Somehow we managed to get up in time for our train ride. I guess it helps that we scheduled a wake up call and set the alarm clock as a back up. We started the day with breakfast in the hotel lobby. Have I mentioned it was free? Juice, eggs, biscuits, cereal, bagels, oatmeal and tons more. Our favorite… self made waffles. OK, enough about the food (for now).
We departed early for an hour and a half ride to Bryson City which is where Great Smoky Mountain Railroad departs. We were one of the first to arrive, got our tickets, seat assignments and beverage cups. The beverage cups were part of the first class deal and designed to be souvenirs as well as pegged for free refills.
Our seat assignment was something like J3, J4. I wondered about 1 & 2. Were we sitting with strangers? Turned out we were. We boarded the train and took our assigned seats at a table with an older couple in the Silver Meteor. We chit chatted. The train itself wasn’t as “first class” as expected. The chairs were parson’s type chairs. The place seemed a little cramped.
Sorry, I only have the websites stock photo of it. The reason? We moved? The train wasn’t fully booked so the attendant announced that we could move. We found out that the other train car was nicer, spacious and comfortable. Off we went to the MacNeill.
The sights were spectacular. Most of the tracks followed along the Nantahala River. The mini water falls from the rocks, the fauna, Lake Fontana’s beauty, all so wonderful. Unfortunately most photos didn’t come out that well. Apparently the glass made everything foggy in the photos yet we were able to see everything flawlessly. See:
As I mentioned on a prior post, this was some Easter Beagle – Peanuts event going on. Here’s some staff that walked around through the cars:
I wanted to ride in style with some wine:
They didn’t have any Sweet Red or Moscato. The server brought a couple of reds to try but we found them way too bitter. We asked for a White Zinfandel but I “tolerated” it but Jim didn’t care for it… so I drank his too.
Meals came. Mine was wrong. It was supposed to be steak fajita but they brought chicken instead. Had I known they’d have to remake mine I would have gladly settled for the chicken. Jim finished his chicken salad before mine arrived. It seemed to lack chicken salad…
It was time for a 1.5 hour “layover”. C’mon Jim:
The layover was at the Nantahala Outdoor Center where lots of kayaking and white water rafting takes place. We’ll be doing that in June by the way. Yes, really. Jim and his Groupons do keep us busy and entertained!
OK, here’s a bunch of photos of our layover:
Snoopy was at the outdoor center as well as on the train for the kids.
On the way back, we swapped places with everyone on the other side of the train so that we could see the sights from the other side. We ride the same track back to Bryson City.
Lots more sights. Blah, blah:
Above/Below: Lake Fontana.
OK, now for some odd photos I snapped today. The first to show you was while at a store at the outdoor center:
As we walked around Bryson City:
Above/Below: I hope the pay is damn good! No appointments necessary? That’s right, with our extended hours you can stop in any time on Wednesdays between 10am and 2pm. Call ahead to make sure what time we take lunch.
Above/Below: Creepy dolls in a window.
Above: We bought some. We have Kudzu all over NC and the train attendant spoke about it’s history. He said the jelly was tasty. Kudzu came from Japan and is used for many things. If you are curious, click here and here.
It was a great trip today. Now back to Asheville to freshen up and then go out for dinner. We went back to the Cuban restaurant that had been closed Friday night. We enjoyed Havana Restaurant. Jim and I both had Palomilla Steak (Thinly Sliced Beef Loin seasoned with Garlic, Cumin, Salt, Pepper, a fresh squeeze of Lime and topped with Onion Rings. All Entrees include a House Salad and served with Rice, Black Beans, Yucca, & Plantains) For an appetizer we devoured yummy Empanadas (Deep Fried Pastry Shell filled with a choice of Cheese and Pork).
We walked off our meals by touring the streets of Asheville. We ended the evening with a visit to friend, April’s house. We had never physically met her until tonight. Jim has been Facebook friends with her for a long time! In the past, the timing wasn’t right for us to meet up till now. Hi April!