Christmas time is undoubtedly my favourite time of the year in North America. The cold and damp weather coupled with extremely short days are brightened by twinkly lights, Christmas parties, gifts and of course, holiday bonuses. This year we did a weeklong road trip to explore the lesser known countrysides along the west coast. Wherever we drove by, we encountered tiny, romantic towns that were artfully decorated with Christmas lights and jolly music. The snowcapped mountains, foggy forest roads, a warm cup of coffee on the go and unending roads were the perfect way to unwind after an eventful year. Towards the end of our week-long journey, we reached a Bavarian-themed town called Leavenworth hidden in the heart of Mount Cascades in the Washington district of the US. This is the story of our white Christmas Leavenworth trip!
The town is approximately a short 2.5-hour from Seattle. After driving for about half an hour through the main interstate highway, we had to take a turn towards the mountainous roads. Soon the terrain changed from brownish greens to greenish whites. The tall birch trees were decorated with fluffs of snow. We were lucky – the day was bright and sunny. The sun glistened over the mountain tops like the world’s own Christmas decor.
The road became narrower and soon it was only one lane on either side. There was a lively mountain stream flowing along the road. If fairy tales were real, am sure they lived hidden somewhere here. No words can do justice to the view. Each turn of the road showed snowclad peaks and rocky streams, little bridges, a cottage or two, and rows of birch forests. Who could have said that just a bus ride away from Seattle, there is such a dreamy little haven on earth?
The History of Leavenworth Town
The keyword was “Magic”. It was like I had landed in Hogsmeade on Christmas. For my adorable muggle readers out there, trust me when I say that there is hardly anything more beautiful.
But was it always this way?
Actually, no. Leavenworth was just another small town like many other American towns (Stars Hollow of Gilmore Girls, anyone?) About 3.2 square kilometres in size, the town comprised of households, schools, one hospital and an economy, totally dependent on the Railroads and the timber. In the 1950s, the railroad and timber economy took a U-turn and the town collapsed. The people started moving out and never returned.
However, the determined community decided to reclaim the glory of the town. All the community members came forward and decorated the town with a Bavarian theme. The buildings were redone, the windows painted, shops renamed. The innkeepers put their heart and soul into redecorating their modest stays. The town already had one thing given, its natural beauty. Needless to say, it worked. Today Leavenworth stands in all its glory that testifies that unity of human community can have far-reaching potential!
A Christmas haven and popular tourist destination
If you are familiar with Europe and its architecture, you will surely feel you have been transported there as you walk around the small town. Even popular American food chains like Subway or Starbucks have redesigned themselves there to blend in. There was a town square where the tourists thronged. The snowy slopes were perfect for the kids to slide up and down. I witnessed many snow fights. The plethora of lights all around and a general atmosphere of merriment lifted the spirits of everyone around.
Speaking of spirits, we randomly selected a bar and a diner. The packed wooden tables filled with the aroma of roasted chicken made the excited tourists very hungry. I tried the hot Apple Cider beer. And it was the most delicious thing I have ever tasted, considering I am not a beer person at all! After our food, we tried a Bavarian ice cream shop. The Huckleberry ice-cream flavour was the speciality of the shop and a tourist’s favourite.
By the time we finished our meal, it was dark outside and the Christmas lights shone brightly everywhere. If you want to spend a night there, it is recommended that you book your stay well in advance, as the holiday season remains packed throughout. There are many activities planned throughout the season and albeit a bit on the expensive side, Leaven-was-worth it!
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