We arrived back in Luxembourg City 27 December, eager to relax but also to allow my parents to experience the city where we actually live. The Christmas Market was still active in City Center, we wanted to try another bus tour, my parents wanted to see some of the old churches, and we wanted to check out the Museum of Art and History. We were disappointed that the Casemates du Bock were not open to the public in the winter, but ended up stumbling upon them anyway. The next week was considerably more laid back and less frenetic, but just as enjoyable as the trips to London and Paris.
Those who spread the nasty rumor about the French being rude have either never been to France, or went with an entitled, customer-is-always-right American attitude. If you have that sort of a chip on your shoulder and expect to have your ass kissed when you walk into a restaurant or a shop, you will probably be met with some hostility. If you respect that you’re in a new place and behave in a humble and civilized manner, you will have no problems at all in Paris. I found both the city and the people wonderful…except for a few cab drivers. But that seems to be a problem with cab drivers worldwide and not indicative of Parisians in general, no?
We arrived in London the evening of Thursday, 20 December, a bit worn out from the long train ride. We managed to transform our enthusiasm for being in a new city into just enough energy to make it to the hotel and head out for dinner. We picked a fairly touristy location for our stay (Tower Hotel), but overall we were all pleased with the hotel. It was moderately priced, accessible to many of the spots we wanted to see, the rooms were spacious enough and clean, the hotel staff was friendly and helpful, and the views were pretty amazing. The hotel is situated right on the Thames near the Tower Bridge. My parents had the above view from their room.
As our original plans to visit relatives in the US before departing for Europe fell through, I thought it would be nice to have my parents here for the Christmas season. Originally, we had only planned to take them to Paris for a few days around Christmas, but then there was also a pressing matter with my residence approval.
The approval had not come through yet when I left San Francisco, meaning the date on my passport stamp upon entering Luxembourg came before the approval. When declaring my arrival for my residence card, the date of entry into Luxembourg had to come after the approval. I realize that is convoluted and confusing, so suffice it to say I had to leave and re-enter the Schengen Area after my approval came through. This meant we had the fortunate bonus of adding London to our trip, as the UK is not a part of the Schengen Area.
NOTE: This was my first time visiting these countries (as was also the case with my partner and parents), so much of the experience includes tour buses and obvious tourist destinations. Despite what the snobs may think, I found it an entirely acceptable way to experience a city for the first time.