Miscellaneous Gems of Wisdom.
Not being in the category of Sherlock Holmes, I am not strong on deductions, but some things are so glaringly obvious one cannot help but notice them. When I first started my walks around Mainz a month ago it was quite warm. I put on my spring shoes, to quickly discover that they were no good. Old town’s cobblestones are not for the faint hearted. If you wear unsuitable footgear you will feel each and every individual stone through the soles of your shoes. An obvious solution is of course to observe the locals. I found a nice comfortable bench which by the way are scattered all over the place, and dutifully observed. It seemed to me that practically everybody strolled or rushed along in the same type of sneakers, training or running shoes. A few women would purposely move along in boots with sensible wide low heels. I saw some young girls rushing madly in all directions in flats. Well, when one is young lots of problems simply do not exist. My careful observations led to the conclusion that I needed to act swiftly. I went into Karstadt since , first, I know the chain, and second, it was right in front of me. It is not cheap, but as sometimes happens they placed one model on a separate stand on sale, for just €29.90. I found one pair in my size, tried them on, and promptly bought them. They turned out to be proverbially comfortable and very lightweight, one could really sleep in them.
Naturally when I stopped by in a couple days there was no sign of them! I guess the warm weather had something to do with their disappearance from the store and appearance in the street. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of specialized shoe stores, as well as shoe departments in every major shop. But many of them are very expensive, and nobody wants to spend a lot of money on something when you only spend a month or two in this place. I studied some of the models. Though they cost a lot and look very nice, many of them are quite heavy and have very firm inflexible soles. So. If you want to be comfortable while exploring a city, not worry about getting blisters, and if you generally prefer not to feel your footgear much, but rather simply move around, these very flexible light sneakers are a good choice. And if they fall apart in a month, you won’t regret spending a small sum of money on something you really needed for a short period of time!
My impromptu stop at Karstadt proved to be a bonus when another little difficulty arose. My husband’s reading glasses sort of fell apart suddenly, as glasses do when that pesky tiny screw falls out. I Googled opticians, and when I saw the name Apollo Optiker I immediately remembered seeing it in or near Karstadt. So I sailed out in my new sneakers, marched to the shop, entered and patiently waited while the optician was busy with a mother and teen daughter. When I showed him the glasses with its earpiece detached, he smiled and delivered a long string of German words. To that I said with the usual apologetic smile, “Sorry…” Rather to my surprise and delight he switched into flawless English. He inserted a new screw, tightened the other one, cleaned up the lenses, assured me that they could do any adjustments if needed. We chatted amicably for a few seconds, there being no other customers for him, and he told me that such small services were free. I thanked him profusely and left happy.
While wandering around I happened to come across the same very pleasant little scene, only during week days: a small orchestra plays mostly classical music in front of the theater. There is always a small crowd listening. As chance would have it I kept forgetting to try and snap a picture or even record a small part. Now today I went to the theater fully armed, and there was no music playing! This reminded me of the old principle: when in any new place, always have your recording device ready. If you see anything fascinating, snap a photo at once. Don’t think that you can do it on your way back. The orchestra may go away to rest; the pretty blossoms fall down in a few days; a nice corner you glimpsed at a distance may be suddenly obscured by some construction work.
Besides, if you don’t have any specific purpose but for exploring, every day brings new sights, new impressions. Each and every shop window, any street corner are now full of Easter ornaments and decorations. Eggs of all shapes and sizes, as well as Easter bunnies are everywhere. Easter comes on Sunday this weekend, which means that next week all those pretty displays will be gone. And Christmas is still quite far away. Carpe diem!

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