The bestest memories :’)

hello lovelies!! ^^ i’m seriously drowning under this backlog of posts haha can’t decide what to post first and everything! i’m gonna do London really really soon alright! but since i just came back and everything is still fresh in my head, i just wanna talk about my top 5 favourite cities in Europe :))) it wasn’t too difficult actually, these just totally STOOD OUT in all the places i went to, and it was in these places where i got the immeasurably happy, ‘big-soppy-grin-spreading-across-my-face-uncontrollably, blissful in-a-bubble’ feel and wishing i could just stay there FOREVER :”) ranking them though, proved impossible, and so they are in no particular order :) except london maybe haha. i’m a fan ^^ 

#1: LONDON
of course! omg i really can’t wait to blog about london but at the same time dreading it cos i know it’ll take damn long >.< actually every place in UK i visited (glasgow, york and london) were beyond amazing :') where do i even start? the fact that they speak english? oh gosh, when you're in a land where everything sounds like gibberish to you, hearing a language that you understand is like the ultimate eureka moment! ^^ once i stepped on the bus in glasgow and met such a friendly bus driver, i fell in love with this country :))) the people are soooooo nice! :') 

okay, so i guess rather than london, to be fair i should put UK as a whole haha. but i guess london was my favourite FAVOURITE because of the number of things to do ^^ quite surprised and happy that i managed to cover most of the places on my go-to list! not the food though…haha. had so many recommendations and i’m super grateful for all those who recommended these places to me! ^^ but i would still go back to london! for the same places, but perhaps a different experience? maybe more time to chill, to pick my favourites (god knows how many there are haha actually it’s still a long list in the end), catch Phantom (which i didn’t get to watch this time!), visit Bricklane market (which i also missed) and eat eat and eat ^^ hehe. this photo just totally sums up my top-of-the-world feeling while in london :D yup london i<3you :))

(from here the list is in no particular order)
#2: Rome
i LOVED rome. and this silly picture is me throwing a coin into the fountain of trevi, promising that i will be back ^^ so many things to do, so many things to see! i wished i had more time in rome, and it was probably the italian city that i spent the longest in already! should have totally done exchange here instead of (BORING) milan -.- haha. sorry i’m damn biased against milan :p but i really think there’s nothing much to do there. 

standing in front of the colosseum was one of the most awe-inspiring events e.v.e.r. waltzing down the streets in the park at Villa Borghese on a sunny Sunday was simply exhilarating :) la dolce vita really :) thanks to rome, i now know what it means :) 

florence was amazing for its pretty streets and all its SHOPPING!!!! :D who says milan is the fashion & shopping capital of italy -.- why shop in milan when you have florence?! hehe. san lorenzo leather market is the best place to go for good quality italian leather goods at really reasonable prices! and don’t even let me get started on The Mall ^^ branded goods at SUPER good prices!!!!!!! 

in Europe, i understood the meaning of pretty streets :’) i would say that a similar theme of all my favourite places would be their pretty streets. i don’t really know how to describe it, but the streets of each of these places are just so characteristic of themselves! (: 

rome & florence are probably the epitome of the italian experience, so they are MUST VISITS if you go to italy! 

#4: Prague
prague was sooooo romantic :)))) both of us agreed that this baroque feel was something that we loved ^^ ah, it’s so hard to write this post actually! haha everything is really just based on the whole FEELING you get in a place :’) even though prague was so rainy and wet while we were there, its beauty still shined through. loved the artsy feel of it, like we had stepped back in time, into the world of Mozart, Bach and Tchaikovsky. it’s almost as if you can imagine them on the streets, playing for you, welcoming you to this magical city.  

#5: Vienna 
my dearest travel buddy! ^^ and a super nice host to us (: 

vienna was the first place i fell in love with in Europe :)) it could have been its food. it could have been its grand architecture (so old, yet so well maintained!). it could have been how well organized it was. it could be the fact that it was the first place we went to where the people knew how to speak english, and were willing to speak it, even though it wasn’t their native language. so many things made this such a wonderful place to be (: jiayee is so lucky to be staying there!! it was perfect. and i still haven’t done my post on it >.< yikes. haha. soon soon, as i've been saying :P 

so yepps! these were my top 5 favourite places in my 143 days, 8 countries and 24 cities :)

Firenze – Steak & Shopping! :D (Part II)

we ate beef EVERY SINGLE DAY while in Florence haha. when you’re in florence, the florentine steak is a must!!!! that’s their specialty ^^ and it’s huge, and damn awesome :D two people can share that 1kg of goodness. it was actually smaller than i expected though, i guess cos most of it was a huge bone haha so it wasn’t thaaaat much meat.
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the place to get your florentine steak fix (actually there are MANY places) would be 4leoni (: look at this HUGE slab of meat :O super juicy, aromatic and tender! florence does their steaks very close to rare (they don’t ask you whether you want it rare/medium/well-done), looks really red, but it doesn’t taste raw at all, which was amazing! gotta be prepared to spend on this steak though. the size is always standard, so you’ll be paying for a 1kg steak, which doesnt come cheap. at this restaurant, the bistecca alla Florentina al kg costs €41!! quite expensive actually, compared to other places where you can get your steak fix as well (see below). but this definitely comes highly recommended anyway! (:
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we also ordered a small salad – rucola e pomodorini (€6) to balance out all the meat. very nice and refreshing! (:
this restaurant is super popular, so you have to make reservations online here, under ‘prenotazioni’.
Trattoria 4 leoni 
Via de’ Vellutini, 1r
(Piazza della Passera)
50125 Firenze
Tel.: +39 055218562

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many restaurants have become increasingly commercialized as the number of tourists in a city increases. however, Mario, is one such restaurant which has kept true to its roots, with its methods of cooking, the whole atmosphere of dining and everything! (: expect no menu, sit on stools at tables crowded with people, and no reservations are taken, so be prepared to queue (especially if you reach there after 1pm)! the food makes it well worth the wait though ^^ you’ll see newspaper cuttings at the entrance recommending you all the possible dishes you can try, and you will be literally spoilt for choice!
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besides the Florentine steak, another specialty that you must try in Florence is their Ribolita (€4.50), which is a very thick creamy vegetable soup with beans, carrots and various ingredients in it. it’s pretty heavy in my opinion, so it’s good for sharing! (otherwise you don’t need to eat your main course already haha). but i loved it!!!! try it ^^
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it was my first time trying rabbit! :O oh yeah one thing i forgot to mention is that the food here is super affordable :))) my roast rabbit cost €8, and we ordered a 500ml bottle of wine for a mere €3.50 if i remember correctly!! the taste of the rabbit was simple, but flavourful, albeit a little tough.
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their boneless beef steak (€12) comes highly recommended as well! (: very tender and juicy as you can see from the picture!!!! their florentine steak was also a very popular dish at this restaurant – we could see everyone ordering it :O it’s slightly cheaper than 4leoni at €35, looks slightly bloodier, but no less awesome ^^
Trattoria Mario
Via Rosina, 2, 50123 Florence, Italy
Tel.: +39 055 218550
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we had our first meal in florence at Ristorante Accademia and i was so impressed by their food and service!! (: okay, maybe the food was because i was really hungry, but it was definitely GOOD. and of course, good service always augments a dining experience (: sam’s Chianina beef stew with potato puree (€16) was totally drool-worth with its melt-in-your-mouth texture and a flavour that enveloped our taste buds and spread through our mouths so smoothly ^^
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i loved my choice of paccheri pasta with Chianina beef meat sauce (€13) as well! though nothing really outstanding about the range of pastas to choose from (italy’s italian food is really quite boring zzz not much variety), the execution of this dish was amazing (: super tasty!!!!!
Ristorante Accademia
Piazza San Marco, 7, 50121 Florence, Italy
Tel.: +39 055 217343
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one thing i really like about italian pastas is how they do their spaghetti carbonara (€7). i don’t really like carbonara, because i always feel super jer lat after eating it. and although i haven’t actually tried eating a whole plate of it on my own here, i’ve decided to make this a MUST-TRY before i leave italy. and i will tell you how it goes after that heh! (: the best thing about their carbonara here is that it’s only made with eggs and NO CREAM! which makes it wayyyy lighter, and i really like it! i might really be able to finish a whole plate of it on my own after all!!
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anyway, i totally forgot to mention. this restaurant is Ristorante il Pennello. i had the tortelloni with tomato and cream, and i have to say that i really like this sauce!! ^^ although it’s creamy, but the tomato sauce somehow makes it kinda lighter. and the tortelloni is delicious with its filling within (:
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sam also ordered the Peposo (€14) which is beef cooked for three hours in red wine, pepper and garlic. oh boy, he was so happy with this dish!! haha. you could totally tell from the softness of the meat that it had really been tenderly boiled for hours, and the sauce it was cooked in was so robust and tasty!
Ristorante il Pennello
Via Dante Alighieri, 4r, 50122 Florence, Italy
Tel.: +39 055 294848
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finally, our last stop for food was at Trattoria Sergio Gozzi. we read lots of reviews of it online and tagliata di manzo (€12.50). we heard that after eating this steak, you wouldn’t want to get a steak anywhere else! :P and IT WAS REALLY AWESOME. super duper juicy, flavoured with salt and spices – just squeeze some lemon on top and voila! you’ve got an amazing steak :D
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i opted for the braciole rifatte in salsa (€10.50) which is a pork chop i think. and the salsa was lovely!! (: i really liked how it had such a mesh of flvaours within it.
gosh the food in florence is sooooo good :D this place can get really crowded, especially on weekends, so do make a reservation beforehand if you can! (: apparently their Florentine steak here is really famous too!
Trattoria Sergio Gozzi
Piazza San Lorenzo, 8r, Florence, Italy
Tel.: +39 055 281 941
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and of course, not forgetting the gelato!!! ^^ hehe. HELLO SAM. so unglam cos he couldn’t wait for me to take a picture before diggin’ in  :p hehe. this place has the best chocolate gelato!!!! (: haha. his friend recommended it, and we didn’t reallyyyy believe it until we tried the chocolate gelato, and it was soooo creamy (just look at it!!) which was so yumms! and guess what!! they had peanut butter flavoured gelato OMGGGGG *drools* mega plus points for that! (: grab this on your way up to michelango hill! ;)
Cantina del Gelato
Via de Bardi, 31, Florence, Italy
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this gelato shop is really near to Ristorante il Pennello, so you can check it out for a post-dinner sweet snack! ^^ loved it for the unique flavours it had. can’t really remember what we ordered, but they had GREEN TEA! omg shiokkkk. so happy that i had unique flavours of gelato in florence! (: LOVED IT. tasted pretty authentic i must say! 
Perche no
Via dei Tavolini, 19-red, 50122 Florence, Italy
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aaaaaand finally! when you’re in italy, you HAVE to try Grom gelato! it’s EVERYWHERE in italy, just go to the website to find your nearest location. there is only one outlet in florence though (but tonnes in milan & rome), and the queues were crazy long when we were there! i actually preferred the one i had in milan though! (bigger portions). but taste-wise, it’s one of the yummiest, despite being a chain (:
Grom 
Via del Campanile, 2, 50122 Florence, Italy
okie dokes! that’s all for my gastronomic adventures in florence! ^^ really long post i know. haha such a glutton :p

Firenze – Steak & Shopping! :D (Part I)

florence is amazingly beautiful!! (: even though it was raining cats and dogs when i was there (such a pity!) but it’s beauty totally shined through anyway. and i would love to go back and spend more time there! it was kinda rushed in terms of seeing the ‘attractions’, not that there were many if you aren’t into all the museums and art galleries etc, but it’s just a really nice place to walk around and chill in (: i spent the most part of 3 out of 4 days in florence shopping though :p so we didn’t really have the chance to chill much. haha :p but OMG i am so satisfied with my buys!!!!! ^^ hehe. after 4 months of holding back, i finally went on a mad shopping spree :D *woots!*
okay, enough introduction, let me get on with my post! (:
What to do in Florence

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the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is the most famous Duomo in Florence, and it’s gorgeous! ^^ we first saw it on our first night there and were wowed by it. (haha by this time, we’d seen enough of the Duomo in Milan to be fascinated by that one :p). it was totally lit up at night! and in the daytime, in the sunlight, it’s equally beautiful (:
you can climb up to the top of the Duomo to get gorgeous views of florence, but we chose not to and instead went to…
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the top of Michelangelo Hill!!! this is a MUST MUST MUST VISIT when you’re in florence. it’s a little distance from the city centre, but it’s really not that far. everywhere in florence is quite walkable (: and omg the view is AMAZING. it is not to be missed!!! this is like just one of the possibly 30 photos i took of this place. i totally just went 360 degrees around this place and kept snapping photos because the view was sooooo pretty! i had such a hard time choosing which photo to post here. it’s so pretty :’) and i would think that the climbing wasn’t too bad this time! believe me, i’ve had TONNES of climbing experiences in europe haha. everywhere seems to be uphill here. but this was totally worth it :D
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there was this statue of David at the top of the hill as well! there is a place where you can go to see the original David, but really, there are statues of this EVERYWHERE in florence. i didn’t think it’s worth paying to see this.
all the attractions in this post are free btw!! (: save money haha (and spend it in rome :p)
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Ponte Vecchio means ‘old bridge’ in italian and it’s the main bridge in Florence! (: it’s super crowded with roadside stalls and lots of tourists, but it’s really scenic and so it’s nice to spend some time there!
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if you’re interest in art galleries/museums, you can go to Pitti Palace (pictured) and Uffizi Gallery. i didn’t go to either, because of the lack of time. but it would be quite nice to pick one of those to visit! (: and the exterior of Pitti Palace is perfect for chilling as you can see from the hoards of people there ^^
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now for SHOPPING!!!!! :D :D :D :D haha my entire aim of being in florence hehe ^^ okay, this place isn’t really for ‘shopping’. but it’s the San Lorenzo Central Market, and you know i love markets ^^ i don’t know why either haha. i absolutely loathe wet markets in singapore, but the food markets/weekend open markets here and all just make me super happy!! (: maybe it’s because of the kind of food they sell here – totally makes me salivate :p
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welcome to the San Lorenzo Leather Market!!! when you come to florence, you’ve got to shop here!! there is a really wide range of leather goods here, from keychains, to wallets, bags, belts, gloves…etc. lots and lots of stalls, so do take your time to browse through and shop (: there are some stalls that seems more legitimate than others, but the leather goods are all pretty affordable and worth the money.
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EVEN MORE WORTH IT though, was THE MALL. omg *swooooooooooooooooons*. don’t judge okay :p i don’t usually buy branded stuff (it’s my first time), but i really went quite crazy here haha. disclaimer: i said that San Lorenzo was good for leather goods, but the quality you get at The Mall is really really definitely better. and considering that the goods are branded, they are SUPER reasonably priced here!
how to get to The Mall: i had the most epic experience trying to find my way here, catching the bus right LITERALLY at the last minute before it drove off, so i’m gonna tell you how exactly to get there so you don’t have to go through the same crazy experience as me. it’s not in Florence itself, but rather in some outskirts in Tuscany! :O so by public transport, you take a bus there. the address of the place to take the bus is Via Santa Caterina da Siena 17, Florence, but i don’t know why by GPS, it didn’t lead me to the exact location. what’s most important is to look out for a BUS DEPOT, which is near to the Florence SMN train station. it is a SITA bus with the words ‘The Mall’ written on it, impossible to miss. check here for the bus schedule. one-way costs €5 (expensive!!!!) and you can get tickets on the bus. the ride is about 50min.
i would say that you should allocate AT LEAST 3-4hours at The Mall? if you want to shop leisurely (: the queues at Prada are really slow, i think i queued for more than half an hour even though the queue didn’t look that long, but so make sure you have enough time!! and you can even process your tax refunds on the spot at The Mall (if you’re leaving the EU within 21 days), which is really convenient! (:

Where to stay in Florence

as i mentioned in my post on Rome, we super loved our accommodation in these two cities! ^^

definitely one of our best accommodations ever was our airbnb in Florence!! the room was absolutely HUGE. and so was the bed! so much space to roll around in our sleep hehe. the first night i just concussed the moment my head hit the pillow. it was so comfy ^^ Roberto, our host, made breakfast for us every morning!!!! super nice of him :)) simple breakfast, but very wholesome :) it’s really rare that you get breakfast in an airbnb, and we really appreciated it. Roberto was a friendly host and he let us have free use of the kitchen to cook our meals and also the washing machine :) there’s wifi! and the location was pretty good too (:

we paid €50 per night for the accommodation and you can see the listing here: https://www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/131143 (:

okay, enjoy florence and HAVE FUN SHOPPING!!!! :D and i gotta go back to mugging x.x