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!
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.
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.
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????
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.
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!
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!
So the next photos are snaps taken throughout the day.
Photos of other costumes from the day
Here are some other photos of the wonderful, unique to quite weird costumes in San Marco Square.
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.
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