Home of a royal madman

The madman I mentioned in the title was Ludwig ll, a German king who lived and ruled in Germany during the 1800’s. Nobody actually knows if Ludwig really was a madman. Some people think the other government officials just said that as an excuse to get him off the throne. Either way, during his lifetime he wasn’t very popular because he spent huge amounts of money on big projects that weren’t necessary to Germany’s economy. One of these projects was a beautiful castle named Neuschwanstein Castle.

Joemurrayphoto Fussen Germany 2017 47

This is a view of Neuschwanstein from the suspension bridge

Inside Neuschwanstein, there are beautifully carved tables, chairs, doorways, and even beds. The walls of the rooms are decorated with beautiful paintings of Jesus and his twelve disciples, forest scenes, or just random men and women eating, drinking, and laughing. Nearly every painting is bordered by miniature painted swans. The swan was a favorite animal of King Ludwig’s and can be seen all over the castle, even on some of the doorhandles! Quite a few of the doorhandles were shaped to look like swans. In one room alone, there are over fifty swans either painted on the walls, carved into door handles, or just sitting out as beautiful decorations. In each of the large rooms, there is a ceramic stove with a life size sculpture of a swan sitting on top. The king was also very fond of jewels. Most of his furniture was built with jewels involved in some way. In his dining room, even the pillars were decorated with jewels!

Joemurrayphoto Fussen Germany 2017 45

These are the towns in the valley circling Neuschwanstein

Outside of Neuschwanstein is perhaps even more beautiful than the inside. Neuschwanstein Castle is surrounded by beautiful mountains and forested hills. Right behind the castle is a river that cascades down the mountains. There is a steep trail you can walk up to a suspension bridge that overlooks the river, the castle, and the beautiful towns lying in the valley below. My family and I went in the morning and it was incredible how many people were crowded onto the bridge. We could hardly move because there were so many people. However, the view was incredible.

Joemurrayphoto Fussen Germany 2017 118

This is the suspension bridge with the waterfall below

 

Joemurrayphoto Fussen Germany 2017 105

Here is the suspension bridge from the trail.

If you are thinking about visiting this stunningly beautiful castle, then I would suggest you go in the morning. There will no doubt be many people regardless of what time you go, but we visited in the morning and found it to be much less crowded. Another reason why you might want to come in the morning is because there are horse-drawn/electric carriages that take you within a five minute walk of the castle. The carriages are pulled by horses, however the driver has controls like brakes that stop the carriage. We rode on one when we went to the castle, and we found it to be very fun. My mom, baby sister, and nanny and I all rode up front next to the driver. There are seats behind the driver where you can sit too.

Joemurrayphoto Fussen Germany 2017 147

These are some of the horses that pull the horse-drawn carriages

If you visit Neuschwanstein, I can guarantee that your afternoon (or morning) will fly. Between taking photos of the beautiful landscape, going on tours of the amazing living quarters of King Ludwig II, and souvenir shopping, there is no room to get bored. And if you do get bored at Neuschwanstein, just take a carriage back down the hill, and go see Hohenschwangau, the castle that Ludwig supposedly built for his parents. I hope you have a fun time at both castles!

Joemurrayphoto Fussen Germany 2017 98

This is a view of Hohenschwangau from up on the hill by Neuschwanstein

City of Bikes

Amsterdam is a fun city full of bikes and canals. We stayed in a small suburb named Volendam that was on the ocean. During our four day stay there, we would eat breakfast, take a walk around the neighborhood, and then go do something in nearby Amsterdam. Almost every day, for lunch or dinner and sometimes both, we  would go to one of the restaurants on the wharf. Mom almost always ordered fish and chips. Everyone else usually ordered a burger or fish and chips. After dinner, we would walk around on the wharf, look at the boats, and check out the souvenir shops.
2017-08-16 19.55.41

This is me on the wharf

One of the days we were there we went walking and discovered a small beach. My brother and I went down and started climbing around on the rocks on the beach. Sammy (my baby sister), got her feet wet, but most of the time she just stood on the sand watching the dogs nearby run around. The dogs might have been her favorite part of the beach.
2017-08-15 19.27.11

This is Sammy on the beach 

 If you ever go to Amsterdam or Volendam, I definitely recommend getting a stroopwafel. Stroopwafels are two thin waffles with caramel in between both of them. They are delicious. The stroopwafels in Holland are the best. One of the days we were there, we went to a market and got some stroopwafels. Mine was half plain, half Belgian chocolate.
2017-08-16 16.03.09

This is me about to eat a stroopwafel at a stand in the market

One of the days we were in Amsterdam we went on a fun tour of the canals. The boat we went in was a long, clear roofed boat with a audio guide. The audio guide told you about the different landmarks in Amsterdam, and about the history of the city. The audio guide told us about the different streets and the history of their names, and about the canals and the history of them and their names.
Joemurrayphoto.Amsterdam.Netherlands.2017.3

This is where you get onto the canal boats for the tours

Overall, I think that Holland my favorite country out of all of the ones that I have ever been to. If you like bikes, stroopwafels ( or waffles in general), and history, then you would probably like Amsterdam too.

Lucerne, city of Mount Pilatus

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb 199
Towering over the small town of Lucerne, is a large mountain rumored to have dragons living on the very top. This mountain, Mount Pilatus is a large tourist spot for Lucerne, Switzerland. Filled with entertainment, Mount Pilatus is accessorized with a small restaurant, an exclusive hotel, several trails to hike up and even a large balcony to watch the many people parachuting off of the top of the mountain.

The tour of Mount Pilatus was a nice way to spend our time in Lucerne. The trips up and down the mountain take quite a bit of time, however once you get up there, it’s worth it. The first part of the trip up is spent in a small four to six person gondola to a small station about halfway up the mountain. At that station, you then switch to a second and larger gondola which takes you the rest of the way up to Mount Pilatus. The weather on the day we went on the tour made it all the more interesting and entertaining. The entire top of the mountain was surrounded in so many clouds that you couldn’t see it until you were really close. We rode the gondolas up the mountain and as we were going up, we could see the clouds coming in through the open windows. We are just riding up and the entire gondola is surrounded by white. We weren’t able to see the mountain until we were really close. It was pretty cool.

Once we arrived on top of the mountain, the tour guide explained about all the different things there were to do up there including several trails, a gift shop, a small restaurant, and a large balcony that you could go and walk around on. My grandma, grandpa, mom, and baby sister headed inside to check out the gift shop and the restaurant while my dad, my brother and I decided to go hike on one of the trails called the Dragon Cave trail ( it was called this because the first part of the trail is spent walking through a long network of tunnels, and also because there is a legend that says there was once dragons living on Mount Pilatus). The hike took us about maybe twenty to thirty minutes. Because it was cloudy ( and because the top of Mount Pilatus is about 7000 feet in the air) it was really cold. My teeth were chattering about the instant we stepped outside ( I also didn’t bring a sweatshirt even though I really should have. I was dressed in shorts and a T-shirt.). We hiked all the way up to the top and stood up there for a couple minutes.

Joemurrayphoto Lucerne Switzerland 2017 12This is the network of tunnels my dad, brother and I hiked through

We waved at Mom and Sammy and my grandparents and then headed down to join them in watching the people parachute down the mountain. While we were watching the people, a man and woman went over to a wall and started playing these really long horns with designs painted on the ends.

Joemurrayphoto Lucerne Switzerland 2017 15Here is the guy playing the horn

After a few hours, the tour group headed back down the mountain by way of a train that took us to a dock. At the dock, we boarded the paddleboat that was going to take us back to Lucerne. The trip back took us at least an hour, and after that I think we were all so tired we just headed back to the hotel for a short rest before dinnertime.

2017 08 05 15 42 13Here is my family and I in the train going down the mountain

If you like mountains, hiking and being cold, then Lucerne is the place to go. It not only has all three of those things, it also had more! Like interesting buildings and history, delicious food, and ice cream. Yes, Lucerne is a definitely a good place to visit.

Innsbruck, the beautiful river-side city

Joemurrayphoto.Innsbruck.Austria.2017.38
At a glance, Innsbruck might look like a normal, modern city. However once you look deeper, you find that Innsbruck has its older areas just like any other city. In the area of the city my family and I stayed in, there were a bunch of cobble stoned streets with shops filled with souvenirs like stuffed animals, watches, Swiss Army knives, pens, shirts, hats and pretty much any other type of souvenir you can think of.

 

One type of toy that my little brother and sister thought was so funny were these little stuffed animals that will repeat back whatever you say to them. My brother would say something to it and the toy would repeat what he said back to him. My sister thought it was so funny.

 

In addition to all of the souvenir shops, there were also restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream shops, and even clothing stores. We would walk down to find a restaurant for dinner, and for dessert we would go find a ice cream store for an ice cream cone. After that, we would wander around just looking at all of the stores.

 

One day, when we were going to get dinner, I was carrying a camera, and a man walked up to us and told us to be careful because there were gypsies on the road up ahead and they might try to steal the camera. We thanked him, and continued walking. We weren’t sure what the gypsies would look like, but we soon found out. Have you ever seen people who dress and paint themselves like statues, so when you walk past them they scare you?

 

Joemurrayphoto.Innsbruck.Austria.2017.26
Well, there was a woman we walked past who was sort of doing the same thing. She just wasn’t trying to scare anyone. She was wearing a silver dress, silver gloves, she had painted her face silver too. She would just stand there on a pedestal, but when someone dropped money into the box at her feet, she would suddenly start twirling her parasol, and bowing to people as they passed. My dad took some pictures of her, but she noticed, she kind of scrunched up her face so it was harder for him to take a picture.

 

I think that maybe Innsbruck was my favorite because it wasn’t quaint and old looking, it was fun. It was fun looking through the shops at all the items they had to sell. Innsbruck is more fun than it is old. Its buildings are newer and more urban. If you are the type of person who likes older cities and tours and site seeing, then Innsbruck is not exactly the place you would want to go. However, if you love shopping, and eating ice cream, and watching gypsies do their acts, then Innsbruck is definitely the place for you.

 

Salzburg: City of music

2017-07-31 20.48.37
Salzburg is a more modern city than the others that we visited. It has a train station, unlike the other towns that we were in, and it doesn’t have nearly as many quaint looking houses or buildings. However this doesn’t mean that Salzburg doesn’t have history. In fact, Salzburg is not only famous for being the filming place of the old musical Sound of Music, but also for being the hometown of the world renowned musician and composer, Mozart.

 

Though the Sound of Music does have its fame, the Austrian musician  Mozart is perhaps even more famous. Nearly every souvenir shop you visit will have its fair share of Mozart decorated chocolates, pens, magnets, and sometimes even plates! You won’t be able to find many other souvenirs that aren’t decorated with Mozart’s face. As for landmarks, you can visit Mozart’s house and even walk on a bridge named the Mozart Bridge.

 

Set in World War ll, The Sound of Music is about a wealthy Austrian family named the Von Trapp family. Captain Von Trapp, father of seven children and a veteran of the navy, hires Maria from the abbey as a governess.  Later, Maria and the Captain fall in love, but have to escape the Germans shortly after their wedding. This romantic musical was filmed both inside the city of Salzburg, and outside. Some of the filming sites are the magnificent church in Mondsee a town outside Salzburg, Mirabella Gardens, and Nonnberg Abbey which lies on a hill above Salzburg.

 

Since Salzburg doesn’t have any breathtaking mountains nearby, the city has to settle for tourism as its main business. That doesn’t mean that Salzburg isn’t worth visiting however. It just means that you get to spend your time having fun through shopping, visiting famous landmarks around the city, and eating at some of the pretty little restaurants nestled near the river. If you do decide to visit Salzburg, I hope you have a marvelous time in this fun, touristy, city!

Rothenburg: A must see city!

Joemurrayphoto.Rothenburg.Germany.2017.10

A sunrise and the city square

Rothenburg is a quaint little German town famous for being one of the only cities not bombed by the Allies. People say the reason was because the town was a valuable resource. Personally, I think the reason is they thought it was just too pretty to blow up.

Joemurrayphoto.Rothenburg.Germany.2017.32

Every hour on the hour, the clock tolls and tourists gather to watch

I visited there three days ago, and it is the most quaint and prettiest little town I think I have ever seen. It has a large clock tower on the town square that bongs every hour, and the city hall is a brown building with columns and flowers lining the upstairs balcony. The houses are brightly colored with scalloped roofs and nearly every house has window boxes with flowers in them outside the windows. The streets are cobblestone and there is a car with open sides that takes people around the town.

Joemurrayphoto.Rothenburg.Germany.2017.31

You can find almost any kind of gift or souvenir in Rothenburg

Rothenburg has all different kinds of shops. There are shops for pastries, souvenirs, ice cream (those are the best shops in my opinion), Christmas ornaments and even ones with armor, swords, and all sorts of other medieval weapons.

Joemurrayphoto.Rothenburg.Germany.2017.61-2

Here is the woman burning my name on my piece of wood

One shop I found particularly interesting was a toy store where you get your name burned onto wooden toys or souvenirs. I chose a circle-shaped piece of wood with painted flowers on one side to have my name on.

joemurrayphoto-rothenburg-germany-2017-123.jpg

Walking the wall is a fun way to see the city from a different perspective

An ancient wall encircles the older section of Rothenburg, separating from the new part of town. The walk along the wall gives great views from above the city, there are even little holes in the wall opposite the railing on the wooden walkway where archers most likely attacked approaching enemies.

Joemurrayphoto.Rothenburg.Germany.2017.35

These cars are a great way to get around Rothenburg

If you’re planning a trip to old Germany, then you should definitely include Rothenburg as one of your stops. This beautiful, historical and old city is definitely worth visiting.