Venice was amazing! It also helped that we were there during their Carnivale celebrations. Seeing as we were there during Carnivale we decided it would be good to join a tour to help make the most of our visit. We joined a 3-night TopDeck tour. Our accommodation was situated off the main island at a camping ground utilised by a lot of tour groups due to the difficulty of getting 50+ people to a hotel on the main island with all their luggage when no vehicles have access. It did mean that we had a twenty-minute ferry each way every day. We started off with a walking tour of the main island, which involved quite an early start for us. A few hours later it became apparent that this had been a necessity when the whole island became packed with people. Keeping track of 50 people in huge crowds in a place full of narrow alleys would have been a logistical nightmare. After our tour we spent most of the day just strolling around the island. It would have been impossible to try to get somewhere on time when it took triple the amount of time it would normally take you. Not that it bothered us. It was a people-watching paradise. Everywhere were people dressing in elaborate costumes. Some traditional, think Casanova, some were more contemporary. There were also shows on at the main square that could occupy a viewer for hours. We went on a gondola ride which was magical. Despite the massive crowds on the walking streets, the canals seemed quiet and it was almost like you'd stepped into a different world as you floated down a narrow canal with only brief glimpses of the partying going on.
On our second day, we took a trip to a couple of the outer islands. We visited Murano which is famous for its glass. We were able to see a glass blowing demonstration which was fascinating. They made it look so easy by making a vase in less than 10 minutes. I have no doubt that it is actually extremely difficult. This followed by a round of drooling over beautiful glassware that we could never get home without breaking. Our next stop was the island Burano (it took me a full day to realise our Italian guide was referring to two different islands when he said Murano and Burano) which is the home to lace making but also the prettiest fishing village. All the houses in the island are painted brightly, and all in different colours. As the story goes, the fishing wives were sick of the husbands using the excuse that they thought the house was theirs when they 'visited' another woman on returning to port in the night. There's no mistaking your house when it's bright magenta!
We finished our tour off with our own carnivale masked party, everyone dressed up in masks, capes and costumes. All I can say is the party was wild. I'm sure only Italian bartenders can get away with dancing on tables and the bar!
All in all, a great time in Venice. We didn't do a lot of the usual tourist things, but simply being a part of the celebrations was enough.