Costumes and Paradise Galor
Posted by Andy Steves in on September 15, 2010.
In St. Mark’s Square there were all sorts of characters. Again, this is an example of people taking a hobby a bit too seriously. Costumes were intricately detailed and in every color, shape, and form. There was a family decked out in red lipstick down to the husband, and red velvet all the way down to the stroller for the dog. The good costumes would attract such a crowd they couldn’t move--but I think that’s what they wanted. There were medieval-looking parades with huge throbbing drums you could hear a mile away. These parades were composed of matching costumes with colors that must have represented something or some neighborhood. You could tell these were somewhat independent and were just wandering through the crowd. After they passed, we killed some more time, and some more Italian youngsters.
Then all the sudden a huge parade, it must have been the main one, came out of nowhere. It was a giant procession that reminded me of a waltzing scene from Amadeus: men walking their women down the middle of the square to where there was a stage opposite St. Mark’s Basilica. After that there was something like a procession of each Venetian neighborhoods’ most beautiful women. There must have been a beauty pageant, and the winners were sitting in beautiful dresses on planks being carried on the shoulders of six young men. I claimed my spot in the crowd in front of a professional photographer. So I like to think I got some pretty good shots. There were beautiful costumes, strange ones, scary ones and weird ones. The most funky one was a guy dressed fully in a potato sack holding up his own noose with red paint splashed over him. There was no context or anything for this so I just stared along with the rest of the crowd. I also noticed there was a hierarchy of costumes. There were people dressed as knights, as a king or two, as nobles then as peasants. I remember thinking “come on, if you had a chance to be anybody, why the hell would you choose to be common folk?” The hobbies people have. Maybe it’s like Civil War reenactments.
We spent the rest of the day chilling on St. Mark’s eating out of the grocery store to save some money. Once it got dark, there was a semi-interesting acrobatics show/play on the stage with the actors bouncing off springy boards and climbing a pole to do some tricks. Once it was time, we bid adieu to the piazza and headed back to the station to catch our ride out.
On the night train back to Rome from Venice we skimped and went for shared seat compartments instead of beds. In the station we met three Slovaks headed back to their place outside Venice. Slovaks are interesting people. They are the only people I’ve met whose eyes light up when you say you’re American. And the fact that they still need to ask what nationality an American is attests to how far east they really are. All other Europeans, whether they’re French, Italian, or whatever can tell an American a mile off from their blue jeans and white sneakers and roll their eyes probably due possibly to their negative past experiences with American tourists or how offensive our sense of style may be. Slovaks want to learn more about us, and I guess consider us intriguing. We talked until we reached their stop outside of Venice and said goodbye.
Now was the time to “spread out, turn off the lights, take off your shirts and look as creepy as possible” I told my friends. It worked. Because nobody came into our compartment, we stretched out on all six seats all the way back to Rome and had a fine free night’s sleep.
I definitely have WSA to thank for my exceptional experience in Amsterdam. One would think 4 days isn't enough to tour a city but WSA facilitated an optimum weekend full of sightseeing and fun. Amsterdam may have a notorious reputation for its lax drug and sex culture but there’s so much more to the city. Luckily, our tour guide, Arthur, native to the Netherlands, steered us away from the tourist traps and showed us around his beloved city, highlighting all of its gems. I'd definitely like to try other WSA trips in the future. It's hassle free traveling with an awesome itinerary - nice that the tour guides are flexible with the schedule and willing to cater the itinerary to the group's interest! Highly recommend WSA to any student with only a weekend to see a city.Lauren Wallender, Elon University ~ Fall 2014
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