The Shoelace Chronicles

Clarissa Grunwald
April 16, 2016

I don’t believe I’ve yet told you about my friend Ryan. If you look at the photo of my friends that I put up in my first blog post, Ryan is the red-headed one in the T-shirt with the rude Fifty Shades of Grey quote on it. The writing on the shirt is small and mostly blocked by my head, so you can’t actually read it, but that’s not the point. It’s what you might call a character detail. Ryan is what you might call a character.

This semester, when my friend Jackie and I set out for abroad—she to Australia, I to Germany—Ryan gave us each one of his sneakers and told us that he would buy dinner for whichever one of us took our shoe on the most interesting adventures. Jackie and I accepted the bet, partially for the prospect of free food, but mostly because these were horrible shoes that needed to be disposed of, and if we could dispose of them in two far-away places, all the better. They had not been attractive when he had purchased them. They certainly were not attractive now. You could tell that they were sneakers, but only in a loose, anthropological sense of the word.

For my spring break, I decided to take a trip down to Southern Germany. I couldn’t fit the shoe in my bag, so I took just the shoelace, tying it around my wrist like a bracelet. It looked like, and basically was, garbage, which probably made it haut couture in certain hipster circles. 

Then the two of us—me and the garbage shoelace—got on a plane to Munich.

Munich looks older than Berlin, and despite the fact that it’s one of the biggest cities in Germany, it has a small-town feel, especially near the Altstadt, where my hostel was located. When I arrived, it was Easter Sunday morning, and everything was eerily silent. The shops were all closed. The streets seemed to be holding their breath.

Ryan’s shoelace and I went on many wonderful adventures. On my second day in Munich, I took a tram out to the suburb of Grünwald, where I visited Burg Grünwald and wandered around for a bit in the forest which, presumably, was the Grünwald. All this, as you can imagine, was very good for my ego, and I spent longer than I care to admit sitting in the tower of Burg Grünwald, eating bread and humming the Imperial March.

Aside from Munich, I went on a two-day trip to Triberg, a town in the black forest, where the shoelace accompanied me for my first piece of black forest cake, which honestly, I didn’t like.

Triberg, on the other hand, was amazing. Home of the tallest waterfall in Germany, Triberg is built on a mountain, or rather, three mountains. In a brilliant feat of city planning, the place has apparently been designed so that wherever you want to go is at least a kilometer uphill from

And no matter where you are, there’s the waterfall. I had been led to believe that the Triberg waterfall was a hike outside of town. As a matter of fact, the Triberg waterfall goes right through town. It’s not much more than whitewater by the time it reaches where the Altstadt begins, but it’s there, frothing past shops and under bridges and generally making Triberg a difficult place to be when you have to go to the bathroom.

It’s beautiful.

Writing this now, I feel tempted to come up with some sort of deep reason as to why I was taking a trashy old shoelace with me for spring break, or at least, why I felt like it was significant enough to post about here. I mean, posting about it here isn't too much of a question. This is a travel blog and I want to post my badly-taken photographs, and if many of those photographs happen to have a shoelace somewhere in the foreground, then that's something to talk about.

But aside from that, I don’t know. Maybe it seemed like a good way to make my adventures abroad at least tangentially significant to certain friends back home. Maybe it was a really weird way for me to reconcile the amount of fun I’m having here with the fact that I still do miss my home school.

But to be honest, mostly it was just me taking a stupid inside joke as far as I could.

And when that stupid inside joke makes a super hip bracelet, well. That’s just a perk.

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Clarissa Grunwald

<p>Writer, composer, musician. American student with a terrible sense of direction set loose on Germany. After years of telling people that I love to travel, this is my first time actually leaving the country.</p>

2016 Spring
Home University:
Franklin & Marshall College
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