It was a field trip that went wrong on so many levels.
For us who live in Rijeka, Venice has always been a great and very convenient destination for one-day field trips by car. Hence, ever since I was a child, whenever my family had the wish to experience a dose of Italian culture, we would simply sit in our car and drive the 200 km to La Serenissima.
One weekend this February, we decided to visit Venice once again since my mom has never been there during the period of the Carnivale before and she really wanted to see the Venetian carnival costumes and masks. Armed with high spirits, Italian music and traveling tips from my friend who often organizes tours in Venice, we embarked on the short, but sweet journey.
Unfortunately, very soon we realised that not everything will go as we planned.
Firstly, we missed the intended point of vaporetto departure to the islands of the Laguna. Instead of at Punta Sabbioni, the location which was closer and where parking is cheaper, we decided to ignore our GPS, circle the islands and leave our car at Tronchetto. Why we ignored the directions provided by our GPS, we will never know, but the time we lost trying to decide what to do and whether to go back dampened our spirits a bit.
Because of our parking faux pas, we had to change our plans and give up from visiting the adorable island of Burano, since we were at the wrong side of the island and taking the vaporetto to the island would be too time-consuming and not very practical.
When we finally reached the island of Venice, and started to search for the couples in Venetian costumes in the crowd… we saw none. We looked around Venice in vain trying to locate them, but to no avail. The only photo of a (live) masked couple we managed to take was in one of the small side street while they were on a cigarette break. It turned out that the first weekend of the Carnival is really not the best time to visit Venice if you are looking to find a bunch of people showing off the grace and beauty of Venetian carnival masks, because you might end up not finding them at all.
So, it was a trip during which we managed to do practically everything wrong. However, despite of all the mishaps, it also turned out to be a trip full of firsts.
It was the first time we managed to escape the crowds on Riva degli Schiavoni and across the Ponte dei Sospiri and come to the island from a different, definitely not less beautiful side of the Laguna. It allowed us to see the Venetian vistas without crossing paths with large groups of tourists and enjoy some new experiences.
We took a ride down the most beautiful Venetian “street”. Thanks to an Italian tourist we met while waiting to buy the vaporetto tickets, we decided to take an hour long ride through the Canal Grande and enjoyed its beautiful architecture, details and the loud, buzzing life.
We had a drink in what seemed to be the coolest place in Venice: a tiny place offering a variety of wines and small sandwiches, close to Mercato di Rialto. Instead of sitting at the table (there are none, and no chairs), you take your glass and occupy one part of the small piazzeta, enjoying the wine of your choice or the authentic, and so very tasty, aperol spritz.
We decided to wander around Venice without a map and got the chance to see sidesand secrets of the town that were never before a part of our touristic itineraries.
Is there a conclusion to this story? Well, I hope so: because regardless of all the mishaps and plans that went awry, the field trip we took was exciting, beautiful and new on so many levels. It proved to us, once again, that there is really no such thing as “visiting a place too many times”, because every trip you take to the same place will bring you something new, something you didn’t see or know before. And as for my mom’s wish to see the carnival masks? Well, that really isn’t a problem that cannot be solved – we’ll simply have to visit Venice again next winter.