BAVARIAN CHARM IN LEAVENWORTH
We are in King Ludwig’s Restaurant. Oom-pah-pah music plays in the background, and a smiling waitress wearing an embroidered dirndl and apron, places an enormous platter of food on the table. Not my favourite fare, but in this place, and at this time, I’m happy to dig in to wiener schnitzel, sauerkraut, bratwurst, roast pork, and mashed potatoes. Minutes later tankards of beer are plunked in front of the guys and glasses of white wine served to the ladies.
We could well be in the heart of Bavaria, but no, this is Leavenworth, south of the British Columbia border in Washington’s Cascade mountains, and I am with a group of Canadians on a two-day trip with Enjoy Travels.
Lunch over, I stroll with friends, along the main street. In keeping with the Bavarian theme, the town’s hotels and shops are pretty half-timbered buildings with ornamental wooden balconies and window boxes overflowing with geraniums and petunias; enormous baskets of fuchias, daisies and impatiens hang from street lampposts. People of all ages, from couples with young families to elderly retirees, throng the sidewalks and pause in front of shop windows displaying cuckoo clocks and gaily painted musical boxes. We buy ice-cream cones, sit on a bench and listen to an accordionist in the town’s gazebo, lustily yodeling a German folk song.
So how did this quaint Bavarian town originate? To begin with, it was a forest industry hub and trading post called Icicle Flats and serviced by the Great Northern Railway. However, when the railway decided to re-route their trains, the place all but died. A group of innovative town planners in the 1960s came to the rescue: they re-named it Leavenworth (after one of the founders) and gave it a whole new identity —that of a Bavarian-themed holiday resort, with a year-round calendar of festivities. Today, more than a million people visit the town each year.
One of Leavenworth’s major attractions is their annual stage production of The Sound of Music. The open air theatre is surrounded by the Cascade Mountains, and although not as spectacular as the Swiss Alps, it’s a perfect setting. Affable “nuns” and other costumed actors usher us to our seats. The late evening is bathed in a golden light filtering through the surrounding woods, and a sense of anticipation ripples through the audience as the orchestra breaks into the overture. Then suddenly from a glade to our right comes a rich soprano voice singing: “The hills are alive with the sound of music!” and there’s Fraulein Maria, her arms outstretched to the sky. The audience explodes into delighted applause.
For the next couple of hours we are beguiled by the show – the Von Trapp children’s voices are angelic and true, and Baron Von Trapp is appropriately gruff and stern. Maria is, of course, charming and the range of her voice is just as amazing as that of Julie Andrews, particularly when she hits the top note at the end of “Do-Re-Me.” The cast get a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the performance.
The next day we drive out to Lake Chelan following a road that winds through the Cascades. The sepia-coloured hills are bare except for small bushes that pimple their slopes like a rash. The lake itself is clear and indigo-blue under the summer sky, and we stop for lunch at the Vin du Lac Winery and Bistro which has spectacular views across the water,
Seated outdoors with friends, sun and shadow playing through the trees, bird song, and the hum of conversation around us, the afternoon takes on a soothing laid-back quality. So…with a plate of barbecued chicken, a fresh green salad before me and a glass of Chardonnay at my elbow, life is sweet.
The name Chelan is Salish for “Deep Water” and the lake lives up to its name as it is the 3rd deepest in the USA. We walk off our lunch on a gentle hike along the Riverwalk Park trail that winds around the lake’s edge. My attention is caught by an unusual feature of the Walk: a series of posts with intriguing facts and statistics about the solar system’s nine planets. The sun, for example has a diameter of 864,000 miles (109 times the size of the earth), and has a rotation speed 27days around the equator, and 36 around the poles; it has an average temperature of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit and it is 93 million miles away from us on earth. Wow!
IF YOU GO:
Enjoy Travels: firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-630-2434 have several excellent tours throughout the year. Their professional drivers and hosts/guides are friendly, polite and well-informed.
Leavenworth Tourist Information: https://leavenworth.org/
Where to Stay: While there is no lack of hotels in Leavenworth, they are expensive. The Best Western Chieftain Inn, Wenatchee is moderately priced and about 35+km (a 35 minute drive) from Leavenworth.
Dining: King Ludwig’s Restaurant: https://www.kingludwigs.com/
PHOTOS by Margaret Deefholts
1. Hotel along the main street in Leavenworth
Travel Writers' Tales is an independent travel article syndicate that offers professionally written travel articles to newspaper editors and publishers. To check out more, visit www.TravelWritersTales.com
All material used by Travel Writers' Tales is with the permission of the writers and photographers who, under national and international copyright law,
retain the sole and exclusive rights to their work. The contents of this site, whether in whole or in part may not be downloaded,
copied or used in any manner without the explicit permission of Travel Writers' Tales Editors, Jane Cassie and Margaret Deefholts,
and the written consent of contributing writers and photographers. © Travel Writers' Tales