After a couple of weeks of rest, we travelled to Amsterdam for a long weekend in January to celebrate my birthday. Of the cities we have visited so far, this has been my favorite. Not because of the legal pot and hookers (I turned 38, not 22), but because its grey, gloomy weirdness (not to mention all the hippies on bicycles) reminded me a lot of Portland. Some highlights:
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.
This sort of breaks up the chronology I was going for in my European travel journal. I hadn’t yet finished my chronicles of Christmas vacation with the parents, mainly because there are still 7 million photos of that adventure I need to review and organize. However, my birthday present from my partner this year was a weekend in Amsterdam, and it is pretty damn amazing here. So I had to go ahead and write something.