 2008

Not long ago, when I announced the change in title that my blog underwent (psst…speaking of changes, check out my newly updated About page. It now goes with the shoe theme too!), I mentioned that I had more shoe posts in the works. And then I never wrote them. I’m trying to spread out the shoe love, but I think it’s time for another.

To recap: when we last left off with the saga of Suzanne’s shoes, she had sent home a pair of unruly strappy sandals that refused to let her salsa dance, and then quarreled with a pair of brand new hiking boots that broke three days into wearing them (the mud is another story, but that she was actually proud of).

Ok, strange third person voiceover finished. So after the hiking boots fiasco I decided that the only shoes a traveling girl can depend on are her flip flops.

I arrived in San Salvador de Jujuy on a Thursday afternoon, excited to explore Argentina’s northwest and more excited to experience their Carnaval. I was informed that I would be hard-pressed to find a bed in any of the Carnaval towns I wanted to visit. On a last minute whim, the girl I was traveling with at the time, Da, and I packed small backpacks with a few days worth of clothes, left our big packs at the hostel in San Salvador and headed up to Uquia, with the brilliant idea of sleeping near Humahuaca, going to Carnaval the next day, and staying up with the festival all night before catching a morning bus back to San Salvador. The short of a much longer story (that I will one day figure out how to tell in a short blog post) is that we finally made it to Humahuaca on Friday night.

In Humahuaca, it was cold (this is where I bought the famous llama sweater, which despite my offers no one seems to want), and I had only my flip flops. There were sneakers in my pack, but that was back in San Salvador, so it seemed I was destined to have cold feet in Humahuaca. But, true California girl that I am, I was still devoted to my beloved flip flops, which had yet to fail me…

Until, that is, while strolling the fair on the edge of town, I walked right into a giant metal post that was sticking up from the ground. Plowed into is more like it. My toe, not protected by shoe was massively hurt for the space of about 10 seconds, but then pain gave over to the blissful re-realization that I was still at Carnaval, and I continued walking. A few moments later, however, my foot felt a little wet and sticky and to my horror I looked down to discover that my no longer hurting toe was gushing blood. I had busted the skin on the end of it.

Da and I raced through the fair asking where there was a pharmacy, but given that it was now late and festival time I decided it wouldn’t be open and settled for dousing my toe in hand sanitizer, wrapping it in toilet paper, and buying a pair of socks (oh the things you’re willing to do when you travel). Then we went to enjoy some Carnaval grub. But when my toe started throbbing halfway through dinner I decided perhaps a pharmacy wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all. To my relief, they were still open (probably for idiots just like me who only bring flip flops to a crowded festival on dirt roads) and I purchased some sort of ointment that I hoped was anti-bacterial.

I spent the next two nights wearing socks with my flip flops and limping slightly, but ultimately I didn’t wind up losing my toe, so all was good. My relationship with my flip flops, however, has not been the same since. I blame myself really.

Lesson learned: Think before you pack. Period.





Identity Crisis

1 03 2008

No, it’s actually not me having the identity crisis (although one may be impending given my new status as jobless wonder). Currently the mental instability and missing sense of self is reserved for my blog, not me. I have been unhappy with the blog title since its inception. I coined it with 20 minutes to spare before I had to get to the airport for my flight to Buenos Aires. Something about it has irked me ever since.

Then, while in Tilcara, I was talking with my friend Alex (check out his fantastic blog, Spendthrift Shoestring), who said he enjoyed the “shoe theme” my blog had going on. At that very moment I had on my feet a pair of borrowed tennis shoes, and had at least two more shoe blogs in the works. Clearly I loved the shoe theme as well.

So in honor of my love of shoes, and in the spirit of my impending business venture with new friend Liz (I’m not divulging any more here, but I will say that it has to do with travel—and shoes), I have been obsessed with a new new name for Somewhere Beyond, something that better captures its goal, which is to encapsulate exactly what you get when you mix a fearless (well, almost) woman, the perfect pair of shoes, and the great unknown (aka the world of travel).

Enter a huge problem: writer’s block. For two weeks I have been driving myself (and some very patient friends) crazy with titles that incorporate travel and shoes. With a million and one shoe sayings and songs at my disposal, I was coming up with such gems as “A Million Miles in These Shoes” and “Anywhere, Any Way and in Fabulous Shoes” (which started to seem suggestive of many things other than travel).

The list of boring or inappropriate shoe titles goes on, but I finally have a winner, at least for now: I think Around the World in Gold Stilettos has just enough quirkiness and just enough pizazz to capture my goal. So no, you haven’t landed on the wrong site; it’s still Suzanne’s blog with a new focus: to encourage bold woman to travel without inhibitions, and without giving up their sense of style. And, of course, there will be the occasional shoe obsession on my part.





Adios Zapatos part 2

30 01 2008

For a girl who loves her shoes, I haven’t had much luck with them on this trip (See Adios Zapatos Part 1).

While at home in California for Christmas, I went to several stores with my brother Scott on the quest for the perfect pair of hiking boots for my trek in the Andes. At the first store, we told the salesman that it would be cold because of how high I’d be, and he tried to sell me a shoe that would be good in negative 30 degree weather (that’s Faranheit folks). Perhaps he misheard South America and thought I was going to the South Pole?

At the second store we fared little better. The girl said she knew nothing of Machu Picchu but she did know a little about hiking. When we explained that this would be a little more intense than hiking, that I would be trekking in the Andes, we could see the wheels in her brain moving. In the end she couldn’t make it past the after-dinner mint. Finally, however, I went home with a pair of shoes.

After two days of wearing them around the house per Scott’s orders, I decided they were uncomfortable and we were back at the store, this time with a girl who knew her stuff and who sold me the other shoe I had been looking at the first time.

I took them back to New York and wore them to run my errands (yes, I did in fact go out in public in Manhattan in my hiking boots), and by the time I got to Cusco they were comfortable and fantastic.

All through days one and two Hans and Frans (as I christened them because they did in fact “pump me up”) held strong. They kept my feet dry and happy no matter how much it rained of home much mud I stepped in. But come day three, I accidentally plunged my whole foot in the river while trying to cross: waterproof does not work if the whole shoe is sumberged.

Nontheless Frans served me well, and Hans was great too despite a little water. By the end of the day, however, my feet were less than happy, and when I finally sat to take off the boots, I found that my brand new shoe (Hans) was starting to fall apart. The leather on one side was coming away from the gortex, which doesn’t quite help with the whole water thing. I tried to patch it in the morning, but the thing about sticky-backed gortex is that it only sticks to dry things, which Hans was not.

So now Hans and Frans are sad, broken, and muddy, but still hanging out in my backpack, unlike the heels that were worn once and sent back to New York with the girls.

Lesson learned: My flip flops haven’t failed me yet.





Adios Zapatos

13 01 2008

One thing to note about the salsa scene in Buenos Aires: It’s not just about wanting to dance but about being able to. We arrived at the salsa club Azúcar an hour after it opened: 1:00 a.m. There were already several people on the dance floor, dancing with impeccable technique and astounding flare. It seems a new trend in salsa is the use of hidden hand lights which go off at key moments of the dance.

To the side of the dance floor, about 12 females sat alone at about 12 random tables waiting to be asked to dance. More ladies loomed mear the dance floor with the same hope. Capirinhas in hand, we joined this latter group and quickly discerned the conundrum: The men would not ask ladies to dance unless they had seen them dancing already (aka if they had seen skill). They took one look at us gringas and kept on going.

But finally some men took pity on us. As I whirled and spun on the floor I realized it was harder than I remembered—and that I wanted to lead. I quickly got over that, however, and was soon dancing with Manuel, a very good (and very patient) dancer, but next came my second problem: my feet.

It seems that those heels I so hurriedly purchased the night before my trip in case of just this scenario were not such a good idea after all. The backs kept sliding down my heel, which was not only uncomfortable but meant that my foot kept twisting and turning sideways, making it extremely painful and difficult to dance.

So I did what any real salsa dancer would do: I carried on. This meant stumbling far too often and exclaiming to Manuel, “Son mis zapatos” until, exasperated, I finally took the shoes off. Then I was holding my own on the floor (at least in my humble opinion, that is) and had a ball twirling and dancing the night away.

And now? Well, now I’m stuck with a pair of uncomfortable shoes that I most likely won’t wear again on this trip and that most certainly take up too much space in an already stuffed backpack. Stupid shoes.

Lesson learned: Don’t salsa in uncomfortable heels. Don’t pack them either. And while we’re at it, don’t even buy them the night before your trip in the first place. Perhaps next time I’ll go dancing in my hiking boots…