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Italian Trip Log pt1

DAY ONE

 Got up wayyy too early to go to the airport. Seriously, I normally go to bed at 4am, nevermind get up at that time. Spent most of ensuring time wittering about lost phone, only to find I'd already packed it the night before, ^^;; Had cooked breakfast at the airport.

Flight was slightly dull in that nothing went wrong and there was no turbulence. Spent half the time watching The Girl Who Leapt Through Time for the first time and the rest being reminded exactly why I adore flying - Gods'-eye view of the Alps ftw, among other absolutely gorgeous scenery and vistas. If those mountains could talk... they'd probably speak too slowly for us to understand. Nevermind XDD

Waited for luggage for nearly an hour, then was picked up by hot italian car containing hotter italian chaffeur. I'm pretty sure my mother had a spontaneous nosebleed at the sight of him. He //was// pretty handsome, but I say that purely from an aesthetic PoV - not my type, and too old to boot.  Managed to reach hotel without mama glomping him, thank gods – although he did give her his personal phone number when he dropped us off 0_0;;

Slept for about an hour, then went out to reccy the surrounding area, and cursed myself repeatedly for not bringing camera - EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL. Stopped at cute cafe under gorgeous fountain and had espresso for the first time.  BOUNCY BOUNCY BOUNCE :D

Walked about ten minutes down the road with cherry-ripple icecream in hand, and dsicovered Piazzo del Popolo not three block from where we're staying. Thankyou. Ezio Auditore, for that little piece of deja vu. I now have far more respect your parkour skills.

  On the other hand, there were people with FREE HUGS signs in the square - people like us are everywhere, it seems. We all want a little happiness. I hugged a big lanky guy who seemed surprised when I implusively glomped him, and a shorter chick who I need to learn more italian for so I can ask out... if I see her again XD

Walked back along a street very full of fancy shops, which reminded me very much of the Shambles in York, only wider and therefore less claustrophobic. Mum bought me some butterfly-patterned shorts and a slinky black top at a shop with Anime girls as mannequins in the doorway. Panda would have freaking ADORED that place.

Ate dinner at a very posh restaurant (again, right down the road; this hotel has amazing location) wherein I had extremely tasty octopus for starters, even if I did feel a little regretful for eating another sentient being - one not as common as humans, as well. For mains I had what was described on the menu as 'seafood and bean pasta' but turned out to be a sort of bean and ham soup with lots of noodles and tentacles and claws involved. Mum had grilled turbot and a mixed salad, and some expensive half-bottle of rose. She had a coffee while I had dessert - some kind of hazelnut mousse in a gingersnap basket. Again, delicious, but the prices were ridiculous, so cannot afford to go again.

Went to sleep pretty quickly after returning to hotel, and suffered a very morally complicated dream about air-borne potatoes, walled gardens full of water and conifers, and caterpillars that hatched out into parasitic butterflies.

 

DAY TWO

Got up very early - hotel wake up call was 6:30, so it was seven by the time we went down to breakfast. Mum seemed disappointed by continental fare, but since my usual breakfast is a pastry (a large sugar-crusted doughnut in this case) and a hot drink (cappuchino followed by EB tea) I was perfectly happy.

Went back up to room to dress accordingly and check camera, then walked for roughly quarter of an hour down winding alleys and past tiny shops selling fruit and flora, until we reached main thoroughfare with magnificent view of Castel di Sant'Angelo at one end and St Peter's cathedral at the other. Was in the queue for said cathedral by quarter past eight.

Very very very windy weather - I almost lost my hat repeatedly while walking around outside. St Peter's, predictably, was breathtaking, although the hoard of various gilt and jeweled artifacts in the Treasury Museum off the side struck me as somewhat pretentious. Maybe it was the lower ceiling - in the cathedral itself, you just don't have time to think 'dude, coming on a little strong here', when the rest of your brain is going 'HOMG SHINY GIANT STATUES AMAZING CRAFTSMANSHIP I FEEL SO TINY'.

However, I imagine a dragon would have been suitably impressed by all the sparkle.

Next was the Vatican Museum and the Cistine Chapel, although we had to stand in line for an hour and half, which wasn't too bad - there was a low wall to sit on, and I got to see a space-invaders style monster on a sign and a guy who looked like Altair until he took his hood down.

...shut up, it makes sense in context XDD

Anyway, went into Museo di Vaticano, and saw all the shinies therein. Lots of paintings of gorgeous people and angels - more bloody angels and saints than you could poke a stick at, and monsters and gods and animals oh my. I still like the mossaiced floor in the Round Room in particular - I suppose I was too tired last time to notice that the sea-dragon is grinning slyly in one of the cells, or about the story the pictures above tell.

(Basically, centaur foal meets human, human is mean to him, so he goes gets his dad - or comes back when he's older - who hits said human with a stick until the human gets pissed off and tries to stab him with a sword. I think.)

Took lots of pictures of the Archangel Michael kicking ass and taking names, then eventually we went through the Borgia apartments, which I think I didn't take as seriously as I should have because all I could think was about how bloody nutty and incesteous they were in AssCreedII. I think I'm starting to think of numbers in Roman :P

Then, of course, was the Cappello Sistina itself, and it. Was. AWESOME.

There's just too much of the ceiling to take in at once - we ferreted through the crowd and found the perfect spot to sit on one of the benches to get a good look at it, and I swear blind, I could stare at it all day. It's just one of those things - you keep noticing little bits and and details and your brain just can't take it in all at once. Maybe that's why my memory of it from last time is so dim - I just couldn't process it with how tired I was.

Human-shaped batteries very well and truly run low, we had lunch in the museum caffeteria - some sort of toasted pita bread with spinach and sort-of cheese in one half, and grilled veggies in the other half, with tinned-fruit salad and a kind of lemon-curd slice thing to follow. Very tasty, although I confess I was at the point where a rubber tire would have looked good to eat.

Walked very slowly back to hotel, feeling fairly crippled at that point, and slept for a couple of hours for siesta. Note to self - must keep up with walking when I get home. CANNOT be out of shape for Expo.

Woke up feeling very stiff, so had myself a hot bath to loosen knees into working order once more, and went to find the supermarket and pharmacy with mum.

Found latter quickly and former slightly less quickly, and bought enough food to do us at least a couple of meals. I made myself a tasty tasty sandwich consisting of phili cream cheese, pancetta smoked ham, pre-cooked broccoli, some mixed baby leaves and a deliciously organic looking tomato, followed by some hazelnut wafers and equally gorgeous (if slightly sherbety) strawberries. And pear juice, which is so thick it's all but syrup. I think I want to marry pear juice.

Watched an episode of Samurai Champloo, then listened to my ipod in the dark until I started to doze. Had another convoluted dream where my dead hamster, Kioku, was still alive, but trapped in a small cage with the body of my brother.

 

Italian Trip Log pt2

 

DAY THREE

Woke up around 8.15 (gaspeth! So late!) and wound our way down to a breakfast – an almond-chocolate croissant and two cappuchinos, in my case.

Walked and then took the underground metro to the Flavian Amphetheatre, which was only called the Coliseum because in it’s heyday, it was next to a giant statue of Caesar Biggus Dickus, known as Nero to his friends, if he had any. Outside in the sunshine, the cracks between the cobblestones grew a moss-like plant which blossomed tiny pink flowers like stars.

Bought lunch from a vendor and shared it with some pigeons, who are all suspiciously healthy and happy and bold. Saw some house sparrows, and got accosted by tall italian bloke in legionaire’s getup. He kept calling me Black and White, and kissed me a couple of times. Not the pictures I wanted, but I wasn’t going to spend another ten of mum’s euros for that lot.

Had an icecream (mum didn’t get what she wanted, so she was right to be irritated) then went into the coliseum proper for the tour to the underground part. Interesting in that I learned things I didn’t know, but cold there, and a little creepy. You feel like if you stayed there at night, you’d see all the ghosts of gladiators.

Then the tour took us up into the heights (lots of stairs) in the heat, wherein I got quite pink on my shoulders and back while listening to the tour guide. Who was actually really nice, for the record.

Anyway, by the time we finished it was quarter past three, so we took the metro back to Piazza del Popolo, sat in the sunshine in a café – I had a strawberry sundae that would have made Dante weep, and a sparrow came to eat the olive seeds mum spat out with her beer.

Then we wandered back to the hotel, had a bath, and then had a salad each – mine was cold octopus mum had bought, the rest of the pancetta ham from yesterday, broccoli, corn, tomato and leaves, with cream cheese and vinigrette.  

Nommed on wafers while I read some fic, and now am very tired and sleepy.

DAY FOUR 

Woke up at quarter to eight, because I was an idiot and didn’t check if my phone had conformed to the local time before I set it to wake us at 7am. Had the same breakfast as yesterday, then came back to the room to rush on some nail polish and go out to walk to the Parthenon.

The first bridge to cross the river was guarded by giant angel statues, so after taking a few pictures, we went onto the bridge after that. (Not that they’d do anything in broad daylight with so many eyes on them, but I didn’t really want to risk it XDD)

Walked through a very long, very lovely square, with three ornate fountains – two of which were shut off for cleaning, and the third I tried to recreate a picture of me and dad at the Trevi Fountain, but the guy we asked didn’t seem to know how to use zoom.

Got ever so slightly lost after that, thanks to my miserable sense of direction, and my mistrust of guided tours headed to exactly where we wanted to go.

Saw some beautiful shops and cafes, anyway, even if one of my trusty brown sandals decided then and there to start fraying and chafing the skin off the arch of my foot. Reached the Parthenon around half-ten, and spent about fifteen minutes walking around unshod inside, the cold marble very soothing on my sore foot.  

Like at the Vatican, the architecture seems specifically designed to make you feel like a tiny person in a land of great monsters – even more so, in fact, because the dome of the roof seems like it’s made for the gods to stare down at the mortals, like ants in a fishbowl, and the very doorway looks as though it were crafted by giants.

We came outside, and I wrapped an antibacterial wipe about my foot until we found a pharmacy, where mum was kind enough to buy me some plasters. Then we walked down the outside of the square with the fountains, looked in shops bright with coloured glass like jewels, shaped into elephants and dragons and cats and fish and horses as small as fingernails and large as dogs.

We also looked in a shop full of recreated roman relics, and angsted over a bronze-cast gladius before deciding I couldn’t afford it, so mum bought me a leather wristband, black and patterned with a roman-style border.

We stopped at a café to share a banana split and a couple of hot drinks, then walked back to the hotel for lunch, pausing only to buy a parasol from a street vendor – the price was originally ten euros, but I haggled him down to six. Got back to the hotel and had a sandwich each, slept for half an hour, and then decided to retrace our steps from the first day.

Walked to Piazza del Popolo again, and window-shopped along the ‘Shambles’, as we’d come to call it after said place in York. Went into a nice shop that reminded me a little of Culture Vulture in Leeds, wherein mum also bought me a very nice hot-weather hat, another trilby, white paper-matting with a black hatband, who I’ve decided to call Paul, after mum’s favourite Beatle. I think she’s bought me an entire new outfit now…

Wandered back to the room and saw a very nice pizzeria on the way back, which, after a shower and a ten minute nap, we returned to. I had a bacon, sausage, cheese and tomato pizza, on a thin crispy base, and mum had a salad with a mushroom and cheese pizza.

Finished our mains within about fifteen minutes flat – they were pretty good – and I was looking over the dessert menu and wondering to mum about what tiramasu was, when the big dark-skinned bloke at the next table said, “Excuse me for eavesdropping, but…”

Apparently tiramasu is a kind of coffee trifle type thing, and the american who told us this turned out to be a very pleasant conversationalist, as many of his countrymen are. His name was Walter, from Boston, Massachusetts, and he was a former commercial pilot, now an air-host/ess coming from the states to Roma on work. His french-irish wife is in medicine, and his son is in sports.

We talked to him about the places he’d been – being american, of course, he never picked up any of the language, but at least he had an interest in the local culture, rather than attempting to enforce his own like some – and we gave him advice about places in the UK he wanted to visit, like Glasgow, York and London, and both he and mum had a good ol’ whine about the state of the world at large. We also talked about heritage, weather, and various other things.

It had been about quarter-past seven when we had sat down, but thanks to him it was at least quarter-past nine by the time we left, although we were not in the least put out. He was, as many people are, a genuinely nice guy.

All in all, a pleasant end to our last full day in Roma.

Recipe: Mouse's Murray Mudcakes

<ljcut="Because everyone needs one recipe to their name.">

Ingredients
225g / 8oz butter / margarine
285g / 10oz light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tsp vanilla essence
310g / 11oz plain flour
4 Tblsp cocoa powder
1 Tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
100g of Milk Chocolate (sharing bag of Cadbury's Giant Buttons or local equivilant)
100g of Plain Chocolate
200g Glace Cherries

Mise-en-Place:
Preheat the oven to 160°C / 310°F
Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment
Weigh the ingredients
Cut the butter into a medium dice
Beat the eggs with the vanilla essence
Mix the flour, salt, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda together (dry ingredients)

Method:
With an electric whisk or in a mixer:
Beat the sugar and butter together until light and 'fluffy'
Add 1 tablespoon of the dry ingredients to the butter
Slowly beat in the eggs and vanilla
Add the flour and beat until incorporated
Smash the chocolate into chips (you can buy premade choc chips, if you want, but I like the chunky texture irregular pieces give)
Cut glace cherries into halves and thirds
Knead in the bits
Put the mix into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes (its easier to handle when chilled)
Remove from fridge and roll the mix into balls (you want big cookies-big balls! Smaller cookies....smaller balls, okay? ...don't snigger)

Place the cookies on the baking sheet, leaving room for them to spread / bloom as they bake
Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes
Remove and allow to cool for 20 minutes before moving
Serve

Will keep well for a week in a tin, but if you've done it right then the batch should be gone by then :) </ljcut>
Title: Little Boy Lost
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts (Birth By Sleep Spoilers)
Characters: Zexion (Ienzo, before and after)
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1063
Summary: "It is a typical, common, cliched story, with a typical, common, cliched end. He thinks he might hate it a little..." Start of darkness for the Cloaked Schemer.
Author's Note: I haven't written anything in years, so this may well be utter rubbish. I don't know if I'll ever finish it, but I stopped at a good enough part.

Little boy lost in a lonely glen/Lead by a wandering light...Collapse )

It's 01/01/11. Which is kind of neat.

I always seem to write in this thing when it feels like the small hours of the morning, except that I know it isn't, and it just feels like it because even ten o'clock feels like small hours when you're viewing them from the wrong side of sleep. I don't know. Maybe insomnia lends me poetry, or courage, or heart enough to think of something at all to write.

I think that this year has been considerably more acceptable than the years most recently (prefacing? defacing? ascending it? decending it?) before it, which is not at all difficult, but nonetheless highly bewildering. In '09, I had no friends. In '10, I had more than I knew how to deal with. '11 still waits to see how many of them I will manage to keep, and whether or not I have bitten off more than I can possibly chew.

In '11 my cats will be eleven years old, and I shall be twenty-two. In '11, I will go to london with friends, and possibly to Rome with my mother, and possibly to the US, to see my mother's twin brother, who is nothing at all like her.

'10 was the year of Change, and not in the least a negative one. I suspect I would have drawn the Death card for it, nonetheless, for that and other reasons.

'11 already seems to be the year of Travel, and Promises. We shall see how well promises hold, and I always enjoy travel to different places, where the sun is warmer and the people speak their own tongue. The World?

And now, a note from Neil Gaiman.

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself."


Itadakimasu! Ja ne!

It's 7:37 am. I have not slept. This may be because I have overslept sometime in the recent 48 hour cycle. I have no idea. But I have not slept.

Unfortunately, this is not the kind of over-turned clockwork toy insomnia I had a few weeks back, wherein I simply did not sleep for 48 hours and didn't suffer the slightest amount of tiredness for my sin. No, this is the running-down clockwork toy kind of insomnia where I feel tired, I want to sleep, yet refrain from doing so because a) I fear if I do, I will never return to a dinural sleep-pattern in time for tomorrow morning, which is Travel Training, and b) there is way too much to do today besides worrying about a silly thing like sleep. /sacasm

And the fact that it took me three tries just to write the word 'that' tells you how brilliantly the rest of the things on my to-do list for today may well go.

...at least I'm still noticing most typoes. That's something.

Other news - I have now been in posession of two wonderful golden-colored female gerbils for a fornight now. Their names are Vanille and Penelo, and they are very, very cute.

I'm also doing tuesdays voluteering at Haworth Cat Rescue, which is apparently something I was born to do. Cleaning out cathouses and chattering to abadoned and stray moggies is a calling, apparently. But I do enjoy it. My vocational worker, however... she has never had any animal experience. At all. She had a dog, when she was a child, but whatever memories that left her with were I can only assume not good ones.

She's blonde, smaller than me (and at my measly 5'1/100lbs that's saying something)  and freaks out everytime a kitten so much as flails in her general direction. Bewildering. For serious.

*headesk*

Nanowrimo already? OHGOD, I wish I had that kind of skill. Gods, I wish I could still write.

Fuck. That.

I have wayyy too much on my plate. I need to stop thinking like 'Yeah! I can do that!' and then five seconds later thinking of something else to do that will distract from finishing the first thing. Suigetsu cosplay. Must finish. Hannah's bday present. Must start. Everything else - go away.

Also, getting gerbil tomorrow. Very much looking forward to this :)

Did it all for the moogle~

For some bizarre reason, I have the urge to get up, now, at 1am, when it's pitch black out there, freezing cold and windy to boot, and go for a walk.

It's reasons like this that I am clearly quite insane.

I've been trying to think of things to write in this, for a while, but I figure as long as I write //something//, it counts, right? It's not something that particularly helps me sort out my probelms, the way a flesh and blood person who'll listen can. I'm not one of those people who can write down their probelms and dissolve, or at least lessen them in the very act of doing so.

But I swore to myself I'd write proper blog-type entries in this thing, and if you can't keep your own word to yourself, who can you keep it to, ne? You might as well swear on the dust in the wind, or hen's teeth for all the worth it is.

Letsee... mkay, Hannah's coming over to stay this weekend, that's something. I haven't had a proper sleepover that I desired personally in years and years and years, and I'm kind of nervous of this one. The idea of having friends is something so new, so alien to me that I keep waiting for the punchline, you know? Because from personal experience, me having friends is generally the lead-u[p to me not having friends, just people with enough patience to put up with me long enough to set up for some massive and cruel practical joke.

I hate humans. It's going to take a very long time for me to stop hating them.

But maybe if I take it slow, in baby steps, just in little bits, and make sure there's a low chance of getting overwhelmed, I should be okay, eventually. Some humans aren't complete assholes, right?

Right?

Blackberries. Not the tech kind,.

Now I have well and truly all but totally missed the blackberry season, I find myself regretting it. I have a bag of them in the freezer, but I don't know if it'll last as long as until christmas.  I've finally guilted myself into posting on this damn thing again, either way.

The days are getting colder, either way, and it's now the kind of weather in which I wear jackets and gloves and drink ridiculous amounts of white tea and hot chocolate in the evenings and feel vaguely astonished when hot beverages go cold much faster than they used to, when I could go outside in a t-shirt without having to look down every couple of minutes to make sure my nipples weren't tearing the fabric.

Or something. ^^;

I still feel vaguely bewildered that I have friends in this area. ANU people are my brand of crazy - it's probably a sign of how long I've been alone that I don't know how to react when people say that they're my friend. And insist on remaining as such, even when I wax lyrical on my dreams of the destruction of humanity. Like I said, my brand of crazy.

It's really, really weird, but I guess I could get used to it.

Because I suck at learning... anything.

Tou-san says that I'm autodactic - or autodactyl, I'm not sure which. But it means I learn best when I teach myself.

So, What Japanese I Know So Far -

Tou-san - Dad

Kaa-san - Mum

Nii-chan - Younger Sibling

Oji-san - Uncle/Aunt

Jii-sama/Jii-san - Grandfather/Grandpa

Obaa-chan - Grandma

Neko - Cat

Inu/Ken - Dog

Buta - Pig

Tori - Bird

Shika - Deer

Hebi - Snake

Taka - Hawk

Biwa - a kind of instrument a little bit like a ukelele, plucked with a tool shaped like a fish's tail.

So-kai (long vowel) - I see/ Oh, right.

Wakatta - Understood

Nani dai o (Nandai-o) -  I'm not sure...


Nani? - Huh? What?

Nani desu ka (Nandeska) - What the hell?

Yari, yari - I know, I know

Hayaku! - Hurry!

Urosai - Shut up!