Every Wednesday a new edition of a free local paper is put out on virtually every street corner. This is the Mountain Express. It features articles about gardening, food, music, arts, theater, movies, world and national and local issues, classifieds, and has a great horoscope. This is the publication I refer tourists to when I'm working, as it lists most clubs and restaurants and their ongoings. (Otherwise I get weeded while waiting tables repeating directions over and over again!!) It gives a traveller a good idea of what this town is like and what we do here.
While you stroll about downtown, you will hear talented musicians picking mandolins, ukeleles, banjos, guitars...whatever they can! The fiddle is always nice, and this girl sounded great. Some cities don't have the best street musicians. Ours are pretty good and worth tipping a dollar!!!
Asheville's population is very politically active and on my visit in March of 2003, there were plenty of people at Pack Square protesting the war in Iraq. This photo was taken early on in the day. By evening, there were probably over 100 people, but things remained civil.
Asheville is known as a rebellious, artsy community, so these kinds of scenes are expected, not surprising.
For a relatively small city, Asheville packs in a lot of art. There is a Folk Center just outside of town on the parkway that focuses on Appalachian art and the city is full of galleries featuring many local talents.
Take a stroll through Asheville and you'll find beautiful architecture, from the Gothic Edwin Wiley Grove Arcade to the impressive City Hall and the Basilica of St. Lawrence. This photo is of the top of the Carriage House at the Biltmore Estate.
If you doubt Asheville is Berkeley, California's eastern branch office, you should have been at the anti-war protest. There were also people marching to support the troops and Asheville's finest on hand to keep both sides at arm's length. I tried to politely engage this particular group of people and all I got, basically, was the middle finger.
I had the idea that Asheville, like most communities in western North Carolina, was fairly conservative. However, I learned that there are a lot of liberal scholars from the University of North Carolina in Asheville and an even more leftish student proletariat. I thought Mark had taken a wrong turn from Biltmore and we wound up in San Francisco.
The doorman is paid to be friendly and open the door for people. Even the gatekeeper to the Inn at the Biltmore Estate was very nice to us even though we didn't look like guests and came there to take photos.
The culture in Asheville is a mix of friendly southern hospitality and funky, rebellious and artistic. It's where a mellow, nature-loving, hip hippie would live (yes, I wrote 'hip hippie').
Here's a picture of me takin' it easy at the Biltmore Estate.
Be nice to people and they will be nice to you. Don't rush yourself or anyone else. It is strange that I can always tell a Northerner (North U.S.); they don't have any patience for anything - they want it all NOW, NOW, NOW: This is not where you do that - leave it at home.
P.S. I can complain about Northerners since I come from that area.