Monday, April 13, 2009


One of the things I really loved about living in the Twin Cities was that everything you could possibly need is always close at hand. With several large corporations based in Minneapolis or St. Paul and lots of international chains located in the highly populated area (like Ikea and H&M), there is usually little reason to need anything outside the immediate area.

Unless you want to travel. And then the nearest big city or attraction is Duluth (about 2 1/2 hours away), and then beyond that you can go to Madison or Chicago - neither of which is an easy day trip.

Knoxville, on the other hand, is pretty small compared to the Twin Cities. However, Nashville; Chattanooga; Asheville, North Carolina; and Atlanta, Georgia are all within easy day trip distance, not to mention Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg all within about an hour of home. So, Jon and I have decided that we need to take advantage of the close proximity of so many places while we're living here.

We started the list off with Asheville, NC this past Friday. There's a big art scene in downtown, and it's an easy two-hour drive through the mountains to get there. My best friend from Kindergarten also lives there, so there was extra draw.

Our first stop was the Double Decker Coffee Company, located downtown in a renovated double decker bus. They serve all organic drinks and snacks, and the seating area is on the second level of the bus. The tables are painted with chalkboard paint, so I took a minute to leave behind some free advertising. Jacqueline met us there, and then we proceeded to lunch at Barley's - a new favorite of Jon's and mine. There's also a branch in Knoxville, but it's yummy, and lunch by the slice is cheap - we highly recommend it!

Jacqueline had to leave us after lunch, but Jon and I stuck around the city for a while. We took the Urban Trail around dowtown for a couple hours: a self-guided tour of the iron statuary throughout the city that narrates Asheville's history. It was nice just to walk around for a while with no particular agenda other than just seeing the sights.

We ended our evening (as the rain broke loose from the clouds that had been looming overhead all day) at French Broad, a chocolate and wine lounge. They had the most amazing drinks, "liquid truffles," modeled after European chocolate drinks. They're literally just molten chocolate! Along with a tiramisu parfait and a glass of wine, it was the perfect end to our day trip.

We had a great time, and we'll definitely be making the trip again - there's so much more to see!


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