Posted by: jeanne | February 2, 2015

the opening of carnival in venice

it was fun.  even connor enjoyed it, tho he was cold.

it was also an acqua alta high tide, so as we cruised up the grand canal i got more pictures of flooded doorways, while jim and connor sat inside and kept warm.  it was a little rainy, and at one point there was snow in the mix, but by the time we got to the train station and prepared to walk up to the parade canal, the rain had stopped.  we walked with the rest of the tourists going up to the parade – tho we were two hours early – and because we were wearing our water boots, disdained to walk up on the boards put up for tourists in tennis shoes.  that is, until the water got really high as we passed a campo lined with tourist trinket booths, doing a brisk business in those brightly colored plastic boot covers that they sell.

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the opening of carnival started on saturday night with a big street party, which we did not attend, because we go to sleep early here, even after a nap.  so we attended the second part of the opening, which was a costumed regatta down rio cannaregio, a canal with fundamenti (walkways) along both sides, and several bridges.  i had read up on the parade, and understood that the boats would start off on the grand canal, near the train station and run up the canal toward the lagoon, but when we got there and parked ourselves on the south side of the bridge with the holes in the sides (for connor to see thru), we were quickly informed by the questions of (other) tourists around us that the boats would be coming from the other direction.  so after some consultation, we moved to the far end of the western walkway, and took up our stations.  i took connor off to get some caffe latte for us and cioccolata calde for connor.  i resisted the temptation to add a shot of grappa to my coffee…

the crowd quickly became huge, the bridge where we had been standing jammed with people, with a tiny zone of passability in the center, kept clear by a passel of police and emergency personnel.  down where we were, on the fundamente, people kept crowding in, and soon i had to stake a patch at teh very edge of the canal.  at this point connor was safely in the stroller, parked over against the wall.  but soon a family with kids colonized the area around me, and connor started agitating to get out and talk to the kids, all of whom were very much older than he.  in the end, i had to give up my nice spot to go back into the crowd and spell jim in watching connor, as he decided to wander down the street behind us for a few pictures.

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the first notice of the coming parade was an unseen troupe of drummers, who came down the narrow street approaching the bridge, then crossed the bridge, and then continued on down the other narrow street.  the sound grew in volume until we could hardly hear the crowd.  we could only watch their progress from the direction of the dozens of selfie rods that were filming the action.  it was quite comical, watching them swivel in the crowd on the bridge.

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then a few more minutes to wait.  some time before, a largish boat pulled up to the side of the bridge and tied off, and the guys on board spent a lot of time shifting food around and offloading it to who knows where.  the theme of this year’s carnival is food – good taste – and there was lots of local traditional food on offer during the parade, but we never saw it except for on the boat.  good thing we had thought to make and bring sandwiches when we were planning this outing.

the parade started at noon.  a billion church bells rang the hour, and then boats started passing our location, several hundred boats in the 15 minutes the parade lasted, and jim and i photographed most of them.  to date we have several thousand photos in our reference files, and we’ve only been here 2.5 weeks.  we should have several hundred thousand reference photos by the time we go home…

the boats were all rowboats, gondolas and whatever the other kinds of boats were (i forget the names).  the rowers were mostly costumed, and some were halfassed, and some were really good.  connor was fascinated, and watched the whole thing in silence, which is not typical of connor’s behavior.

and then it was over, and we had the choice of trying to go back the way we came, over the bridge still too crowded to pass, or wend our way to the casino vaporetto stop, which we did.  on the way, jim found a lovely little campo to photograph, and connor found a little girl his own age to play with.  the girl’s mom kindly shared some of the confetti she’d bought, and the kids spent time chasing each other around the well and tossing confetti at each other.

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and then we went for the boat, and the girl was there, too, so they gestured at each other in their own baby language for awhile, and we were all separated once we got on the boat.  i went to the extreme back with connor, to a little outdoor seating area that was occupied by a young married couple and their doting parents, perhaps polish, who spent the entire 25 minute ride to san marco taking selfies of themselves and each other.  i mean, they must have taken a hundred shots of themselves smiling and posing for the camera.  and how many will they actually use?  well, how many of the pictures we took will we actually use?

by the time we got back, connor was extremely tired of being told to sit down, not to climb on the railings of the boat, not to try to squeeze thru the bars, not to jump in.  quite the nightmare, and a real struggle to keep him in line and not disturb the other passengers, all of whom have a high tolerance for the misbehavior of children, thank god.  anyway, we all took a nap after eating some cake and milk.  (i had bought a panettone once they went on final sale.  they had started out at 7-11 euros, depending on the shop, and i finally found one in the billa supermarket for 1.20, and should have bought 2, because connor loves them.

later on, we took him out for the sunset, and to play in the playground, but there were no other kids there, so we went for a walk along the shoreline instead, and jim took pictures of the sunset over lido, where there were some clouds.  the sunset itself, over some nearby island in the lagoon, was in clear sky, and except for the dramatic reddening of the sun as it entered the gunge layer over the city, was swift and not very impressive.  except for the reflections of the setting sun in all that blue water.  water that remains a clear greenish blue (chrome green) no matter what color the sky is.

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and then our day was over.  i finished making soup after salvaging the unburned beans, and we ate soup and meatballs with bread, and then went to bed.

this morning we were awakened at 7 by the sirens heralding the start of acqua alta.  3 hours before high tide, san marco was already flooded.  i’ve got an app that shows the coverage on the streets of venice (wvf – water on teh venice floor).  it’s going up to 120 cm today, and that means 1/3 of the city will be flooded.  it’s the highest tide we’ve experienced yet, and jim and connor are staying on the island we live on, which has a height of 175 cm, and is safe from all but the most extreme flooding.  i, on the other hand, am going to venture up the grand canal with the camera, and then go off to the panorama hypermarket in maghera.  i might come back with a scooter for connor, and maybe a green goblin doll (he’s been really missing it since we left it at home).  i’m also going to attempt to get to the big testolini art supply store on the mainland, and get jim his pastels.

we’ll see.  stay tuned.

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