On from Nashville to Asheville! And then from Asheville, North Carolina to Charleston, South Carolina. Both wonderful places with totally different vibes, the only common theme being that I was able to spend far too little time in each. Asheville is small and alternative, right on the edge of scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. Charleston is defined by its cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and pastel pre-Civil-War-era houses: the epitome of old American Southern living.
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3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
ASHEVILLE | is teeny tiny but has a very homely atmosphere. There’s one main square where many people seem to congregate in the evenings. There’s a few good spots for drinks: Southern Kitchen and Bar; Sazerac for rooftop cocktails; a game of darts at Scullys. Also check out: the day time hippie vibe – I spotted puppy and piglet pals being walked on leads.
CHARLESTON | is gorgeous. I was cursed with heavy rain, but Rainbow Row and Gateway Alley still held a certain charm. The waterfront is very pretty and the Market saved me from getting drenched. It’s a southern town so there’s rich food a plenty, including oysters and she crab soup. My favourite thing about Charleston is the beautiful architecture. Also check out: a night out. This town has a real student, buzzy vibe in the evenings much more so than the day time.
ARTHUR JUNIOR BRIDGE | in Charleston is quite a trek, but worth it for some views of the city and if you fancy a decent walk. Also check out: Hominy Grill which lured me in for Fried Green Tomatoes – they weren’t that great, but I just love the film!
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY | is a particularly scenic drive section of the Great Smokey Mountains, near Asheville. It’s such a shame I didn’t get to see all the viewpoints properly due to poor weather conditions, and even stopping at recommended highlights like the Graveyard Waterfall area was if anything a little depressing stomping through the gloom! There’s a heap of guides and points of interest, but I bypassed them all in favour of some dry clothes and filling a stressfully low petrol tank.
FOLLEY BEACH | I bet this is a beauty of a beach, although I only saw it in the dark after arriving late in Asheville from Nashville! The sand seemed very clean and it’s always good to have a beach option close to a city so you can escape the hustle and bustle and squeeze in a dip.
SWEET PEAS | was a great hostel find with a modern twist: it’s located close to central Asheville, but has an eco-feel and pods for everyone to sleep in. It’s more like a retreat in terms of its zen qualities, but with a nice affordable price tag.
3 THINGS TO STAY CLEAR:
MIST | the drive from Nashville to Asheville – about 4 hours in total – was clearly through some gorgeous scenery, but the views were hampered by drizzle and mist. This still made for a pretty atmospheric route, but I would love to explore the area more in better conditions.
GUNS FOR SALE | so baffling to pop in to the local Walmart and see guns and knives for sale. I know this isn’t just a Carolina thing, but it is where I first noticed the extreme easy access to weapons.
CAMPING | two guys I had given a lift to chose to stay at James Island Park to save some cash and enjoy a bit of the outdoors, but it turned in to a bit of a mozzie ridden swamp to the point I ended up driving back to pick them up. I’m growing out of hostels (it’s just so exhausting) but camping in the rain takes a whole other level of commitment to the traveling cause!
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
BILTMORE ESTATE | is a large private estate near Asheville, North Carolina, where the main mansion was built by George Washington Vanderbilt by 1895. I love a nosey round a old posh home, and this is the largest privately owned house in the United States. It’s still owned by one of Vanderbilt’s descendants.
AND KNOW THIS: Shag dancing, which is the official South Carolina state dance, is thought to have originated in Myrtle Beach. Shag is a descendent of the Jitterbug in the dance family tree. Interesting name of choice.
–> –> –> Next stop The Peach State | Georgia –> –> –> (post coming soon)