Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Weekend in VENICE!

Hey all! I know it's been a long time since I sat down to actually write out some news, so I thought the trip to Venice would be a good time to put down some details for you guys. Venice was AMAAAAAZINGGG!!! I can't even describe ... if I made Florence sound like a fairy tale town, that was nothing compared to this. I wasn't sure what to expect, since Carrie had been like 6 years ago and said it was sort of dingy and old, and smelled bad. But that might have been good that she said that cause I was absolutely taken aback when we got to Venice. It is beautiful. So we stayed in a little hotel that's located in the tiny town of Marghera, on the Mestre, or Venice's mainland. To get to the island area, we took a bus that runs from the Mestre (which we worked out so that the stop and the train station were walking distance from our hotel) every ten minutes. It took about 15 minutes, and dropped us off at the Piazza le Roma, the basic starting point of the Grand Canal. From there, we spent 23 euro to get a 36-hour "boat bus" pass, which gave us unlimited access to the boat buses, which run all over the city. The boat bus was amazing... we got seats outside on the front and it was a 20 minute or so ride through the city to Saint Mark's Square, the last stop. Everything was gorgeous. It was a beautiful day and really clear out (despite it being 40 degrees and chilly!) and I took way too many pictures. From there, we took the boat bus to the Rialto Bridge, to the Accademia, etc. We covered all the sights pretty fast (Venice is apparently pretty small for the tourist crowd) and ended up just walking around, taking in how beautiful everything is and looking in to all the shops. They had the cooooolest mask shops and shops full of Baroque clothing to wear during Carnevale. There were also a bunch of blown glass shops since Venice is apparently famous for its glass factory. We thought about going on Saturday but you had to take a special ferry out and it seemed kinda time-consuming. We got a pretty cheap dinner at this cute pizzeria (mine was spicy salami, brie, fresh tomatoes, and sweet bell peppers... mmm) and called it a pretty early night since it was my 21st birthday thursday night (yay!) and we woke up early on Friday to get to our hotel, check in, and get to the island. We were pretty tired and wanted to save up energy for Saturday, since that was the official start of Carnevale and we were told by everyone it would be a crazy day. I guess I should give you guys details on my birthday! It was fun... my roommates surprised me and I woke up early to go to class to a kitchen decorated with streamers, balloons, and a little tiara for me to wear on my box of cereal. Hahah. I had class from 9-3, then had to run some errands, come home, pack for Venice, and then we went to a nice dinner at this cute Spanish restaurant/bar. Erin surprised me with a bottle of champagne, and the owner of Salamanca (the place we ate at) gave us another free bottle and some tequila shots (sorry mom!) and another free round of drinks. Then he made me stand on the table and take another shot while the bar sang happy birthday... kinda silly but fun. The food though was soooo good! I got chicken fajitas, and it was amazing. Then we went dancing, where I got more champagne, and a VIP table! It is definitely true that Italians are very hospitable. Anyways, on Saturday we got to Venice around 11, and it was PACKED. it was hard to walk anywhere! everyone was out in their crazy costumes and masks, and it was really cool to see. We ate an early, cheap dinner because at 7 there was a concert in Saint Mark's Square followed by a Carnevale circus show. The "concert" turned out to be more of a creepy performance by around 15 musicians in a roped-off space... they wore full-length black robes and had torches attached to their heads, and were conducted by a crazy lady with two long torches she waved around. The wierd part was they were on segways or something... they moved around in circles and in and out of each other, back and forth, playing creepy sort of chamber music... then they played Kashmir by Led Zeppelin... I recognized it immediately. It's hard to describe the effect but it was very creepy and cool. After that, these guys we met told us about this piazza on the other side of the river where they were going, so we headed there, and there was an outdoor concert in this old Renaissance-looking square by a rock/blues band, which was a really neat contrast. We got some Bellini (very fruity champagne made in Venice) and danced for a while to fun rock music (think Cajun-esque blues and rock, ie. When the Saints Come Marching In, lots of fast fun music.) It was fun when the guy (who spoke Italian and English) sang "Stand By Me", we were singing along and dancing and I looked around and none of the Italians were singing... they didnt know the words! But all the American tourists were loving it. It was wierd to see the crowd dancing around in masks and long black robes and feathers and such. The main singer wore a 3-cornered hat and full ensemble. Anyways, we stayed there for a while, dancing and hanging out, and ended up walking back to Piazza le Roma (which was about 10 miuntes away) and getting back into the mainland around 4. Very fun night. Then we got up, got on a train, and got back to Florence around 3 this afternoon. It's almost ten here and I'm gonna go to bed soon... long weekend! I will make sure and post some pictures asap in the next couple days. Oh, and I got masks for Mom and Dad. Cool ones. Cooler than mine... : ). I tried to get some cool pictures of all the dressed-up people, but they didn't turn out too great. Oh well! Love and miss you all!!! CIAO!

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