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Venice: Carnival 2015

President’s Day weekend was fast approaching, and I had not decided where to go yet… Mr. Stebbins (Ralph) walked in, who by happenstance, started to discuss how much he loves Venice.

Ah yes, Venice, she’s on my list of places to visit and what luck, President’s Day weekend lines up with Carnival.

It was meant to be. Kinda. Sorta. Decisions had to be made…drive, fly, bring Little Man and where should I stay – Booking.com was confirming that plans to go to Venice during Carnival best be made early. Ralph came to the rescue, by sending me a link with flights and hotel packages via Expedia. Cautions to the wind in regards to cost, and a few clicks later, my trip was booked. Little Man would have to sit this one out since I selected to fly.

I scattled out of work early (4pm) on Thursday to get my hair done before my trip. Wanted to look pretty for my upcoming long weekend. Got home, grabbed a bit to eat and began to pack my bag. When I drive, I don’t necessarily worry about packing light but this time, I knew I would be rolling my suitcase down the Venice streets…so I needed to be smart about my packing. I did okay, but let’s just say, my packing shall remain a work in progress.

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I hit the sack early after setting my alarm for 3:21am. My flight left Stuttgart at 7:00am. I had attempted to figure out the transportation situation in Venice from the airport to my hotel the week before, but couldn’t quite make heads or tails of it. Figured it would be easy enough once I was on the ground to figure it out.

Venice Travel was easy enough, and I recommend going the public transportation route.

You can buy a one way ticket on ACTV Bus 5 to Piazzale Roma for 6 euros, or buy a one day or multi-day transportation ticket that also includes the vaporetto or water ferry. You’ll need transportation via the vaporetto – there’s really no way around that. Once you’re in Venice, all traveling is via the water or by walking, and it’s not a huge place, but it’s big enough to need to use the ferry. Plus, you’ll want to enjoy the boat ride on the Grand Canal.

Venice Italy

Google Map is my saving grace when traveling. Eats up my battery, but makes my life so much easier. I located my hotel via Google map and tracked down the appropriate ferry stop. It so happened to be by the Rialto Bridge.

Rialto Bridge

I was checked-in and in my room at little after noon. I was tired but ready to go explore. The sky was overcast, and weather a bit chilly as I made my way towards Piazza San Marco, which was conveniently located 5 minutes’ walk from my hotel.

Piazza San Marco

The narrow street I was following opened up to the wide opened Piazza San Marco, and I ventured in looking in amazement to all there was to see. I walked to the water’s edge to take in more of the view, saw and then began to take pictures of the beautiful people in costumes. I made my way back to the center of the Piazza where there was a stage setup and a Best Mask Contest was beginning. I was in awe of the costumes.

Costumes, Costumes, Costumes

Carnival in Venice is all about the costumes. The costumes are the most beautiful, intricate, and magnificent costumes I have ever seen in my life. The models (individuals) wearing them embrace their roles and pose for their admiring audiences. The audience is a mixture of tourists and professional photographer. To the credit of the models, they are as patient with those who have only phones, as with those with the expensive lenses. The crowds around the models get large – getting a good shot with no one else in the frame is a challenge.

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The themes of the costumes vary but there are quite a few Venetian Period costumes from the 13th -15th century. The mixture of Venice and the costumes acted like a time machine – I felt taken back in time, which is one of the most precious aspects of being in Venice during Carnival.

If life ever affords me an opportunity to return to Venice during the Carnival; I will only do so by renting or buying my own costume and attend a Masquerade Ball. I don’t think the Carnival experience is complete without attending a Grand Ball. They are quite expensive (cheapest one started at 200 euros) and you must be in costume to attend. However, I think it’s at the balls that the true magic of Carnival happens. I imagine attending a ball is a full return to a time past and a taste for what living in Venice was once like.

Slight Disappointment

Let me first say, Venice is all you need – she is incredible in her own right, but this was Carnival, and while I loved the costumes; I was a little disappointed there wasn’t more to it. The stage on the Piazza San Marco had some additional acts aside from the costume contests, but I expected more to be happening in the other squares. I expected more parades, music and overall festivities. I thought I would have seen acrobats, jugglers, playwrights and musicians entertaining the seas of tourists walking the streets.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a party everywhere…so I thought Venice would have been similar. It wasn’t so…which left me plenty of opportunity to go exploring.   More about that in another post.

Enjoy this video compilation of my pictures.

 How About You?

Have you visited Venice?  Did you ever get to experience the Carnival in Venice?  I would love to hear from you!  Comment below or contact Ann Bernard, Travel Writer and Blogger here.