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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 16, 2011

Saturday in Asheville, Part II

So, to continue...After the greenhouse and gardens visit we walked up to the house and decided that most likely the genteel ladies of yesteryear didn't really make a habit of walking to and from the greenhouse!  All our walking there was of the aerobic sort.  We had decided that even though it wasn't very sunny, as long as it wasn't raining, we would try and see as much as possible of the grounds and then do the house tomorrow when it could rain if it wanted to.  We wandered around the immediate grounds some and I took a few pictures there.

On the way up...

A trellised approach to the house where the genteel ladies probably loved to stroll - it's beautiful.  There are busts on pedestals all the way down the length of it and looking out towards the view, there is the sunken Italian garden - don't know why it's called Italian but it's three pools with various water plants growing abundantly.  And this next picture is at the end of the arbor nearest the house.

Next are several shots of parts of the exterior representing a drop in the bucket of the whole structure!

 Lots and lots of gargoyles everywhere...
 A very ornate facade and more gargoyles...
 The exterior of the grand staircase - I think this is my favorite portion of the entire building.
And this is looking across from a terrace to the windows of George's den - he certainly had a wonderful view!

Next, we either had lunch or took a very long, very picture-taking walk.  So, I'm going to report on lunch and save the 19 pictures I took(!) for a Saturday, Part III.

On the Biltmore Estate (it's 8,000 acres by the way, down from the original land purchase of 125,000 acres!!) is the Antler Village area where we had our wine tour on Friday.  There are two restaurants there - The Bistro (Friday night's dinner spot) and Cedric's Pub named after George Washington Vanderbilt's dog, a big, very pleasant looking St. Bernard.  And I just realized I haven't done very well at telling you what little I can about Biltmore.  George Washington Vanderbilt is the man behind the magnificence.  He started out wanting a small get-away (say 10,000 sq. feet. :) ) nestled in his 125,000 acres in the beautiful hills and mountains of North Carolina.  The architect he hired was Richard Morris Hunt, a famous man known for, among other things, designing the base of the Statue of Liberty.  Chris told me that he read that Mr. Hunt, when he took the commission, privately decided that this would be his biggest, best, and any other superlatives, project - a lasting icon of his brilliance.  It's believed that he encouraged George to keep adding, changing, improving, etc., his 10,000 square foot cottage and they ended up with a 250-room (largest home in America) mansion - a very weak word for this building.

So that's the George that had the dog Cedric for whom the pub is named. :)  Anyway, I ordered two appetizers - a Scotch egg which turned out to be a hard boiled egg which is then rolled in their own homemade sausage (just a thin coating), then in bread crumbs and then deep fried!  It was served with Lusty Monk mustard which I didn't care for but I love the name.  The sausage was real tasty but essentially it was a hard boiled egg.  I also ordered what they called a ham and cheese fondue but it was more of a little gratin with exceptionally delicious shaved ham nestled in Gruyere cheese and baked til brown and bubbly.  Wonderful, wonderful.  Chris ordered the ploughman's sandwich, a big heaping of ham served with pickles and the lusty monk mustard along with homemade potato chips.  Thus, we were quite well fortified for the coming hike which will be detailed in Saturday, Part III.

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