From the rain-soaked plaza outside Budapest’s Parliament Building Laura and I could see the church steeple near our bed and breakfast. It was just across the Danube, probably less than half a mile as the crow flies.
But beneath the heavy clouds that hadn’t stopped raining all day the distance felt like a hundred miles. There was no bridge nearby, and the most direct route meant walking along a busy street where cars threw up a perpetual mist and frequent waves. It was literally raining from every direction.
Nevertheless, it was getting late so we set out. That meant walking more than half a mile to the nearest bridge, a quarter mile to cross the bridge, and then three quarters of a mile to get “home.” In good weather that would have been a leisurely stroll, but in the ever-harder rain — and along a path with several surprise potholes — it felt like an arduous trek.
By the time we got back to our bed and breakfast, we were soaked. And while our clothes dried over the next few hours, our shoes were still wet the next morning.
The Budapest leg of our trip was right in the middle, but I don’t think my shoes ever completely dried after that. To make matters worse, we had several other long, rainy days later in the trip. Each night I would put my shoes in a spot where I thought they might dry out, but by the time we were heading home I remember thinking I’d be embarrassed to take my shoes off at airport security because my socks would be soggy. (Luckily German security is not as pointless and humiliating as U.S. security, and I didn’t end up having to take my shoes off.)
Normally I love the rain, the autumn, and of course traveling. But spending a week with soggy shoes is not something I will remember fondly from this trip. It’s a real bummer, and if you can avoid it I recommend doing so. The best way to do that is to bring extra shoes.
Shoes are a hard thing to pack because they’re bulking and oddly shaped. I almost never bring extras — I’m a firm advocate of packing light — and in the summer that works just fine. But the fall (as well as the spring in many places) tends to be wetter, and it requires a distinct packing approach.
In my case, if I could go back and do it again I would probably bring a smaller pair of lightweight shoes — perhaps my boat shoes — to fill in when my primary footwear became water-logged. It was a lesson I learned the hard way this time, but one I won’t soon forget.
— Jim Dalrymple II