Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bryson City

Jason and I had this past weekend planned for a while. I did get the original idea as kind of a whim, though Jason and I talk about just booking a hotel room and disappearing for a weekend more often than you think.

Or perhaps just as often as you think... that really depends on who's reading this, I suppose.

A few months back, though, I decided to go ahead and plan a damn vacation already, since I was talking about it so much and we both need one badly. Since I no longer work a job where I have to beg, borrow, and steal enough vacation days to actually see my family in more than a passing glimpse (and Jason's job gives him the week of Christmas as a baseline, with a few days of personal-choice time), we actually had enough days to make this kind of thing happen.

So we packed up the car, drove into the mountains, and ate way too much food.

We stayed at the Fryemont Inn. Originally built in 1923, it's on the National Register of Historic Places (it even has a shiny plaque by the door) and the owners (who bought it back in the 80's) have worked hard to keep the original charm of the place.

This means, in a word, that the walls are thin and you can basically hear the conversations of the people next door. If this bothers you? You might want to stay somewhere else. But it didn't bother us, and to be honest we never felt like anyone actually kept us up at all. I mean, everyone basically went to bed around 10-ish since we all had lots to do the next day.

However, staying at the Fryemont also means the smell of old wood,a huge fireplace whose fire never goes out, and warmth radiating out into the lobby. Complimentary coffee, decaf, icewater, and hot water are right there with tea bags and hot chocolate packets. There are giant wooden doors they can deploy to close off the hallways and make the lobby even cozier. The rooms don't have TV, though there is a TV in the "kids' corner" type place in the lobby, and the wi-fi works there, too.

And it's perfect.

The room we stayed in was the perfect size for us - a bed, dresser, sidetable, desk, room to walk in, a sink, and a bathroom with a shower. The quilt laid atop it was heavy and there was a soft under-blanket as well to keep us warm, as well as a fan that blew cool air when we came in still sweaty from hiking. While we spent some time in the room reading in the evenings, we actually preferred to head out into the lobby, curl up on one of the couches provided out there, and enjoy all the people hanging out. This is what people used to do - be with each other in the lobby, talk to strangers, make new friends.

The price of breakfast and dinner is included with your room, and you pay your bill when you leave with all taxes and extra charges (like beer, wine, mixed drinks, or if you go completely nuts in the gift shop like I did and find yourself buying herbal bath salts for some reason). I had steak two nights in a row. I never eat steak, but the people at the Fryemont did an awesome job. We even ended up seeing the same woman working the dining room the whole weekend and she remembered us, as well as a server we'd had one night asking us what we'd been up to the day before. Friendly banter = an awesome mood to eat dinner in.

I maintain that Jason and I's habit of being as nice as possible to the servers, piling our dishes neatly up to the side when we were finished with them, leaving as little cleanup as possible and tipping generously probably alerted everyone that we had worked the service industry ourselves.

Seriously, I don't really mean to ramble on and on and I am so not being paid to gush like this over a hotel, but I felt like I was taking a chance when I made the reservations, that maybe a place this old wouldn't be a place I'd like, that maybe we'd miss the lack of TV too much... but we really didn't. Well, Jason and I don't really watch TV (beyond reruns of Frasier and Mythbusters on Netflix), but still, it was a concern.

It was a great base from which to go hiking or into town or do whatever.

Totally worth it.

Totally going back.

The Fryemont sits up on a hill just above downtown Bryson City, which is a city in that it has houses and shops and people live there. It's pretty much just a small town in an exceptionally gorgeous part of the country, and it makes no bones about this. "Downtown" is about three blocks.

Which meant it was a perfect afternoon shoppin' time.

Best places: Mountain Perks (best pumpkin latte I've had so far this fall - also staffed by the friendliest people ever, and as a side note some of those friendly people had the cutest children ever, so apparently there's something in the water here), Cork & Bean (what, me love coffee shops and restaurants that make fancy crepes? Who knew? Pssst - if you're ever there, try the Crepe-a-dilla), and the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad train depot because it had a barn quilt, like this:

.. and also because there was a place behind the depot called Choo-Choo Coffee & Trading Company that also (you guessed it) made awesome coffee. And also fudge. But mostly it's the gingerbread latte that won me over.

... also I love this bear-bench.

I love it a lot.

We had exhausted Bryson City (although we never did ride the railroad, since it didn't really fit into our plans - if we bring our hypothetical children with us, it's definitely something we'd do) in about four or so hours of wandering split over two days, but the little city is seriously a great place if you want to hike in the Smokies and want a good place to rest your head and unload your gift shop acquisitions...

I mean your stuff.

Unload your stuff.

That you brought with you from home.

This was mostly just to tell you guys a little bit about where we stayed, city and hotel. I'm trying to make this soup I found on Pinterest for dinner and I've barely had time to touch the actual hiking photos I took and the stuff from the Cherokee Indian Museum, so I suppose, once again I must end an entry with

More later.

But you forgive me, right?

Oh! Let me show you, in a single photo, why Mountain Perks was my favorite coffee shop.

"Hippies Always Welcome."

These people are my soul mates.


  1. Sounds great! We got our postcard today.

  2. Oh, good! I only beat it by a single day, haha.

  3. You should have a travel blog! Or be a travel writer for the mags! This really made me want to haul my butt over there. Glad you guys had a great time. I like the bear pic the best - SO CUTE!


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