As I mentioned before, we are absolutely thrilled to be living in Zagreb. Croatia is a beautiful country, and has so much to offer-mountains, a beautiful coast, roman ruins, hill top towns that remind you of Tuscany, great wineries, delicious food, and more festivals than you can count. Still, one of the main things that initially drew us to Zagreb was its proximity to other European destinations, and after we arrived we didn’t waste any time getting our travel on. First, we headed to Venice to meet up with my mom.
I’ve always loved Venice’s winding streets and beautiful canals, but I must admit that the sticker shock when booking a hotel has always led me to go the day trip route. Several times, I’ve arrived in Venice, checked out the grand canal, hit a few of the main sites, grabbed lunch, and then hit the road. This time, (thanks to airbnb) we were lucky enough to get to stay in the city for the whole weekend.
Anyone who’s ever driven to Venice knows that the cost of parking alone can nearly double the price of your trip. Fortunately, my
super cheap wonderful husband did his research. He found the perfect place to park in Punta Sabionni, where instead of paying over 25 euro/day for parking we would only have to pay five, plus the cost of the water bus into the city…unfortunately, the bus employees were on strike. (Welcome to Europe!) So, we ended up having to drive around to the regular parking lot (about 1.5 hrs away) to pay our 25 euro anyway.
At first, I was overwhelmed by the number of people on the streets. I had foolishly assumed that mid-May was the shoulder season and that the crowds might be a bit thinner, but judging by the number of selfie sticks waved in our faces, the tourists (including us) were already out in full force. I’m definitely not one who usually gets sucked into the heated “tourist” vs “traveler” debate, which I find a little too pretentious, even for me, but the last few weeks have had me almost convinced that cruise ships and tour buses were surely invented by the devil himself to suck every last drop of joy out of traveling.
Eventually, we wandered out of the selfie stick plagued tourist area and got ourselves lost, as one should while in Venice. We passed several little fruit and vegetable stands, where we loaded up on strawberries, artichokes, and asparagus.
We also took our first gondola ride. Ever since I watched a documentary about Venice while I was in college, I’ve always wanted to go for a ride in a gondola, but I’ve never been quite sure that it’s worth the price (see
super cheap wonderful husband above). This time, I had an ally (my mom). We decided to go in the evening, when things were a bit more peaceful, and we were not dissappointed–the views of the grand canal were incredible! It was spectacular to see them all lit up at night. Our gondolier, on the other hand, was not quite up to par. He answered his phone several times and was not really able to answer many of our questions about the city. If I were to do it again, I would make sure I was riding with someone with a good command of English who was passionate about the city. Still, we all found the ride emmensely enjoyable and very relaxing after a long day of fighting the crowds.
On our second day in Venice, we wandered over to Burano, which was by far the highlight of our trip…but more on that later!