I woke up wanting more sleep despite having slept for nine hours. Clearly yesterday had tired me out. I decided to give myself another thirty minutes to sleep which definitely helped. I had such a quick shower and then went downstairs for breakfast. There wasn’t much available so I had toast with butter, I only had one slice, as their bread was too sweet. I talked to Fabian for a while; he was planning out the next stop on his travels. Wary of the time went to pack my bags. I was the only one in the dorm room so I played some music on my phone to inspire me. I still had one packet of organic, vegetarian pop tarts so I decided to have that as a reward for packing. I went down to the common room where I sat with Francesca and Nina the dog. Outside Chris and Fabian were playing bongos, there was such a fun, easy atmosphere in the hostel.
Nina only sat next to me because I had food. Look how sad she looks because I wouldn’t give her a pop tart. I loved spending time with her as I miss my animals, especially the dogs, as they mean so much to me.
I still had a few hours until my coach to Nashville, so I decided to have a walk round West Asheville in search of a postcard to take with me. There was street art on almost every block and lots of cute stores and coffee shops. I went to Firestorm Books & Coffee and it was genuinely radical. Everything that they sold in the bookshop was cool, it had so many feminist, queer books and zines. I spent a long time browsing through the shelves taking photos of the books I desperately wanted but wouldn’t be able to fit into my bags. The person who was working in the store was friendly and gave great advice over the zines I ultimately purchased. I also bought a number of small souvenirs for my friends from this store and I got my postcard!
I continued to walk down the main street, popping into any shop that sounded or looked good. I must’ve walked for a couple of miles before I turned back as I was close to downtown in the city. Chris with the long hair had recommended Nine Mile – a Jamaican/ Italian fusion restaurant that had vegan options. It was only a couple of blocks away from my hostel and would be the perfect spot for lunch. The menu all sounded good and so much of it could easily be made vegan or vegetarian. I chose to have the grilled jerk tofu linguine with fresh vegetables and a slice of natty bread.
It was amazing. The zucchini was fresh with the perfect amount of bite, the jerk tofu was operating at a whole other level and I was so surprised that the Jamaican flavours were balancing with the Italian elements. The natty bread was like garlic bread but with jerk seasoning and I loved my meal here.
Full, I went back to the hostel and decided to finish off my ice cream which I couldn’t, but, it was just as tasty as I remembered it. I got halfway through and gave the rest to hippy Chris, everyone was relaxing and talking to one another. I felt sad to be leaving but my sense of adventure had fully returned.
I was lazy and ordered an Uber to the greyhound station. I hadn’t used public transport in Asheville and didn’t want to test my luck. Annoyingly, my Uber took twenty minutes longer than expected to arrive as it had been caught in two different traffic jams. The drive to the station was smooth with no delays, I was able to relax a little before I’d get my bus. I’d just sat down on one of the white plastic chairs when this guy got up and spoke to me. He casually asked how I was doing, I think he sensed that I was a bit suspicious of him and he brought up that we were in the same hostel in Charleston. He was like I’m the guy you asked whether the water was safe to drink – wasn’t that funny. I remembered that and we started talking about Asheville, Joe had been staying in the hostel downtown and hadn’t even been to West Asheville. We were both heading to Nashville and coincidentally would be staying at the same hostel. It’s weird or perhaps it just seemed weird at the time but two people from radically different lives could choose the same route and the same hostels.
The bus was already busy when it pulled up but I would have sat next to Joe had it been quieter. I did just nap for most of the first bus, however, I was awake to see the Smokey Mountains as we drove through them. It must have been the rainy weather as the mist made the mountain look as if it was literally smoking.
There was a short rest stop where we sat together on the floor and talked. The second bus was again really busy so we sat separately. I snacked and read on my tablet, it was hard to gauge what time it was as it seemed to get dark early. My bus neighbours were polite and quiet, this is exactly what I want on a bus journey, in a way it was kind of a relief not to sit next to Joe. I use my travel time to reflect on what I’d been up to and how I felt. I came to a sad realisation that I hadn’t taken anyone’s details down who’d been at the hostel and it was unlikely that I’d ever see them again.
Once we arrived in Nashville, Joe and I decided to share an Uber as we were staying at the same hostel. The Uber driver was friendly and pointed out sport and country music landmarks that were unknown to both Joe and I. I probably should have researched Nashville a little more prior to arriving in the city. We checked in to the hostel and it was huge, we were both staying on the 4th floor, my dorm was all female. I was hungry so, put my stuff in the locker and looked on my phone at where I could eat. We had arrived after 9pm and most places were about to close. I went to an Italian place near to the hotel, it was quiet but the service was lovely. The portion was also crazy, I got free salad and bread included with my pasta. The salad alone could have been considered a meal. I felt stuffed really quickly and got the rest of my pasta wrapped up to go.
I chatted with my dorm mates for quite some time; the woman on the bunk below mine was Brazilian and was in Nashville for business. She was interesting and talked about the real effects of the Zika virus. There was another woman in our dorm that was super welcoming and invited me out but I was too tired. I went to sleep feeling good.