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.

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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!

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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.

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This is the suspension bridge with the waterfall below

 

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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.

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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!

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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.
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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.