Monday, July 17, 2017

A trip through the North Carolina Mountains

Driving through the mountains from Saluda to Tryon, North Carolina is breathtaking. It is downhill and we were reminded strongly of our trip to Alsace and Switzerland of last year. Antique shopping was excellent in this area. We plowed through stores full of all the usual things and a few special things. I even found one piece of my rare, antique china at a very reasonable price. I was a little apprehensive about being viewed as a Yankee, especially in the small towns, but everyone was charming and wanted to know where we were from. Our answer of Connecticut brought on talk of UCONN women's basketball team. Sports, it seems, has bridged the gap between the blue and the gray.

We began our visit with a stop at the Tryon Visitor Center. We were able to get information on local stores, restaurants and even brochures on Biltmore. They had information on not only Tryon but also Landrum and Saluda. 

Biltmore takes the better part of a day to explore. You can tour not only the house but the gardens and vineyard. After you leave the estate, you can shop until you drop in Biltmore Village where the former workers home have been converted into an exciting selection of restaurants, store,s and galleries.

Hendersonville has one of the prettiest main streets I have ever seen. You will feel as if you have stepped back into the 1950s. You can visit the general store, antique malls, gift shops, and a nice selection of pubs, cafes, and restaurants. Plenty of on-street parking is available.

With only 2 days, we had to make some very serious choices. Since the weather was bad on our second day, we opted not to visit Chimney Rock and Lake Lure. Another possibility that we passed on was Pearson Falls. What we did was visit the Frog and Hound, a very nice consignment shop located on two floors and a barn in Tryon. I bought a great wicker doll chair that is only slightly used. We then headed for Landrum and spent the morning visiting all the wonderful small shops that line East Rutherford Street. I did some early Christmas shopping so I wouldn’t feel so guilty about spending. One shop had some great airplanes and helicopters made from soda or beer cans.

The highway skirts outside most of these towns. It’s never too far away, and yet you can travel for hours and never have to see it. We took Highway 26 north to Biltmore, which took about 40 minutes. You need a car to travel here. I never saw any form of public transportation. The nearest airport is Greenville, South Carolina. Traveling the back roads has a charm all its own. We never felt rushed and I think we may even have meandered once or twice.

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