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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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May 14, 2011

At Home With the Vanderbilts

I'm in Asheville, NC!!  Drove down yesterday from Huntington and it only took about 4-1/2 hours and not on interstates!!  A few weeks ago Chris asked me if I'd be interested in sharing a trip to the Biltmore Estate with him.  He's been numerous times and loves it plus he really likes all the photo opportunities it provides.  So, what mother could refuse an offer like that and here we are.

We met at the Visitors Center and got here in time for a late lunch - had delicious gyro sandwiches at a restaurant called Three Brothers within walking distance of the Center.  Then came over to the Biltmore Inn which is the Biltmore Estate's hotel and got ourselves checked in and unpacked.  And then it was off for a drive through the acreage for want of a better term.  Drove up as close as you can get to the house (250 rooms!!) in a car and took one quick picture...

Then on to the greenhouse which is beautiful. I took a picture but was real disappointed with it so will get another one on Saturday, hopefully.

We drove around the lagoon, with its many, many geese and their little ones...

We saw one poor tiny little one all by himself crossing the road (in fact, Chris really had to hit the brakes to avoid hitting him).  He was way too young to be out on his own, but finally managed to stumble across the road.  I think one of his legs may not have been working real well and his future seemed doubtful, but we didn't know quite what to do about it.

Then  we went over to the Biltmore Winery which is in the new-ish (I guess) Antler Village.  We took the winery tour which included free tastings, and it turned out that, actually, there were free tastings for residents of the Inn any time you visited the winery.  So before the tour I sampled reds and Chris sampled whites and after the tour, we switched.  The tour was kind of a hoot.  Our guide was quite personable and had lots to say, but very little about wine.  We got a lot of information on the clock tower,

 a lot of info on a 1913 car that sits in a specially built room, both of which "talks" were interesting and entertaining.  Then on to the winery which consisted of looking at lots of steel tanks that we were told is where the wine ferments.  Then downstairs to see an oak barrel sawed in half and a room where they have kept two bottles of each year's wines in storage since the winery's inception.

So as a wine tour, it wasn't too great, but as a fun thing to do, it was fine.  And nothing like free sips of wine, right?  The winery is located in what was originally the dairy barn and, of course, it was built to the standards of the mansion so is quite lovely.  Crazy, but lovely...

This was just a pretty plant in one of the beds surrounding the dairy barn.  I loved all its different colors.

We decided we were hungry finally and had dinner at The Bistro, a restaurant in the Biltmore Estate at the Antler Village.  It was quite wonderful - I had a roasted carrot soup with tiny little bits of country ham dumplings and a dollop of creme fraiche on top, a liver pate served with a kind of strange green jelly on top (I liked the pate better without the jelly), and an almond-crusted, fried Brie cheese served with greens and absolutely luscious apple salsa.  Chris also had the carrot soup (we both loved that) and ordered a flatbread with mozzarella, pancetta and carmelized onions and I think something else.  We shared everything and pretty much stuffed ourselves. 

This is a picture of a portion of the lobby of the Biltmore Inn. 
The staircase goes down to their main dining room.  In the loby itself is an area called the library which also serves smaller menu items.  There are multiple terraces around the inn where you can sit and drink in the views.

Being our first day and having driven a good part of it, that's about all that transpired I think.  But a nice start to the whole adventure.


January said...

Also, a little jealous that you got to spend your weekend in North Carolina :)

Marlene said...

This is an American castle, and very beautiful, too! How fun for you and Chris to pay it a visit! Marlene

Christopher said...

For any readers who dip into the comments... I'll sound like I work for Biltmore Marketing!
The winery offers tastings to all visitors on the estate (not just the Inn guests). The Antler Hill Village complex was built adjacent to the pre-existing winery, to offer another dining option (Cedric's Pub, plus the Ice Creamery), plus some additional retail, and the "Biltmore Legacy" building which serves as the "museum" for a small display of Vanderbilt family artifacts and an introductory film. Antler Hill Village wasn't completed on my last visit, so it was nice to explore it this time (and discover how tasty Cedric's food is!)

Mary Lynne said...

You don't sound like that, Chris! In fact, I was kind of hoping that you'd spot things I had forgotten to include and that little "museum" was one - it was interesting and I enjoyed that film they had where the current owners (descendants of Cornelia) talk about their experiences when the family was still living in the estate. Made it all seem a little more human...

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