Daron, Melanie, Stephen, Kassie, and Kenny

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

3 countries in one day!

Neuschwanstein Castle: This was one of the dreamiest places to visit yet! Here’s why, from each of us:
Daron: “I got to return to my birthplace… Germany! Plus, I found out that when I was a 3-year-old, my dad took me to the Castle – even though I didn’t even know how cool it was, now I can say I’ve been twice!”
Melanie: “Driving through Switzerland, Austria, and Germany all in one day – how amazing! Plus the Bavarian cream dessert we had… it tasted like the best crème brulee ever.”
Stephen: “The castle was quite fun – it was all ‘medieval-ish’ – with knights and dragons and fables.”
Kassie: “Well, I’d say the best part was when I rode on the horse buggy and I talked to the horses. You should’ve gotten it on camera Mom – I was totally talking to them. One was Jack and the other one was Bob. They said hi – my name’s Bob and Jack. What are you doing here? I was like, I’m going to that big castle up there. They were like, hop on, we’ll take you there. Just hurry up, or you’ll miss the last tour. Then the horses were neighing so they could hurry up, but there was another wagon in front of them – when we passed it, I was like, thanks Bob and Jack. Once we got to the castle, I said thanks for the ride, and they said, no problem, anytime.” (Not sure if this all really happened, or if she’s just so excited about horses since we signed her up for horse-riding classes. This conversation might have taken place for real. I just don’t know.)
Kenny: -- no comment… it’s 10:15PM and his eyes are closed tight---
The kids were all smiling the whole horsie ride up the mountain – to get to see the real ‘Cinderella Castle’ that inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. 
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What a treat to drive into beautiful Bavaria, reading all about this amazing world-famous castle and it’s history.  Two of the most unique things about it, to me, are 1, that although it looks like a true medieval castle that was built back in the Middle Ages, it’s not; King Ludwig II built it in only 17 years (rather than the hundreds of years it took for the real medieval ones to be built) as a romantic version of medieval castles that he loved so much – so it doesn’t have all the fortifications it would’ve needed to fight against enemies of olden days. And 2, that he built it completely in honor of, and dedicated it to, Richard Wagner, the famous opera composer -- his personal friend. There isn’t one painting of Ludwig in it – every room has art, décor, and paintings based on scenes from several of Wagner’s operas, especially Tristan and Isolde and Lohengrin. Even the kids were amazed at the beautiful artwork – the wood carvings in his bedroom atop his bed and on the ceiling alone took 4 years to build – I’ve never seen anything so ornate (Stephen said – wow, he must’ve been selfish!).  Here we are walking up the stairs that only King Ludwig used...
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The castle had heated rooms with ovens, running water from the mountain above it, and even a phone.  For the almost 2 decades it was being built, it was the main source of employment for everyone in the region. We weren’t allowed to take pictures in the castle, but apparently people have b/c they’re all over the web.  It was incredibly magnificent – mosaic floors, the marble, the waterfalls outside surrounding the castle...
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The throne room was reminiscent of the Sistene Chapel  - the ceiling paintings don’t rival Michelangelo’s work, but it’s right up there. And just every glance out the window to see the huge mountain with snow covered trees – it was very euphoric.
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When we got back in the car to go home, we pulled out our DVD case to choose a movie for the 5 hour ride home, and there on the front of 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' was the Neuschwanstein Castle we just toured! So cool.  We got back about midnight – the kids are ready to hang at home and enjoy the rest of their vacation relaxing. Sight-seeing is hard work! 8-)
We’re wondering how we’ll be able to help the kids keep up their French when they return to Texas in 2 years. Daron’s friend from Japan said his daughter came to America, learned perfect English, then went back home, and lost it all within 6 months because she never used it. We’ll have to come up with some way for them to keep it up. I can’t see us having a French foreign exchange student, and they’ll still be too young to have French class in school by then – maybe Stephen will.  Maybe there are little pockets of French speaking kids around and we just haven’t known about them. We’ll have to look into that.
And look at this cute picture of Keri and Jacob's sweet new little baby Kylie!
And we love our sweet Savannah - look at her darling little 'code' that she sent us to decipher!
Thank you Savannah - WE LOVE YOU TOO!!! 8-)

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