Asheville and around

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Is this the prettiest B&B yet? Maybe. Beaufort House in Asheville is certainly lovely.We’ve had 4 nights here. As well as the Biltmore visit I wrote about earlier, we have also been to Chimney Rock Park. This is a view looking down on the rock as we climbed another 200 feet to the highest place in the park, Exclamation Point.

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It was an extremely hot day so, to recover, we also did a cooler and less strenuous trail to Hickory Nut Falls. The next day was quite different. We drove south on the Blue Ridge Parkway (which actually had better views than the more northern parts we did previously) intending to climb Mount Pisgah. About half a mile from the trail head, we were alarmed to see that all the vehicles coming towards us had their headlamps on and, sure enough, we drove into a terrible rainstorm. We sat in the car for a while to see if it would clear, and eventually set off when the rain diminished to a light shower – but, you’ve guessed it, ten minutes later the heavens opened again. We completed the climb but ended up like drowned rats covered in mud. It did clear a bit at the top – the view was quite atmospheric, but doesn’t look much in the pictures. This one at least gives the impression of the waves of blue mountains receding into the distance.

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Asheville is a great place for eating and downtown always seems to be buzzing. We tried Tupelo Honey for real Southern fare. The choice for vegetarians wasn’t huge, but what I had was lovely – a bowl of goat cheese grits, black beans, spinach, tomatoes and loads of other stuff I’ve forgotten. Asheville is also noted for its microbreweries – the one we went to was LAB (Lexington Avenue Brewey) where the food was basic but the beer was great. There are at least two completely vegetarian restaurants, bliss for me. The Laughing Seed was fantastic, not only the food but the cocktails. John had a basil and ginseng martini which looked like a salad in a glass- basil leaves and a baby tomato instead of an olive – and tasted of pesto. It made my mint julep almost seem dull but I believe that is the thing to drink in the South! We went back there for our last evening in Asheville and tried the chocolate ginger martini instead of dessert, then had a stroll round downtown which was even busier than usual, full of young people out on a Friday night. I love being able to go out with no jacket and sit outside to eat.

Tomorrow, we are driving through the Smokies into Tennessee.

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