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How I did not shoot the Venice Carnival

It's been a long dream of mine - to visit the Venice Carnival and make some beautiful photos. I thought I'm finally going to make it this year. Fate had other plans...

The Venice carnival has captured my imagination a long time ago. I enjoyed looking at photos of all these colorful costumes, various masks and I wanted to see it all for myself. I wanted to put a mask on, to soak in the festive atmosphere, to experience it first hand. I've been dreaming about wearing a costume, riding a gondola, having some frittelle (traditional Venice Carnival sweets) on Piazza San Marco. And, of course, I wanted to make as many photos as possible. I really wanted to capture all this brilliance of colors, the essence of the festival, the splendor.

However I could never manage to get to Venice during the Carnival. Every time I had something interfering with my plans - financial issues, health problems, not enough vacation days to spend. I even feared the weather - even though I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, I've been living for 26 years in a country with a very warm climate and I'm not accustomed to cold Venetian weather in February.

But this year I finally decided to go. All the conditions were right - I was in good health, I had enough vacation days, there was no pressure at work and I had a very positive balance in my bank account. It was a very spontaneous decision - on February 17 I decided to go and on February 24 I landed in Malpensa airport in Milan.

From the very beginning things went wrong... My girlfriend lives in Veneto region and I was supposed to stay at her house for a few days and then move to a hotel; I know it might sound strange, but I had my reasons. But when I was waiting in line to pick up my rental car, I got a message from her, saying her daughter got ill and I should go directly to the hotel - she will talk to them to have a room available for me. So I did...

It's a 3.5 hours driving from Malpensa to her town of residence. Considering there's no traffic, of course. The weather was very gloomy - it was cold and heavily foggy. Even though it wasn't raining (at least for about 2.5 hours of driving), I still had some wet sediment on my windshield. I also can't sleep on planes, so I had a sleepless night and was very tired. I'm not a religious man, but I was praying not to have an accident. My prayers were answered and I arrived safely to the hotel. I fell on bed and slept for about 3-4 hours. Then I went to have dinner at my GF's house.

On the next day she had some errands to run, so I was left alone. We decided to go to Venice to see the Carnival on Tuesday, on Mardis Gras, so in Saturday I decided to go to see Udine (wasn't impressed by it very much, very typical Italian city, nothing special) and to buy a scarf of local football (soccer, for you Americans out there) club to my collection. The weather was surprisingly warm, so by my GF's advice I decided to go to see also Pordenone (the old part of the city is lovely) and Grado (holiday town to the coast of Adriatic sea; being off season it was almost empty). Come evening, the temperatures plunged drastically.

The next morning... I woke up very early with very odd feeling in my throat. I felt mucus in my lungs, general weakness and some headache. I still hoped I'll walk it off, but after a couple of hours I realized I'm going ill and I need medical attention. I called my GF and told her we must change our plans - we were supposed to go to see some castle near Padova. She came to the hotel and took me to pronto soccorso - the emergency room at local hospital. After a few hours of waiting, blood tests and X-ray examination the doctor determined I have some sort of infection. He prescribed me with antibiotics. And they also made me to wear a mask. Not the carnival mask, a medical mask, to prevent spreading the infection. Obviously there was no point talking about making any trips this day or the day after. Especially considering that by the evening I also had runny nose.

Though I was feeling a little better on Tuesday, after a very long and careful consideration I decided not to go to Venice - it was very cold, only 9° Celsius, 25 km/h wind and rainy. I thought that I value my health more than the Carnival and I did not want to take any risks. On Wednesday I was heading home...

Am I sorry? Of course! I feel very disappointed and frustrated, I was so close, yet still couldn't make it. But considering the circumstances, I think I made the right choice not to go.

What did I learn from this experience? Our lives are very dynamic - we can make plans, make our best efforts, yet something small and unpredictable can change everything in an instance. Sometimes it's best not to drag things around, not to prolong them, but do them immediately. And always take a good care of your health.

Venice, I'll try to make another effort next year...

PS. Though I'm not at 100% yet, but I do feel much better. So does my GF's daughter.

PPS. The photos below are from my previous trips to Venice.

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