September 13th, 2008 – by: jagnroz
"Sam & Mirabai" with Ajja in front of The Biltmore.
Our hotel serves a full breakfast, but they do not have enough tables for everybody who stays there. We finally asked a very nice couple from Wisconsin whether they would be willing to share. Happily for us, they did. I had asked another couple, young with a small child, prior to Mr. and Mrs. Wisconsin, but the young woman was completely unwilling to share. Breakfast was good and very filling.
We purchased our tickets for a visit to the Biltmore Estate here at the hotel. We saved $11 per person by buying them in advance. We asked Roada to take us there the fastest way possible. Hah! First she took us to a non-existant place in Downtown Asheville, then she had us turning circles.
I finally programed in the Inn at the Biltmore Estate and she took us there, lickety-split! As we drove to the parking area, the road took us past beautiful forests of hardwood trees and tropical bamboo, the latter of which formed living walls. Since the parking areas are quite a ways from the actual home, shuttle buses are used to move people. Good idea!
The astounding Biltmore.
The first view of this incredible house is jaw-dropping. It is truly magnificent. This house, built by the Vanderbilts in the late 19th century, is the largest in the United States, including today. The care and thoughtful construction is obvious throughout the entire building. It is almost impossible to imagine the life style of the early 1900's when the home's owners were in their heyday.
The interior design is amazing. One can only compare it to California's Hearst Castle. Both are huge, but where Biltmore is the epitome of elegance, William Randolph Hearst's house is rather garish and in questionable taste. One of the interesting facts I learned was that the original scion of the Vanderbilt family managed to earn over $100,000,000. His son doubled that amount. If counted in 2008 dollars, that would translate to $96 billion! No wonder they could afford to build Biltmore, The Breakers - their seaside cabin, Sagamore in the Adirondacks, etc.
The Flower Carpet at The Biltmore Estate.
In addition to the magnificent house, the gardens and grounds are gorgeous. They have put up a "Flower Carpet" next to the house.
It is made of thousands of potted plants, including fibrous begonia, a dark purple basil (I think that is what it was), mums and others I cannot remember. The colors of pink, green, black, yellow and more were woven together to create a huge sweep of color big enough to fit probably five houses the size of ours onto the footprint. The grounds and gardens of the estate were created by the great Frederick Law Olmstead, the greatest landscape architect of his day.
Roz and Jag at the Flower Carpet.
Many people would scream about spending money so frivolously. But when you stop to think about how many were employed during the construction (which took 6 years) and the staff required to run this chateau, it does not seem as bad.
We returned to the hotel after asking Roada to take us on the shortest route, rather than the fastest! Big, big difference.
She got us back to our hotel very quickly. We took showers to wash off the perspiration from the hot day. The humidity is really difficult to get used to. Touring the inside of the house at the Biltmore Estate was extremely warm. There is no air conditioning, so fans are used to circulate the air. With hundreds of people going through the house, each emitting 98 degrees, it was somewhat uncomfortable. If you ever decide to visit, I would urge you to go early. It opens at 9 AM.
View of the South Side of the mansion at The Biltmore Estate.
In the evening, we joined the families of the bride and groom for a cocktail party at the Bistro 1896 in Downtown Asheville. It was a wonderful party with a lot of very happy people. My cousin, Irene, is so pleased for her youngest son.
He looks so happy. He deserves it: what a wonderful guy. Jag had a lot of fun with Jeff's dad, Paul La Mere. He is quite a tease and has a great personality. I just wish he had been more up-front with Irene before he left her for another woman. This woman, Jan, is really nice and much as I wish I could hate her for having broken up Irene's marriage, she really is terrific. Politically, we are both well to the left of center, so we enjoyed tearing down some of the politicians (particularly the governor of Alaska!) who are running for the presidency of the USA.
The Grand Staircase is behind these windows.
After the cocktail party, all of us on Jeff's side of the family, walked to a nearby restaurant called the Bier Garden.
As you might be able to deduce from the name, they have a huge number of foreign and domestic beers for sale. Their food was also quite good. Originally, the intent was for everyone to pay for their own meal. However Jeff's uncle by marriage grabbed the check and paid for everything. The bill was over $500, plus the tip! A huge amount of beer was drunk. I am a bit concerned about Jag having drunk as much as he did - it is very high in carbs and that is extremely bad for his diabetes.
Roz in front of the Biltmore mansion.
The drive home was frustrating because I was tired and, for some reason, could not follow the syntax used by Roada. (Another couple we met last night has called their GPS the "Map Witch" ... great name!) I finally listened to her and we found ourselves on the right path. As I am typing this blog, Jag is fast asleep on the sofa. I have my doubts as to whether he will ever make it to the bed. Good night all.....