Kimberley, Canadian Rocky Mountains
As my girlfriend and I drove through the Canadian Rockies in southeastern British Columbia, each turn in the road brought a breathtaking view more spectacular than the last. We thought it couldn't get any better--until we pulled our fifth-wheel into Kimberley, a cozy little Bavarian town.
Sidewalk cafes...whimsical wooden carvings...unique specialty shops in gaily painted buildings...the happy sound of accordions...we felt like we'd suddenly traveled to the Bavarian Alps!
We arrived in the middle of the town's annual International Old Time Accordion Championship. We soon found ourselves doing the polka--a festive European dance--in the street.
After working up a hunger, we stopped at the Kimberley City Bakery (287 Spokane St.; 1-250/427-2131; open daily except for Sundays in winter. ). As Johnnie munched on a German pretzel, he remarked that it just doesn't get much better than this. He was right!
Later, we returned to the Platzl and found the festival in full swing. The streets were filled with polka dancers, some dressed in traditional lederhosen (leather shorts and suspenders) or dirndls (bright peasant dresses). Later, the festivities moved into an auditorium for the accordion championships and more dancing, giving us yet another chance to test our four left feet.
We also enjoyed great wienerschnitzel (breaded veal) and apple strudel at the Old Bauernhaus, a 350-year-old farmhouse moved from southern Bavaria and rebuilt here. (1-250/427-5133; 280 Norton Ave.; open 5-11 p.m. Thursday through Monday; closed in April. ).
For a warm and welcoming atmosphere--what the Germans call gemutlichkeit--amid stunning natural beauty, you can't beat this slice of Bavaria in British Columbia.
Kimberley is on Highway 95A in southeastern British Columbia, about 17 miles northwest of Cranbrook and 16 miles west of Highway 93/95. To learn more, call the Kimberley Chamber of Commerce at 1-250/427-3666.
The International Old Time Accordion Championship is held during the second week in July; that's July 4-10, 2005. At 4 p.m. on July 7, musicians will again try to break the world record for accordions playing simultaneously; the current record, sanctioned by the Guinness Book of Records, is 566 accordions playing for almost 34-1/2 minutes.