Carolina… most people ask: Where exactly is that? Well, it’s on the East Coast and part of the ‘Deep South’ of the United States of America. The most well known town is Charleston. It’s just 8 hours from London and beautiful to visit in the spring or fall.
I went to Asheville via Charlotte. Carolina’s spell started to work on me from my first experience at dinner, in a local and charismatic inn, as I relaxed into its ambience and looked around at the fine antiques and ornaments. The food was excellent, and all from local produce – I was warming to it all.
I woke next day to a glorious spring morning, drew back my curtains to look at a most beautiful lake. And reflected in it was the peace and tranquillity all around! I could smell breakfast and yes! in true Southern style it was the famous southern “grits and biscuits”!
Well, all this, gave me a taste for adventure and activity, and there was lots of choice! A boat trip around the lake to the site where the famous ‘ jump’ of Dirty Dancing was filmed, biking, hiking, walking, climbing and all water sports imaginable – I wanted to do it all!
Caught in this mood, on my visit to Chimney Rock, I decided to “have a go” and climb this amazing formation, and skip the true American-style alternative, the elevator inside!
Later on I explored Asheville, on a fun ‘La Zoom Theatre tour.’ A sightseeing bus with a difference, a beer in our hands, a guitarist on board and a tour guide sharing the most hilarious details about the town with us. Asheville is very bohemian, with many restaurants, all kinds of shops, and friendly people singing or playing music. As we passed in our tour bus, people in the street waved and smiled to us – a very relaxed and carefree town.
Travelling through North Carolina, I visited grand historical houses, like Biltmore (America’s largest house!) and small enchanting Inns and Lodges – each unique and each just oozing charm and atmosphere.
Travelling on the famous Blue Ridge Parkway was a remarkable journey – 420 miles through spectacular mountains.
At Bryson City I boarded an old-fashioned steam train and travelled through beautiful scenery to Nantahala set on a picturesque riverbank. There were excellent opportunities here for white water rafting, or staying dry, if you preferred…..on a mountain bike – on some great trails. My journey’s end was at Chetola, a magnificent 87-acre resort. In keeping with the rest of my trip and its unique accommodation, there was a library and lounge in our Bob Timberlake Inn! I spent a pleasant evening nearby at ‘The Best Cellar’, a fabulous wine restaurant in the Historic Inn at Ragged Gardens.
Everything is so quaint here in North Carolina and travelling back to the airport, we drove through beautiful green countryside. I stopped at the original Mast General Store providing everything from ‘cradles to caskets’. I paused at Grandfather Mountain, where you can climb to the peak to enjoy amazing views, feed the bears, admire eagles and see the beavers swim. If there had been time I would have loved to try one of the many trails and enjoy the fresh air.
So, if you’d like to see something different and get away from those skyscrapers, yellow cabs and McDonalds…..what about North Carolina? I can recommend it!