Posted by: knitknigel | March 23, 2009


Ah, yes, shoes. The most important part of a pilgrim’s kit. And I should know because on my first Camino trip I had blisters the size of toonies (Canadian two dollar coins) on my feet in places one would never expect to have blisters. They were between all my toes, on my heels, the sides, the back, the bottom, and worst of all, on the pads of my feet where I sometimes had double blisters. Couldn’t walk without a hit of Ibuprofen every morning.

So the right shoes are a must. (And good socks are important too.)

When we got back from our Central America trip in March, our first walk was the very next morning when we went to meet our friend James at our favourite breakfast spot, The Dish on Davie. That walk up and the return walk meant we were on our feet for all of 30 minutes. And yep, I got blisters. (Now you must know, that Geordie, Saint that he is, has walked the Camino without blisters on every trip that he has made! So I must have sinned mightily in a previous life to acquire the blisters I have managed to accumulate.) I was wearing the shoes I thought I was going to walk the Camino in, a pair of Keens that I’d bought and saved more than a year ago, because I knew I would be needing a good pair of shoes.

So off to buy new shoes – at The Right Shoe down on W. 4th Avenue. I tried on lots of shoes but finally settled on a pair of New Balance shoes with Goretex and Vibram soles. Sturdy, waterproof and breathable. And took them for a walk. Along the way I could hear the sound of a horse carriage clopping by on Stanley Park Drive. I looked around, no carriage, no horse. Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop. Yes, my left shoe, clip-clopping merrily along the trail, every step, every foot, every kilometer. I don’t think so!

So off I went, back to the store with my now-used shoes and my explanation at the ready. Luckily, the folks at The Right Shoe are charming and obliging and accepted my assertion that the shoes were faulty without asking for a demonstration of the carriage ride two-step. But they didn’t have another pair of the same shoes, so they had to call up New Balance downtown, who set aside a pair for me to look at the very next day.

When I got there, I announced that I was on a mission – because I wasn’t committed to these shoes, I could look at others and see whether some other shoe would fit the bill. So the very helpful shoe guy there listened to my explanation that I was going off to walk a little distance of 800 kilometers with no look on his face saying “this guy is nuts”, but instead suggested a few other possibilities. I looked, I tried on and I bought – a different pair of shoes. I like them ’cause they’re sexy! They have class, they look like they want to walk the Camino all by themselves. They even have yellow on them that matches the yellow arrows along the Camino and they are sexy black to boot (er, to shoe).

And they don’t clip-clop – I know because I took them for a little walk through Stanley Park this morning and they liked it. They’re rarin’ to go, so I’m taking them.

Ultreia! (Onward!)


  1. Nigel

    How wonderful to hear about your adventure.

    I have a solution for your blisters. At Running Rooms or other walking stores, you can get a little stick called “Body Glide”, which marathon runners use. Put it on your feet before you start your walk. Worked like a charm for the blisters I used to get cross country skiing.

  2. shoes are so important if these shoes work for you buy another pair is my suggestion as I usually train with about 700 kms of running prior to a marathon and usually require new shoes at about the 450-500 km mark and shoes change models every few months and the slightest modification can change the shoe enough that it no longer works for you.

  3. hey Nigel
    i loved this entry about the shoes. Brought a smile.
    I know that this blister issue must be conquered – I hope it is and that every step is a joy to you.
    But (sorry) it is possible you are a bigger sinner than Geordie – for that we love you (those of us here on earth at least!)

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