Sunday, February 22, 2009

Notes from The Carnival

[Image: Josef Litobarski, 2009, Attribution 3.0 Unported]

Late last night, we returned home from the carnival of Venice. Elle had been to the carnival as a child, and had often told me about her experience. It always sounded amazing - masked figures emerging from the shadows of twisting Venetian alleyways and covering people in clouds of confetti before disappearing again into the maze. I really wanted to see it!

We almost didn't go this year (for various reasons) but then, at the last minute, we decided to hop on a train and head for Venice. The first stop, though, was Verona - where we went to a couchsurfing fancy-dress party. Elle went as Puss in Boots, and I went with a cheap (but grotesque) pig mask, making me look like something out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

We met some really interesting people dressed in some truly bizarre costumes (one couchsurfer, for example, had actually gone as a tentacle from cult video-game Day of the Tentacle. He had made himself a giant painted felt tentacle, and would glide across the floor in a slightly disconcerting way. When he won the prize for "Most Original Costume of the Night," a group of his friends tackled him and jumped on him, causing his costume to ooze blue and green paint onto the floor. Truly bizarre.)

We partied till late and slept in a spare room. The next day (after coffee and biscuits) we caught the train to Venice.

[Image: Josef Litobarski, 2009, Attribution 3.0 Unported]

We arrived in the late afternoon, and as soon as we left the station we promptly found ourselves lost in the twisting labyrinth of Venetian streets. Despite signposts offering directions to the main piazza, Venice is almost impossible to navigate without constantly looking at a map. This is, however, half the fun. One is never entirely sure where one is.

[Image: Josef Litobarski, 2009, Attribution 3.0 Unported]

The sun started to set, and things became even more confusing. At one point, we were desperately rushing back to the train station to avoid missing the last train home, and realised that the main street we had been looking for was actually a canal. All those wiggly lines look the same on a map when twilight sets in! Luckily, we found another way to the station.

Despite being constantly lost, Venice was great fun. I love the experience of walking through a crowd at night and of having absolutely no idea what strange sight is going to pop up next. I had this feeling in Bangkok in Khaosan Road, and I got it in Venice during the carnival. I saw parades of snowmen, Village People and Ghostbusters (with accompanying music), medieval kings and knights and more, all against the backdrop of the canals of Venice at sunset.

The highlight of the night, though, was when we stumbled out into Piazza San Marco to find it packed to the gills with crazy costumed people... and a woman tied to a balloon flying through the air to music. It was great fun to watch her swimming and cartwheeling through the air, brushing her fingertips against the crowd below before flying up high and performing a series of somersaults. Fantastique!

[Video: Josef Litobarski, 2009, Attribution 3.0 Unported]

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