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Vienna has an abundance of museums, palaces and great restaurants.  It is also packed to the gills with tourists.  After a couple days there we took a bus to Slovakia to try to escape the madness.  The small cobblestone streets, beautiful architecture and lack of crowds were a great change of pace.

Bratislava

On the Danube

Vienna

 

 

 

 

 

As we were waiting for our bus back to Vienna that evening we met a woman from Texas.  She asked about our upcoming time in Italy and what our plans were.  Nug and I looked at each other a bit unsure.  “We are getting a car in Venice and returning it in Naples 3 weeks later but other than that we don’t know,” I told her.  She proceeded on a 10 minute discourse about Croatia and Slovenia.  “If you want to escape the crowds this is the place to go!  It is amazing.  We loved it…”  She continued on with a religious fervor.  We thanked her for her insight and took it with a grain of salt.  Several days later we were snaking through the back streets of Venice and dodging tour groups on the main thoroughfares.  The city was absolutely amazing but the time had come to make our next move.

St. Peter’s Square

Venice

Hey Nug

Hanging with the Garlands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The thought of the Texan on her soapbox came to mind.  “Maybe we should check the Adriatic Coast,” I ventured cautiously as I knew Nug had her heart set on maximizing her time in Italy.  Luckily she was amicable and we spent the next few days exploring the nooks and crannies on the coasts of Slovenia and Croatia.  The scenery and complete lack of tourists were stunning.  As we motored back towards Italy after our successful side trip Nug pronounced, “I’m really glad that we listened to that old Texan!”

Croatia

Croatia

Slovenia

Slovenia

Slovenia

The Penguin Party

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After the prevalence of trash and graffiti in Athens and Lisbon we were shocked at the cleanliness of Budapest.  Before arrival we had no idea that Budapest is really 2 separate cities on the Danube.  On one side of the river is Buda and on the other is Pest.  We were meeting our friend Ted and had no plans other than knowing that we had to be in Venice in 10 days.  On our 1st day as we were wandering around and enjoying the architecture we came across a sign reading “Ice Bar”.  We thought it was an interesting concept but continued across the river to view the Parliament Building as the sun went down.

Parliament Building

 

Later that evening we found ourselves in the vicinity of the ice bar once again.  Of course it was happy hour and the normal entry price of 11 euros was “slashed” to 4 euros with a free drink.  A guy out front saw us as a couple of ducks and went to work.  “Yes!  Yes!  Come in.  Great music!  Big Party!  Come to Ice Bar and make Ahhhhh-Mazing photo!”  We took the bait and found ourselves putting on ridiculous penguin suits.  Why we thought an ice bar was a good idea in 40 degree weather is still beyond me.  We walked into the “Big Party” which consisted of……us in a miniscule walk-in freezer with a few large ice blocks scattered about and crappy thumping techno music that shook my chest cavity.  The drinks were alcohol free “juice” that amount to little more than a cup of grenadine.  We looked at each other and burst out laughing.  We took a few mandatory ahhhh-mazing photos before throwing in the towel and agreeing that we would never again be sold by a guy in a felt penguin suit.

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Cool guy!

Wow…

Nerds!