Although maybe not the first city someone recommends to visit in North Carolina, we were headed to Raleigh for one main reason – to watch the Chicago Blackhawkes vs the North Carolina Hurricanes in our first ever ice hockey game. We investigated cheap NHL tickets when we were in Mexico and as the South isn’t that hockey mad compared to some other states it was where we found the best value seats. The Blackhawkes are also a team that Anita and I have always gravitated towards and one that’s just generally a pleasure to watch play.
Before reaching Raleigh and after our scenic drive through The Smokeys we stopped in Asheville, a city that was in fact recommended to us several times and for good reason too. The town itself is set in the mountains surrounded by beautiful scenery but also has quite a hip side. We took a drive to their riverside arts district to check out the local talent on display before heading to where we were looking forward to the most – 12 Bones Barbecue.
The barbecue in North Carolina is different to that in Texas in that they’re a little more willing to enhance their meats with sauces, in particular vinegar-based, rather than relying entirely on the natural flavour of the meat. Admittedly we got a little carried away with ordering but still managed to get through it, even washing it all down with a local craft brew, another of Asheville’s specialties. Thanks to our enormous lunch we were able to skip dinner and head straight to the game, parking in our vanping spot only minutes walk from the stadium.
Although high up in the nosebleed section we had the best view of the rink, so grabbed ourselves a drink and got settled in for the game. They definitely know how to rev things up in the states with plenty of lights, music and chanting. The game itself was fantastic as the Hurricanes, also the underdogs, were in the lead for most of the game, only to be taken out by the Blackhawkes in sudden death. How those guys carve up the ice so effortlessly while shooting pucks with surgeon-like precision is beyond me.
So after our game we returned to Fuego, dressed ourselves in more layers than an ice hockey player and jumped under our blankets, trying our best to stay warm on the increasingly chilly nights.
Next stop, the nation’s capital: Washington D.C.