1600 km "shoe shopping" weekend road trip...

Guest blog by: Sarah (shoe addict) Lucas, November, 16, 2013

I think it started as kind of a joke. The store My Sole Addiction (located in downtown Grande Prairie on 100th Ave and 99th St.), has a great Facebook page and every day they post a picture of a fabulous shoe that you just want to own (I did actually buy one of the pairs of boots currently in their cover photo).

And my cousin Lisa, her sister-in-law and I were joking that we should go there to check it out (Grande Prairie is a city of 55,000 people four and half hours from Edmonton a city of over one million and home to the West Edmonton Mall, one of the largest shopping centers in the world).  Then the “yeah sure” comments turned more serious and we were picking travel dates.  Next we booked a hotel room, and before we knew it we had actual plans!

Sarah and Scapa modelling her new acquisitions. 

It had better be worth it!

On the way home on Sunday after it was all said and done, Lisa and I actually admitted to each other that we were expecting the other person to cancel at some point! But we didn’t and now we have a great story!

Anyway, Lisa drove up to Edmonton from Okotoks on Friday (337 kilometers) after work. Then first thing Saturday morning we headed to Grande Prairie (462 kilometers) in my all-wheel drive SUV, which was good since it was “winter driving conditions.”  

We stopped at Timmy’s (Tim Horton’s for those who don’t live in Canada is a coffee donut shop with over 3,000 locations and yes it was started by a hockey player), in Whitecourt to refuel (car and people) and made the decision to keep going - we were halfway between Edmonton and GP. We both said “IT HAD BETTER BE WORTH IT!” 

Lisa (bag lady) Brown and her new found friends.  

Not Cheap!

Luckily when we go to the store, we realized “the rumors are true” (that’s the sign on their window). The store was super busy, but beautiful shoes were everywhere so it’s no surprise. We both talked on the way there about how much we would spend, what we were expecting, etc. but after the long drive we felt we deserved to splurge a little. Of course they don’t sell “cheap” shoes, or else why would you go (you can get cheap shoes anywhere).

We only spent about 1.5 hours there (otherwise we would have risked our marriages with extravagant shoe spending). But they had everything so we did our best to do our due diligence.

Yes they carried brands that we can get in Edmonton or Calgary, but we also saw shoes the same as my Mom bought in Europe last year. They had everything from funky, unique boots that not everyone can pull off, to cool, stylish boots and everyday black pumps.

Sarah's foot fetish foreplay fun! 

Yes we are addicted! 

It was so much fun to try shoes and since I am short and run a lot, I have a hard time finding knee high boots that comfortably fit my calves, however I had lots of options at Sole Addiction, so there was lots to try!

Staff were super helpful and even brought suggestions, which was hard since Lisa and I have different style preferences, but they managed to find things we both liked (luckily it didn’t come down to the same pair)! Even other shoppers were offering feedback and comments on the boots they preferred on us.

I settled on a plum colored, 13” tall boots, which I have of course worn every day since I got home. Then when I thought I was done I came across a vibrant red shoe with cute buckle and strap details that had a higher heel but only came up just above the ankle.  I had previously shown restraint and said no to a $300 pair of heeled tan boots. Well I had it in my head that I needed a red pair, but thought knee high was too much of a statement (for me anyway) so settled on the lower pair!

The ones that got away! Mom likes these also but is not willing to contribute to their purchase. 

Yes we are crazy! 

Now before Mom points out, or you notice yourself, yes they do ship online… but you never know if it’s worth it until you actually see a shoe in person. And with so many brands how do you know which ones will fit, every shoe style fits differently. Needless to say I will be exploring the online option when I have some time (and disposable income), but there is something to be said for the whole shopping in person experience.

We are already talking about our next trip (not winter driving conditions and hopefully during a sale), but it is definitely an experience worth repeating. Of course I would not have gone without my cousin and it wouldn’t have been the same without her. 

 

A road trip in northern Alberta in November brings with it the challenges of winter driving. Some would say a road trip in winter is CRAZY!  

Yes we know we are crazy, but I actually enjoy telling people the story when they say how much they love my boots, and where did I get them? I was too busy ogling the shoes, but I wished I had asked other people about their journey to Sole Addiction. 

 

This was the catalyst for the iconic shoe shopping road trip.  It truly must be those with an addiction! 

Sarah looks like one happy addict! 

Get "Off The Beaten Path" with these 10 tips!

#10 A good first impression is critical to a good time.

We suggest you look for something close to your hotel that you know you like to do and check it out immediately after checking-in.  Maybe hang out at a public plaza and people watch? Head to a neighbourhood pub and chat with the locals to see what is happening while you are there.  Maybe there is a great museum or shopping close by.  Make sure you start your adventure on the right track. 

#9 Take the Bus.

We love riding the bus more than the subway when we have a choice.  Travelling above ground allows you to see things that you might not have otherwise seen.  Can't count the number of times we have jumped off the bus because we saw something interesting that we didn't know about. There is often a local bus route that is very scenic or passes by many of the local attractions.  Be a bus rider!

#8 Dare to be different.

Challenge yourself to do something you wouldn't normally do.  Maybe it is a museum or gallery if you aren't normally a culture vulture.  Maybe a sporting event if you aren't a jock. Be prepared to try new things!

#7 Ask a local.

ocals are a wealth of knowledge don't be afraid to ask them for tips.  We find they are more than happy to share their insights...great way to find a hidden gem. We ask people on the bus, in line ups and at cafes are the best.  Don't be afraid to ask!

#6 Pretend you are a local

Brenda loves to check out the local grocery stores and shop for a picnic or pick up some food for breakfast or lunch in our hotel room  Grocery stores are a great place to do some urban exploring, mix with the locals and learn some cultural difference. It was great fun in Frankfurt to wander the aisles of the Grocery store and stop in their cafe and watch how they managed recycling bottles and plastics - bottles and cans are sucked into some sort of machine like something from Star Trek. 

#5 Avoid the Franchises.

We have a rule that we never eat or drink at a national or international franchise if we can avoid it. We know it is tempting to o somewhere familiar, but resist the temptation - it will be worth it

#4 Do your research in advance.

You don't want to waste time on your vacation doing research so make sure you have a list of things you want to see or do.  Perhaps organize them into 2 or 3 things each day.  We like to have one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.  e would never have found the Tiki Lounge in Great Falls MT with the mermaid swimmers if we hadn't done our research. 

#3 Be spontaneous.

I know we just said make a plan, but don't get locked into the plan.  If you see or hear something that is captures your interest then GO FOR IT! The best experience are often spontaneous ones!  Like the time we exited I90 at the last minute to check out Livingston Montana. 

#2 Be a flaneur!

Always reserve some time to just wander aimlessly - take the sidewalk less traveled, head down a back alley that looks interesting, take a bus to the end of the line and then get off on the way back t a stop that looked interesting. 

#1 Stop / Look /Listen

Don't always be in a rush.  Spend an hour in the morning at a local cafe / breakfast spot and watch the locals grab their coffee and scurrying off to work. You will appreciate that you are on vacation!  

 

Found this amazing washroom in a thrift store when we decided to get off the interstate highway and check out Livingston Montana.  Also got some great books at the thrift store.

iding the tram in Lyon provided us with a much better appreciation of the city and how people live there today vs centuries ago. 

While in the local grocery store in Anchorage we found this guy putting out an amazing display of orchids.  Had a wonderful chat with him about growing and care of orchids.  That wasn't in our plan. 

ecided to check out Main Street Coeur d'Alene while staying at the lakeside resort and lucked out as it was parade day.  Kids were having fun riding their bikes, push cars, walking dogs up Main Street.  It was very fun and colourful. We could never have planned this! 

We love street markets.  Paris has markets everyday in different locations, so we had is all mapped out so that everyday started with a market. From there we just let things happen.

n doing our research we knew that we arrived in Frankfurt on Saturday morning which was flea market day on the river.  We hustle our buns from airport to hotel, threw our bags in the room and headed to the river.  It was a lovely April day and the "green beach" was full of people hanging out.  Guess what we did all afternoon?