Laura’s European Vacation: Part 2 Venice, Padua and Carnevale

(You can see Part 1 here.  Also – most photos were taken with my iPhone.  Some are very clear and some are not – it was kind of the luck of the draw.)

I’m not going to lie, waking up to this view was an awesome way to start your day:

The water really is that color.

The water really is that color.

Our first day in Venice was spent mainly sleeping in because we were up late gabbing, and then sewing.  We both needed to finish our outfits in time for the Dulce Carnival event we were attending that night.  It was worth the time, because they ended up looking great and we had a ball in them.

Elizabeth and I in our fantasy Italian outfits with new masks.

Elizabeth and I in our fantasy Italian outfits with new masks.

Elizabeth called my dress my “Barbie Italian,” and it was indeed very shiny.  We bought masks to coordinate with our outfits and headed over to the event, which was only a short walk away.  I discovered rather quickly that everything in Venice is basically a short walk over several bridges away from anywhere else.  I also found that there is an almost crazy urge to buy ALL THE MASKS.  I had never really thought about masks much before, but everyone there was wearing them (even if they weren’t in costume) and the are beautiful and everywhere, and you just want ALL OF THEM.  More about that later…

My favorite photo from the entire trip.

My favorite photo from the entire trip.

The Dolce Carnival event started with a gondola ride through the canals down to a privately-owned Palace.  We shared the gondola with a hysterical couple from Scotland and managed to avoid having any rain at all during the trip.

Murano glass chandeliers in the Palace.

Murano glass chandeliers in the Palace.

The event itself turned out to be a wine and dessert tasting, with 5 (I think?) different wines/champagnes sampled, as well as a variety of desserts that are usually only made during Carnevale.  Elizabeth was kind enough to be my stunt drinker since I don’t drink, and since most of the desserts were gluten-filled, I made friends by giving them away.  At one point we were passing all kinds of wine glasses around because several other folks also didn’t drink, and the very informative sommelier inquired what was going on.  We told her about the Stunt Drinkers and she found that quite funny.  She had so much knowledge about each of the wines, how they fit into the history of Venice, how best to serve them, etc., that she was fascinating to listen to.  Sooner than we would have liked we had to leave the Palace and find our way back.  We decided to walk (not the wisest choice in the end) and joined up with the Scottish couple to walk back to St. Mark’s Square.  It started to rain, we got lost, and we had a marvelous time.

Forcing innocent tourists to take our photo in the rain.

Forcing innocent tourists to take our photo in the rain.

We ended up at Cafe Florian in St. Mark’s Square and met up with the other group from the Dolce Event and shared a large table (and a bottle) with them.  Cafe Florian is a beautiful restaurant that still has the original murals on it’s walls from when Casanova and Lord Byron used to eat there.  It is known in Venice as the Costumers’ Hangout, and I saw the most exquisite costumes inside the Cafe.  If your outfits are particularly good, they will seat you in the windows so that you will draw a crowd.  I have seen people walk into the Cafe simply to take photos, and then leave.  People invariably would take a photo right as you were taking a bite of one of the delicious desserts that the Cafe specializes in.

SO GOOD.  Seriously.  Every flavor you could think of.

SO GOOD. Seriously. Every flavor you could think of.

Our group at Cafe Florian.

Our group at Cafe Florian.

Because our hotel was fairly close to the square, we walked back rather than grabbing a vaporetto and fell asleep pretty much immediately.

When two costumers travel together, this is what their closet looks like...

When two costumers travel together, this is what their closet looks like…

Originally our plan was to head out to Verona the next day, but we were tired and Elizabeth had a ball that evening to go to, so we decided to go mask shopping and wander around Venice.  Something else I discovered about Venice in 9 days – you may think you have seen every single street, but you have not.  There is ALWAYS a corner you have yet to see.

We found some really amazing mask stores while out wandering.  We ate parma ham and fresh mozzarella and sauteed veggies and pretty much stuffed our faces with goodness while seeing everything we could.

My favorite mask shop that had all kinds of animal masks in the windows.

My favorite mask shop that had all kinds of animal masks in the windows.

Borg masks!

Borg masks!

A mask-maker working in her shop.  All masks are made in the shops they are sold in.

A mask-maker working in her shop. All masks are made in the shops they are sold in.

We saw some really fun costumes as we wandered.  I never felt like there was any repetition in costume – one day we would see someone dressed as Iron Man, and the next second Casanova.

Not sure who these guys are, but they are fabulous.

Not sure who these guys are, but they are fabulous.

The pleating on this was very intricate and well done.

The pleating on this was very intricate and well done.

SO MANY FABRICS in those costumes.  Everytime I looked at them I saw something new.

SO MANY FABRICS in those costumes. Everytime I looked at them I saw something new.

At the end of the day we took all of our purchases out and displayed them on the beds.

This is just Day 2, folks.  We might have a problem.

This is just Day 2, folks. We might have a problem.

Elizabeth headed off that evening to her ball and I headed out to explore.

Because I am a Mom, I helped her get dressed and said, "Make good choices!"

Because I am a Mom, I helped her get dressed and said, “Make good choices!”

Our hotel was just off one of the main streets, which happened to have a lot of fancy stores – Chanel, Cartier, etc.  The Dior store was amazing and changed up it’s windows twice while we were there.

Dior Window.

Dior Window.

Even though I was wandering late at night and by myself, I always felt comfortable.  There were tons of people around all the time, the streets were filled with police and you learn how to protect your bags from pickpockets.  The weather was beautiful (we slept with our window open most nights) and there was so much to see.

A traditional style Venetian costume with the caul/hood, full face mask and themed gown.

A traditional style Venetian costume with the caul/hood, full face mask and themed gown.

The street just up from the hotel.  Notice the confetti all over.

The street just up from the hotel. Notice the confetti all over.

We had bought some confetti from a street market and I asked the clerk when it was appropriate to throw confetti.  He looked confused and said, “Always!”

The most sparkle filled mask shop in Venice.

The most sparkle filled mask shop in Venice.

 

You can see the restaurant on the left where I had dinner.

You can see the restaurant on the left where I had dinner.

Other side of the bridge.  I think that is the Bridge of Sighs at the very end of the canal.

Other side of the bridge. I think that is the Bridge of Sighs at the very end of the canal.

Only once did we manage to venture out from Venice in our 9 days, and that was to Padua.  Unfortunately it rained like it was trying to set a record, so I don’t have many photos.  We toured the big museum there and saw our first Donatello painting.  This is also when we realized that religious art is all about the floating baby head.  The place was lousy with floating baby heads.

There was a student protest (that we later found out was about Putin being in Italy) that was very loud, and we decided to head back to the train station earlier than we probably would have.  We also were supposed to attend a pirate ship event that night, but due to the rain and my putting us on the wrong vaporetto, we didn’t make it in time.

Ancient Fez from Padua.  Still cool.

Ancient Fez from Padua. Still cool.

Already soaked to my knees.

Already soaked to my knees.

Another thing I learned was that Venice floods.  When they say it floods 50 days a year?  THEY MEAN IT.  What this means is that I should have brought boots.  My pants were so wet that it took a full day for them to dry.  My shoes took 2 even propped up against the register.  If you go to Venice?  Be ye not so stupid.  Bring boots.

The floody floody.

The floody floody.

The wrong Vaporetto Station.

The wrong Vaporetto Station.

Our favorite concierge gave me a pair of plastic rain boots (basically a big plastic bag with a flip-flop inside) and we headed out in our finery to St. Mark’s again.  We ended up back at Florian and were lucky enough to get a seat in the window.  I wore my Tightrope Walker costume and Elizabeth wore her Turkish outfit.  We ate more amazing desserts and took photos of people who were far fancier than we were.  Then I put on my plastic boots, we stomped through the foot high water in St. Mark’s and wandered back to the hotel bar where we hung out and enjoyed the Wi-Fi.

Elizabeth and her rocking fez.

Elizabeth and her rocking fez.

Wearing a mask given to me by Santa Carlucci, who bought it in Venice.

Wearing a mask given to me by Santa Carlucci, who bought it in Venice.

Full length view of the silliness.

Full length view of the silliness.

Elevator mirror shot!  And yes, Elizabeth is that tiny, even though I am wearing heels.

Elevator mirror shot! And yes, Elizabeth is that tiny, even though I am wearing heels.

 

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