Europe/UK Sep’17: 2 Days In Prague – Prague Castle, Charles Bridge (Day 2)

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Day 2 of Prague!

We unfortunately woke up to rather gloomy weather – I had initially planned on doing a road trip out to Bohemian Switzerland National Park (don’t be fooled by its name – It’s a national park in the Czech Republic and has nothing to do with Switzerland) but scrapped that idea due to the bad weather ;( Instead, I decided to book another SANDEMANs tour – This time round it was the Prague Castle Tour!

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Had breakfast at our hotel, Art Deco Imperial Hotel before we headed out to the meeting point for our tour.

Exploring Prague Castle

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Fun fact: The Prague Castle complex is enormous, with an area totaling of 753,474 square feet. That makes it the largest ancient castle in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

The Prague Castle was founded in the 9th century and became the seat of Czech rulers and later presidents. There’s sooo much history in the whole of the Prague Castle complex – I’m not going to go into so much detail because you need to experience it yourself! That, and I’m not that great a historian. Hahaha.

We did get lots of interesting tidbits and facts from our guide though, which I really think is a fantastic way to learn more about Prague Castle instead of just wandering about by ourselves and not knowing what we were looking at around us.

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Our first sight of the St Vitus within the Prague Castle complex!

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Every hour, the changing of guards by the castle gates happens. You should have seen the number of cameras and mobile phones pointed at the guards, while they ignored the onlooking crowd with great aplomb and professionalism.

St Vitus Cathedral

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The St Vitus Cathedral is one of the most breathtaking examples of Gothic architecture that I’ve ever seen! It is the biggest church in Prague and home to the tombs of Bohemian kings as well as the crown jewels. Can you imagine that the construction took nearly 600 years?! It was finally completed in 1929.

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The beautiful interior with its high Gothic vaulting.

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I love the incredible stained-glass windows!

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The Last Judgment Mosaic
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The guide explained a whole bunch to us about this mosaic, but you should just google it and read up on it, or better still, visit Prague to take a look at this huge masterpiece! According to our guide, it is one of the last few authentic artifacts still publicly displayed in Prague, as many other original artifacts have either been replaced with replicas over the course of time and damage.

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The Golden Lane

Also visited the Golden Lane, the smallest street in Prague that is aglued literally to the walls of the Castle. It is so famously named for the alchemists who lived here in the 1800s. This tiny street between the Bílá Tower and the Daliborka Tower is lined with colourful houses, and it’s also known for housing writer Franz Kafka, who lived in house no.22 for approximately two years between 1916 and 1917.

(It was super crowded at the Golden Lane – Now mostly little souvenir shops, galleries and other touristy stuff)

View from the South Gardens
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We ended off the walking tour at the South Gardens, where you get a magnificent view of Prague! It was a little gloomy that day due to the drizzly weather, but still, WOW. Check out that landscape.

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We walked our way back to the other side of Prague, across the river!

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Charles Bridge
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Of course, nobody goes to Prague without walking through Charles Bridge. Did you know that the bridge (construction ended in 1402) was “glued” together with a mortar that contained egg yolks?! Yep, not even kidding.

Calcic mortar from the 14th century was scanned by scientists who verified that there are egg proteins in it!

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We were so lucky as to catch a beautiful rainbow during sunset as we crossed the bridge… 🙂 It was a stunning sight.

Dinner at Next Door By Imperial
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If you read my first Prague post, I was raving about Cafe Imperial and Next Door By Imperial! We liked it SO much that we went back to Next Door by Imperial for our third (and last) dinner in Prague.

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As with our previous experiences, the food at Next Door by Imperial was delicious and hearty, and reasonably affordable too!

Highly recommend you try out Next Door by Imperial and Cafe Imperial, should you be in Prague.

We departed Prague the very next morning, driving all the way to Berlin Airport to catch our flight departing from Berlin to London. I enjoyed the short time in Prague, immensely, and I do feel that I didn’t have enough time to explore other nearby areas in the Czech Republic, which you might be keen to check out!

You might want to visit the local farmer’s markets, take a day trip to Terezin Concentration Camp or even hike at Bohemian Switzerland for a taste of the wilderness!

With that, I end my Prague travelogues here. Europe is just amazing, isnt it? 🙂

 

Europe/UK Sep’17

EUROPE/UK SEP’17: 2 DAYS IN PRAGUE – AN INTRODUCTION TO PRAGUE (DAY 1)
FRASER SUITES QUEENS GATE, LONDON – I LOVE SERVICED APARTMENTS
HOTEL DU VIN WIMBLEDON, LONDON – NOT JUST TENNIS
MALMAISON OXFORD – A LUXURIOUS PRISON STAY
CAPRI BY FRASER BERLIN – EXPLORING BERLIN

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DBS Multi-Currency Account: How to save on online shopping!

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Hello there, all you 24/7 shopaholics! Yes you, right there, browsing this on your mobile device/laptop. Don’t you just love online shopping? I do! Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I no longer have to to step out of home to shop, nor have to worry about opening/closing hours, long queues at the cashier, or jostling with crowds of fellow shoppers.

Yes, online shopping is my paradise!

But you know what I hate the most about online shopping? Poor foreign currency exchange rates and sky-high conversion fees on my shopping purchases.. It’s practically daylight robbery!

Well, not anymore, with the DBS Multi-Currency Account!

 

DBS Multi-Currency Account

All you need is a DBS Visa Debit Card linked to a DBS Multi-Currency Account (MCA), and you’ll no longer need to fuss over foreign exchange (FX) fees and conversion charges for cross-border payments – you could potentially save between 2.5% to 15% of forex fees and Dynamic Currency Conversion charges with your DBS MCA!

 

How It Works

Your MCA can hold a total of 12 different currencies:

The 12 foreign currencies are Australian Dollar (AUD), Canadian Dollar (CAD), Euro (EUR), Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), Japanese Yen (JPY), New Zealand Dollar (NZD), Norwegian Kroner (NOK), Sterling Pound (GBP), Swedish Kroner (SEK), Thai Baht (THB), US Dollar (USD) and CNH (Renminbi).

Note: CNH (Renminbi) is not available for direct Visa Debit payments as it is a restricted currency.

With your DBS MCA,  you can convenient buy your preferred foreign currency online via DBS iBanking or mBanking: There is no waiting or processing time, it’s as simple as making a funds transfer!

That means that you can purchase foreign currencies at the most favorable rates, then locking in your foreign currencies at the price you bought it at.

Tip: You can even set alerts on your DBS mobile app (Digibank) to to receive alerts on the rates you want! Just set your ideal currency and preferred rate on digibank and you’ll receive a notification when that rate becomes available.

Once the FX rate is in your favour, you can scoop up as much currency as you want at the price you want at the rate you’re after!

With these foreign currencies held in your DBS MCA, you can then transact directly in foreign currency with your MCA-linked DBS Visa Debit Card!

 

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One of my favourite online stores, Shopbop only transacts in USD. By holding USD in my DBS MCA, I can save so much more! (See how an item that costs $105 USD converts to roughly $141 SGD with the present foreign currency exchange rates? That works out to be a conversion rate of about SGD 1 = USD 1.343. If I’d purchased my USD at its lowest of SGD 1 = USD 1.3, I would potentially save a significant amount just on one purchase!)

The foreign currency transaction will then be directly debited from the foreign currency funds into your MCA. E.g. USD105 spent = USD105 debited from the account with no extra fees!)

I also frequent many Australian labels, such as this one: Sheike. The AUD/SGD is currently at an all-time low so it’s the perfect time to stock up on my Australian currency to hold it in my DBS MCA!

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For instance, look at how this purchase from Australian website, Sheike previously cost me $288.53 SGD after conversion from $267 AUD at a rate of 1 SGD = 0.925385 AUD at the time of purchase.

The current SGD/AUD is only 1 SGD = 0.99 AUD, which would mean that a future purchase like this could potentially only cost me $269.70 SGD instead of $288.53 SGD if I lock in my SGD/AUD rates now!!

Furthermore, banks would convert AUD to USD, before we are charged with the final SGD rates. This double conversion means we would have to pay conversion fees twice, which could be prevented with MCA.

Online shopping just got a whole lot better and so much more convenient. Now, I no longer have to fret over fluctuating foreign currency exchange rates or high conversion charges!

 

Other Perks of the DBS MCA

Just so you know.. The DBS MCA isn’t only good for online shopping – You can even do SAME DAY TRANSFER of funds online from your MCA at zero or lower fees to countries such as Australia, USA and more!

When you’re overseas, you can also save money by buying your foreign currencies via iBanking or mBanking conveniently and at favourable rates, then pay using your MCA-linked DBS Visa Debit Card.

You won’t have to bear any foreign exchange conversion fees ever again as foreign currency funds will be directly debited for your overseas purchases, or worry about carrying huge amounts of cash in foreign currencies on you! You can also check your transactions and balances on-the-go via mBanking, no matter where you are.

With no conversion fees or extra charges, say goodbye to queuing at money changers, searching for the best exchange rates, and foreign currency charges on online shopping or overseas spend – and hello to more time and money saved!

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For me, the number one perk is still… ONLINE SHOPPING. Yay to cheaper online shopping, and more substantial savings with my DBS MCA!

 

Sign up for free today!

If you want to start saving with the DBS MCA, simply pop over to DBS’s website to apply today!

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For Existing POSB / DBS customers:

Do it instantly online. Log into your DBS iBanking > select Apply > Deposit Accounts > DBS eMulti-Currency Autosave Account

Note: Remember to apply for the DBS Visa Debit Card separately if you don’t already have it! Link it to your MCA account so that it becomes your primary debiting account when you use the card.

For New DBS customers:

You can apply online for free as well and the DBS Visa Debit Card comes automatically with the account!

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Go forth and start saving on foreign currency spending with the DBS Multi-Currency Account today!

 

This article is sponsored by DBS Singapore; all opinions are of my own.

Terms & Conditions apply. Insured up to S$50k by SDIC.

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Diner En Blanc Singapore 2018

Have you heard of Diner En Blanc?

“Imagine white tables and people dressed in white around them, eating a gourmet dinner, under the fading summer light.

No one knows where it will take place until the last minute and afterwards a casual passerby will have no hint of the splendor of the occasion past. This will be the privilege reserved in the memories of those who formed part of the occasion.

And so starts the mysterious “Dinner in White” or Diner en Blanc (because it’s a French tradition), a global dining event that despite the veil of secrecy shrouding it, spreads to more cities every year on its way to becoming an international phenomenon.”

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Our first taste of Diner En Blanc started out humid, hot and sticky: We arrived at the clandestine meeting spot at 5PM (Tiong Bahru) and started making wild guesses on where the secret location of Diner En Blanc would be held. Would it be Sentosa..? Or maybe Marina Barrage?

The waiting grew long as we stood around in our all white outfits, perspiration trickling down my navel and gluing down strands of fly-away hair to my sticky, warm skin. I was having second thoughts about “dressing to the nines” as was instructed in the email. Would I feel like I was sticking out like a sore white thumb in my full-length white lace ensemble? Decided to screw it because hey, when would I get another opportunity to dress up in this outfit again? Of course, I was mildly comforted by fellow OTT dressers around me, seemed like I wasn’t the only one who decided to dress up. Heh.

Guests wandered over even as we were forty minutes into the wait, and I bemoaned the sweltering heat that was so thick it seemed to shimmer in the air.

Thank god for the fully air-conditioned coaches that finally arrived close to 6PM – I also made a mental note to myself not to arrive so on-the-dot for the next dinner soirée. We piled onboard our coach, sighing in relief with the rush of cool air that hit us and lifted our spirits slightly.

The sun started setting as the coach meandered through the evening traffic, reflecting off our faces with an orange glow as we chattered in low voices. At long last, we’d arrived. The Singapore Flyer!

It was a gorgeous sight as we stepped into view of the wide expanse next to the Flyer. White tables filled the space as people ambled about, setting up the tables with plates, trays of food, drinks and even fairy lights!

The atmosphere got dampened when fat drops of rainwater started falling upon us and sent us abruptly scattering for shelter under the nearest building. It was a comical sight, dinner guests dressed in their best whites scurrying in panic, some (myself included) using table napkins as a makeshift umbrella while others stumbling gingerly in their high-heeled shoes. Why, oh why, did the rain have to come just as we’d arrived, we lamented.

We stayed optimistic and our optimism paid off when the rain started letting up fifteen minutes later!

The dinner party got started with a rousing wave of our white napkins and loud cheers as we wiped down the damp tables and chairs, tucking in with glee into the food we’d brought and laid out before us on the table.

I am a shitty cook, but that’s what I invited my best chef friend, Jessica, for! She prepared a spread for our dinner: cold tomato soup, little slices of bruschetta, meatballs and mash, and grilled salmon with aglio olio!

Over our home-cooked food and glasses of bubbly Perrier-Jouët champagne, we made friends with guests seated next to us at the long adjoining tables, taking turns to snap pictures for one another and enjoying the festive ambience. It was a sight to behold as night time fell, and the skies turned to midnight blue hues streaked with purplish pink remnants of the sunset.

Live music serenaded the 1500-strong gathering of food lovers as we ate and chatted – We were treated to music from Le Miserables, Swan Lake, and even Beethoven’s 5th Symphony!

Lithe dancers moved in sync with the music, creating poetry in motion with their ribbons of white fabric whipping through the air in fascinating twirls and swirls. Pity the sound system wasn’t able to showcase the musicians’ best due to the loud wind that drowned out the delicate strains of melodies from the instruments. It was still enjoyable nonetheless!

When our tummies were stuffed to the brim and a round of food had been offered to and fro all our fellow table guests (I tasted this AMAZING kueh salat), the night ended with a fiery display of sparklers that lit up the air and fizzled off in seconds, much like the annual Diner En Blanc and its short few hours of merrymaking and feasting that would not leave a single trace in its aftermath.

I had worried that it would be a pretentious and silly affair, but I truly ended up enjoying myself thanks to my lovely company, Jess (and the yummy food she made of course!), our friendly table neighbours, and the laudable fact that every guest had put in so much effort and thought into this pristine white dinner party, from their food, table set up to the all-white dress code.

Ostentatious? Perhaps a little so. At the end of the night though, it was clear to see how people had been brought together to enjoy an evening of gaiety and celebration. Genuine laughter and merriment was abound as guests let down their hair, gaily shared food and clinked champagne glasses together. Despite the extravagant outfits and all the crazy hassle it was to fuss over food prep, outfit picking and table setting, it was a remarkable night. For a brief moment, I truly felt like I was in the balmy summer evening of Paris and its magic.

Til the next Diner En Blanc 2019!

https://singapore.dinerenblanc.com

*Thank you Bless Inc, for inviting me as a VIF (Very Important Friend) for Diner En Blanc 2018!

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How to get really white teeth

I just completed my third session of teeth whitening at Shining Smile Singapore and boy, am I impressed with the results!

Shining Smile Singapore teeth whitening results
See this image?

Before my first teeth whitening session at Shining Smile Singapore on 18 January, I was a shade 26.

After my first session (18 January), my teeth lightened to shade 18.

After my second session (14 March), my teeth lightened to a shade 12.

After my third session (today, 17 April), my teeth are now in between shades 6/8.

That’s an improvement of over 18 shades!!! Wowwwwww. Even I was surprised to see such a significant improvement!

I’ve been receiving a lot of inquiries about the teeth whitening sessions at Shining Smile Singapore, so I’ll try to answer all your questions here!

What is the teeth whitening process at Shining Smile Singapore like?

First, you brush your teeth with a special whitening toothpaste provided by Shining Smile Singapore.

Next, you put on the mouth piece (you are given one on your first visit, subsequently, you have to bring it for the next session), and a whitening solution is applied onto your teeth via a spray bottle.

Lastly, LED light is used to activate the whitening ingredients with a special LED machine brought in from Japan!

The entire procedure is repeated twice for each teeth whitening session.

How long does each session at Shining Smile Singapore take?

Shining Smile Singapore is now offering two different courses, one is the Quick Course (for shades starting from S20) and Advance Course (for shades starting from S40 to S22). Of course, Advance Course is meant for those who need more intensive whitening on their teeth and recommended if your teeth are in between Shades 40 to 22.

Quick Course takes 30 minutes and Advance Course takes 1 hour.

Is teeth whitening at Shining Smile Singapore safe?

This is definitely a huge concern that’s on the mind of many, because of the recent saga with non-HSA approved home whitening kits like the Beautiful Teeth Whitening Kit.

According to Shining Smile Singapore, the compounds used in the teeth whitening solvent are safe for foods and cosmetics. The LED light also uses a safe wavelength – Afterall, it’s Japanese technology and anything that’s Japanese to me is good! Hahaha.

Does the teeth whitening at Shining Smile Singapore hurt or make your teeth sensitive?

The procedure itself didn’t hurt a single bit for me, I barely felt anything except for a slight warm sensation from the LED light. I did experience mild teeth sensitivity right after the procedure – there was a bit of tingling sensation in some parts of my teeth which went away in a day or so.

This is my personal experience though, and might vary from person to person.

How many sessions do I need to do to see results? Will the results last?

I saw visibly whiter teeth from the first session alone, but the results were SUPER significant after three sessions done over the course of four months, as I’ve shared above!

However, due to the nature of tooth yellowing, no whitening method is ever going to be permanent. Different peoples’ teeth will yellow at different rates, but this will be sped up by lifestyle factors and genetic disposition.

For example, if you take a lot of coffee/tea or if you smoke, the whitening effect will definitely not last as long as without. I don’t smoke, but I do drink tea and coffee on occasion. My teeth are definitely still much whiter than they used to be previously!

How much does it cost?

For first-timers at Shining Smile Singapore, you can quote my name YINA for a special trial price of $120!

The next appointment within one month of your first session will cost either $100 (for Quick Course) or $140 (for Advance Course).

Subsequently, every maintenance session (after one month) will cost $180 each. Maintenance sessions are recommended every 1-2 months for optimal results.

This is how white my teeth are after just three sessions at Shining Smile Singapore! I didn’t photoshop or filter the color of my teeth, I swear.

Also, my Japanese therapist Aimee is so pretty AND she has got the whitest teeth and prettiest smile I’ve ever seen. I think I’ve got a bit of a girl crush on her! 😍

In conclusion

I am super super super pleased with the results of my teeth whitening sessions at Shining Smile Singapore!

Quick, fuss-free and most important of all, my teeth are so much whiter now! I think the results speak for themselves. 10/10 highly recommend!

Shining Smile Singapore is located at
#03-23 Oxley Tower, 138 Robinson Road
Singapore 068906

To inquire or make a booking: ☎️+65 96578463 (WhatsApp or SMS)

If you’ve got any questions still, feel free to leave a comment – I’ll do my best to answer!

*I was sponsored teeth whitening sessions by Shining Smile Singapore but was not paid to advertise for them!

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My first H bag

Dear Diary, I can’t believe I actually bought my first Hermes bag! 😍 And it is so gorgeous, I really fell straight in love with it.

Meet my Hermes Lindy 26 y’all! To be honest, I fell in love with it the moment I set eyes on it, and fell harder once I tried it on my arm.

I’m not huge on branded bags – I love a pretty bag, but I’m not crazy crazy over bags because bags are an expensive hobby, and I don’t feel like I earn enough to be able to make shelling out thousands of dollars for a bag a regular habit.

My favourite brand is actually Chanel, but I don’t even own a brand new Chanel because I just can’t bear to! I have two vintage Chanels that I love and bought at very good prices – I think my vintage Chanel flap was under 3k if I remember right. I’d take a vintage Chanel over a new model any day because I find the vintage styles so much prettier and classier on me!

Back to Hermes: I’ve always known that my first Hermes would be a Lindy. Amongst all the classic Hermes designs, the Lindy is my favourite, and although it might not be as well-sought-after or have as high a resale value as a Birkin or Kelly, I find the Lindy the most practical and versatile. It is roomy, easy to carry and can be put to daily use if you choose to do so!

I also feel that the Lindy suits me best, and while I would hope to own a good-looking Kelly or Birkin one day, I haven’t found one that I’ve fallen in lust with, yet.

There are many ladies who own plenty of Hermes bags and probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid at a Lindy, but it is the most expensive bag purchase of my life so far and I feel like every dollar that I paid for this precious baby is hard-earned! It is both a reward to myself as well as a reminder to keep working harder.

I don’t foresee myself investing in the next H bag after the Lindy for at least a few good years, but I may very well be wrong, who knows? Hahaha.

My Lindy is a 26 in this gorgeous shade of electric blue and has a matte nilo (niloticus crocodile skin) strap with clemence leather on its body. It came brand new in box from Luxlexicon, which carries both brand new and pre-loved Hermes bags in Singapore.

I ended up paying quite a premium due to the croc leather strap, but my heart was sold. It is exactly the color and size I was after, and the croc leather strap makes it a little more unique than a regular Lindy. It is just beautiful.

I also tried on this very classic red Lindy 30, but it didn’t speak to my heart the way the 26 did. Somehow felt a little too big and slouchy for me, yes?

First orange box of my life! 😍

Check out that pretty matte nilo leather on the strap. I generally wouldn’t go for full matte nilo leather because I think it would be that much harder to carry off, but just a little accent like this works perfectly for me.

Now, should I also invest in twillies to wrap up my bag straps in…?

Purchasing from LuxLexicon

For the ladies thinking of purchasing an H bag locally, Luxlexicon’s selection is incredible! So much eye candy in one shop.

This sunshine yellow Birkin that I tried on could change my mind about owning a Birkin – It’s so cute.

I’m also absolutely sure that you don’t need to worry a single bit about authenticity at Luxlexicon, all of their bags are 100% authentic. Flo (the owner of Luxlexicon) has such a passion for Hermes and it’s apparent from her knowledge and expertise in every single bag they carry.

Disclaimer: I paid full price for this baby and had a very good experience, this is not me advertising for Luxlexicon!

I find their prices generally very reasonable, especially the pre-loved bags – You also get a better price if you pay by cash/bank transfer as opposed to card. (I chose to pay by card because, MILES. Haha)

Thank you Flo and Jay for the wonderful service, and for reserving this beauty for me – I didn’t bring my card out and had to come back the next day for it. 😍

My brand new Lindy comes with its box, original receipt, dust bag, shopping bag and even the “raincoat” (yes, apparently some bags come with protective plastic covers for when it rains).

I also purchased a felt organizer insert from LuxLexicon for $70 – To help protect the base of my new baby from scratches and to keep it in shape too! Hopefully, I can take good care of my Lindy, because I have to admit, I put my bags through some hard use and don’t care for them well at all.

I think I might send my new Lindy to DrBags first to do a protective HP coating, it’s supposed to guard against moisture, fungus, discolorization and oxidization for up to 8 months.

Now, I can’t wait for the first opportunity for me to bring my Lindy out. Yay! May it serve me well for many good years to come!

What do you think of my new Lindy? 🤗

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