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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 17, 2011

Sunday Morning in Asheville

Having left the tour of the mansion itself til Sunday thinking that every day we were there, it was going to rain, Sunday turned into an absolutely picture perfect day.  Brilliant blue sky, puffy white clouds, gorgeous!  We enjoyed it on our way into the house. :)

I'm not real sure what one can say about a 250 room "house".  It certainly is big and eye-boggling.  We rented those audio things to tour the house and that probably took around two hours or so.  Then after a brief respite and lunch there at one of the courtyard eateries, we took one of the special tours.  There are three and Chris has done two of them so we opted for the third one "Lifestyles" (it didn't say "of the rich and famous" but easily could have!) cause that one appealed to me more than the other two and I liked that we'd both be seeing it for the first time.

You are not allowed to take any pictures inside, so afterward I went in search of postcards that I could then photograph and there were only three!  Apparently their theory is if you want to have pictures of all the rooms then buy a book.  But I didn't.  So here are the three postcards I did buy:

This was the banquet hall which seated up to 40 people.  George apparently did all his decorating prior to his marriage.  I think a wife might have gently suggested that perhaps all the deer heads could go somewhere else.  If I remember right, I think there were three fireplaces at the other end of the room also.  At least some room had fireplaces at both ends of the room.

Probably should have had this one first - it's off to the right of the grand entrance hall and is a lovely spot.  It's two or three steps down from the hall and is all open but has a nice enclosed feeling.  They have various string quartets, wind instrument groups, etc., that perform during the day, at least on Sundays.  It was a room that you could actually picture yourself enjoying.

And this is the library - gorgeous, obviously and filled with some of the 23,000 books in George's vast collection.  He also collected prints and engravings (I think the amount stated in the tour was 16,000) and both books and prints are scattered throughout all the rooms, hallways, and such.

It really is fantastically impressive - just somewhat hard to relate to.  His bedroom, for instance.  He decorated it all in red and black which I can certainly relate to, and covered the walls in gold leaf!!! which I really can't relate to.  Why not gold wallpaper or, like his wife did in her room, gold sateen fabric (which was lovely by the way).  His room was really attractive also, but good grief - gold leaf!

The lifestyles tour was interesting because they took you through the kitchen areas and a lot of the guest room suites.  The kitchen areas included a kitchen with sinks and all the pots and pans, knives, and a wood-burning stove, etc.  But all the stuff we have in our kitchens was in its own separate rooms.  There was a room for produce, a refrigerated room, a pantry for just canned goods, and a room where they roasted all their roasts - turkeys (at least twice a week!), venison, and whatever.  It was a room with a door and inside up against the back wall were numerous long spits in brackets in front of whatever the heating method was - I couldn't really tell.  So, in essence, I guess it was an oven.  The wood-burning stove in the kitchen was used for baked goods, not meats.

The guest rooms were all very nice.  The ones we saw included four sort of normal sized ones (actually George and Edith's rooms were relatively normal sized also), each with their own complete bathroom (the house has 43 bathrooms, total) and then two basically "master" guestrooms.  They were located in a tower(?) or something that gave them windows wrapping around a curved wall in one set and I think two full walls in the other.  Each set had a woman's bedroom and a gent's bedroom both beautifully decorated.  My favorite was the lady's bedroom in the curved wall bedroom.  Just beautiful!

We also saw some of the servants rooms which were certainly pleasant enough - each with a window looking out on a beautiful view.  There couldn't be a window that didn't have a beautiful view in that setting.  Oh, and we saw the bowling alley, the swimming pool, and the "fitness center", all pretty amazing for the time period of the house.  As were the elevators - one for residents/guests and a service elevator.

That whole tour took about an hour and again involved much up and downstairs trekking.  Felt like I was back in Florence all weekend!

These last two pictures were taken on the loggia which if I remember correctly was off the main hall:

The lord of the manor observing his estate...

and the dowager mother (tee hee)

The rest of the day since it was so gorgeous, we drove off the estate and took a look at Biltmore Village which originally was where homes were provided for a lot of the workers involved in building the house.  They're nice cottage type homes and are mostly used now for shops and businesses.  There is also a nice, comfortable looking church there that George built and it was nice to see that his money did more than build the country's largest house.  He and his wife were actually involved in a number of philanthropic endeavors...This is a picture of the church:

There's an educational building attached at the side and the church is still in use today.

Scroll on down for Afternoon and Evening in Asheville.:)

1 comment:

Christopher said...

I could have sat on the loggia for hours; just bring me an afternoon tea service (on Sevres china and in sterling, of course!)

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