The Pleasant Surprise Called Asheville

Sometimes, you can’t really claim yourself to be a true adventurer unless you take risks that yield unforeseeable outcomes. Asheville came as an idea born out of meeting a fellow life enthusiast at heart who I met in one of my camping trips. The beauty of it is that not only did I go to Asheville once, but twice. Both were unexpected decisions that led to vividly poetic human interactions that always warm my heart just thinking about them.

This is Asheville Part 1!

A friend on Facebook was talking about his plans to do a long distance hike near Asheville over a weekend in October and by coincidence I learned that there was a music festival set for that same weekend.  Excitedly, after my friend offered a place to stay while in Asheville, I went along with it but of course the drive being 7 hours I needed a partner in crime to help as the plan was to do the driving at night so we get there in the morning.  Lucky me as I found a fellow travel enthusiast who was courageous enough to drive straight to Asheville in the middle of the night.  We got there quite early in the morning, around 5:30 am or so.  As a side note, such a feat of driving straight for 7 hours in wee hours of the morning earned my friend a superhero title.  After a short nap, we ventured out to downtown Asheville.  The small city is quaint indeed with spurts of small mom and pop cafes and artsy shops from clothing stores to art galleries.  It didn’t matter what it is that’s being sold in this town because even a cup of coffee or an alcoholic beverage is presented to you in an artful kind of way.  By the way, you can buy a cape from a cape store that exclusively sells it.  How often do you get to visit a store like that?

I want to be a superhero.
This superhero is broke.

 

If you’re an avid arts person who loves to peruse handmade and original creations, Asheville has the River Arts District just a few miles drive out of the main hub.  I was told that this area was recently developed to cultivate aspiring artists to sell their art.  This art venue is definitely worth checking out for those who are seriously into art.  Be warned though that you need to have plenty of cash to buy some of the items they sell.  After knowing that I’m a penniless superhero that couldn’t even afford a cape, it wasn’t prudent for me to shop for such pretty things but those who can afford it should shop here as by doing so, you end up supporting the local arts.

Awesome music store in town.
Didn’t find anything.

Another fact about Asheville is that it is full of music as well, be it indoors or outdoors.  After all, it hosts a few music festivals every year including the one I meant to see that weekend, Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Festival.  They also have the popular, Moogfest.  But one doesn’t need to pay to enjoy music as street performers fill the streets of Asheville.  The town boasts of talented musicians who are mostly in their 20s, aspiring to spark that creativity in themselves and create their own unique style in the industry.  It was enlightening to receive their youthful energy through music. One can also browse through old vinyls in the music stores downtown just like in old school days.

For my first visit to Asheville, we stayed at a regular motel but the city does cater to low budget travelers as they do have a few hostels in the area such as Asheville Hostel and Guesthouse or Bon Paul & Sharky’s Hostel.  I didn’t personally get to see the hostels but the reviews are great and for my next Asheville adventure, I do plan to stay in one.

Whenever one needs a break from the town, it’s easy to explore the nearby trails including those that lead to Mt. Mitchell, the highest point east of Mississipi at a height of 6,684 feet.  It’s about 35 miles northeast of Asheville.    Mt. Mitchell summit is also accessible via car. Since we didn’t have much time and it was a last minute trip, we ended up visiting Mt. Mitchell by car.  On top, there’s a snack/refreshment stand where they sell very tasty and comforting hot apple cider.  It should be noted that the road to Mt. Mitchell closes around early October due to inclement weather.  Information on Mt. Mitchell and road conditions can be found on NC State Parks’ website.

On top of Mt. Mitchell.
The Converse pair made it to the top, by car.

One final note on Asheville I have to make has to do with food!  I have to say this is one aspect of the town that I love.  Every coffee place serves great coffee drinks.  I thoroughly enjoyed indulging in my favorite coffee drink while checking out the second-hand books at Battery Park Book Exchange. Every restaurant serves good food.  There’s just plenty of options and the quality of food for the price is simply unbeatable.  One of my favorites for breakfast is Early Girl Eatery which is always packed.  For drinks and late night options, Sky Bar, is such a unique magical place.  Despite it being a bar and my being a non-drinker, I still enjoyed my time there due to the down to earth and authentic feel to the place.  They even allowed me to drink my cuppa joe bought from a cafe next door!  No one does that in DC (hmp!).  Also, who can beat the time machine that takes you up to the top with views of the city’s skyline?  To get more of what I’m talking about, check this wonderful blog on Sky Bar.   But, really, just go and experience it for yourself!  In the end, you may even find yourself feeling somewhat…er, artsy… for no reason, except you happen to be in Asheville!

Being diligent at Battery Park Book Exchange.
Feeling artsy in Asheville.
Chickens were slaughtered here.

Photo Credits: A. Haynes (aka Super Tony)

Brown Gal Trekker is a nomad at heart who survives the mountains to inspire others to trek them.