Masquerading at Carnevale di Venezia 2014

This past month has been a whirlwind.

Up, up up and go, go, go.

It is a rare thing to have a day of rest to recoup and reflect on what we had seen and learnt. However, now  that we are having a little breather, I get the chance to back track on the exciting things that have happened in the past month. Kev and I met up with Anne and Jian and we all have just returned from Carnevale in Venice! As I am still buzzing from the excitement of this unforgettable festival of beauty and outrageous fashion, I plan to post about Venice and then afterwards, the next few posts will be about our stops in Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris and last but not least our road trip around Scotland!

Venice

Last year around July, I spoke to Justine, my captain from my superleague indoor beach volleyball team, and her mother at one of the games. When telling them of my plans to go to Europe, they both said that Kev and I had go to Venice and see Carnevale. They were adamant that I would love it. When I got home that night, I googled it and saw that it was very much something I would adore! Fast forward to a few days ago, and I found myself with Kev, Anne and Jian walking through the numerous alleyways this romantic water city!

Carnevale. What is it? It’s an annual festival in Venice, Italy held just before lent, where people wear elaborate masks and costumes and parade them around San Marco Square. It runs for 12 days and this year it started on 22 February and it ends on 4 March. We were there from the 26th of February to the 1 March.

Eating the famous Venician Frittelle... Anne's pretty  excited.
Eating the famous Venician Frittelle… Anne’s pretty excited.

The mask

When you walk around the island of Venice during Carnevale, there are three things that you see. You see pastries, you see murano glass and you see masks. All kinds of masks. Masks ranging in prices as cheap as 2 euros up to in the 100s. On our first night in Venice, we all walked around Venice trying on all kinds of masks to find the right one for us. I didn’t expect that finding a mask would be hard work, but it is. Finding the mask to represent you and what you want people to see is very, very difficult. Do you want a full face or a half face? If you want a full face, what expression do you want? What colour do you prefer? What design appeals to you? What look do you choose to wear to mask your inner self? There were so many beautifully coloured masks made of metal, plastic, leather and paper mache that admittedly, all of us were a little overwhelmed, masked out and by the end of the night we all walked back to our accommodation empty handed. However, that night Kev and I did find a mask each that kept lingering in our minds the next day when we tried looking at other masks, and as such we resorted to try and find the store that we had seen them in and luckily, we were able to back track our steps find it through the busy labyrinth.

Jian's tragic face. Anne and Jian wanted to go back and buy this mask but ran out of time to do so.
Jian’s tragic face. Anne and Jian wanted to go back and buy this mask but ran out of time to do so.
A close contender for my choice of mask.
A close contender for my choice of mask.
Our chosen masks. Mine is one the left and Kev's on the right.
Our chosen masks. Mine is one the left and Kev’s on the right.

Our masks were hand made paper mache and were 40 euros each. I also really wanted to ‘participate’ in the spirit of Carnevale and since the quotes for costumes that I had been given were between 300 – 450 Euros per person for a day, I had lost hope. Until, when we walked past a costume on a mannequin outside the Hotel Principe with a sign saying ‘From 50 Euros’. I grabbed Kev and said that we had to go in to check this out. Was it too good to be true????

Hotel Principe. A deal too good to be true?
Hotel Principe. A deal too good to be true?

The costume

So we walked into the Hotel and we could see a corner in the lobby that had been cordoned off with coat racks which held beautiful dresses in gold, red, blues, greens, frills, lace and all things nice.  The atelier enthusiastically showed us which costumes were 50 – 70 Euros and which ones were 80-100+. I couldn’t believe my ears and eyes when he pulled out the 50 Euro ones, as they were so elegant and more than what I had expected… the dream was going to be realised. So for a good hour Kev and I tried on different costumes. Admittedly, majority of that time was spent on me… but a lady has so many things to worry about with her costume. I had to tie on pannier or side hoops, which are these cotton like bags lined with plastic to keep their round shape, on both sides of my hips. Hard work but we found the perfect costume for us.

Which dress? What hair?
Which dress? What hair?

The next day, Anne and Jian met us at the Hotel where we were to pick up our costumes, and I secretly hoped that they too would be persuaded to hire costumes! Anne, in a blink started looking at the dresses and was soon trying out different outfits. Jian too tried a few, and only after Anne’s commitment to her dress did Jian then decide that he would hire one. Our elegant lady and gentlemen group was complete!

Group photo just outside Anne and Jian's hotel on a bridge looking over a canal.
Group photo just outside Anne and Jian’s hotel on a bridge looking over a canal.
Our first selfie for the day.
Our first selfie for the day.

A day in the life of those people in costumes

Being in costume was so much fun. We ran through the tiny alleyways and through piazzas enjoying the view behind the mask. I enjoyed imagining that I was one of those beautiful wealthy women back in the days of Casanova. Besides playing with the costumes and having the time of our lives, we did not expect that we ourselves, were to become features of Venice! The second that we stepped out of the Hotel Principe, heads were turning and cameras and phones were pulled out wanting photos of us. I’ll admit, the inner diva and divo in all of us came out. There’s definitely an instant confidence that grows when you are behind a mask!

We kept bumping into this family all day!!! They were a lot of fun.
We kept bumping into this family all day! On the canal, at San Marco Square, in the artistic quarter. They were a lot of fun! But this is an example of what the day was like posing with other tourists.

So the next photos are snaps taken throughout the day.

Chilling outside Alfred's
Chilling outside Alfred’s
Eating pasta in Alfred's Pasta to Go
Eating pasta in Alfred’s Pasta to Go
Eating squid ink pasta all gentlemanly like.
Eating squid ink pasta all gentlemanly like.
This cheeky waiter wanted a photo with us.
This cheeky waiter wanted a photo with us.
On the gondola with Realto Bridge behind us.
On the gondola with Rialto Bridge behind us.
Schaweeet couple on their honeymoon!
Schaweeet couple on their honeymoon!
Anne and I having a lovely conversation on the gondola.
Anne and I having a lovely conversation on the gondola.
The boys having a chat.
The boys having a chat.
This couple nodded 'OK' when we asked to take a photo. I must have read that nod somewhat wrong.
This couple nodded ‘OK’ when we asked to take a photo. I must have read that nod somewhat wrong.
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Another example of a man painting his face white and blushing himself for the part. He was really sweet.
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Couples, his and hers costumes were very popular.
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These ladies wanted a photo of us too! They were so nice!
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Curtseying to each other, as one would do.
For some reason, Anne and I just wanted to twirl around in our dresses all day. This is just one of 20 photos of us twirling in San Marco Square.
For some reason, Anne and I just wanted to twirl around in our dresses all day. This is just one of 20 photos of us twirling in San Marco Square.
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This woman had really kind eyes behind that full face mask. She was graceful and very gracious.
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Our picture perfect shot!
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We had to fight our way through the cameras to get a shot with this guy.
Eating gelato in a piazza in Venice. The thing to do when dressed all gentlemanly and lady like.
After a day of being beautiful, we rested by eating gelato in a piazza in Venice. It’s the thing to do when dressed all gentlemanly and lady like.
An example of us running around the alleyways in Venice. It was a lot of fun!
An example of us running around the alleyways in Venice. It was a lot of fun!
I love this pic because it looks like I'm flying and Anne looks somewhat scary.
I love this pic because it looks like I’m flying and Anne looks somewhat scary.
Staying classy.
Staying classy.

Photos of other costumes from the day

Here are some other photos of the wonderful, unique to quite weird costumes in San Marco Square.

Elegant in black
Elegant in black
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She reminded me of a babushka doll
Yes, that's a female Loki and Sabertooth. I do not know what that medusa, boobie thing is. But these three stayed together the whole day. The Medusa Boobie got way more attention.
Yes, that’s a female Loki and Sabretooth. I do not know what that medusa, boobie thing is. But these three stayed together the whole day. The Medusa Boobie got way more attention.
Beautiful.
Beautiful.
This guy was just cool.
This guy was just cool.
I liked the guy in blue. :)
I liked the guy in blue. 🙂
These two were very pretty. A lot of people painted themselves white and drew moles on themselves like these guys.
These two were very pretty. A lot of people painted themselves white and drew moles on themselves like these guys.
Cute pond couple!
Cute pond couple!
She was made out of origami!
She was made out of origami!
Little red ridding hood and her bad ass wolf.
Little red ridding hood and her bad ass wolf.
These girls were also a pond!
These girls were also a pond!
A beautiful shot by Kev.
One of Kev’s favourite shots of all the beautiful ones he’s taken.

I know that this post is just a lot of photos, but it is really the only way I can describe how Carnevale is like. Overall it was just a great thing to do. A once in a life time chance! We didn’t end up going to a ball as balls cost from 280 Euros for after dinner attendance to 500-1500 Euros for full attendance (attending the whole night). I was ecstatic that we were able to participate in the festival for a reasonable price and the photos of the day were well worth it.

Our footprint: http://spiked.it/ugYzXHg

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