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You guys got to hear all about Hogsmeade last week, so now it’s time for Diagon Alley. First of all, I have to give the Universal people serious props when it comes to giving you the most “realistic” experience possible. After a short train ride from Hogsmeade, you find yourself exiting the wizarding world and into modern day London. Granted, the Knight Bus is parked right outside the station, but as we all know, muggles can’t see it anyway so it isn’t like it matters. From there, you walk down the street past a record shop and what I believe is a book store and then you make your way into what looks like, to me at least, a nondescript public restroom alcove. Duck around the corner, and you’ll find yourself in Diagon Alley.
As you enter, you’ll notice the Leaky Cauldron to your left and Weasley Wizard Wheezes on your right. Straight ahead will be Gringotts Bank; just look for the dragon, it’s hard to miss. Depending on how he is feeling that day, the dragon may or may not be sending a plume of flames onto the streets below every 10-15 minutes, just for funsies. Head down the way to your right and find yourself in the right place for a tasty brew or a sweet treat or two, even though it’s still no Honeydukes. Watch out for the fountain though; sometimes it likes to spit at passersby. Talk about resting bitch-face, right? Okay, now I have to warn you about something. Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour is super dangerous. We tried the Earl Grey & Lavender ice cream the first day, and we had to go back every single day we were there. We even got one to eat as we were walking out of the park. I feel like no other ice cream is ever going to be as good. Seriously, I have three pints in the freezer right now, and when I see them, it’s like “why bother?”
Also dangerous, and not pictured, are the damn Pygmy Puffs. Those fluffy balls of pink or purple made the cutest little coo-ing noises, and Andy had to physically make me leave the store because I was getting upset about not being able to take them all home. What if I picked the wrong one? What if one of them was broken and couldn’t find a loving home? I couldn’t pick between the colors, that would be racist (puffist?). It was a thing. It shouldn’t have been, and looking back now I don’t even understand what happened, but standing in the pet store, I seriously almost cried over a stuffed animal. Something I missed on my first trip last year was Eternelle’s Elixirs. This stand offers chilled Pumpkin Juice, Gilly Water, and a quartet of delightful elixirs you can infuse your drinks with (I’d stick to the Gilly Water for the base since the Pumpkin Juice doesn’t mix well). I chose the elixir to induce Euphoria, I mean it is vacation after all, and my mom opted for the Fire Protection Potion, something to do with avoiding sunburns I think. Both were highly concentrated, so we only needed have an elixir each. I was only mildly impressed, but my mom went back the following day to procure two more to take home as souvenirs. We did nip down and around to Knockturn Alley to get out of the sun for a bit, but lighting is a bit dodgy and not at all conducive to photo taking. Our last big stop was Gringotts bank; we briefly considered exchanging some of our muggle money for wizarding coins (seriously, there is a set you can buy), but we ultimately decided that dollars and cents would be an easier way to pay for things once we were back in the park.
As many of you know, I recently celebrated my 25th Frienaversary with my bestie Stefanie. To commemorate this momentous occasion, we decided to do something we have talked about doing for a while: having a girls only long weekend. Our route was pretty straight forward: Wednesday night and Thursday morning, we’d be in Savannah, GA, Thursday afternoon, we’d drive to Edisto Island and spend some time at the hauntingly beautiful Botany Bay, and Thursday night thru Saturday morning, we’d explore Charleston, SC. There were a lot of pictures taken, so to make things a little more manageable, I’ve divided the different parts of the trip into three separate posts, starting with Savannah, GA.
You can’t start a trip like this without a selfie, it would just be wrong. The first place we stayed was right across the street from the largest green space in the historic downtown, Forsyth Park. It turns out that our hosts also had a fluffy black cat named Perf, who instantly became our friend and hung out in our room for a while on Wednesday night. This wildly popular park has been featured in quite a few movies and is just as popular with the locals as it is with tourists. There are not only wonderful windy paths draped with the traditional wisps of silvery moss, there is an amphitheater, a cafe, monuments, a fountain, and a fragrant garden which is located at the heart of the park. The fountain is one of the most iconic images of Savannah; you’ll find it on all manner of merchandise and almost all travel brochures. In all the years I’ve been visiting, there has always been at least one couple getting their pictures professional taken in front of the swans and mermen. Thursday morning we spent a few hours wandering around the historic district, admiring the architecture, and walking along the river. Savannah has some of the best shopping, providing a mixture of local merchants, luxury goods, and more touristy merchandise that guarantees to have a little something for everyone. Before heading back to the car, we had a fancy water break at a cafe located in on of my favorite shops The Paris Market. They were one of the first places I ever had infused water, and the beautiful shop always has some cool quirky item that I never knew I needed. It was pretty much the perfect way to wrap up our stay in my favorite southern city.