The Awkward Things No One Tells You About Asheville
This post is the first in “The Awkward Things No One Tells You” series. After all, someone needs to warn others about the awkward side of travel. Why not me, the queen of awkward?
As you may know, Asheville, North Carolina, is a beautiful, fun city with a variety of things to do and some amazing food and cocktails to enjoy. Like any other destination though, it has its share of awkward or potentially awkward things that no one really talks about. So, l’m laying it out for you here.
Ubers are in Short Supply and Expensive
When I visited Asheville with a friend, we chose to Uber around to save the money and hassle that comes with renting a car. Well, I can tell you from experience it saved us neither.
Upon landing at the Asheville airport, we were greeted with a sign stating there’s a shortage of Uber and Lyft drivers. We quickly figured out that was the truth as we stood outside the airport at around 9 pm, in the dark, pulling up our Uber apps. No drivers were around–except for one car just sitting in the dark parking lot. Figuring we didn’t have much choice, we rolled our luggage along behind us as we cautiously approached.
Thankfully, we were safely transported to our downtown hotel, but it did cost us about $90–an obscene amount of money for a 20 minute car ride that was also quite awkward because our driver decided to act as an unofficial tour guide and talked nonstop.
And if you decide to Uber around Asheville, be sure to check into reserving a ride ahead of time versus a last-minute ride. We found that scheduling a ride to a restaurant 10 minutes away would have cost over $40, but booking it last-minute cost just $8.
Rent a Car for the Scenic Route
Beyond the expensive, hard-to-find, and awkward Uber situation, renting a car in Asheville is a good idea if you want to experience its scenic side. The Blue Ridge Mountains (can’t you just hear John Denver singing Country Roads?) are beautiful enough when viewed from town, but a mountain drive would have been breathtaking.
We missed out on that experience because we didn’t rent a car. It wasn’t the end of the world by any means, but know that you’ll need a vehicle if you want to tour the mountains and snap some amazing photos.
Asheville is Home to Many Homeless People
Okay, let me preface this by saying I am not writing this to slam homeless people. (With the crazy world we live in, I’m sure someone reading this someday will freak out that I included this. Oh well.)
Anyway, I was a little surprised to find that Asheville’s downtown area has quite a large homeless population. For the most part, we didn’t run into any issues–people were quietly walking or sitting, being really respectful of others. Some even had dogs with them, and it’s so sad that both owner and pet had nowhere to go.
However, there was one individual who was playing a guitar on a sidewalk in broad daylight and screaming as if he were in a death metal band. They lyrics were mostly along the lines of “fuck this and fuck you and fuck that.” Not exactly comforting.
One person who appeared homeless was scavenging in front of a building, perhaps for cigarette butts. My friend and I had settled in at a little cafe with a glass of wine, just observing people walking by from our seats facing the window. It was really uncomfortable knowing I was sipping an overpriced glass of (not great) wine while this man was perhaps just trying to make it through another day.
I’m not sure what I could have done to help any of these people, as donating a few bucks to everyone didn’t really seem feasible. Does it make me feel great that I didn’t even try? Nope, not at all–I’m still figuring out the best way to approach this situation for future travels.
Also, as the weekdays slid toward the weekend, the number of homeless people significantly increased, which is good to know when you’re planning a trip to Asheville. If you think you might be uncomfortable or feel too guilty to enjoy your vacation, aim to visit earlier in the week rather than on a weekend.
It Matters When You Visit
The timing of your visit definitely matters. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my friend Julie found us cheap flights to Asheville. Turns out, they were cheap because we arrived on a Sunday and departed on a Thursday, which is the quieter part of the week.
As we explored on Monday and Tuesday, we realized that many businesses were closed on these days. The tourist crowd tends to visit from Thursday to Sunday, which is why more businesses are open those days.
Despite a few businesses being closed, the trip was still absolutely enjoyable. And if you’re someone who prefers quieter, peaceful travels, then you’ll want to book your trip to Asheville from Sunday through Thursday. If you’d rather arrive to a bustling, vibrant town, then visit over the weekend.
Awkwardness in Asheville
Even with some awkwardness in Asheville, it’s still so worthwhile to visit. And some of the things I see as awkward may not bother you in the least–but at least you’ll know ahead of time what to expect.