I went sandal shopping yesterday. In addition to going to the car wash, I stopped by the Birkenstock store in downtown San Francisco (across from the Apple Store no less, it's like new-age-hippie-zealot-heaven corner). They were having a sale so the normally obscenely expensive Birks where 10% off...so they cost $90 instead of $100. Bleh. The â‚¬15 sandals I bought in Madrid last year have finally become so unsalvageably smelly that I needed a new pair for the office. It's too bad, I love those sandals too. They were cheap, but really comfortable and quite stylish.
These are officially my first pair of Birkenstocks. The price has always driven me away before, but I decided to lay down the cash and see if the zealots know something I don't. They don't *seem* any more special than my $15 ones... rubber + cork + leather. We'll see. If they can survive my 230lb bulk riding on top of them for more than a year, they truly will be special.
It took forever to find just the ones I wanted. Backstrap or no backstrap? What kind of leather? The basic (and classic) brown? Something a little more aged? You'd think that sandals are sandals but I tried on at least a half a dozen styles. Normally I go with the backstrap so that I don't lose the sandals in a hurry. Ever be crossing a busy street, have to hurry up and lose a sandal... do that once and you become a believer in the backstrap. Climbing steep hills is another area... sandals suck for doing anything besides walking on flat surfaces. But I think the Birkenstock guys are religiously opposed to the backstrap as the ones I tried on were generally uncomfortable and put there - it seems - out of spite rather than comfort and use. Also I had in mind the image of my coworker Rich who when I was talking about buying a pair of Birkenstocks the other day in the office, summarily snuffed and threw his nose up at the idea of Birks with backs. So I thought, if I'm going to buy Birkenstocks, I might as well get the classics.
Side note: the style on the street seems to be flip-flops with the thing between the toe. Ugh! My Dad always wore those when we were kids and we used to get them too (the plastic ones). I remember quite clearly getting blisters between my big toe and the next one and having to put band-aids around that spot (on the sandal) to make them less painful to wear. The memory haunts me till this day. Ugh.
So that's an image of my new Birks above. The Arizona style with the "aged leather" look. Ooooh. Stay tuned as I start to wear them as to whether I become a raving Birkenstock zealot or not.