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A love letter to my Orba shoes

Orba Shoes

This is not a sponsored post.  I have no affiliation with Orba shoes. They have no idea I’m writing this.  It’s just that sometimes when you like a product so much you could almost kiss it, you need to share!

Orba Shoes - 9

Mistletoe on the ground, Valašské Meziříčí, Czechia.  This was the first time I’ve ever seen real mistletoe!

(almost.  I’m from the Pacific.  We don’t kiss things that go on our feet, or put them on tables, or stage them with food.).

In planning my Europe trip I realised I really needed good walking shoes which I could wear with any outfit.  I scoured Wellington, but the shoe gods did not smile on me.

Then I saw an ad for Orba shoes on FB, and thought: “Oooh!  Totally eco-friendly, biodegradable, NZ based company, and cute?  I should try these!”

Orba Shoes

Going down the tower stairs of Pernštejn Castle, Nedvědice, Czechia

They arrived just before my trip and I (foolishly – although sometimes fools get lucky!) only wore them once before flying.

And then I was in Sweden, and scared to wear them because what if they weren’t comfortable after a few hours?  After a day ruining my feet and knees trotting round the Vasa Museet and Nordiska Museet in shoes with not enough support, I had to risk it.     The next day we were trotting round Gamla stan (Stockholm’s old town) and Livrustkammaren and I could not afford feet trouble right at the start of my trip.

Orba Shoes

Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

Y’all, these are the best shoes in the world for walking on cobblestone streets in.  The wavy channels in the soles just absorbs= all the impact and gives your feet the most delightful massage as you walk.

I was so enthralled by the little mini trampolines in my shoes that I started bouncing from stone to stone to feel the squish, much to the amusement of Elisa, who suddenly found herself accompanying a middle-aged tourist-turned-toddler through the city.

Orba Shoes

On the old stone paths of Skansen, Stockholm, Sweden

I loved them so much that I started photographing my shoes on all the cool road surfaces of Europe.

The shoes were just as good in Paris & Essen and Dusseldorf in Germany, where they kept my feet cool and comfortable as I racked up an average of 20,000 steps a day in 30c heat, trotting round the city and through museums.  I have circulation issues, and my feet swell badly at anything above 24c, but these coped with the whole range of feet sizes!

Orba Shoes

Clockwise from top left corner: on the way to the Musée Galliera, Paris; in the courtyard of the Hǒtel de Sully, Paris; in Villa Hügel, Essen, Germany; at the Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Prés (the oldest church in Paris)

They got to walk through Roman baths in the Musée de Cluny:

Orba Shoes

The Roman thermae, Musée de Cluny

And pose with artificial waterfalls (and patisserie!) in the wonderland of Victorian follies that is the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.

Orba Shoes

In the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Paris

In Germany they got trotted round museums and parks and palaces and through reproduction coal mines:

Orba Shoes

In the reproduction mine of the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum (the German Mining Museum).

The only time I got blisters in them was my first day in Prague.  It was 34c.  We walked more than 20,000 steps.  I somehow thought it would be smart to wear little nylon socklets instead of cotton socks, because they were thinner, and thus, cooler?  I’m pretty sure the heat had already fried my brain when I made that decision…

My feet swelled terribly, the socklets rubbed, and I ended up with a truly spectacular blister on one big toe.

Orba Shoes

Beautiful drain covers in Prague, Czechia

But you know what?  A band aid on the blister, and the shoes were so good it never popped!  Not in a further 10 days of travelling all around Czechia and doing SO MUCH walking.

Orba Shoes

Clockwise from top left: two amazing floors in the Lysice Chateau, Lysice, Czechia; on a carpet made in the Moravská gobelínová manufaktura, Valašské Meziříčí, Czechia; in Prague

After a month of walking an average of 20,000 steps a day, in heat and rain and dust, my shoes were looking a little tired by the time I made it back to NZ, but I loved them so much I immediately bought a second pair, and turned my first pair into my daily walk pair.

And now I wear the second pair almost every single day at work, where they are exactly what I need for running up and down stairs all day.

As a textile nerd I love that they are made of linen, ramie, and kenaf, plus cork, coir, agave sisal, natural rubber, rice husks, and coconut oil.  I tell my textile students about kenaf, but I think this is the only wearable kenaf I’ve ever owned.

Orba’s shoes originally came in white only, but they just did a pre-order for a launch of black and black with white accents shoes, and I am so excited!  (did I order one of each?  Why yes I did!)

Anyway, I love them. I highly recommend them. If you click this link I’ve hopefully done everything correctly for you to get $35 off your first order from them:

Link to Orba


  1. Lynne says

    Wow! I know how rare it is to find shoes that really fit and that do the job they are supposed to do! I hear your joy. To have found something like this, and to have multiple pairs, is just wonderful. Happiness!

  2. Theresa says

    Oooh, checking them out! I need comfy casual black shoes with laces (YES because none of my other 60 pairs of shoes fit that bill). 😉

  3. Nur says

    Ooh, they’ve passed many a test! Congratulations on finding footwear that works so well for you. One never realizes how important that is until one does, so to speak, but it’s a Big Deal!

    As an aside, wearing thin nylon socklets *over* cotton socks is advisable. You might assume more sock in heat is a bad method, but the friction management prevents blisters. The nylons/overs will wear holes first, so you can preserve more skin-friendly socks (cotton, woollen, etc) over time, as well, with less darning.

  4. Jennifer Spencer says

    I love a good pair of walking shoes that make your vacation plans do-able. It makes all the difference. Isn’t it amazing what you can find out there in shoe-land sometimes? I’m glad you got what you needed! I have had good experience with the Frankie4 brand and also Naot, both found in a “walking store” during a desperately miserable foot situation where my shoes literally fell apart in Melbourne, thousands of miles from home. I’ve been ordering them online ever since. Going to check out your favorites now, and thanks for the tip!

  5. It’s a shame they’re on the literal other side of the Earth because after spending two weeks looking at them (more or less), and this glowing recommendation, I wouldn’t mind a pair of my own. 😀
    I also love that this post doubles as “cool walking surfaces of Europe”. 😉 (Shh, it’s Lysice, not Lycise. But they do have cool floors, don’t they?) Cities in hot weather are murder on anyone’s sanity, mine included, thank goodness it wasn’t all you experienced here.

    • I know they ship to some other countries, so hopefully someday they will do the whole EU!

      I did particularly choose cool walking surfaces to photograph. I had to throw away some of my early photos from Sweden and France, because I ran out of storage space and shoes weren’t the most important.

      And thank you, I have fixed the typo

      • Fingers crossed! Breathable comfortable walking shoes are a big must for me, both because walking that much is a pretty regular occurence here, and because skin health reasons. And finding some is always hit and miss. My current leather pair is slowly (fortunately slowly) going the way of all flesh, so…

        I realised that in addition to all the cool walking surfaces featured in this post they also held up to the Doubrava River Valley, and if that’s not a glowing walking shoe versatility test, I don’t know what is. 🙂

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