Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Not Bavaria, but still fun.

With today being a federal holiday, Kate and I decided to take a four-day weekend and head to Leavenworth. This is a little town up in the Cascades that calls itself Washington's Bavarian village, and seems to be part of the complete Seattle experience -- everyone around here has visited it at least once. The short description is that while the Bavarian theme is a bit of a gimmick, there's good hiking in the area and some good food (if you don't mind the touristy atmosphere).


Why is this post written in the present tense? 'cos I felt like it.


For the convenience and sanity of people reading this on aggregators like Planet Debian, this saga is broken into segments.

Day 0

We get a late start leaving Redmond and drive along some pretty spectacular scenery on Highway 2 East ... although after living here for a while, I've become somewhat inured to spectacular scenery. Another craggy mountain with snow-spotted alpine meadows, thousand-foot waterfalls, and blankets of pine forest? You woke me up for THAT? But even by the standards of the Pacific Northwest, this is a scenic drive.

Kate has picked out a short hike about halfway to our destination, but when we pull up to the trailhead we learn that a Northwest Forest Pass is required to park. We decide to cut out that hike and make a note to buy a pass when we get a chance. Probably they're sold in Leavenworth. Further on we see a little picnic area with a path going back into the woods. We decide to stop there for lunch and follow the trail, which turns out to be a pleasant loop through a patch of forest and up to a decent-sized waterfall.

We arrive in Leavenworth in the afternoon. The town has done an impressive job of building a city center of half-timbered buildings in what looks to me like a reasonably German style (bearing in mind that my last visit to Germany was about ten years ago when I was in high school). They even have a two- or three-story clock tower. After checking into the bed-and-breakfast where we're staying, we head downtown to explore.

Leavenworth, at least in the city center, looks very Bavarian from the outside. It's a little less impressive when you actually go in the buildings. Most of the shops sell generic American tourist junk -- shirts that say I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day. Tomorrow doesn't look good either., kitschy statues (women holding beer tables on their breasts), etc. However, while I see very little that's recognizably Bavarian in town, there are some stores with nice selections of work by local craftsmen and artists.

After looking around a bit, we head to the Andreas Keller Restaurant for dinner. We have a nice meal of jägerschnitzel, spätzle, red cabbage and knackwurst while listening to (live!) accordian oom-pah. I am surprised to see the Chicken Dance mixed in with the rest of the performance, but Wikipedia says that this was composed in Switzerland in 1950s for the accordion under the name Der Ententanz. Live and learn.

After finishing dinner, we walk back to the bed-and-breakfast and get an early sleep.