Right shoes, good times

There are a number of reasons to take your most reasonable shoes to the Middle East. That’s especially true in Jerusalem, where even well-traversed areas like the Old City require great care when walking.

The time-worn stones – smooth as a marble in places – send inexperienced feet sliding off the edge of steps. Then there’s the unforgiving spiraling trajectory of young cart-drivers as they make excessive time downhill into the bowels of the ancient city.

Long story short: carefully consider your shoes everywhere you go in Jerusalem. If you’re going from hotel to taxi to dinner, fancy dress shoes will work. For a stroll after dinner, though, backup flat sandals are wise. If you’re going out for any type of sightseeing, use of public transport, or walking outside of any type, the sturdiest shoes possible are necessary.

Shoes
The slippery stones of Jerusalem’s Old City are made much more manageable and navigable with a pair of domestically handmade Naot leather and cork sandals. Photo: Genevieve Belmaker.

If it’s summer, shoes that let your feet breathe are critical. Even though you have to wash your feet before going to bed because of the dust, sandals are the best option in hot weather.

If you’re in Jerusalem, I recommend just making it easy on yourself and take a trip to either Hadar Mall (Canyon Hadar) or Malha Mall (Malha), which both have Naot brand shoe shops. Hadar Mall is easier to reach if you’re going to-from city center. There are shops all over Israel.

You can also buy them online or internationally, but the price is much higher, and Naot shoes already start at about $100/pair. They are worth it. Handmade domestically using Italian leather in Israel by “people from different backgrounds,” according to their website, Naot shoes just get more comfortable over time. Over the years I’ve personally bought at least four pairs of Naot shoes – sandals, boots. They’ll last for years, and your feet will thank you. The best part is that if you buy and wear Naot shoes while in Israel or Jerusalem and they don’t work out, you can take them back.

The company also makes some of the toughest, most durable and versatile bags I’ve ever seen. I bought one of their canvas messenger bags over 3 years ago and I go almost nowhere without it. It looks exactly like it did the day I bought it.

 

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