For the sake of posting

Been too busy lately to do any proper posts, so here’s a short picture post. Oh, and only just learned how to link my pics in my last post

Stiry-fried rice becoming more common place in our household. xD

Sesame-flavour rice balls

Housemate made this for the first time the other day. Really nice light desert/snack. 😀

Okay, boredom over. Expect a bigger food post with a lot of my cooking in the next one. As for piano covers, nearly there! Just gotta find duh time!!! Ciao!

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My love of anime

Before I start, when I say the word Asians in this post, I am referring to the American definition (East-Asian/Southeast-Asian), not the British one (South-Asian) for the sake of convenience. Despite the fact that the word Asian should really refer to both of these ethnic groups, it is far more convenient for me to write this way in this post and possibly in future posts to avoid confusion. Although I fear I may have done just the opposite by writing this way.

Fate/Zero. And no, I’m not saying you’ll look cool if you smoke.

So you may have remembered I mentioned I have an interest in anime. You may also be wondering how I got into this. No? This is the first post that you’ve read off my blog? Don’t give a flying faecal matter? Well I have to write something otherwise it’ll be awkward to stop here. 😛

I actually started watching it regularly not too long ago. More specifically, December 2011. Sure, I’ve seen the odd film or ‘anime-turned-western-cartoon’ before but December was when I started watching it actively (non-English dubbed). So from the time of writing this, it hasn’t even been a year since I started ‘duh anime phase’. So why start now? Isn’t it kinda late that I started while I’m about a quarter of the way through university?

The short answer is that I grew up in a very westernised culture in my home town. There weren’t very many other Asians that I could’ve made friends with, and the ones that lived close by that I did make friends with, I wasn’t very close with them anyway. The one’s that I did get along with really well, moved far away or we lost the chance to speak to each other due to unfortunate circumstances. So when I finally found out that I would be going to university, the first thing I told myself I would do is to open myself to the ‘asian culture’ that I had missed out on in the first 18 years of my life. And no, anime is not the only component of the ‘asian culture’ I opened myself up to (inb4 dis guy thinks he iz asian cuz he watches anime lulz).

After meeting many new friends, one of them mentioned that an interest of their’s was watching anime. Initially, due to my stupid judgemental close-mindedness, I thought all anime generally followed this sort of logic.

Anime = cartoon

Cartoon = for kids

Therefore,

Anime = for kids

And don’t get me wrong. A lot of anime nowadays is directed towards a younger market (varying from kids to teenagers). But then again, there’s nothing wrong with that either. It was only when a friend finally broke me out of my stubborn mindset by getting me to watch the first few episodes of Death Note in October, that I realised how well written some anime/manga can be. That there’s more to some of these shows than mindless violence and comedy (and again, nothing wrong with that). If you look hard enough, you can find ones where there are more mature or darker themes and where the questions of morality, symbolism, religions, etc. are raised (so yes, a lot of it is also marketed to the teen/adult audience). I realise that statement can relate to many other media (TV shows, Movies, even video games) but what I should’ve realised sooner is that it’s not limited to the other media.

Death Note

I also have a fondness for soundtracks and love some of the music in the animes I watch. In fact, my first anime (in terms of actually starting watching anime regularly) was Kimi ni Todoke. Why would I watch a shojo genre first? Two reasons:

  1. I didn’t know what shojo meant.
  2. I simply loved the Opening and Ending cover songs done by Kyle Landry and desperately wanted to learn them, so thought watching the show would give me more motivation if I came to enjoy it (check the original songs too)

And I did. It was a fun show to watch, if not a little frustrating at times (those who have seen it will understand). In a way, my love for the music helped give me a kick start to pursue this interest.

Kimi ni Todoke

Past naivety over with, I hope anyone not familiar with the anime world are more inclined to give it a go now. I’m happy to offer suggestions to anyone looking for an anime to watch and vice-versa. If you want to see what I’ve watched, here’s a link to my other page and MyAnimeList account for further discussion. *cough* just finished Code Geass series *cough*

Now back to my books.

じゃね
Ja ne!

From the anime, Nichijou.

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Another food post? (2)

Just a random food post today as you all know how much I ‘heart’ food.

Here’s something I cooked the other day. Just a special fried rice dish.

‘Special’ fried rice

Okay, it’s not really special but it sounds much better than spam, eggs and broccoli fried rice. And yeah, it’s not that hard a dish to cook either which makes the naming of the dish even more questionable but hey, it sounds better, right? Right?!?!

Oh, a friend from Hong Kong brought back this lovely little packet of goodness (among other food stuffs). Now if you are familiar with mochi in the UK, you’ll know how soft, or should I say, how firm it usually is after sitting in the fridge (when you buy them from oriental supermarkets). Now imagine it about twice as soft at room temperature…

dat mochi…

coated in chocolate powder…

with a banana filling…

This was the best mochi I’ve tasted. Probably not the best out there as I haven’t experienced any mochi from outside the UK, but having said that, a lot of oriental food stuffs from Asia do tend to be better than their UK counterparts for obvious reasons. Now I haven’t looked for these around my local oriental food stores but if don’t let that put you off from looking for these.

And I implore anyone who hasn’t tried it before to give it a go. It’s a Japanese rice cake snack (not cake like in texture but instead glutinous), sometimes with a sweet filling (called daifuku) like red bean paste, that’s popularly eaten as a snack. I’ve seen there are many other ways that this can be eaten but I’ve only ever eaten it as confection.

Finally, just wanna share this picture of Chinese home-made roast pork belly with you.

Mmmmmmm, pork bellyyy

No I didn’t cook it, as much as I want to take credit for it. It was actually a good friend who brought this down for all of us to share! And this was only about a third of the original cut, as other’s have had the pleasure to eating. This has got to be the best home-made roast pork belly I’ve tasted. The meat was well seasoned all over and the fat distribution in the meat was even. Usually, the top half would be fat and bottom half would be the meat. But it was as if the fat and meat distribution was even throughout (probably a good cut of belly was used).

See that?! Even.

But the most defining point for me was the skin. This is really the true defining point for the dish. I’ve had this dish many times where the skin was too chewy or too hard to bite through, but this was a rigid, crispy skin.

And how would you go about eating this? Well you could just have it on it’s own or as a side dish to a main meal. But we decided to have this “snack” with a side of English mustard and sugar to dip it in, as is popular in many restaurants. ^^

That’s it for now. Feel free to leave any comments regarding what I’ve posted or share some of your food experiences. I’ll happily share your enthusiasm of any pictures of mouth-watering food. 🙂

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EPIC cruise trip, Days 7 and 8 – On-ship and Goodbye!

Just a short explanation before you read into this.

Sorry for the long wait. Finally got all of these done. I’ll upload the rest of my youtube videos later once our new internet plan kicks in.

Decided to combine 2 short posts as I didn’t do much on our last two days, but just to keep in tradition with these posts, here you go! 🙂

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Day 7:

Despite having all the time in the world to sleep last night, still feel tired as hell this morning. Must mean I’m still a student…

This can’t be healthy… yet tastes sooo good!

I think this was finally the day when my stomach couldn’t keep up with my appetite as my meals today were a lot smaller than the previous days. Still, nothing beats a good ol’ toasted English muffin with fried eggs and ENGLISH bacon (not crispy!). ^^

There were quite a few other ships docked around us. The one called the Carnival Breeze looked quite similar in top deck layout and overall size.

I swear this is the Wizard of Oz film. Right!?!

Haha! I was looking for the running track the whole time we were here! Turns out it’s on the starboard on one of the levels!

Game!

There were many activities going on today and top deck was packed with people! To be honest, it didn’t look like many people left for Marseilles and since the weather was so good, the pools were packed as well. We had a walk around the ship again to try and find anything we missed though eventually settled at the top deck. A table tennis table freed itself long enough for us to play for 2 hours before heading down for lunch (as top deck was still packed and buzzing as ever).

Buffalo hot wings

Fish and chips. Good attempt but batter just isn’t the same. Ah well, back to the UK tomorrow so won’t have to wait long for some proper British F&C.

Late lunch was delish! Fish n’ Chips was meh but then again, it’s not UK Fish n’ Chips.

O.O

Went back to our rooms to pack a bit before heading up for dinner, for which we were rewarded with this lovely sight!

Anyway, din dins.

Praawwwnnnnssss…

praaaawwwwnnnnnsss…..

The winners tonight were the Prawn Skewers (yah I know, boring name).  They don’t sound like much but they were incredibly tender and sooooooooo succulent! And with a bit of black pepper or tabasco, they go a long way! I kid you not, we actually witnessed a whole serving tray disappear within a minute or two due to the large amount of people coming in and grabbing 3 or 4 skewers at a time, only to come back and repeat the process. I admit, we all did it too as they were very, very good.

After dinner was done, we headed back up, left our bags outside our rooms and came back down for a final drink at the Shakers Martini bar, with a piano man for entertainment, before we went for our 6 hour nap to wake up next morning.

Day 8:

Just when I thought the last few days were hard to wake up for, I was quickly reminded how wrong I was this morning, at 6am. Waiting till 7am for the tannoy to announce our leaving place on the ship, we finally made it to the bus.

BYEEEEE!!! We will miss you!!!!

Once past airport security, we made our way to the VIP lounge as, luckily, mum and dad had some passes from some friends that could allow 2 extra guests to come in with them. But even with the free food, my stomach felt unusually… empty this morning.

lolwut?

Home!

Anyway, to finish this off, after an early morning and a short flight, we’re glad to be home.

Photobucket Pics:

day 7
day 8

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I hope you guys have enjoyed these last few posts. I’ve tried to write in a consistent way and I’ve gone over it again with spell/grammarnazi checks but please excuse all the rookie errors I’ve made. I hope I’ve given you an insight into what cruise trips can be like. They sure as hell aren’t only restricted to the elderly as much as people used to believe and they can come in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ package with the large number of facilities and activities you can participate in. Just remember some are tailored to a specific market when looking around.

If there’s one point that I’d like to make, it’s to be prepared to move around often during the excursions. You won’t get that much time in the day to see all the things you’d want to, as there are only so many things you can see in one day (or more precisely, 9-10 hours). And it’s a shame that we didn’t get to see any of the places at night as everything can look so different from a different time of day.

And if you want to compare going by cruise to going by plane, then allow me to offer you an analogy.
I would say going by plane means that you get to take your time to choose your starters, mains and dessert from the menu at leisure, although you can only order one plate of each. But going by cruise is like having a set taster menu, serving small portions of many of the best things that there are on offer. And the trip has done exactly that. Given us a taste of the many highlights of each of these beautiful countries and wet our appetites, leaving us wanting more. I only hope these series of posts have done the same for you.

Gratzie and Au Revoir for now!

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EPIC cruise trip, Day 6 – Cannes, Nice and Monaco

Just a short explanation before you read into this.

Today the Cannes port was packed so the ship couldn’t dock, which is why this picture was taking so far from the shore. So today, we were departing the ship via tender boat instead.

Breakfast today is waffles and bacon, while seconds is bacon and fried eggs. Only just worked out that you had to ask for fried eggs while spending the last few days thinking they didn’t do it because it wasn’t on show like everything else. xD

Cannes:

So a few pics of Cannes.  Excuse the badly timed shot of the red carpet.

Red carpet of the Palais des Festivals where the celebrities will usually walk up.

Gucci shops

Corner where there’s a painting of….some…famous…actors…doing…something…yeah…

Nice:

On arrival.

Travelling along the coast, Nice (pronounced ‘nee-ce’) is next with its gorgeous beaches and ocean views. There are some well-known locations like where Angelina Jolie gave birth to her twins or one of Elton John’s places of residence.

Lovely beaches!

Some of the shops. The place wasn’t very packed when we drove past.

Uhhhh… your guess is as good as mine. She said something about having to walk up…iunno..

World War 2 memorial.

Yachts!

Yachts…

err….

Monte Carlo does have a lot more yachts docked there but only managed to get closer shots of these ones from the bus.

We’re here! 😀

Monaco:

Lawl, Beatles reference?

So we have arrived at the place of the Royal family of Monacco and it was our first stop in terms of walking around. There are a high percentage of Catholic Christians in Monaco, about three quarters of the population here.

Sorry for the bad quality. Either I failed as a cameraman or my phone failed as a camera. I would like to think the latter…

Made it just in time to see the changing of the Royal guards, which happens every day at 11.55am.

Looks like we’re not the only ones that made it here on time!

I was pretty lucky that I managed to get this shot. Thank god for my height and good positioning! ^^

LOL @ mini-cannon

So we got quite a view of Monte Carlo before we were gonna head into it. It’s really breathtaking taking in the view. The surroundings of Monte Carlo are a little similar to Positano, where the houses are built into the mountains facing the sea. Except the buildings are much more concentrated and modern, with the sea is dotted with more yachts than you can imagine. Anyway, now for the picture spam. Enjoy!

These 2 are now from a different angle

O.O

Lunch was on our minds, so we had a looksie around the alleyways for some food and souvenirs.

Jambon au brie, cured ham with brie cheese

Any chocolate lovers out there???

Metre long bar of chocolate. o.O

Giant baby…

And now for the location where they filmed the recent James Bond films with Daniel Craig.

Casino Monte-Carlo.

Ta-daaaa! It’s flanked by the Café du Paris on the left, with the Hotel de Paris on the right and a row of expensive cars all around.

Mirrorrrrr

Cars….

lots of nice cars…

It’s like “watching the world go by” sitting in this café.

I actually  got to go inside the Casino and have a look at the lobby and first 2 casino rooms that are available to all guests, given that you fulfil certain ‘dress code’ criteria (e.g. no short shorts, no sleeveless t-shirts, etc.). We weren’t allowed to take photos in there and they enforce their rules quite strictly so you won’t be getting a glimpse of anything inside. But to give you an idea of what it’s like, let me describe it with one word. Gold.

Saw this on our way back down.

See pic above for description.

Our bus journey back to the ship was over an hour. I dozed off for half an hour but managed to get this before I did. Some of France’s stunning scenery shots.

dat greenery..

Was gonna take another picture of the ship. Photobombed.
GG

Dinner was… filling. Despite not feeling very hungry, I still ended up having four courses in total. Where does it go? Well… probably to my beer belly which will start developing in a few years’ time.

Cold platter of various stuffs

Jerk pork, fried chicken, fried potato chips, fried…stuffs…

Would it be fair to call this the junk food platter??

Finally, something healthy…er…

Bye bye sun!

Top deck and the basketball court was empty so thought we’d shoot a few hoops to help digest dinner (especially me as I DEFINITELY needed to burn it off).

epic.

Found a bar where these guys were playing. I think it’s called the Whisky bar. And I tell you now, they were AWESOME!!! I don’t know how they did it but that level of improvisation that they performed was immense! It just seems that any musician on this ship will find some way to WOW you, but I suppose that’s what they’re paid for. Now that I think about it, seems kinda pointless I told you that as I have no video to prove it. Just take my word. ^^

Ah well, the sleep monster is catching up with me and tomorrow is a ‘free day’ as we won’t be taking part in the excursions, so I can sleep to my heart’s content. Wooooo! I think this is a good time for me and towel mouse to wish you good night! 😀

*Squeak*

Links:

My photobucket – for any missed pics in case you wanna see more

My Youtube – still no internets for my videos. Check again later 😀

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EPIC Cruise trip, Day 5 – Pisa and Florence

Just a short explanation before you read into this.

Apologies for the late post. I was planning to get this all done in about 2 weeks at the most but with moving back to uni and getting a few things sorted out, my schedule hasn’t allowed much time to blog. Once I revert back to hermit mode, then I can divert some of my efforts back here.

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Port today was nicer than the Rome one, which was very industrial although Napoli still wins in terms of ‘best port on Italy trip’.

I’m pretty sure I’m putting on quite a bit of weight with these breakfasts now.

Pisa:

Set off at 9ish with our tour guide, who had a tremendous knowledge of the Florentine culture and cuisine of which he spoke very passionately about. He took us to the Piazza del Duomo as our first stop of the day to see the four main monuments. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Duomo (cathedral), Camposanto Monumentale and the Baptistery of St. John.

Great architecture. Shame they built it on such rotten ground.

However, we only had time to go climb up the Tower of Pisa due to the many stops we’d be making today.

Topside.

After powering through the 296 steps to the top and a short break to catch our breaths, we were rewarded with a fantastic view of Pisa! There are 5 bells at the top and a glass window to look down to the bottom. And the scenery? Well the pictures speak for themselves.

Surrounding market area.

Didn’t go inside the other two as we only bought tickets for the tower. Still outstanding monuments of art though. Even from the outside.

I’ve seen a lot of these face fountains these past 3 days

Florence next. On the way, you can really see the landscape start to change. From just flat fields to hills upon hills of olive groves and vineyards.

Florence.

Just before reaching Florence, the driver gave us a beautiful view of the city from the Piazzale Michelangelo on the hill overlooking the city of Florence.

Florence:

Walking to the Uffizi gallery

Once inside, we visited the Uffizi gallery for just over an hour and a half. It is a very big place and there was sooooo much to see. Paintings and sculptures (a lot of them with religious influences) where everywhere and dated back many hundreds of years. It was very packed and it is a shame we can’t take any photos otherwise I would’ve been able to give you a taster of the beautiful artwork inside. For a place like this, you really need the whole day, not a couple of hours to fully appreciate everything.

Good gelato at last!! Banana and Strawberry! ^^

Really wish we didn’t get this for 2 reasons:

  1. Lunch was straight after this and I ended up getting a big cup by mistake
  2. There was apparently a better gelato place nearby which is quite famous with the locals

On the bright side, it’s still very good smooth gelato.

For lunch, we were booked a restaurant that had a wide choice of dishes, sourcing some local figs and porcini mushrooms. However, we decided to go for something that would be easier on the eyes once we had a look at our bank statements. O.O

Duck carpaccio

Tuscan hams

Duck carpaccio bed of salad with olive oil and sesame seads. Simple and tasty, likewise with the Tuscany salami and prosciutto ham antipasto platter.

Spaghetti Alle Vongole

Spaghetti Alle Vongole was also appetising. Shame I still found a couple of clam shell fragments that must’ve broken off while cooking but otherwise, still enjoyable.

You’ll find many stands like this in Florence. This one so happens to be situated behind where the lucky bronze boar or ‘Il Porcellino’ resides.

One of the churches of Florence. Or is it a Cathedral?? I dunno..

Had a few quick looks around the outside of the church. I was too exhausted to go inside so decided to wait outside for our friend to have a nose around before heading down the leather alleyway where our guide took us to one of the ‘best’ places in the immediate area.

Bottega Florentina, where the leather is made by Italians that he knows so he can be sure of the authenticity. There are a lot of Moroccan sellers of leather here too so you have to look around to make sure you might not be buying a fake. Not all of them sell fakes, but at least he can be sure with these lot.

Goodbye Florence! Hope to see you again soon!

After a much appreciated goodbye to our excellent tour-guide, we made haste to our rooms before setting out to dinner in the Manhatten Room, another of the ship’s ‘included-in-the-package’ restaurants that you need not pay for. Yet, when we got there, it turns out the menu is the same as the one for Taste restaurant, the same one that we dined at on our first day. Just in a different setting. Nonetheless, we ordered and our food promptly arrived.

Pork and leek sausages

Pork and leek sausage for starters. Meat was nicely seasoned although the wrapped aubergine around it didn’t really add anything significant to the dish. We were served some chickpeas, humous, chopped tomatoes, onions and feta cheese with some oil drizzled around the plate.

Lamb shanks with butternut squash mash

No sooner than when they just finished clearing away the starters, the mains were already here, despite the restaurant being quite busy already to begin with. And we aren’t slow eaters either! Lamb shanks, with butternut squash mash and some sort of gravy for mains. Lamb was tender and came off the bone easily, as any lamb shank meat should. Butternut squash mash was a little sweet, which combined with the savoury vegetable gravy worked really well.

Cheese plate

Meh. Blue cheese tasted a little sour so I decided to leave it at that.

After the meal, we sat at the Shakers Martini Bar for a drink before heading off to bed. Tomorrow we will depart to the port of Cannes and head to Nice and Monaco from there. And no towel animal tonight as my brother quickly destroyed it on our way in. D:

Good night!

Links:

My photobucket

My Youtube – coming soon when I have the ability to upload. My internet is dodgy with youtube videos atm

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EPIC Cruise trip, Day 4 – Rome – The Roman City and The Holy City

Just a short explanation before you read into this.

Shortening my posts now as I’m becoming more and more tired towards the end of each day. Sorry! Dx

Isn’t as nice as the Napoli port.

Pancakes and bacon/roast ham today. I feel like my appetite for breakfast has dropped each consecutive morning because I’ve been stuffing myself so much. However, my meal sizes still don’t change despite this. xD

Roman city:

From across the road

Entrance

First stop was the Roman coliseum where they used to fight beasts, gladiators and criminals to the death for funsies. The place is pretty huge and a pain to get into if not for our tour guide.

Looking down, you can see the wooden floor on the far side representing the fighting ground level and the catacombs below it which used to be underground until an earthquake brought down quite a lot of the fighting grounds covering it

The underground canal system (Hypogeum), exposed by the earthquakes, where they kept all the criminals/Christians were really incredible. Who’d have thought they would’ve built the holding cells right under the fighting grounds!? These pictures can’t really express the scale of the place so I’ve uploaded a video at the end to show you.

After that, we drove to the Roman Pantheon next. ‘Pan’ meaning ‘all’ and ‘theon’ meaning ‘the gods’, this was the Roman place of worship. Not surprisingly, the architecture and design is almost god-like too. Again, check the video to get a feel for the size of the place.

Entrance to the Pantheon

Grabbed some ‘meh’ gelato..

Next stop, the Treni fountain for lunch. They say that if you throw a coin (facing backwards, right hand over left shoulder, like with salt) into the fountain, you are guaranteed to come back to Rome. And it’s two coins if you want to fall in love here, three to get married here.

Lucky fountain?

Well they didn’t state what currency the coin had to be in…

ALL THIS MEAT!

Now lunch. As we were all still a little full for breakfast, we decided to go to a local pasta ‘ristorante’ near the fountain.

Spaghetti carbonara. Albeit with lots and lots of egg.

Ham hock and cheese calzone

I dunno what this was called. Let’s just call it ‘special mix’ pizza. It had prosciutto ham, egg, mushrooms, artichokes, olives, cheese and tomato sauce

While some of the others had pizzas, I had the spaghetti carbonara made with lots of egg. It’s a very yolk heavy dish, hence the colour being yellow instead of the white I’m used to. Much better than yesterday’s pasta, although the bacon-like meat was very salty and the egg yolk can make the meal feel a little sickening. At least lunch today was much better than yesterday.

Holy city:

One of the many doors to the Holy City!

Finally at the holy state of the world. Had to go through some security checks first (understandably) before we got on with it. I won’t explain much here as I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.

They have a thing with keys here…

Diana, goddess of the hunt, moon and birthing

 

Amazing!

Old maps of Italy.

Big queue entering the Sistine Chapel. Sorry! No pics allowed!

Inside St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s square!

Swiss guard in traditional uniform. Disciplined to remain like this while on guard. Kinda remind me of the Buckingham Palace guards. xD

Annnnnndd we’re back! Dinner tonight at the all-you-can-eat Garden Café buffet. The variety of food you can have is mouth-watering. Currys, roasts, burgers, fish and chips, biriyanis, cold meat platters, etc.

1st – Ham roast

2nd – Curries

3rd – Ham roast again with leg of duck

Roast ham was a bit salty, only 1 odd potato a little undercooked and the mutton meat a bit tough. But to be honest, I can’t complain and pick at every little thing so was happy enough to go through 2 and a half courses, with an extra helping of fruit.

Uh-oh! Fog doesn’t look good.

Had the Ice bar booked for tonight and was excited to give it a try. Got there at half eight, put on an insulating coat and ‘some material’ to cover the hands before we went in.

Apparently the only size they had. This is a joke, right?!

Inside was pretty cool, with the changing colour lights. And everything that was reasonable was truly made of ice, except the glasses. They were just plastic glasses with ice cones inside instead to keep the drinks cool. Still, a very cool experience and I will want to go to somewhere like Norway one day to try the real deal. 😀

Yes, that bear is also made of ice!

Sorry for the shortened post, I feel the sleep monster getting to me. We shall depart to the beautiful lands of Florence tomorrow so for now, have a ice day…..

lame I know….I’ll go sleep now…

Towel Antelop- WAIT. WTH do you even see that as?!??

More photos of Rome!

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