Lardo

30. Lardo

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L A R D O

This place originally started out as a food cart, now there are three Portland locations to choose from. The first brick and mortar shop is right across of the SE 12th and Hawthorne carts. Lots of great sandwiches to choose from, although I’d suggest splitting everything especially if you’re going to get sides. It’s not called Lard-o for no reason…

O R D E R E D
Pork Meatball Bahn Mi (pickled veggies, sriracha mayo, cilantro)
Good Bahn Mi, would’ve loved if it had been a bit juicier as it seemed the bread to filling ratio was a little high. The meatball itself was tasty, but as always I couldn’t help but remove some of the cilantro. The pickled veggies were great.

Dirty Fries (pork scraps, marinated peppers, herbs and parmesan)
These fries wouldn’t have been anything special to me without those yellow/orange/red peppers. It was tangy, spicy, savory and there was a good mix of crispy and soggy fries to satisfy my french fry texture cravings.

Fried Brussel Sprouts (mustard sauce and scallions)
Dark and unctuous… There was double the amount of bitter, although I feel like the mustard might’ve been stronger than the natural brussel sprout flavor. I would’ve liked a little less oil on the vegetable, it felt more unhealthy than the dirty fries.

S A W
“Tron” tree

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Oregon Bridal Expo

A weekend spent further south, helping out Vien in her VOUTURE booth at the wedding expo [Jan 24/25th]!
I’ve gone to a few of these events, some pretending to be engaged, grabbing fistfulls of cake samples and dinner entrees while critiquing all the dresses I did not like in the fashion show. I’ve never wanted a typical wedding, white satin dress, or cake feeding if I ever do tie the knot. It simply doesn’t feel like me. If I could describe what I would imagine as the “perfect day” it revolves more around the feel, relaxed mingling, groups of people all getting along, eating good food, lots of lights everywhere when sun goes down, an epic food fight // I thoroughly enjoy the experience of attending weddings — whether they be in a church or grassy field. Seeing how the individuals choose to express themselves on their big day, always a good time. Working the expo sales floor I found the atmosphere completely awesome as well. The excitement and (dare I say– love?!) was fun to watch and be a part of. Most brides came with mom and a friend, a few with just the groom, and others with the whole family. This time I was selling the services of my friends’ ability to create anything you dream up for your big day.

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Check out more of her amazing custom designs ~

Website: VoutureDesignerStudio.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/voutureboutique
Instagram: VienVouture
Email: t o v i e n i d @yahoo.com

After the first day, we headed home for a real nice Saturday night! Home cooked meal– Vietnamese soaps– and magic tricks!

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This above is called Bánh bò — (aka cow/crawl cake) although Vien wasn’t sure how it got this name. A little research tells that the origin refers to a cow because the cakes shape originally resembled a cow’s udder. The crawling refers to when the steamed cake rises and in completion “crawls” up the bowl— I am always mezmerized by food that is bright white… as was this. I assumed from looking at it that the warm coconut dipping sauce would be sweet, and the rice “cake” savory. Surprisingly it was the exact opposite. Delicious and hard to stop eating. The cake is airy, chewy and slightly sweet with its own light coconut flavor (also sprinkled with some toasted sesame seeds).

The Vietnamese yogurt {top pic} was great as well. Couldn’t figure out what made this version better than anything in the American supermarkets, but I noticed it has condensed milk in it. B-i-n-g-o! (Usually the answer to everything: WHY IS THIS OATMEAL SO GOOD? Condensed milk. WHAT’S THE SECRET IN THIS FROSTING? Condensed milk. WHY IS THIS MILK SPECIAL? Condensed.) We happened to be snacking on a sesame Chinese pretzel and the combination of crunchy with the creamy… Vien thought I was crazy for mixing the two, but you really have to try it!


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This vietnamese spicy noodle dish is called Bún bò Huế!

Bun = Noodle
Bo = Beef
Hue = Hue City

Chock full of things: beef broth/lemongrass/fish sauce/chili oil/ squash chunks, noodles/banana flowers, green onion/cilantro, basil/mint, pork cake, slices of beef, (I also added some huge dollops of the “super hot” fresh chili and squeezed lime over it all. This chili made all the difference for me, although it wasn’t too spicy. I did notice a few times that my throat got dry and had that itch of something stuck in it, probably a chili pepper seed, and then I thought I was going to die because I had forgotten to grab my water at the table. I pulled through like a champ and quietly blew my nose, wiped away some tears and dove in for more.

After dinner we watched some Indian/Vietnamese soap operas (Vien translated), looked through all the photos/videos I’d taken at the Expo while I had my legs in a massage machine for a couple hours [all day in heels!] Andrew provided some awesome magic entertainment — and finally, although still stuffed from dinner, had some fried banana, slice of fruit tart, and coconut rice paper for dessert. The decibel levels were high, at least 4 groups of people in separate and excited conversations. Vietnamese flying around, I had no idea what was being said or discussed but it was the perfect family picture and I was thankful to be a part of it.

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26 & 10

26. Wongs King

A mysterious two year old gift card was burning a hole in the wallet.
No expiration date to be found but why chance it. This place was on “the list” and had been recommended by one and disliked by another. It was also on some WW Top 100 Restaurants in Portland. Decisions made, gps loaded and buckets of rain pouring harder than it has in awhile! Finally made it in, dripping wet, but soon to be in a clean, spacious ball room type place that was practically empty.

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Waiter shows a table, good as any. Brings a stack of menus as tall as a phone book. The menu being large is an understatement. I couldn’t make heads or tails or most of it, as I kept getting distracted by low blood sugar! There was also a seasonal menu that was pretty lengthy but didn’t seem to have anything special on it. Hmm! Much page flipping, hemming and hawing.

Where is that waiter!?

Great, Hui finally shows up to take our order.

ONE PROBLEM,

“Uh.. my… ang-lish….. na…. so… goo” —

SHOOT! That’s why the menus comprised of all pictures. Pointing away we gooooo— I think he gets it, and he goes away. Comes back shortly with the receipt to double check that it’s correct, this is great. The place is starting to really fill up, and I can tell this is some kind of pillar in the Asian community. Good sign.

Food started showing up, the first two plates (one appetizer and one entree…?!) The chicken lettuce wraps and … General Tsao’s… except, this looked more like Sweet and Sour Chicken. After eating most of the wraps I was finally able to grab another waitress and explain (sign language) the problem. She calls Hui over and they speak rapid Chinese. I point to the table where the receipt was taped —–> General Tsao’s and then point to the plate —-> Sweet/Sour Chicken. More rapid Chinese. Arguing maybe. They point back and forth, then as quickly as they spoke, they were gone. And that was it. We were left with Sweet and Sour Chicken. I’m not the hugest fan of the dish even at the best of restaurants, but when all forms of communication fail: what are you going to do.

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The food was okay. It was good as far as edible and tasty enough, but very basic. I decided that I should try to jazz up my food with some chili powder, hot chili oil, sriracha even. I find the same waitress and ask for “Chili” “HOT” “Spicy!” etc… I could tell there was some miscommunication about to transpire so I pointed to my tongue…

“HOT stuff!”

Ah, she goes away, only to return a minute later with some brown sauce in a bowl. That does not look hot to me, and sure enough it was more Hoisin sauce, which I already had a bowl of with my Chicken Lettuce wraps.

Hokayyyyyyy. By this point I decided to nix dessert and call it good with getting some to go boxes. At least I could repurpose everything by cooking it again myself. Or at least douse it with chili powder (you know this is what actually happened…) Thankfully after using the gift card it was not an expensive gamble. Lesson learned… hole in the wall. Hole in the wall. I will take that over any pretty interior if it means the food is legit.

Moving on…

Wait— what’s this I see?
As I’m leaving the table I get to look behind the wall barrier where the waitress had been moving food to and from.

CHILI OIL
HOT STUFF
SRIRACHA

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Why oh why! If you know me, you know this just killed me.

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Check these rims outside Wong’s King…

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10. Egyptian Food Cart

7 pm. Time to get off work. Semi rough day… so the kitchy lit up corner food cart just called to me. I knew what to order from overhearing some people talking in the lunchroom. “Chicken with yellow rice” — So here it is covered in a garlic sauce/red sauce/sprinkles of some spice/ AKA GLORIOUS. A cheap [close by] alternative to my fave Lebanese… Nicholas’.

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Fast. Tasty. A side of veggies with some kind of pickling/light vinegar type dressing. And the Tzaziki (no clue what this version is called) was not just a throwaway side dip. If I hadn’t been worried about getting sick, I would’ve put this on the whole entree! Eat under the lights of the cart and enjoy the atmosphere: aka transients asking for quarters… just fyi.

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Sok Sab Bai Sob Story

Went to work an hour later, got off two hours early.
So, what to do? See if Sok Sab Bai was open.
Friday — check
Between 5-9pm — check

Success!

I walked in and saw literally, no one. Hmmm. I heard some noise, saw someone in the back. Pretended to walk in again stomping my boots loudly. Passive aggressive much? Still nothing. What the heck, grabbed my own menu and decided to ponder table locations. Waiter finally arrives saying “Oh…” while I hand him my menu and he shows me to the table I was already walking to. Now that is off on the right foot…

Ordered:

Coconut Soda — High markup on these (can purchase from Uwajimaya around .85 each, $3 here in the restaurant) Served with slice of lime, which is delicious muddled in. Probably the most memorable thing about the whole meal.

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Pork Buns — Definitely not the best I’ve had, actually lower on the list if I had to rank it. The buns themselves were small but packed through. The pork was fatty but without any good pork/sauce flavor. The bun also might’ve been a bit slimy from condensation or moisture.

Prahok Katee — an assortment of raw veggies (cucumber, purple cabbage, radish, and turnip) with a ground pork dipping sauce. I was happy with the vegetables, the “dipping” sauce was interesting. Contained an oilyness, although also containing coconut milk, lime, peanuts, etc. Might’ve been slightly acidic in a not so pleasant way if you didn’t realize it was normal.

Chae Chien for dessert – Bananas coated in batter and lightly fried, with a little chocolate sauce on top. Nothing special, reminded me of fair fare. Not very sweet or distinct in any flavor, and thus not completely satisfying for me.

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Is this one of the Top 100 Restaurants in Portland? I don’t think so! Next…

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Un-days

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Lost in Portland. Okay, not really lost, just unable to find the Sok Sab Bai restaurant. The last time I was here [daytime], it wasn’t yet open. This time after circling the block, in car and on foot we still couldn’t locate the place, (Google maps said we’d arrived!). Found Fifty Licks [ice cream] along the way. After walking up to a deserted house-like building there was the answer: It was closed. First it was the wrong time, now apparently the wrong day, seems like Sok Sab is only open 3 days a week. Still not entirely sure that’s correct. TBA* Ah, maybe the third time’s a charm.

Where to next? It was either Cambodian or pizza, so it was off to Ken’s Artisan Pizza. I had heard it was comparable and even better than Asholl’s Pizza (less wait time/pizza under $20/not so pretentious). The place was packed but cozy. We got there a bit late by my standards (obviously this wasn’t the first plan) so unfortunately a wait for seating was involved. The waiters happily obliged patrons who wanted to drink some wine while standing but I chose to stare at those already eating what looked to be such delicious pies. This place might be more accommodating to larger parties, or it was just super busy and hard to seat just two. Service seemed a little inefficient, but I could hardly care once we got to eating.

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Appetizer: I’m always looking for delicious veggie options and this definitely brought something more creative to the menu. Three different offerings on the wood oven roasted vegetable plate. Two of them tied for my favorite, and the last one had flavors that I had never considered together, and am still not sure about.

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1. Sweet potato/yam, kale and ricotta in a red pepper sauce cooked to perfection
2. Tender juicy brussel sprouts, onion/shallots, breadcrumbs on top
3. Savory spiced pear and carrot, (cumin/corriander were two main spices on them)

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Soppressata aka the “tomato sauce mozzarella basil and spicy Calabrese”. Spicy anything catches my eye, but I’ve also had a few Soppressatas to compare to.
Is this place worth the hype? The pizza breakdown– Toppings: generous salami and fresh aromatic herbs, authentic amount of cheese. Marinara base: Average, good but nothing spectacular; not a lot to judge on as there isn’t a crazy amount sloshed on. Crust: Chewy blistered goodness all around, thin Italian style similar to what I had in Florence!

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Gotta love a place that offers chili pepper flakes… even if they aren’t actually “hot”–

😉

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Bamboo New NYE

First things first.

Make some breakfast burritos for sustenance.

Nik’s Quick recipe

1. Take some already cooked ground Turkey
2. Reheat in pan with garlic/onion and add a couple of eggs
3. Add preferred seasonings (Himalayan salt/black pepper/chili pepper)
4. Tortilla (toasting optional)
5. Add Kewpie
6. Generously dash homemade Serrano/Hawaiian Chili Pepper powder
7. Lettuce (or any other veggies you have available)

Wrap and enjoy!

{NEXT}

Brave the crowd at Costco, use up a gift card and pick up my contacts. Then brave the mall to do some Xmas exchanging. And maybe get a Cinnabon. (I only eat the hearts…)

THEN. Fi-nal-ly. An itch to get another piercing — so why not today. It was a beautiful sunny day, (in the mid to high 30s) but still! Great day for Portland.

Black Hole Piercing & Tattoo (NE Portland location). Fun part: looking at all the jewels to put in my ear, decided on a tiny gold/diamond stud. Asked if a frontal helix would fit on my left ear, she said yes, but I decided to do a tragus which is what I initially came in for. Finally filled out the necessary paperwork, after being told it was two sided and highlighted where I needed to initial I still forgot to sign the back and a few other spots. Too excited. Britni (my piercer) asked if I needed to go over any aftercare stuff and I said no– She went ahead and marked the spot, put the clamps on and stuck the metal in. All very quick and painless process! I would definitely go back to this place, Britni was super sweet and easy going.
[Also, this was all recorded on camera however I have not reviewed the footage yet! To be uploaded on youtube soon. Possibly. lol]

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Went for a walk afterwards, towards a crazy colorful building which turned out to be a Cuban restaurant (Pambiche’). Realized it was wayyyy to cold for a casual stroll and there was nothing else on that side of the street– Decided to quench my sushi craving and drove to Saburo’s. Forgot it was closed last Saturday night and not realizing it was shut down until the 4th for New Years. Oh well. This meant getting to try a new place, and as it turns out, great recommendation: Bamboo Sushi!

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Ordered some things off the happy hour menu, Pork Buns and Okonomiyake. Sushi: California Sunset (California roll with spicy tuna, a garlic aioli, and tempura cruchies)***** a salmon roll and a spyder roll! That Cali Sunset… and pork buns. Next time I might just order that. It was everything, savory and crunchy, soft steamed buns and perfectly seasoned meat. Dessert was a toss up between the sea urchin creme brulee and the coconut panna cotta. I will try pretty much anything coconut so of course I got the latter one. Surprisingly strong flavors accompanying the actual panna cotta, there was a dark cherry yuzu sauce under it that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Not sour or very sweet but somehow rich… very concentrated. The toile was made with some kind of granola and sesame which gave it a very savory flavor paired with the creamy. It was interesting and pretty good altogether. Next time I will have to try that creme brulee!

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All in all great day. More stuff happened after this. Craving more sweets. Getting doughnuts. Fireworks. You know… Adios 2014, very much looking forward to 2015!

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Exploring SE 82nd on Dec 28

If anyone has driven down this stretch you might think you’ve stumbled upon Little Asia with the mish mash of Chinese restaurants and Korean markets on every corner. It really doesn’t look like much– kind of an industrial run down area, but on further inspection, there are so many gems worth trying– If you know where to look!

Vien came over to my place around 1:30 PM to fit me for a dress, that I will wear at the Bridal Expo happening in January. The dress was too big and she figures she’d rather just make a whole new one. Oh well, that was easy 🙂 After some chatting of indecision about what to do and introducing her to PORTIA (the tarantula), we headed out.

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The first place we went to was Sok Sab Bai. Unfortunately we misread the opening times (5pm-9pm) as 9-5 and so… when we got there– it was closed. WHOMP WHOMP. Oh well, we were near enough to SE 82nd anyways….

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Second stop, Lee’s Sandwiches. *Correct traditional Vietnamese spelling would be Le* I am told this is a chain restaurant popular in Cali– Picked up a few sandwiches for lunch tomorrow as well as a snack. We got a meat pastries, which were flaky and quite tasty. (Vien says they are even better at the An Xuyen Bakery!) I believe her as she’s been to these places many times, but the flavor of the one at Lee’s really hit the spot. I was actually not that hungry because I had eaten lunch right before Vien had even got to my apartment but that doesn’t stop what happens next. We walked out and walked back in. Lee’s sells all kinds of packaged cookies and sausages, the weirdest being a shrimp sausage. Has anyone ever tried such a thing? It was $10 for a pack of 8 (made in Cali), so we decided to leave that behind, although so curious. (I wasn’t mad about it).

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Wait. what’s that across the street? Young girl handing out Russian candy! AKA Good Neighbor (or |actophohom for you Russians out there). Had to check the goods out, figured two asians would get some looks and we definitely did. This time of year is when they are preparing for their Christmas celebrations– *January 7*. Learned all about this and more from my awesome Russian friend who would probably like to remain anonymous. Boy do I love Russian food, however I do not know how to prepare these dishes myself. The cakes and baked goods were so tempting, but we had to refrain. Plus I was still in the mood for something savory…

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Third stop- HK Cafe for DIM SUM! For those that didn’t know, dim sum actually means breakfast. Considering it was now almost 3 PM, the slot for dim sum was probably over. After looking at the menu outside and making our selections we went inside to find that yes indeed, ” no-mo-dim-sum “… Story of our lives, but again, it’s okay, we are surrounded by holes in the walls. Literally.

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Next stop- King’s Bakery. I had been to a similar place in Daly City called Sheng Kee Bakery/ (also the Fubonn bakery in Portland) a few years ago. This shop was smaller but we picked up a few things, a coconut snowball looking pastry and a flat circular one with coconut/ & / ? inside. They both reminded me of mochi for different reasons. The first was super soft almost jello in consistency but completely white opaque, covered in fine shredded coconut with a nutty base. The latter a bread pasty filled with a dense gelatinous mixture that hinted of coconut mochi. Best description yet. There are no pictures of the food as I was distracted taking a PHHHOTO of their water fountain [find me: auburnazn]. *typical* See below:

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Then we were off to Van Hahn Vegetarian Restaurant *Vegetarian Vietnamese* that is! YES, something healthy! So excited to eat my 5th meal of the day. You walk into what look like a tiny residence and are surrounded by maybe 4 tables. Tu who I first thought was an elderly man, (actually an elderly woman… looks like a hari krishna) is there to point out where the menus are. Pictures on the wall guide you to descriptions in the menu. Due to food and diabetic comas surely setting in, we decided to split one dish — the W1 ! Lacey white sheets of noodles rolled up next to an array of green (cucumber/mint/cabbage) and faux pork, served with a dipping sauce. Take whatever parts you like, roll, dip and consume. Delicious. Perfect splitsies portioning as well, now I was completely stuffed. The dessert we wanted was out, but after paying (and picking up some pork buns for the store) Tu offered us some slices of bundt cake. This wasn’t on the menu and I’m not sure what it was, I was too full to try it there, and regretfully someone ate it before I got to try any. It means I will just have to go back, as I was planning to anyways to try the savory crepes!

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Typical rainy day and it was time to head home before traffic got too bad.

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Firenze Good Eats

Our main missions: a) Gelato, b) Pizza, and c) Noodles (specifically: pici all’aglione (thick noodle/spicy red sauce)! There were a few sights that were important as well… lol.

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Yay! Success! Although by no means did we make a dent in what Florence had to offer. I guess we’ll just have to go back… 😉

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London Food Finds

It’d been a few years (try 8) since I’d been to London, but this time I was returning with my mom to give her a tour of the places I lived and went! One of our first stops was Boroughs Market. Thank you to my friend Lindsey for inspiring me with the food pics from her trip just a few weeks earlier 🙂 We actually frequented Borough’s quite a bit because it was just one Tube stop from our hotel and it had sooooo many options to choose from. That is what I really appreciate about this city. Diversity!

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Florence // Italy pt 3

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Leaving Pisa entirely behind, we rode east to the bigger city of Florence.

As someone who is accustomed to exploring on foot, it was neat to discover firsthand that this city is really accessible from one end to the other in about half an hour. Add in a bit more time if you want to explore the northern end which has more of an incline. After a bit of wandering (aka sightseeing) we found our hotel and we were relieved.

Our first experience in the “art hotel” was interesting. The elevator was a quarter the size of one in the US (big enough for two people), and was constantly being used because the amount of stairs just to get to the front desk was about 3 flights up. Add in the floor you were actually staying on, plus luggage and it was daunting. Funky pastel walls and works of art were hung up all over the place, and in the rooms themselves. The one in our room reminded me of a bird with a large bill… that turned out to be an artistic rendering of Pinnochio. Because lest I ever forget, this is where Pinnochio was born/created.

The weather was comfortable, but a bit humid at times due to the off and on drizzles. No matter! I bought a blue umbrella which was broken before I even opened it. But it did the trick, and even gave me the typical windblown bumbershoot look. *Tip: Bring an umbrella if traveling in Fall* The only reason I hadn’t done this was because mine was still packed up in a box somewhere in my new apartment. Yeah– it sounds obvious, but I was traveling very light, just one carryon bag and my purse which meant being verrrrrrrry economical with what I chose to bring. I will definitely be writing another post sharing what I learned, what I would do again or leave behind 😛

As always, here are some more pictures… the rest of the collection will be on Flickr. Linked below!

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MORE Florence– https://www.flickr.com/photos/nabtravel/sets/72157648748918368/

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