WHAIWHAI: Venice, The Ruyi

While in Venice I was so excited to finally test out one of the WHAIWHAI guides I had posted about ages ago (and even featured one of the creators in Boarding Pass). The idea is that there is a storyline that takes you through the city through a series of clues sent via text message in a new kind of interactive game. Not only do are you on a mission to find the answers to secrets, but at the same time, you get to see a different side of the city.
To start the game, you text your name and certain coordinates as directed in the early pages of the book. Shortly thereafter you will receive your first target code which comes in the form of something that resembles: 63a-57b-85c. At this point you turn to the book (pictured above) to change the tri-cut pages and read the coded message. From this story you are able to figure out the next location. A few minutes later you receive a text clue on the phone posing the question you will need to answer – by text – at the next location

(note: While typically glued to my iPhone, whenever crossing country borders it always goes straight to airline mode and acts more like a mini computer for me. I use my trusty Nokia (that I conveniently had unlocked in Morocco) travel phone. I wasn’t in Italy long enough to warrant getting a new SIM card, and knew I’d only need the phone for texting. Luckily with this book, it doesn’t matter what country code you are texting from. My 5Euro pay-as-you-go credits I purchased in France for this [French] phone worked perfectly to get through the game).

Clue #1: Based on the first coded story we knew we had to get to this particular bridge. A few minutes we received a text asking the number of dolphins on the bridge.

Question 2: What is the Virgin standing on in this particular sculpture located at this particular address in secret 2?

Thanks to Margaret for being my lovely model. For this clue we had to answer what animals were on these particular door knockers.

We got to wander lots of beautiful streets like these in search of our next destination. Typically the game lasts for 2 hours and 6 locations, but we challenged ourselves and went with a longer (3+ hour) game with 8 destinations.

Margaret prepares us for the final clue. It felt good to sit by this point.

By the time we finished our final challenge – which was admittedly a bit anti-climatic, as for the first time we weren’t sure we had found the right thing – this is what Venice looked like. It turns out we got it right and successfully completed the mission. The sunset was complete happenstance, but a good ending to a very cool way to spend the day.

When we got back home we put in the final code into the whaiwhai.com website and it generated this map of everywhere we had ventured that afternoon. (Don’t bother trying to cheat by memorizing this map. There are countless possible variations and clues in the book!)

We used Venice: The Ruyi, but books in the WHAIWHAI series exist for Florence, Milan, Rome, Verona and New York City. There are also WHAIWHAI apps in the works too.

TIP: If we were to change anything about this series, we would include a “real” map of the city with the book. Luckily Margaret had her trusty Moleskine City Venice mapbook with her, but we never would have been able to complete the challenge without it. Also, we wish there was a more specific starting point, because the longest hike was to our first clue, despite choosing “South” as our location.

{Thanks to Tomas Barazza of LOG607 for sending me a copy of the book to test out!}

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