My trip to Venice was not exactly planned. Back in February, my friend called and asked if I wanted to go to Venice for the last weekend of the Carnival… in less than three weeks. I immediately agreed. My trip to Venice during Carnevale di Venezia last year was so amazing, I knew I wanted to go again. I had money to go but I have to admit I was a little hesitant. Wouldn’t it be wiser to throw this cash on debt repayment instead? Or save? I admit to having these thoughts rush through my head, but I knew that eventually I would give up and go. So in the end, this is exactly what I did. And it was totally worth it!
My flight to Venice was early on Friday morning so I booked an airport hotel to spend the night before my flight. In my twenties when I had an early morning flight to catch, I would wake up in the middle of the night, jump on a night bus and head to the airport or better yet spend the night at the airport altogether (crazy, I know!), but I think we can all agree I am a little old for that now 😉 I arrived in Venice on Friday morning, jumped on a bus to Piazzale Roma (10 Euros each way) and took a boat to San Marco (7 Euros each way). I could have walked from Piazzale Roma to my hotel near Piazza San Marco (it takes about 20-25 minutes), but as the weather was super nice I decided to take a boat instead and enjoy the views.
I booked us to stay at The Westin Europa & Regina, a luxury five-star hotel inside a historic 17th century Venetian palace. During the Carnival, the rates start from 600 Euros per night for a standard room. Now, before you think I have lost my mind, let me tell you that instead of 600 Euros we paid 210 Euros per night, including the city tax (we stayed for a total of 2 nights) and we were, in fact, upgraded to a deluxe room with a partial view of the Grand Canal and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiori. How? Let’s just say I have connections in the travel industry 😉 Below you can see a photo of the stunning view from the room that I was waking up to for 3 blissful days and a photo of the room itself.
Worth every penny! It is hard to find a nice reasonably priced hotel on the main island of Venice during the last weekend of the Carnival. The last weekend is considered to be the best as many high profile Masquerade Balls (La Cavalchina ’14 at Teatro La Fenice was one of them) take place during this time and the atmosphere in the city generally gets even more festive. So really, I was extremely lucky to have been given this fantastic opportunity to stay at one of the most iconic hotels in Venice for a fraction of the price. Oh, and look at my surprise birthday cake that the hotel’s concierge left for us in the room (the cake was absolutely delicious, by the way).
The beauty of the Venice Carnival is that anyone can attend it. You don’t have to have an invitation to a Masquerade Ball or a Carnival Party, all you need is a Carnival dress and a mask. Venice Carnival takes place on the streets of Venice where you will see loads of people in costumes enjoying themselves.
On Saturday night, we were invited to the Carnival Party hosted by someone we know. It was held on the top floor of the Venetian house in Cannaregio district (one of the six historic districts of Venice). There were about 100 people in attendance, everyone dressed in Carnival costumes. It was surreal! Below is the photo of me on the streets of Venice in my Carnival dress and a mask (it rained that night) and our DJ at the party.
Needless to say, we had an amazing time in Venice. I realised that I want to learn Italian (something to think about and act upon) and keep returning to Venice (and Italy) as much as I can. I love it there! It is one of those countries that you fall in love with and never look back.
This is probably more than most people would spend on a 3-day trip, but travelling is my number one priority along with debt repayment, of course. To me, this is money well spent, and dare I say, an investment. These memories will last me a lifetime! (especially the one where my friend and I had to walk across Piazza San Marco and there was water everywhere up to my ankles. It took 2 days for my boots to dry!). One can argue that you can travel on a tight budget, and I completely agree (remember that time I stayed in a hostel in Ljubljana and Zagreb?). However, I am a huge believer in treating yourself every now and then, and what can I say, I really like luxurious hotels 😉
I did not spend much money while in Venice (£96.00 out of my £150.00 budget), which I am quite happy about. I still have some Euros left which I will use when I go back home in summer (well, if I go back home in summer, it all depends whether my sister decides to return home or stay in Cambodia when the baby arrives, but this is a story for another day).
As always, thank you for reading, friends! I hope you enjoyed the photos!