Considering the up-coming holiday and on-going celebrations, the trip was relatively cheap. However, the train rides filled up rather quickly. There were about nine of us going, and we decided we would buy our train tickets together. And, naturally, by the time we got around to purchasing my ticket, all the seats on the train everyone else was able to book was filled up, so I ended up traveling alone (which wasn’t a big deal at all, as I already had to do so for my trip to Genova to visit my cousins).
Less than fifteen seconds off the train, I could already see people dressed up in costumes for Carnevale. There were even people dressed up specifically to take pictures with tourists (as was the case in Rome, too). When my friends finally arrived, a few of them commented during our sight-seeing that they were surprised that people of all ages were dressed up—and so elaborately. Mainly people were dressed up like the old royalty and aristocrats of 17th/18th century Venice or Il Dottore, or in the plain white Luna mask and long, colorful, flowing cloaks, but there were plenty others who dressed up as film characters, including Cpt. Jack Sparrow and the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter from the recent Alice in Wonderland film. Some kids were even dressed up as their favorite superheroes or Disney princess. One little girl, though, who couldn’t have been older than 3 or 4 years of age, had this elaborate Scarlett O’Hara-type red dress! I wanted to sneak a photo, but decided that probably would’ve been a little weird ahaha To fit in a little better / be a total tourist, my friends and I all bought some Venetian masks from local vendors (they sell much better ones in stores, of course, but, if you’re on a budget—like most of us were—you can still find some really nice, cheap (€5-15) masks on the streets and along the canals of Venice).
Speaking of the canals, no trip to Venice would be complete without a gondola ride. Which is pretty expensive, fyi, so make sure you go in a big group if possible (they can cost up to about €80, so try to go in at least a group of 6-8 to divvy up the price). Our gondolier didn’t sing any traditional Italian music, as they are famous for, but it was amazing enough just to see the city, churches, bridges, and architecture of the old buildings (many of which are four or five hundred years old) straight from the canals. We ended up in lot of other tourists’ pictures, and took many ourselves of the city and the people we saw dressed for Carnevale. It was a ton of fun, but my friends were nervous about the gondola tipping over (we were an odd-numbered size group, so the boat was clearly tipping to one side), so I had to “brave” being the first in and last out haha
After our boat ride, we did some more walking, sight-seeing, souvenir shopping, and had some really bad service at lunch. We split up for a while after lunch—even more than we already were (three people from the VU group who came with my group never ended up going out with us, as they slept through their alarms until two hours after we left having not gotten an answer on their hotel room when we knocked)—and one group had something very weird happen to them: They got lost after visiting some churches, and while they were looking at a map to find their bearings, they were surprised to hear the “Ghostbusters” theme song playing from behind them. They turned to see a group dressed up as the trio for Carnevale approaching them, who then proceeded to blow their map of the city out their hands with leaf blowers they were carrying around as part of their costumes.
You can’t make this stuff up. It’s too weird.
Anyway, when we finally got reunited with them after dinner (they were wandering around and lost for a few hours), we got ready to go out for the celebration. However, we didn’t stay out very long, because, as it turns out, most of the parties end right around the time most college students would decide is the time to leave (a lot of the parties start in before 8 or 9 and end by midnight). Personally, I didn’t care we missed it; I don’t much care for party scenes in general, and I was finding the Carnevale nightlife creepier the longer we stayed out.
Overall, it was a pretty good time, though, I’m glad one of my friends proposed the trip, and I’m looking forward to seeing how different the city is when I go back to Venice in a couple months through Villanova as part of the program.