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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

The oldest historical site in Delhi

The street in front of the Red Fort is one of the most chaotic streets I have ever seen. This was because the Red Fort is probably one of the most famous tourist sites in Delhi. I went there a couple months ago, and the area out front was loud and a little chaotic. The taxi had dropped my dad, my brother and I on the opposite side of the street which meant that we had to cross the extremely busy street to get into the Red Fort. Indian streets are usually very crowded and busy, but this street, being in front of one the oldest historical sites in Delhi, was especially so. And because of that, we not only had to dodge the many vehicles quickly driving toward us, we also had to deal with the many rickshaw wallas (guys who drive the rickshaws) and salesmen. And on top of all that, Dad also warned us that pickpockets were also very active there. I wasn’t feeling very well at the time either, so that made it even more difficult. When we finally made it across, Dad then had to find out where the driver of the second taxi had dropped off Mom and our Indian friends Dilara and her children Sultana and Shahanur. Those first few minutes at Lal Qila (Red Fort in Hindi) were definitely very tumultuous.

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When we had bought tickets, we walked through the giant door and then proceeded down the long lane of stalls selling souvenirs like scarves, jewelry, toys, magnets, and even little snow globes! After that, there was a large white gate you walked through to enter the area with the gardens and palaces. The back of it was a brownish red color.

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The part past that gate wasn’t quite what I expected. I guess what I thought there would be lots of beautiful palaces right inside the gate, but my mom and dad told me that they were farther into the fort. Another thing that surprised me was how big some of the fountains were. I’m at least 5’5, and I think that if I stood up on the bottom of the fountain, the walls might have either been close to my height, or above it. However, the depth of the fountains wasn’t the only way they were huge. They were also really long and really wide. The emperor must have been really fond of huge fountains.

2017 12 28 11 51 10 HDRThe first pavilion we came across was one of the largest, and in my opinion the prettiest, because while the others were pretty much all made out of marble or some other type of white stone and were all similarly designed, this one was built from a red type of stone and was different from all the others. The rows of columns were intricately carved, and in the middle of the pavilion there was a large display surrounded by plastic walls. However, the plastic walls were slightly dirty, so I wasn’t able to see what was inside the walls.

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The others were pretty much all alike, meaning they were all white, except for one other one, and they were all carved with similar looking designs. A lot of the pavilions and even the white gate had flowers carved into the walls or pillars.

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The other red colored pavilion I mentioned was among the other white pavilions and looked like there had once been a fountain where the building was standing. It was smaller than all the others, and closer to the palaces too.

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We never actually got to see the palaces, we left before we saw them, but the rest of the fort was really cool. Another cool part is that in front of every building, there was a sign that explained what it was and when it was built. I learned a lot about the history of the Lal Qila. If you like history, then you will definitely like the oldest historical site in delhi.

Lucerne, city of Mount Pilatus

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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.

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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.

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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.

Nizammuddin’s busiest market

Just down the street from our house is a neighborhood known as the Nizamuddin Basti, which is a very large and crowded neighborhood.Like many small neighborhoods in Delhi and India as well, animals wander freely, motorbikes speed past with just a loud horn blast for a warning and at all times noises and various smells fill the air. When I go with my mom sometimes I have to pay very close attention so I don’t lose sight of her among all the people rushing around, even if she is one tall white person among hundreds of smaller, dark skinned people.

Here is a picture of some cows, goats, and a boy in front of some houses in the basti 

 Every Monday in this neighborhood is a market that is famous in Delhi and is commonly known just Peer Baazaar or Monday Market. One can buy everything from bangles and bras to diapers and dishes, and of course prices are always negotiable.
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This is the basti on Monday

People are everywhere, and stalls are flooded with wares everywhere you look. The air is full of people shouting, people either buying or selling, you are being shoved and pushed from all sides, and everything is bright and colorful. Including the people.

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Here are some people in front of a bangle stand 

Sometimes the market is less crowded, but if it is, then it is either early in the morning when it is just opening, or a holiday. Other than that, there is probably no other time when Monday Market is not filled to the brim with people.

 

Sound like a place you want to visit? It goes without saying that it is very different from Amsterdam or Innsbruck or some of the other places I’ve written about.  It is crowded, noisy, and you do need to pay attention as you walk, both to the ground and in front of you, however the fact that it is probably not like any other place you’ve visited or seen makes it even more special. The basti is a place all it’s own.

Delhi’s park of animals

Delhi’s National Zoological Park is a fun place to go for families. Delhi’s zoo has a white tiger, reptiles, and even a crocodile! I visited this huge zoo with my family, and it was really fun. We looked at the white tiger pacing in its enclosure, a crocodile lounging in the sun, and some monkeys laughing and swinging in their cage. My sister loved it. And if you look around the zoo, you might also be lucky enough to get a glimpse of some peacocks. These beautiful birds wander freely around the zoo, and are very pretty to look at.
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These are some of the hippos we saw

A couple things to remember if you visit the zoo are: First, visit in the winter. Delhi doesn’t get very cold in the winter, and it will be more fun if you are not sweating constantly. During the summer, it can get above 100 degrees, and because the zoo is so big, you’ll probably end up leaving before you can see all of it. Second, you can’t bring food in. The guards will allow water, but if you take food, they will most likely confiscate it. However, there are food and drink stalls set up all around the zoo so you can buy food and drinks. Third, if you have lighter skin, you will be stared at. Many Indians have never seen people with light skin before, so they will stare. Also, people might ask for a selfie. After a while, you will get used to it, but in the meantime, just ignore it.
A cool fact about the zoo is that you can get really close to the animals. My brother was freaked out by a leopard in its cage because he thought it was creepy that the leopard was pacing right inside the cage, up against the chainlink fence. At most of the animals’ cages, there is just a fence separating the animals and the people. At some of the more dangerous animals’ cages, there is a really deep ditch, almost like a moat except without the water, surrounding the animals’ houses. For example, the tiger’s cage had a ditch, and so did the monkeys.
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This is the rhino in it’s cage

In addition to all these cool facts, here are few more reasons why you should visit Delhi Zoo: it is very clean, and very affordable. There is no trash or litter scattered about,and many of the poorer people living in Delhi are able to come see the animals. And the zoo has animals you might not see anywhere else. For example, not many zoos have peacocks wandering around the zoo. Not many zoos have as many as ten different types of deer and gazelles either. Delhi zoo is a really fun place for families to visit, and it is definitely worth visiting. I hope you like it!

Four awesome things for families to do in Dubai

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Dubai, known for being the hometown of the tallest building in the world and the home of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is a great place for a fun vacation. There are white, sandy beaches, awesome water parks, and impressive malls as well. I recently visited this city with my family, and it might have been one of my favorite places to which we have been.
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An aerial look at Wild Wadi

One of the things I had the most fun doing was going to the water parks in Dubai. The first one we visited was Wild Wadi. It is located in central Dubai and close by to the beach, The Mall of Emirates and to several hotels. It has fast and thrilling rides as well as slow and lazy ones. There are even a couple pools where you can boogie board and possibly surf.

My favorite rides were Tantrum Alley and Burj Surj, but if you prefer more relaxed rides, you will like the Lazy River. It is important to know though that even the Lazy River has a few sections of fast and sometimes twisty slides.
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This is a performance that was being shown in the Mall of Emirates

Another fun thing we did was go to the Mall of Emirates. We went several times for dinner or just to walk around and look in stores. The stores at Mall of Emirates include a Lego store, a Toy Store, lots of clothing stores, a huge grocery store and even Ski Dubai.
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These people are standing in front of the window looking out over Ski Dubai

Another mall we went to was The Dubai Mall. It is the largest mall in the world by overall space and is full of fun things to do. There is an aquarium, skating rink and of course an amazing view of the Burj Khalifa. If you happen to visit in the evening you will not want to miss The Dubai Fountain, which even hosts a light show from 6-11pm nightly.
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This is one of the tanks you can look at from outside the aquarium

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These people are watching the fountain show from the balcony at Dubai Mall

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This is the top of the Burj Khalifa from the balcony at Dubai Mall

 Finally, there are many tours you can take of the city.  This is a great option for families because it takes you to a lot of different places around Dubai and you also learn a lot about the history of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.
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This souk is one of the places we stopped at on our tour

These are only a few of the things you can do in Dubai. If you are looking for great ideas for a family vacation, be sure to check out these helpful websites:

Innsbruck, the beautiful river-side city

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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?

 

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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.