Asheville in a word is phenomenal! I don't know if my favorite part is the uniqueness of downtown or just the overall culture of the place.
When we visit, we always stay in one of two places. The first is the Bohemian Hotel (http://www.bohemianhotelasheville.com). This is the most unique hotel I have ever been in. Even if you don't stay there, you have to go and walk around the inside the place. For a more relaxing and nature feel we will go to Asheville Cottages (http://www.ashevillecottages.com). The owners have done an amazing job in giving a luxurious feel to a cottage rental.
While you are there, the two restaurants that you cannot miss are The Red Stag (http://www.bohemianhotelasheville.com/dining/dining.asp) and 12 Bones Smokehouse (http://www.12bones.com). After eating at these you'll see why we always return.
The band was quite good with a female harpist, a few fiddlers, and a guitarist. The traditional music fit the scene well with lots of families with kids like at a playground but managing to be non-obtrusive just the same. It was very much like what I’ve experienced in the UK where families are encouraged to bring their kids to the pubs especially on Sunday afternoons. One great plus here was the non-smoking environment in the whole pub. We enjoyed the music and atmosphere very much and since we were still hungry we split a meal of meat pies. I had a couple more beers and we had to pry ourselves away since we still had a small drive ahead of us.
As we pulled away from Ashville we wondered if we’d done the right thing. We’d found a great place, not just a brewery but one with character and it would have been too easy to stay overnight and enjoy it longer. But we had a big hike planned the next day and our overnight destination would bring us closer to that for an earlier start. This was, after all, a trip to the mountains more than anything else. We’d surely feel a lot better the next day with a few less beers and a bit more sleep. Beer was a spice to the main course and sometimes a little pepper is better than too many shakes.
We ordered two Sheppard’s Pies and two of the house brewed beers. The latter were a bit too cold for their styles but it was very hot out so all was forgiven and they managed to warm up before we polished them off. My Golden Ale was a lightly hopped version of an English session ale that mimicked the style well though seemed to be missing something I could not put a finger on. Doreen’s porter fared much better. I was on a tasty ESB by the time the food arrived. The meals were tasty but smaller than anticipated so we ordered a cheese plate for desert and I settled into a cask version of their hoppy IPA.
Our barman explained they would be having an Irish folk band in the early evening and that there was an inexpensive motel up the street. We ventured off to explore the town on foot and enjoyed an array of Art Deco architecture seemingly unchanged since the Great Depression. It was Sunday and the streets were empty and little was open so we soon found ourselves at the suggested motel enquiring about a room the night. It was pricier than we wanted to pay and Doreen suggested going back to the pub and letting me have a few more beers while we enjoyed the band and she some home brewed sweet tea, a true southern specialty. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)
Asheville is known to most as the gateway to the Biltmore Estate but for me it's just a very cool town with great Art Deco architecture, a counter culture feel, a bustling music scene and one very can't miss pub in Jack of the Wood.
Fondest memory: Driving to Ashville for the second time was an exhilarating feeling. The first time had been as well but it was 12 years earlier and wrought with anticipation on finding a new utopia to call home. It wasn’t and I didn’t. This foray was merely for fun and represented a small portion of an already too short trip that my wife and I would have alone, being framed by visits to good old friends in Myrtle Beach and Georgia. My expectations where not nearly as high as on my virgin trip to what Rolling Stone has hailed the new ‘freak capital.” I knew a funky little town with lots of pubs and live music nestled into the Blue Ridge Mountains awaited us and I looked forward to exploring a new brewpub I’d read about but aside from that I was happy to wander the streets and show a new place to a new love that had not been in my life on my first trip.
We arrived later and hungrier than planned only to find the planned brewpub lunch stop not quite open. With only a five minute wait we did it right there and must have appeared ravenous beer groupies on entering a hallowed shrine after waiting what seemed an eternity. It was a great old wooden pub that recalled the best of Ireland with a funky counter culture twist sprinkled with a pinch of southern flair. We sat right at the bar which I love doing at brewpubs so I can speak with the bartender who I hope has some knowledge of beer. We were in luck and our man was not only in the know about beer but the town as well with a heavy dose of an entertaining personality as a bonus. (continued below in Fondest Memory)
No, no, it was not MY wedding. I am already married with matcrazy0 :-). But I never saw wedding ceremony in the USA until I came to St. Lawrence Basilica. The only inconvenience for me was that I couldn't put up my tripod and take pictures inside during the ceremony. As it was followed by a holy mass I didn't wait and left the church.
It was traditional formal white wedding, I think. This term refers to the white color of the wedding dress of a bride symbolizing purity of heart and the innocence of childhood. The bribe had a very long white tiara which had to be kept in hands of two bridesmaids wearing identical bright red dresses. Is this red dress a local custom? Local for Asheville, western NC, NC, the South or the USA? Traditionally bridesmaids are chosen from unwed young women of marriageable age, right? The bribe had a bouquet of red roses, the bridesmaids a bouquet of yellow ones. Another unknown me custom refers to a sweet kid, a boy dressed in formal suit, who carried the wedding rings. In Poland a priest conducting the ceremony does it.
From my VT-friend Jim_Eliason from Dayton, Ohio:
Its traditional for the Bride to wear White but the Bride then chooses a color for the Bridesmaids. Often this color will be used in decorating the church and reception also. It can be any color, Red is a little untraditional as it tends to be softer colors. Traditionally the Bridemaids and Groommens were the unmarried friends of the Bride and groom but these days it just tends to be the best friends, married or not. We also as you noted have 2 traditions for children (not all weddings have them), the ring bearer, who is traditionally a boy but can be either boy or girl. If there isn't a ring bearer then the best man carries the ring. And a flower girl who carries the bouquet that the bride tosses at the end of the ceremony.
I spent a few hours strolling around downtown Asheville and liked it a lot. There are five the most attractive streets (look at the map here) in my opinion:
1. Patton Avenue - for fans of architecture, art galleries and watching people (hippie galore), add a few restaurants/cafes close to Pack Square
2. Market Street - for fans of architecture
3. Battery Park Avenue - shopping, shopping and shopping + watching locals + a few cafes/restaurants and art galleries; turn to Page Ave. for a few cafes/restaurants with tables outside
4. Wall Street - as above but even more and no banks but outdoor climbing wall
5. Haywood Street - shopping + events in Civic Center (and its parking garage) + Basilica St. Lawrence!
It's not bad idea to park a car in the Civic Center parking garage on Haywood Street (details in my second transportation tip). Good luck!
Asheville offers a lot of Art Deco architecture to see and explore. Four Art Deco masterpieces were designed by North Carolinian famous architect Douglas D. Ellington in 1920' and they all survived in original shape in downtown Asheville:
1. First Baptist Church
2. Asheville City Building
3. S&W Cafeteria
4. Asheville High School
Details in my Things To Do and Off The Beaten Path tips.
But strolling around downtown I also discovered less known Art Deco structures with some pretty or ugly (judge by yourself) but for sure interesting details. Look at my pictures.
Art Deco was a popular design movement from 1910 until 1939. This purely decorative design movement fixed together many different styles and movements of the early 20th century, including Constructionism, Modernism, Cubism, Bauhaus, Art Nouveau, and Futurism. The best known example of Art Deco art in architecture is probably spire of the Chrysler Building in New York City, built 1928–1930. Sooner or later I have to reach that spire personally :-).
People of various less or more strange, odd or just interesting (choose what you want) subcultures (hippies, funky, punks, raves) come and settle or just live for some time in Asheville. Watching them was very interesting for me. Look at my pictures.
This about 30 years old guy dressed in hooded sweatshirt was sitting on a low little wall opposite to an entrance to the Asheville Civic Center where Craft Fair took place. He pointed his right hand towards the sky to show where the policemen from the opposite side of a street should go. He was talking loudly something about God, bad cops (police) and no justice. Well, he didn't use any offensive words. Almost no-one among numerous pedestrians passing by paid attention to him except just me :-). A few policemen on the opposite side watched the entrance to the Craft Fair and didn't pay special attention to that guy either.
Another, younger, long-haired guy in a woolen cap was sitting a few feet away. He had large backpack. His skateboard was put by him. He observed things and expressed probably his disappointment using well known gesture (see picture 5). But he used the second instead of the third finger. Does it change anything?
Don't laugh at me now. Sometimes small things are my fondest memory from visited places. I had to smile looking at this funny sculpture of natural size cat walking on a wall. I found it in Asheville downtown somewhere close to climbing wall run by ClimbMax Climbing Center (see my sports travel tip). Look also at colorful murals (picture 2) behind "the cat wall." Well, there are many more pretty and small sculptures put around downtown, for example in front of the Civic Center.
I've seen a few similar sculptures of cats somewhere in Italy where there are many cats walking on tiny streets. But in Asheville and generally in the USA I have never seen any cats or dogs walking alone along city streets. They are always walked by their owners. I think locals call police (or other city service) when they see any strange animals/pets outdoors.
Favorite thing: Summer in Asheville is like hanging out in a subtropic jungle at times. That is, if you live out of downtown. Bamboo thrives here and walking along some of the side streets in the Montford area (historic district north of downtown), I sometimes think I could be in a temperate part of Malysia or China.
Favorite thing: In Asheville most of it is tasteful and entertaining, usually political.........I have always been interested in this medium...maybe one day I will anonymously throw something up on a wall somewhere....
There is this cute little street garden on Lexington Avenue that is nice to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee and chat with a friend...
I especially like this location in the fall, when it is windy, chilly and colored leaves are blowing around the tables...Something you would only find in the east....or maybe Oregon?
Sadly, Vincents Ear is no longer there...A great place for punk and metal, a PBR and an extra strong cup of coffee. It is sorely missed in our town.
We have excellent thunderstorms year-round that leave the air smelling magnificent and the sky casting mysterious colors...
I remember on Valentines day I woke up to thunder and lightning! Love that!
I am from Wisconsin, originally, and as a child had my fill of snow. I certainly do like it, and find a desire these days to head to the Cascades and play in it. Living in the east, however, it is more icy than powder. Driving these mountains during the snowfalls is extremely dangerous, as the roads are not regularly salted down, and the sleet and freezing rain cover the pavement in an ice sheet.
It is not uncommon in the Appalacians to wake up to kids playing on their sleds or having snowball fights in the morning, and by afternoon, taking their coats off and busting out a skateboard or basketball...maybe even a bicycle. It rarely lasts.
Favorite thing: There are excellent backroads to ride your bike...and the parkway has some inclines but I think if you are fit, biking it wouldn't be so bad....(I've never ridden a bicycle on the parkway but I followed a friend on his skateboard cruising the curves one afternoon...)