Top Three Ways to See Through your Venetian Blinders

Heading to Venice? Lucky you! I hope you like water.

Pretty much everyone goes to Venice to see a beautiful, romantic, unique city. Unfortunately, it's a challenge to get past the tourist-centered everything to find the true soul of the city. Yet it still feels, to some extent, like a city in transition from old to new.

A city with half a facelift.

Trust Venice. Allow yourself to get lost wandering the streets (not like you have a choice) and you learn to appreciate Venice for what it is now. Look around long enough, and you will realize that catering-to-tourists is the true soul of the city! 

1. Rain on that Parade

Venice has an intriguing climate that will completely alter your idea of Italy as an arid, warm place. It is said, at least by people with a solid two days of experience with the city, that the sun never shines through the oppressive overcast.

The puddles that form miniature canals through the streets of the city could drown a small child...so watch your small children if you bring them. Fortunately for any tourists walking around, vendors will sell you Disposable Neon Plastic Bags For Your Feet so you can maintain your dignity.

Get your feet wet in Italian culture! ...or not.

Despite the clear and bewildering lack of drainage in a canal/boat based city, the city-planners have their game down for making sure the tourists are not tempted to leave the round-the-block lines for St. Mark's Cathedral.

Tourists are raised up to justify the fees and queues.

2. Turn an Ear to the Canals.

With tourists producing standard tourist volume levels, it takes a while to notice the quiet. But if you happen to walk through the city late at night, you will realize quickly that something is missing. The drone of cars is gone. It's silent in a way they reserve for meditation on high mountain top. Silent in a way they reserve for horror films. Silent, except for the relaxing sound of the water gently lapping against and eroding the crumbling foundations of the Venetian buildings.

Still, water runs deep.

The novel approach to transportation is an amazing concept to ponder, as you walk and re-walk the maze-like streets looking for that one bridge that google maps assures you is there, but does not exist. Hint: go back three island chunks to get forward one island chunk.

without a car in the world...

Admittedly, a lot of the places around Venice are pretty beautiful. Or they would be, if the sun ever existed in the sky.

Every time you see something cool,
you will find you can't get there from here.

3. Window Shop. 

As you wander through Venice, you may find it to be a cold, overcast city that is half-sinking, half-painted, half-touristtraps, and half-masked. Just kidding about the half-masked part. There are approximately 347,941 masks for sale per Venetian resident.

Pick your plumage.

I confess, I love window shopping, and masks are kind of cool. Most of these would not do for every-day wear, but I'm glad, artistically, that they exist.

Venice's long history with masks began when there was a terrible fire in an Opera House, and Gerard Butler was horribly burnt...

What a load of croc. And bull. And frog.

Ok, that's not true. Maybe it's something about the Carnival of Venice, aka Mardi Gras. Which, by the looks of things, would be an event worth attending:

But really. A headless mannequin in a mask-shop window is about as useful as a...
life-size unicorn in a mask-shop window.

Whelp, that's it. That's all there is to do in Venice besides buy overpriced food and overpriced drinks and stay in overpriced hostels. But it's an intriguing place, and worth a trip to see the perpetual overcast that shrouds the city in mystery.


Zagreb: Croatia's Cool Capital.

Budapest is a tough act to follow, but if you are heading back west, why not stop in Zagreb? It's a place with a synthesis of old and new--a tough city with edge. 

Tough Kitty?

Croatia is a country renown for the natural beauty of their lakes and beaches. I strongly encourage you to visit in Summer, or at least sometime before September, to enjoy these nice nature-bits. I didn't, and it was literally freezing at night. But there is still much to enjoy in Zagreb!

Unnatural Beauty.

Great people! Cheap alcohol! It's part of that region of Europe that you can hang out for a while and not worry about all of your money disappearing via cost of living osmosis. So you can hit the town and try quite the range of Croatian drinks, which involve several brewed with honey and other berries, and a variety of artificially flavored beer! And any place where alcohol flows cheap is a good place to keep an eye on the pulse of Europe.

You make my heart beat-beat, beat-beat
like a drum for you-oo-oo 

And cemeteries! Do you like cemeteries? 

As far as free things to do, Mirogoj Cemetery is a beautiful place to walk around and tell ghost stories. Note: it is especially Pretty during the day, and less creepy. Definitely pretty with better light levels. 

Insert plot here.

And if you happen to go when it is dark you can see tons of blinking led lights left on the graves. A traditional electronic touch.

Flowers are so last century.

Don't like cemeteries? Surely you love churches. Zagreb's got that.

8-bit style, ∞-life tile.
And there's a cathedral, but don't expect to see more than half of that.

Scaffold scoff.

But it is a lovely church.

I don't mean to be arch.

What else can you possibly want out of a city? 


That's a weird request, Italics, but no problem! Zagreb's got that.

Arts and Crafts Museum!
National Theatre!
Horse-statue backdrop building!

Arts Pavilion!

Bonus yellow. Trams!

So check out Zagreb! Croatian hospitality can't be beat. And be sure to try the ajvar. Have a drink or three. It might set you back $5. Go thrift store shopping, and try to find a leather jacket for under $3 (I know I did!). Eight dollars well spent! Tour the city and take in the inspiring architecture above, and the inspiring architecture below!

Maybe less inspiring. Cubist, cubist.