All species of fauna observed in June 2014. Provided as a tongue-in-cheek, good-natured service to fellow
zoologists travelers. ☺
Identifying features: Smug look, no guidebook (or guidebook surreptitiously accessible on iPhone), frequent references to “the locals.”
Usually spotted: At “undiscovered” cicchetti bars, pretending they can’t hear the group of Americans next to them; at St. Mark’s Basilica, smirking at inferior species who don’t know how to circumvent the long line.
If attacked: Tell them they haven’t really seen Venice until they’ve been to that new contemporary art gallery out in the Castello district. OTBPers are quick to scatter if they feel threatened by superior intelligence.
Identifying features: Dorsal sweat stain caused by overstuffed backpack; maxed-out credit card; unyielding determination to create Memorable Family Moments on this vacation. Note that this species is marked by exceptional ethnic diversity, and may come from any country on earth.
Usually spotted: Leading his mate and offspring down a narrow street while clutching an upside-down map and ignoring his brood’s cries for pizza.
If attacked: Check the eyes for signs of desperation. If you detect mental instability, give The Dad your bottle of water and turn his map right-side-up for him, and he will generally move along without incident.
Identifying features: Always male, usually bearing a tarp filled with negotiably-priced wares, eyes peeled for signs of law enforcement.
Usually spotted: Everywhere. During daylight hours, the Entrepreneur generally hawks knockoff designer handbags. After sunset, you may see him on St. Mark’s Square tossing cheap light-up toys that resemble flying jellyfish.
If attacked: Find the nearest small child and throw him into The Entrepreneur’s line of fire.
The Brangelina Wannabes
Identifying features: Males – slicked-back hair, crisp linen shirt with one too many buttons undone. Females – minimum of 10 pieces of gold jewelry, shopping bag from Celine boutique.
Usually spotted: Stepping out of a water taxi onto the Hotel Danieli’s private dock; clinking champagne glasses on their Grand Canal-view balcony.
If attacked: Unlikely, as they will not acknowledge your presence.
The Guided-Tour Hostage
Identifying features: Lanyard around neck, gaze locked on the guide’s raised sunflower, running shoes tightly laced. Note that this species is almost always of East Asian or North American provenance.
Commonly spotted: In groups of six on gondolas when the light of day is harshest; in St. Mark’s Square between the hours of 10am-5pm.
If attacked: Remain calm and do not move. The GTH is a simpleminded but peaceful creature. Allow the herd to sweep over you, leaving you unharmed.
Identifying features: Close relative of the GTA, above.
*Note: Do not miss the chance to observe the truly awesome sight of the nightly Great Cruiser Migration. Each day around sunset, flocks gather en masse to make their majestic exit into the open water beyond the lagoon, where they nest for the night.
The Venetian Bro
Identifying features: An increasingly endangered native species. Usually living large on some sort of watercraft; possibly potbellied and pantsless at 11am on a Sunday.
Commonly spotted: Advertising “Personalized Lagoon Tours” and raking in (untraceable, un-taxable) euros from several of the species listed above.
If attacked: Assess The Bro’s potential for predatory behavior. Then fork over your cash and get on the party boat.
The Hopeless Romantic
However you choose to see Venice, and whatever strange creatures you encounter, may you always fall into this category. In spite of the heat, the hustlers, the UFO-sized cruise ships, and the rising water table, Venice is still improbably, heart-stoppingly beautiful. It’s one of those places that really is as enchanting as you imagine it will be, and it’s even more precious because of its fragility. Wait until nighttime, when the crowds have dispersed, grab your travel buddy, and ask him to dance you across the cobblestones of St. Mark’s Square to the melodies of the dueling orchestras. Ah, Venice.
Just watch out for those flying jellyfish.