Vacation Retrospective – Day #5: Burano & Venice

My biggest regret from Day #5 of my vacation was not thinking ahead and charging my camera battery, thus not getting any good shots or videos of Burano. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought back on the hazy memories of those gorgeous little houses, and then mentally kicked myself in the butt for being such an idiot. I had TWO camera batteries with me for just such a moment, yet I didn’t charge the spare and I lost out on some of the most visually striking moments of my entire damn vacation. Argh.

Being me, and knowing that I’ll figure out how to get back to Burano some day soon-ish, I keep telling myself that next time I’ll be prepared.

I was also more bummed about the rain in Murano than I let on in my post. It was cold and icky, and though I did have an umbrella, it was all a bit irritating. Not at all what I was expecting of summer in Italy, that was for sure. Besides being cold, I also ended up wandering around what were probably the “back streets” of Murano for quite some time. I couldn’t get oriented on the map, and ended up walking to the opposite end of the island from where I needed to be. It was a wonderful experience, though, and I wouldn’t give up a second of it, despite the aching feet at the end of the day.

That night, after getting back to Venice, I went out dinner: cuttlefish cooked in its own ink, served with polenta and a spinach and ricotta dish that seriously blew my mind. I drank some wine with dinner, then eager not to lose a minute of time, spent the next couple of hours just wandering around Venice, down through Piazza d’ San Zaccharia to the lagoon, around through San Marco, and back through all of the little side streets, down dark alleyways where the only people that I met were restaurant workers, bringing out the garbage.

Finally, I ended up walking by several high-end mask shops, still open at almost midnight. I passed them by, then stood on a little footbridge and looked out over the canal. Eerie music wafted towards me on the wind, directly from the door of one of the shops (Ca’ del Sol), drawing me back to take a look. I wandered in and was stunned at the beauty of the masks of all shapes and sizes, all hand-painted and much more intricate than anything I had seen so far in the junky tourist shops that litter the Venice landscape. The shopkeeper was the best thing about the store, though. He was wearing a beret, little wire-rimmed glasses, a painter’s smock covered in paint, and a bushy moustache that made him seem both scarily eccentric and utterly harmless.

Although I was still feeling very angry with The Man for not coming along on this fantastic adventure, it struck me that if I was going to buy him anything, it should be from this beautiful place. After 20 minutes or so, I decided on what the shopkeeper laughingly exclaimed was “El Diablo!” – the face of a horned, gap-toothed man, maybe the devil, maybe just a satyr. I asked the shopkeeper to wrap it very, very well, and I carried this swaddled mask with trepidation and love for the next 9 days. It’s one of the best things I bought, and though The Man didn’t adore it as much as I had hoped, I love it every time I see it. It’s all black, with gold accents at the horns, eyebrows, and beard, and something about the exotic eyes reminds me a great deal of Japanese theater masks.

Faces of Mardi Gras 2012

For me, the best part of Mardi Gras Day has always been the people watching. The rest of the weekend is for partying, but the last and biggest day of the season is generally more about checking out the crowd than being part of it. I love the colors, sparkles, and smiles that abound in the city during the daylight hours of Fat Tuesday. The Man and I rolled out of bed at 9am and got costumed up, then rode our bikes down to the French Quarter to take photos before things got too rowdy, as they tend to by mid afternoon. Here are a few of my favorite faces from around the Quarter and Marigny.

Purple Mask, by Anna Harris

Chicken Dinner, by Anna Harris

Parasol, by Anna Harris

Feather Man, by Anna Harris

Dinner Hat, by Anna Harris

Dancing Dreads, by Anna Harris

Creepy Face, by Anna Harris