Monday, May 5, 2014

Asheville Adventures: Days 1 & 2

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  Mine was awesome because I spent it in Asheville, which is  my favorite city that I discovered while living in Charlotte.  In fact, I love Asheville so much that I have visited it a total of 4 times - and I am planning to sneak in one final trip there next week!  Yes, it's that amazing, so if you are ever in the area, check it out!

I saw and did so much that I need to split the trip into 2 different posts.  On Thursday morning, I headed out after my morning drive and went directly to the Biltmore.  I had been here 2 other times to tour the house so this visit was focused on visiting the gardens and grounds.

The Biltmore is a really amazing place to visit.  The admission price is kind of steep but it's worth it IMO.  I bought a season pass which was a great idea because I have been 3 times so feel I have gotten my money's worth.  While I did not go into the house on this trip, I enjoyed viewing it from the outside!

After fueling up with a yummy lunch at an on-site restaurant, I started to tour the gardens.  As the photos will show, the gardens are so beautiful.

I couldn't help but think how beautiful this area would be for engagement photos
There is an entire garden of azaleas which are in their peak season.

After walking around the gardens and down to a bass pond, I walked back to my car and headed over to this area called Antler Village where I rent a bike.  This was a great decision because it allowed me to see way more of the grounds.  I biked around 2 hours with a silly grin on my face.  There is just something about biking the brings out the kid in me!

Wild flowers + Mountains = indescribable beauty
It was pretty warm that day so I was a total hot mess after biking.  I headed over to the hotel in West Asheville where I was staying to get showered before hitting the town.  I had dinner on Thursday night at Chai Pani, which is probably my favorite casual dining restaurant in Asheville.  It serves amazing Indian "street food."

I love it when restaurants have fun n/a drinks as it makes me feel like I am not missing out.  I had several to choose from but went with a lime ricky which was delicious and refreshing.

For dinner, I had a "thalis" which has one of their feature entrees of the day as well as some other items.  It's like a little Indian smorgasbord.  Yum.  I had burned a lot of calories walking and biking around the Biltmore so I was in the clean plate club!

On Friday I was up bright and early for my first hike of the trip.  Checking out some hikes in the area was the #1 thing I was looking forward to on this trip (OK, that and the food!).  I have been hiking by myself lately but when I posted the hikes I was planning to do on the Asheville forum, I was advised to not hike alone.  So I did some googling around and found some local hiking groups.  I found this Weekday Walking & Hiking group and the leader was kind enough to let me join them for their hike on Friday to John Rock.

While it would be great to have someone to travel with, one of the benefits of traveling alone is that it allows you to meet people you wouldn't have otherwise.  I'm so glad I hiked with this group as the two people I hiked with on Friday were awesome.  We had a shared loved of Asheville, hiking, and traveling so we had plenty to talk about on this 6+ mile hike! 

Early on in the hike, we were awarded with a beautiful view of a waterfall.

After that we climbed and climbed and climbed and eventually got to John Rock where we sat and ate our lunches.  The views were stunning.

Another benefit of hiking with others is having non-selfie photos!
We made a pit stop on the way back to Asheville at a place that served ice cream and smoothies.  I had a peanut butter chocolate ice cream which was SO good. 

We talked about A LOT of restaurants on that hike, so I decided to go to multiple places on Friday night for dinner.  I started off at The Gourmet Chip Company.  I had taken Kyria there in February and it was so good, I had to go back.  I got the exact same kind of chips we had last time, which had thyme, goat cheese, and sea salt.  Yum.

I wandered over to a park to listen to the Friday night drumming group.  This is a must-see if you are in Asheville on a Friday because it is just so unique.

After listening to the drummers for awhile, I walked over to Limones.  I knew I was going to be having dessert so I decided to go with something light and ordered the ceviche sampler appetizer as my meal.  It was delicious.  On the left was a tuna ceviche with cantaloupe, the middle is a shrimp ceviche with avocado, and the right is grouper ceviche with mango.  I also treated myself to my one drink of the weekend here as they had a cucumber margarita on the menu.  I am a sucker for cucumber cocktails!

My last stop was for dessert.  I actually do not usually have a sweet tooth, but Asheville has so many great places for dessert, the night wouldn't have been complete without trying something sweet.  I went to my favorite place, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, where I had a melted salted caramel chocolate ganache which was SO good, and I also got 6 truffles to go which I will be savoring this week.

Whew, if you made it through this long and picture-laden post, you deserve a truffle or two!  Stay tuned for part 2 of this recap later this week!

Have you ever joined a meet-up group?  I joined a Charlotte running group meet-up when I moved to Charlotte but had to un-join when I was injured because all the emails about group runs were painful to see in my inbox.  Meet-ups are a great way to connect with people with similar interests.  I love the group I hiked with so much on Friday that I did another hike with the group on Sunday and will be going back next Monday to hike with them again (if the weather works out)!


Becky said...

What a great first two days - can't wait to see the rest of the trip! I've never joined up with a hiking group but that sounds like a great idea if you're trying a completely new trail!

Caroline said...

I love Asheville! The hiking group sounds awesome, I've never joined a group like that but I'd love to find one.

Jeanie said...

I deserve a truffle or two not only because I stayed through the whole post but I loved every single second of it! I'm so glad you did this and had a wonderful time on top of it. The food sounds amazing -- especially the chip place. And a lime ricky is red? Who knew? Can't wait for part 2!

Nora said...

Sounds like a lovely trip! Glad you found some hiking friends and had such a great time :) And of course, the chips look divine. YUM.

A said...

Oh my goodness, that all looks so FUN. And delicious. (Indian food is always a favorite of mine!)

Marlys said...

Great recap - can't wait for the next session! That food looked amazing and the chips really appealed to me! I'm glad you are enjoying that area before you leave! Views are fantastic!

Cherry Blossoms said...

What a perfect weekend getaway! I def want to go back and visit Asheville and bring Chris. Now I am hungry and wish it was dinner time.

Major Allen Espy said...

Great blog. Enjoyed the food pics especially. Change one caption to... Wild flowers + Mountains + LADY = indescribable beauty

Abby said...

Awesome recap - what an amazing trip! I really really really want to make a visit to Ashville. Some of the pictures of the mountains don't look like the USA! Reminds me more of Ireland!

And the food! Mmm!

I have never joined a meet up group. When we moved to Tucson, and I was having a hard time making friends - I looked up a few. But to be honest, Tucson is kind of ...weird. And the feeds on some of the groups were creepy. Tucson is peculiar, to say the very least....

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

Looks awesome!

Emilie said...

Wow! What an incredible weekend! Your ceviche sampler looks devine. As does the ganache! I would love to try to find some local places to go hiking. Your pictures are always so beautiful!

Leigh said...

What a beautiful area! I had no idea that they have meet up groups to go hiking, but that's a great idea! Glad you had some great company too :)

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

Looks like you had amazing weather and such a great adventure in such a short time. I love how much Asheville makes you happy and I think it's so awesome you are going back to meet up with this hiking group!

Amber said...

Your trip sounds like it was so so awesome and just what you needed (and deserved). Even though you didn't take an official vacation during this time off I'm really glad you treated yourself to this little getaway! And also fun you got to meet people on the hikes!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

That looks like so much fun :-) I totally love cucumber cocktails too - they are so refreshing!

Shoshanah said...

That melted chocolate ganache looks so A-MAZ-ING!

Stephany said...

These photos are stunning! I'm so glad you were able to get away and spend some time in Asheville. And I'm glad you joined the hiking group. I'm sure it was nice to have some other people to hike/chat with!

I've joined a few meet-up groups. One was my book club that was seriously one of the best decisions I've ever made because some of my closest friends are from that book club! I've also joined some "girlfriend"-type groups that meet up for dinners/social events but never went to a meeting (too shy!). But we have a ton of great ones in my area.