After getting about 2 hours of sleep last night (this morning) we headed out to Asheville with Little Dan and Will. We stopped for breakfast at the first Waffle House we came across because the boys were hungry. I’m going to miss going there when we’re out of the South. Lately I’ve been getting their bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit with hashbrowns. Yum. It’s great having a place that is open 24 hours and serves breakfast all the time.
Anyway…we continued driving to Asheville and entered the estate. The drive up is very long, and then you come to the building where you buy your tickets. Tickets bought, we piled back into the truck and drove farther in to a parking lot. From the parking lot we had to take a shuttle bus, which brought us right to the front steps of the house. It’s quite a sight as you pull out of the trees and onto the terrace in front. Just like a house out of a fairy tale or something. We had a little time to kill before we could enter the house, on Saturdays they give you a specific entry time so that the crowds are more controlled. So we walked around the former Stables/Carriage House which is now a gift shop, and around the front so we could get photos. The house is decorated with gargoyles and fleur-de-lis and other gothic style embellishments.
Finally we were let in, and the rooms were just as impressive as the outside. There is a pretty structured route that you take, which leads you through bedrooms, a massive 7-story high formal dining room, complete with organ and three fireplaces, a billiards room, salon, kitchens, servants’ hall, and gymnasium. There were some very surprising finds, including an indoor heated swimming pool, which is no longer kept filled, but was very impressive. Also, we got to see the two-lane bowling alley, and several bathrooms which at the time were almost unheard of in houses. Each bathroom had a huge tub as well as a toilet with plumbing. The ceiling of the Salon was draped with rich fabric, though most rooms had interestingly carved or coffered wood. One room had marble on its walls. On the back side of the house was a covered porch which looks out onto the mountains that aren’t very distant. One of the staff of the house told us that the property used to contain 125,000 acres of land. The house contains lots of paintings, thousands of books, and lots of great craftsmanship. It’s baffling to think that one small family could build this size house.
After completing the tour through the house, we ventured out into the gardens. First there was a terrace attached to the house that was covered in wisteria. The breeze kicked up and the fragrance of the flowers was amazing. In the more formal “walled garden” there were lots of tulips. By the time we made it through a lot of the garden we were all dragging our feet. Not much sleep and a lot of sun probably contributed. So we made our way back to the truck and drove to the Biltmore Winery, also on the property. We decided to eat lunch at the Bistro restaurant there, which was a bit more high end and pricey, but very good. After lunch, we headed into the Winery to get in line for the tour/tasting. We were each allowed to taste 8 different wines, 3 recommended and 5 of our choice. Dan and I decided to buy a bottle of their Zinfandel as well as their Riesling. Very tasty wines. By the time we got out of there, we were all ready to take off. It was a longer drive back, as we were all a bit sleepy, but we made it safely.
I could visit again and again if I had the chance. Too bad we won’t be in the area for much longer. At least we had a near perfect day. 🙂