Jess and I started our trip by flying out to Rome, where Alex lives. Due to a small mixup when booking our flights we ended up only being in Rome for three nights but, of course, Alex knows her way around and she made sure we saw everything.
On our first day in Rome we bought bottled water from a corner shop and the woman behind the counter took one look at us and asked Alex if we were from Northern Europe. When Alex said yes the woman told her to make sure we wore plenty of sunscreen. Clearly our paler than pale skin gave us away.
This is Alex herself drinking from the most ornate public drinking fountain I have ever seen in my life, which is at the bottom of the Spanish Steps (we stayed at the bottom. It was way too hot for climbing steps for no good reason.)
Now I don't mean to be gross but it was the kind of hot where deodorant started to become useless as we zipped around from one end of Rome to the other, visiting all the major landmarks and the neighbourhoods were Alex grew up. As beautiful as Rome is (and as much as I desperately want to go back!) I think my favourite times were the hours we spent in Alex's air conditioned apartment, eating cheese, and discussing terrible TV programs. We're simple folk.
And of course we met some "Romans". Hilariously, one of these guys happens to be related to Alex so insisted that Jess and I had to have our picture taken with them.
A few days later the three of us zipped off to Paris, all amazed that Jess and I had both managed to survive the Italian heat without sunburn, to a little Airbnb apartment in Montmartre, on the same street as the cafe from Amelie and just around the corner from the Moulin Rouge. I know, so Parisian.
Jess and I had both been to Paris before with my parents but it was Alex's first time, so I took the reins a little with planning our activities, getting way too excited about being with Alex the first time she saw the Eiffel Tower and looked out over the city from the Sacré Coeur (I know, I'm such a nerd.) I insisted that we start with the Sacré Coeur but of course had no idea where I was going so it took us a while to get there. Luckily the view is always worth trekking up those steep Montmartre streets.
We had an amazing time in Paris and completely wore ourselves out. We made the mistake of spending an entire afternoon wandering around the Louvre, which was amazing fun but definitely not the smartest idea. By the last day I think we were all dragging our feet a little, although none of the excitement was gone.
The still moments were also my favourite in Paris. Dipping our feet in the water by the Eiffel Tower, (and trying not to notice the rubbish floating at the edges) reading in the Tuileries Garden, and watching the Eiffel Tower light up and sparkle in the evening. Oh and the time when we all went crazy fuelled by caffeine and exhaustion and just buzzed around laughing at everything for hours. That was probably my favourite thing of all.
I feel like it's such a cliche to love Paris so much but I can't help it! It really is just so beautiful. I'm already trying to plan for the three of us to return there this winter because, as we all know, winter is gross, but hopefully winter in Paris will be a lot less gross.
After Paris we had to say goodbye to Alex (I'm still upset about it) and she flew back to Rome while Jess and I took the train to London and Hogwarts!
We actually stayed with family friends (one of whom happens to have been our first school teacher when we were teeny tiny) in Essex and had the most lovely, chilled out time with them when we weren't dashing into London and back.
The entire London detour was about 75% motivated by our desire to finally visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour and oh boy, was it worth it. I know that it's crazy expensive but I would still totally go again. Hopefully the second time I will cry less. Who knows.
We didn't only go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, of course, we also had a great time in Camden Market and a lovely dinner in Covent Garden (where we got free sparkling wine with our meal because of the birth of Prince George), which is quite possibly my favourite place in all of London.
There's me, on the Knight Bus, totally not pretending it's heading to Hogwarts.
And there's our names, written on entirely the wrong lock bridge in Paris. Typical us.
I hope you didn't mind this super image heavy post of me basically just reliving my holiday memories too much. Have you been to any of these places? Tell me about it in the comments! Clearly I love reminiscing about them.