I have ALWAYS wanted to visit London and so when Ryan and I were discussing our upcoming 15th wedding anniversary we chatted about heading “over the pond!” I was so excited when the details of the trip started coming together, and we found we had time to also visit Paris.
Together we planned every thing online with the help of friends who have visited before us, google, Airbnb, hotels.com, and instagram! I had a list of “must-sees” and started plotting the course for the most productive days possible to see as much of the cities and the history as we could.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about our first four days in London:
What Airline did you use? Virigin Atlantic! It was great, smooth ride, and a quick 6.25 hours from Boston. The perks included headphones, pillows, blankets, movies, and three snacks and one meal!
Where did you stay? We used Airbnb to find a cute little apartment right on Buckingham Gate (the same street as Buckingham Palace). It was conveniently placed in a small square with cute restaurants and a great little coffee/breakfast spot.
How did you get around the city? We used the underground almost exclusively. Ryan was a pro with the map and we only had a few mishaps. We also took the underground to Windsor.
How did you get to Paris? We took Eurostar and LOVED it! At 226 km/hr we were on the fast train to the City of Love. Couldn’t ask for a more efficient or smoother ride. Our tickets were midday and very affordable.
How was the food? Let’s be honest – I was really there FOR THE FOOD! We loved everything and visited Chinatown, Camden Market, Borough Market, and had amazing reservations at Dishoom and Sketch. All the food we had was top notch and the TEA was all that it is talked up to be. Our favorite treat the whole time though was fried Halloumi Cheese!
We have sooo many more photos from our phones, but enjoy these “big camera” shots!
Yes of course we had to ride a double decker bus and also visit Abby Road, where the Beatles recorded their iconic first album.
One major highlight for me was our Photo Tour walk with a local photographer. He took photos of us at beautiful spots all around the city and showed us sights we may otherwise wouldn’t have seen, like this view of the city!
We headed to Windsor on Saturday and going inside this palace was un real! We saw so many amazing things, but no cameras were allowed. I did sneak a few shots when we stood in the same spot where Meghan and Harry were married, oops!
Of course I hired a photographer! This experience was really amazing! It was a suggested booking through Airbnb and very affordable. This tour included a 3 miles walk of the city while a photographer stopped to take photos of you. We were in a group of four people who were all being photographed and it was so nice to chat with them. The photographer was an absolute professional, friendly, and creative, and I highly recommend anyone to him. Check out his work here!
On this tour we saw St. Pauls Cathedral, many other modern areas of London, The Bank of London, a famous market as seen in Harry Potter, and we ended at Tower Bridge.
After four days in London, we headed to the “City of Love” on the fast train! What a wonderful experience, other than almost being late for the train. It’s very similar to taking a flight, dealing with customs and baggage. We rushed to make it and then relaxed for a quick ride under the English Channel and in 2.25 hours we were staring at the Eiffel Tower. I couldn’t believe the view when we came above ground and no matter where we looked – we saw that stunning edifice.
Our boutique hotel was right in the shadow of the tower and in the perfect location to see so many other amazing sites.
After arriving and dropping off our bags we hit the streets to see as much as we could! Our first stop was a little out of the way, a cafe for coffee and the most delicious pastries I’ve ever eaten! YES, the food in Paris is everything you think it would be and more!
How did you get around Paris? We walked about 10 miles per day in Paris, to see as much as we could see and just enjoy the sites. Every street is beautiful!! We also took the Metro and it is very easy to use and understand, even easier than London’s transit.
What was your favorite meal there? We ate at a place recommended by some of our American friends who visited. It was located in the Montemarte area and was unreal! Le Coq Rico. However, the best thing I ate the entire time was a raspberry tart and I would fly there tomorrow just to get another one…so that’s sayin’ something.
Your most memorable moments? I would have to say strolling in the rain dressed to impress at 7 a.m. It felt like we were the only ones in the city as we strolled to our photo shoot with “Paris OK Photo” for a sunrise session. The other time I will never forget it immediately walking out of the subway to see the Eiffel Tower looming above us…it was a wow moment for sure! Another timely and exciting memory was being able to see our son’s band director perform in front of the Eiffel Tower. She was there with a group of American musicians performing in honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It’s a small world after all!
Where did you stay? We stayed at the Hotel Eiffel Siene, right on the Seine River in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. It was the cutest boutique hotel and very resonably priced for a large room. We loved the location and would stay here again. We found this gem on Hotels.com
Anything you’d do differently? We’d find another source of caffeine…the coffee there is terrible. Even at Starbucks it tasted like dirt…not good.
Our first touristy stop was the Arch De Triumph. – WHAT AMAZING VIEWS!
This next photo is of us…I didn’t care that we aren’t in focus, I wanted to remember this beautiful street. It was probably the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. The light, the glow, the vibe….WOW!
Seeing the Tower at night was breathtaking!
After the most perfect start to our trip, we started our second day the break of dawn for a photo session at the Trocadero. I found Olga and Killgri on instagram by searching for a photographer. Their work stood out to me because it was so lively, beautiful and romantic. I was so excited to find them and as a tip, be sure to reach out about 2 months for a photographer when you’re traveling. Its the best way to secure your dream photographer. You can find their work at @paris_okphoto www.okparisphoto.com
What was supposed to be a “relaxing day” to save our feet, ended up being the day we walked the most! After seeing the ruins of Notre Dam, and touring the Sainte Chappel we saw more famous sites. Then, thanks to a recommendation by a local waiter, we travelled to the Palace of Versallies!
Yes, by the time we got Versailles our feet were killing us…also Ryan is an instagram model in case you didn’t know.
The Palais Royal was so modern and unique. My hubs is also amazing for climbing up…beast mode. I obviously chose a much shorter stand, hahah!
Our last view…
The last two days of vacation were spent back in London, but we stayed at the Nadler Hotel in Soho! This spot was much more trendy and busy than the quiet streets of our first Airbnb.
We took time to see the crown jewels and visit the Tower of London. That was such a fun experience. We also visited the British Museum, shopped and relaxed, (camera free for a few hours )! Our last day and a half there was perfect. We wrapped up our trip nicely and were ready to come home, refreshed and relaxed.
I hope we are only saying “See you Later” to both of these beautiful cities. Our phones are filled with more photos than these and our hearts are filled with memories we’ll never forget. We both agreed it was the best vacation we had ever been on. Our 15th anniversary will not soon be forgotten and we are so thankful we took the leap to visit Europe!
Until we venture across the pond again, I’ll forever have these photo memories and that’s the only souvenir I really ever need!
Thanks for following along on our journey! – Allie & Ryan