Sunday, February 27, 2011

Asheville - Day Three

Alas, all good things must come to an end.  This morning, suitcases bulging and with eyes facing downward, we let ourselves out of The Perfect Loft and left Asheville behind.  As the door shut firmly behind us, we were saddened but hopeful that one day we would be back.  In fact, I'm already thinking about bringing Krista here in May or June, as there were so many places I didn't have time to explore.

By 9 a.m., we were parked at the Biltmore, being shuttled to the mansion itself.  Biltmore House was built in 1895 for George Vanderbilt and family.  It was a monumental undertaking, one of the biggest in American residential architectural history. Frederick Olmsted (who designed Central Park) planned the estate's gardens and grounds (a total of 125,000 acres), including a grand conservatory.  Photographs are not allowed inside the main house, as it dark enough to necessitate the use of a flash, and there are many original tapestries, carpets, wallpapers, paintings and books that would eventually suffer from being exposed to the light. 

The house was modeled after three sixteenth century French chateaux, and has 250 rooms, including 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces.  Nancy and I walked throughout all of the rooms that were open to the public, and it was incredible.  Imagine a basement that contains enormous kitchen and food storage areas, plus a tiled swimming pool and a bowling area!

We emerged back into the sunlight shaking our heads with the wonder of it all.  Even though it is too early in the year for the grounds to be at their best, we still enjoyed walking around  in the perfect weather.  Since we had early morning admission tickets, it wasn't crowded yet (but became more so as the day went on). 

People were out with their dogs, enjoying the weather.  Bikes were quite popular, too.

The conservatory housed beautiful ferns, palms, and orchids, and was one of my favorite areas.

Here's a lone Christmas tree getting ready to wait out the year until next December.
Forsythia was blooming, adding splashes of yellow throughout the landscape.
All that walking around and being impressed gave us a mighty appetite, so we had lunch at one of the restaurants on the estate.  We shared a very good barbecue sampler plate and a bowl of cherry cobbler with vanilla ice cream. Before we knew it, the day had slipped away, and it was time to head back to the Bat, back to Charlotte for meetings.  Soon all that was left of our vacation was a stack of maps in the back seat of the rental car.

As always, thanks for coming along!  I hope you enjoyed Asheville as much as we did.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Asheville - Day Two

This morning, Nancy and I realized that we'd made a horrible mistake.  We did not allow for enough time in Asheville!  There is so much to see and do here, plus we've barely been in our cool loft.  It would be so nice to spend a week here, and not feel as though we had to cram in everything in three days!

I slept in until 8 a.m. today.  By the time I wandered to the side of the loft with the big windows, sunshine was streaming in, and the sky was a brilliant shade of blue.

We decided to take this bumper sticker to heart, quickly getting ready and heading out the door in search of breakfast.
 We walked a block or so, and ended up at the Green Sage.  Their French toast was great, and the fresh orange juice even better.
 Yesterday, a woman in a yarn store told us about the Screen Door, so we tracked it down.  Not too far away, it consists of some very creative yard art, antiques, and local art.  Asheville is a mecca for fiber arts, pottery, and the like.  There was a little something for everyone here.

 We ran into this cute little Dachshund, whom we'd met the other night at the champagne bar/bookstore.  Today, it was apparently shopping for antiques...

 Here's a chair that exemplifies what Nancy and I are feeling about leaving for Charlotte tomorrow to attend our kickoff meeting for work.

 I found this lamp with a porcelain pup base.  The dog has a smirk like Rose's.
We next drove to the Biltmore, where we found that we couldn't get in until 4:30 pm.  So, we bought tickets for Sunday morning at 9 a.m., and our plan is to go before driving back to Charlotte in the afternoon.  Since we couldn't manage that today, Nancy found the River Arts District.  On one side were these interesting houses on stilts.  The French Broad River runs below them, and to the right are warehouses with art studios.
We wandered around one large building, but found that many artists were sleeping in on Saturday.  We did find this attractive, truthful mirror.
 That inspired me to take some artsy photographs.  Here's my self-portrait, and one of Nancy.

We next went back to the historic downtown area, and walked around some more.  Lots of musicians were out, and the area was a lot more crowded than yesterday.

 We had lunch, and then I had a 3:30 appointment here for a facial.  It was relaxing!  While I facialized, Nancy shopped.
 We met up afterwards, and drove around the Montford Historic district.

 We worked up an appetite, and returned to our loft for chocolates, which we'd purchased earlier in the day.  They were excellent!

For dinner, we ate at the highly recommended Tupelo Honey Cafe, just down the street.  It supposedly does a take on traditional Southern comfort food, giving it a new twist.  We were both very unimpressed.  The sweet tea was pathetic, the biscuits were nothing like mine, and Nancy swears she makes better mac and cheese.  Quel disappointment.  I think perhaps Van Morrison should consider suing, as I know he wouldn't want to be associated with such an establishment.
Mediocre food notwithstanding, we are both VERY sorry to be checking out of our lovely loft in the morning.  Time to go pack.  Boo hoo.....I'll check in with you tomorrow evening to let you know all about the Biltmore.  Night night.