Last weekend we visited the Brevard Music Center in the mountains of Western North Carolina to hear Illya Yakushev play Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Piano Concerto and Joshua Bell play Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E. Our last visit was six years ago when we also heard Joshua Bell. Brevard is a small town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Moutains and home to Brevard College that hosts a 6-weeks summer camp for outstanding young musicians. Their auditorium provides a beautiful setting to hear great music with wonderful acoustics.
On our prior visit we also had made the usual tourist stops at the Biltmore Estate, the North Carolina Botanical Gardens, the Grove Park Inn, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. On this trip we ventured farther west to Highlands to see five of the 20 publicly accessible waterfalls in the area. The highest, White Water Falls, drops 411 feet in two tiers and is spectacular.
US Hwy 64 from Brevard to Highland is a winding road that is scenic but is very slow and tortuous travel so you need to allow extra time. We took a break on the drive with a pleasant lunch in Cashiers, another small town with many exclusive gated golf-club resorts in the area. On the third day we walked around downtown Asheville and the Biltmore Village to sample some of the sidewalk cafes and shops. We were fortunate with good weather except for a downpour during a repeat visit to the West Terrace of the Grove Park Inn that obscured the sunset. The weather was rather warm for June but not humid in spite of the occasional thundershowers.
Brevard is about a 5-hour drive west of the Triangle and is not accessible by train. The nearest airport is a few miles south of Asheville and has regularly scheduled service. We stayed in a tourist motel in Hendersonville on the Interstate just east of Brevard because of the overcrowding of the limited number of motels and B&B in Brevard. Hendersonville has promoted its downtown area as another tourist destination, and the area is noted for its apple orchards and is adjacent to Chimney Rock and Lake Lure.
I tried for about 18 months to establish connections as a travel writer and to use my extensive collection of travel photographs without success. Most newspapers have reduced their travel sections to syndicated features and don’t hire freelancers, and the big travel magazines have a stable of regular contributors. Unless you have a truly unique angle it’s hard to avoid repeating the usual comments about popular tourist destinations. Since most of the cities and countries I’ve visited in the last decade were for the first time I’ve seen primarily just the usual tourist attractions. I know Raleigh, Richmond, and Washington, DC very well, but only DC is a world-class city. I did publish a photographic tour guide of Raleigh for cellphones through Visual Travel Tours.