Oh, I love Venice.

Venice Travel Blog

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For me, the Carnival of Venice was about getting my teeth into it, straight up. The moment I stepped off the questionable boat from the airport onto the pavements of San Marco - after a decidedly dingy and drizzly journey that didn't quite deal up the tasty waterfront views we were hoping for, I must admit - we dove straight into the thick of it; with plenty of 9-year-old-girl style squealing, of course. After locating the hotel and checking in (which was no mean feat, might I add, but traipsing through the narrowest streets imaginable dragging a little suitcase for half an hour isn't the most riveting of tales) costumes were top of the to-do list. We hadn't exactly come prepared in terms of costume due to light packing, but judging by the number of photos that other tourists took of us, whacking on a nice dress with a shiny cape and a crappy mask from a stall was pretty successful.
I say crappy mask, but in fact the masks weren't half as crappy as I had expected them to be from a plastic stall slap bang in the middle of la Piazza San Marco, and not half as expensive, either. If only I could have bought one of the huge array of truly stunning masks from one of the real shops in the streets, but those babies were costly.
If there is anything I can recommend to anyone visiting Carnivale, it would be to splash out a little on a costume, even if it is just as we did. It will make you really feel like a part of the Carnival, and the experience will be all the more scintillating for it.
After finding out that we in fact missed the opening show, (a brief scour of the internet and easyjet's information cannot be trusted for these things; do your homework on the schedule of events!) we proceeded to snack on calzone for cheap, prance around for other tourists that had chosen to keep on their walking boots and puffer jackets instead of the cape-and-dress-option; we watched a play in Italian, of which we understood nothing but still watched enthusiastically, laughing and clapping at what we could only hope were the right moments; had a couple of painfully overpriced glasses of Bellini from the bar in the square (the cocktail of Venice? Apparently so.
It was pretty nice actually, but I quickly learnt to buy any alcohol I desired in bottles from the shops at a fraction of the price) and got chatted up by a rather dashing young Italian man. Benissimo!
The city died fairly quickly and we did a quick explore of the streets around the piazza, which is a good deal more difficult in the dark and whilst slightly alcohol-warmed. The place is a gosh-darn maze.

We failed to get up early the next morning as we intended, but it turned out that we had plenty of time to carry out our plans of exploring the city dressed like an extravagantly homosexual plague doctor, and had time to spare in the afternoon; Venice is a damn small place. We planned to go from square-to-square, seeing what was going on in each of the districts and taking in some general sights, sounds, smells.
. you get the idea.
We took a chance on every turn we took and every road we chose, because, let's face it, it's more fun that way! The beauty of Venice for someone like me: someone with a terrible sense of direction and no map-reading capabilities whatsoever, is that whichever path you choose, you're likely to go full-circle and end up where you want to be anyway. Or where you began. Either way, you'll know where you are eventually if you keep on walking. Dead ends are dead ends; we went whichever way the crowd in front of us was not going, and we found magical places along the way to our destinations. Dangling your legs over the surface of the Grand Canal on a jetty tucked away in a corner; creeping through dark spaces slanted with sunlight; it was worth getting a little lost now and again.
Nothing much went on in the square on Sunday night.
The bar was blasting out some distinctly 90s dance tunes, though, and we danced with some marvellously tipsy Italians who welcomed us with "Tutto al mondo...FRIENDS!" Bloody lovely people.

Monday was our last full day; a day of shameless tourism. Because sometimes, it just needs to be done. We did some shameful things like shooting to the top of the Campanile (which was freezing) for eight Euros, going through the Basilica di San Marco, which actually isn't shameful at all as it is beautiful and amazing...and also because there is a human hand in the treasure room. Sweet.
Plus, all the time we spent looking at big blades and suits of armour in various museums, ogling at the interiors of the Palazzo Ducale, going into any building that we came across that was open and looked interesting, and visiting the Guggenheim collection to keep my Art teacher happy, of course.
Our shameless tourism was actually rather rewarding and lovely!
Monday night was spent learning to tango (badly) and making general idiots of ourselves as we tripped over capes and silly shoes, and sharing stories of where we were from in very broken English and Italian, respectively. We also posed for several surreal and slightly uncomfortable minutes as a mass photo-session took place with us at the core. We didn't have the heart to tell them that we were just a pair of zealous English travellers, much like themselves. Si, a gracious nod of the masked head, prego. It kept them happy.
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photo by: asturjimmy