Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Biltmore Estate - Asheville, NC - Day 2

This morning we slept in and just puttered around getting ready to visit the Biltmore House today. We decided to go to town to get our breakfast.

We called the valet service to fetch our car. We were told it would be about 5 minutes. We headed downstairs and went outside. It was approximately 40 degrees this morning, but just lovely. Air is fresh and clean, flowers are in bloom, and everything seems right with the world up here in the hills.

After several valets came to see if they could help, and 20 minutes passed, a head valet finally came to tell us that our car keys had been lost. Naturally, I didn't bring a second set with me. They reassured us that they would find them before long. By now, it's 10:45 AM, and Dave's starting to wane from hunger. Hoping that I could work this key loss to our favor, I mentioned he was a diabetic and needed to eat soon. The valet went off to see if he could comp us a breakfast at the hotel. We headed inside to wait the decision, when shortly thereafter, they appeared with the keys. A sigh of relief and a disappointment at not receiving a free breakfast. Seems the keys had been dropped in another car.

We were off and running. But, Dave's navigator got us lost (yup, me). Finally, we found our way to the correct street and headed toward the Asheville Mall where more restaurants are available. We had a nice breakfast at IHOP and headed back to the hotel to get the free shuttle to take us to the house. If we took the car, I was afraid we'd have a long walk from the parking lot.

Our tour of the house is included with our stay here at the Inn. Normally, it's fairly expensive, but can't remember how much--maybe $30 each. We opted for the headsets that explain the house in detail. They are $8 each, but certainly well-worth the great explanations provided.

The Biltmore House is the largest single-family residence in the United States. It is only 175,000 square feet.

The ornate exterior is French in design and covered with gargoyles and other designs.

Here's some of the architectural elements.

The entire tour of the house for the basement and first through fourth floors is two-and-a-half miles. We managed to do the basement and first floor. Then, it was time for a break. We turned in our headsets and got return tickets to pick them up later in the afternoon. As we exited the house to head to the Stable Cafe and restrooms, we were faced with purchasing a photo of us that was taken a picture by the atrium. Of course, I purchased it as a nice souvenir and will scan it in when we get home.

I had an ice cream after in the courtyard of the Stable. The weather could not be nicer. It is a beautiful 72 degrees with a gentle wind.

After our break, we headed back to pick up our headsets. We had decided to try to finish the house today so as to avoid paying another $8 each for headsets tomorrow. But, by now, we are pretty tired.

When we arrived back at the headset station, I thought I'd ask if we could get them again tomorrow without paying for them again. The woman looked at our tickets and said that it didn't include free headsets, which of course I knew. But, she pulled us aside from the earshot of others and told us that if we came back tomorrow at a time when it would have been possible for us to have gone through some of the house and we showed the headset attendees our tickets, they would not know that the return ticket was from today and not from tomorrow. It never hurts to ask, and in this circumstance, paid off royally. We were much relived as we could go back to the hotel and rest. We had not taken additional Advil with us to get us through the house walk!

We decided that we'd head to the winery and check that out before going back to the hotel.

Here's Dave waiting for the shuttle with a Lion standing guard.

We hopped on the shuttle and got off at the winery to drink the afternoon away. The tour was not too long. Here's one of the storage rooms.

Naturally, we found shortcuts to lose the others on the tour and head for the tasting station. I think I had about 7 samples and Dave had about 4. That was enough to send our blood sugar over the top and my inner air-conditioner to go on the fritz. I started extruding my own pool of water. We didn't really like any of the wines we tasted. So, we decided to shop for other items.

We then went to the Bistro to get some sandwiches to take back to the room for our evening meal. There were no sandwiches on the menu that suited our taste and simple style, so we asked if the chef could just make us a ham & cheese sandwich, which he kindly did.

We went back outside to wait for the Inn shuttle (only runs every half-hour on the hour or the half). While we were waiting, I took some great pictures of the variety of poppies in the garden. Dave called it the opium field!

We hopped on the shuttle and headed for the Inn. Of course, leave it to me to find a nail sticking out of the back of the seat and scratch my knee. It didn't tear my pants, but could have. So, upon exiting the van, I informed the driver. Of course, Dave was somewhat annoyed with his Pam Police.

When we got back to the Inn, we purchased tickets for the Legacy of the Land tour for 11 AM tomorrow. We decided we'd do the riding tour in the morning and finish up with the rest of the house in the afternoon.

We took our sandwiches and headed to our room to indulge for the evening and settle in for a night of relaxing TV and Internet chatting. We had to get up early in the morning (anything earlier than 9 AM is early to Dave) to get the shuttle to take us back to the House where we were to begin the Legacy tour.

With our tummies now full and the finals for Dancing With The Stars to entertain us, we settled in for the night.

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