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Where To Eat: Mamma Angela’s in Crofton, MD

If a restaurant is named after a family member, you already know the food is going to be amazing. Definitely check out Mamma Angela’s if you’re ever in Maryland. I loved that almost every item on the menu is under $20! Everything we ordered off the menu was great, especially the fried polenta with truffle and mushrooms. And make sure you try their house-made limoncello.

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Polenta ai Funghi
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Calamari Fritti
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Cozze e Vongole
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Fettucini Zafferano
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Linguine Vongole
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Spaghetti & Meatballs
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My best friend and limoncello shots! =)

Italy Part 2: When In Rome

Hotel

We stayed at the Hotel Bernini Bristol, a 5-star hotel (very affordable!) in a central location close to popular site-seeing spots like the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. The view from our hotel window was spectacular. It looked out on to this center and fountain.

The hotel décor was so gorgeous we had to do an impromptu photoshoot right in the hotel lobby.

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Where to eat

Guida ballerino!

Guida ballerino! is a Michelin-star restaurant on the rooftop of Hotel Bernini. It’s one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at. Definitely try the Squid Ink Tempura Scallops in coconut cream sauce and the lemon dessert with pastries.

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Ginger

Ginger serves super healthy foods and everything is made fresh with organic ingredients. Definitely try the meat plate. So. Freaking. Good.

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Ladurée

Who doesn’t love macarons?

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L’ Archetto

L’ Archetto is tucked away on a quiet street a few blocks away from the Trevi Fountain. I knew it was a legit Italian restaurant because nothing on the menu was in English. I ordered a seafood pasta and my friend ordered a pizza with prosciutto.

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What to do

Trevi Fountain

Legend says that if you have your back to the fountain and throw a coin over your left shoulder, you will return to Rome.  Another legend says that if a couple drinks from the “fountain of lovers” (to the left of the Trevi Fountain) they will be faithful to each other forever.

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Spanish Steps

Unfortunately it was closed for renovations, but it’s still gorgeous! It’s also close to a shopping area where I was able to stock up on authentic Italian pasta and truffle oil.

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Vatican Museum

I suggest you buy the tickets ahead of time online so you aren’t waiting in the long ass line. Yes, it’s that long of a line!

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Okay, so you’re not supposed to take pics of the Sistine Chapel but I just had to sneak a photo. 🙂
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My absolute favorite photo that I took in Italy. This is the exit staircase in the Vatican.

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Drink from the water fountain

Now, I would never drink from any water fountain back in the US. We saw a Roman drink from the fountain so we decided to try it ourselves. When in Rome, right? The water fountains all over Rome are safe to drink from and surprisingly very tasty. The water comes from the mountains outside of the city.

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Miscellaneous pics of Rome

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I had such a great time in Italy, but I was a little sad that I didn’t get to the see the Colosseum or the Pantheon. We were in Rome for such a short amount of time and couldn’t fit everything into our schedule. I did make my wish at the Trevi Fountain, so hopefully the legend is true and I’ll be able return to Rome some day.

See previous post Italy Part 1: Milan.

Best Gift Ideas For Travelers

We know the holiday season can be very hectic. Here are some ideas we came up to help make your shopping experience a little easier.

Universal Travel Adapter $25

The cool design makes it light-weight and easy to throw in the luggage. It’s color coded so you’ll know which country uses which piece, according to their map.

Portable Battery Charger $50

Travelers are always taking pictures and staying connected. Portable battery charging devices are perfect for when their phone runs out of juice. This Braven BRV-BANK portable charger can withstand rugged conditions and is water-resistant. It even has a nifty built-in Bluetooth feature for if they misplaces the device.  

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Travel Jacket $179

It isn’t just any travel jacket. This jacket has a built-in inflatable neck pillow, an eye mask, built in gloves, and pockets for almost everything, including your iPad. There is also a hoodie version available.

Raden Carry-on Suitcase $295

The Raden suitcase comes with a built-in phone charger and luggage scale. The Bluetooth feature ensures that she will never lose her luggage with its app. Comes in an array of fun colors.

Hershel Weekender Bag $60

Stylish and efficient. It even has a shoe compartment underneath.

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Anthony Bourdain Cookbook $23

When they aren’t on the go, they’ll enjoy these travel-inspired recipes. Hardcover copy is always better, by the way.

Scratch Map $19

To keep track of where they’ve been.

Luggage Scale $13

Super handy to avoid the overweight baggage fee.

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Noise Canceling Earbuds for Samsung/Android devices $130

World off, music on. Find Apple approved earbuds here.

Carry On Cocktail Kit $24

Cocktail Kit choices: Old Fashioned, Gin & Tonic, Moscow Mule, Champagne Cocktail, Bloody Mary, and Hot Toddy.

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and wander Dinex Mug $16

This insulted mug is perfect for when she wants to sip her coffee or tea and reminisce about her last adventure, or take it with her on her next adventure. It comes in blue, red, off-white, and black.

J Pillow Travel Pillow $28

Comfort at it’s best. This unique design keeps your head from falling forward.

Sony Alpha A5000 $350

The world’s lightest interchangeable lens camera. With its tiltable LCD screen, it’s perfect for selfies.

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Evian Facial Spray $15

It’s so important to drink water and stay hydrated on flights. Give your traveler an extra boost of hydration on their skin.

Packing Cubes $32

These cubes come in a pack of 3 in different sizes and it’s water and stain resistant.

Travel Points/Airline Gift Cards

Last, but definitely not the least. Any traveler will definitely appreciate this gift. Some airline gift cards never expire, so make sure you read the fine print.

Okay, so maybe this is my Christmas wish list. 😉 Do you have any gift ideas you’d like to share? Comment below. Happy shopping!

Featured photo by Flickr Contributor Phil Roeder

Italy: Part 1 – Milan

For someone who loves to travel and travels often, I had the biggest fear of flying overseas. There was just something about flying over water for an extended period of time that scared the shit out of me.  A couple months ago, I decided to suck it up and bought tickets to Italy with my best friend. It was an eight hour flight, non-stop, on Emirates Airlines. The seats were bigger, there was more leg room, and the food was pretty good. There was a bigger and better selection of entertainment, compared to domestic flights, to keep me busy. It was not as bad as I imagined it to be and totally got over my fear. Hello, world!

My friend and I only had four days in Italy, but we made the most of our time there. The food was incredible and the Italians were so sweet to us. Everyone spoke English, so it was easy to navigate around. There were so many well dressed men and women! I mean – it makes sense – Milan is the fashion capital.

Climbing the steps of the Duomo di Milano was probably one of the highlights of Milan. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine at a restaurant on the top floor of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II overlooking the Duomo. The Galleria is one of the oldest malls in the world. And, of course we had to try real Italian pasta and gelato.

Nobu is a well known Japanese restaurant with locations all around the U.S. and the world. My friend and I thought we’d be bougie and take it up a notch by eating at the Nobu in Milan. It’s located within the Emporio Armani Store. We chose the prix fixe menu; the sea bass sashimi was my favorite.

Before leaving to Rome, we had to try authentic Milanese food. I found this small mom and pop restaurant down an alley near the Expo. My friend ordered Milanese risotto with saffron and I ordered the grilled sea bass. The risotto was such a comfort food dish. The sea bass was so light and refreshing. It was such a simple recipe – just olive oil, lemon and herbs.

 

Stay tuned for Italy: Part 2 – Rome!

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Miami

Yes, I am always in Miami. After all, it is my second home. I love museums and I am obsessed with flowers, so what better place to combine the two than at the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens?

In 1912, the mansion was built by a retired millionaire, James Deering. He also had a love for traveling and named his estate after Vizcaino, the Spanish merchant who explored the Americas in the early 1600s. (That was a little history lesson for ya’ll!)

Photographs are not allowed inside the mansion, but believe me it is GORGEOUS inside and throughout the whole estate. And the garden is so romantic and magical. If you’re ever thinking of proposing to your significant other, this would be the perfect setting. You’re welcome!

A weekend in the Windy City – Chicago, Illinois

Back in November, I met up with my cousin in Chicago to celebrate her 30th birthday. We had such a wonderful time – just the two of us!

First stop was the John Hancock Observatory, which is also known as 360 Chicago Observatory. If you’re ballsy enough, try TILT. You get a downward facing view 1,000 feet over the Magnificent Mile and Chicago’s skyline. It wasn’t something my cousin and I were up for, but the view from every side was beautiful. From what I heard, there’s also a view from the bathroom that we missed out on! I think we were getting tipsy at the bar and just forgot about it. But it’s alright. It’s an excuse to go back to Chicago. 🙂

We went to Skydeck at the Willis Tower. Skydeck has glass boxes that stick out 4 feet from the building for more scary but amazing views of the city from 1,353 feet up high. I won’t lie, I was terrified. We were on the 103rd floor!

We met up with my friend and walked down the Magnificent Mile. There are so many places to eat and shop there. We walked over the Chicago River, saw the famous Chicago Theater, checked out The Bean at Millennium Park, and had a cocktail at the Chicago Athletic Association. It sounds like a gym, but it’s a hotel with a restaurant/bar and a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan.

One of the highlights of our trip was going to see The Weeknd at the United Center. The concert was LIT. Literally. He had fire going on and everything.

If  you want a real dining experience you must try Alinea Restaurant. You have to book reservations on their site and they only book two months ahead. We checked the website every day before our trip and we got lucky! We got the last reservation for that night. There is a set menu and it is pricey, but it was worth every dollar spent. I would say the best part for me was dessert. The apple taffy helium balloon was so fun to eat. My cousin and I had a ball sounding like chipmunks. But that wasn’t all for dessert – a chef came out and painted our table with edible art! (I’m only posting one picture because I don’t want to ruin the experience for anyone. Every dish was beautifully plated.)

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In every city that I visit, I like to go to at least one museum. On this trip, we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

We stopped by Downtown Dogs and I tried a Double Downtown Dog. It’s two hot dogs on a bun with mustard, relish, tomatoes, onions, pickles, hot peppers and celery salt. For someone who doesn’t really like or eat hot dogs, I did enjoy it. It was definitely different and something I’ve never had before. I mean, I had to try it. I was IN Chicago.

Getting popcorn from Garrett is a MUST. If there is a long line, just wait in it. I think we waited 20 minutes, but it was worth it. Get a few bags of the Garrett Mix to eat right away and to bring home – you won’t regret it.