Recently, my family and I did a day-trip (higaeri in Japanese, 日帰り) to the town of Leavenworth to enjoy Christmas. Leavenworth is in Washington state, but it’s on the other side of the Cascade Mountains, so we have to drive 2.5 hours on Highway 2 to get there. We decided to visit late, so all the hotels were full, so instead we decided to day a day-trip only. We had a lot of fun.
Leavenworth is a small town of 2,000 people, but the city center has been built to resemble a town in the Free State of Bavaria in Germany. For Japanese readers, it is called バイエルン州 (baierun shū). It’s also called Freistaat Bayern in modern German.
Anyhow, we left around noon time. The drive through the mountains was very beautiful, and my daughter took some photos from the car:
We drove for about 2.5 hours, and arrived at Leavenworth around 3pm. Since it was winter and we were behind the mountains, it was already growing dark!
Somehow this reminded me of Transylvania from the novel Dracula. Thankfully, Halloween has already passed. ;)
Anyhow, Leavenworth was extremely crowded:
The lines for food were very long. You had to stand in a long line for both restaurants and food-stalls. We decided to get some Bratwurst with sauerkraut,1 fried-onions and German mustard (not that mild, American crap). It was delicious. We also bought some Christmas items for home. My daughter really wanted a nutcracker, so we found a store that sold many nutcrackers. Some nutcrackers costed hundreds of dollars and some were much cheaper. We bought her a cheaper model, but she was happy. :)
Leavenworth in December is famous for its Christmas lights, and it was worth the visit. At 5pm, they turn on the lights. Here’s the same street at night time:
Das ist nicht eine brezel!
Overall, the food in Leavenworth wasn’t very good. We had some pretzels and pastries which were OK, and we also had some coffee and hot chocolate. The hot-chocolate was sickly-sweet (like most American food) and the coffee was too bitter. Frustrated, I put the coffee and hot-chocolate together and it tasted much better.
We did buy some imported food from Germany though. This is German “curry sauce”:
You can put it in any meat or other dishes. It’s really delicious! I’ve been using daily. :-)
We also bought some German chocolates, but they had cinnamon in them, and my wife does not like cinnamon, so I had to eat myself. ;)
Anyhow, around 6:30pm we decided to go home. Once we left Leavenworth, the road was very dark.2 I have never driven on a mountain road at night, and to be honest, it was a bit scary. Some of the turns were a little sharp, and the signs were sometimes hard to see, but we made it safely. Next time, I might try to stay overnight, or leave before sunset.
Despite the food, we enjoyed Leavenworth quite a bit. It was a lovely Christmas festival and fun for the whole family. Little Guy is an outgoing baby, so he loves crowds. He was happy to see people and their pets. Princess, my daughter, was happy to get a nutcracker and a Russian ornament for our tree. My wife and I had a lot of fun too. We will probably come again sometime next year, maybe during Spring.
Danke Schön, Leavenworth!
P.S. When I was in high-school, I studied German language for a couple years, but I was terrible at it. It wasn’t very interesting, and eventually I quit and switched to Chinese instead. Having visited Luxembourg, I wish I had studied more German, but at the same time, I am glad I learned Chinese. :) Interesting fact: Luxembourg is a very small country. You can drive across it in about an hour. However, the western-half is mostly French (French names, French spoken, etc), while the eastern-half is German. So much culture for such a small country.
1 My wife asked me what sauerkraut. I told her it was like Korean Kimchi, but not spicy. ;)
2 They had lights near the small towns along Highway 2: Skykomish, Baring, Gold Bar, etc, but between towns, it was really dark. The very top of the mountain road was snowing a little bit too, but the snow didn’t stick, so we were OK.