Saturday, April 15, 2017

2017 CROSS-COUNTRY ROAD TRIP - MONDAY, APRIL 10TH, 2017 - PART 3

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Now that I have told you about our visit to Mabry Mill and to Orelena Puckett's cabin, it's time to move on to Biltmore Estate.



At 10.34 a.m. we crossed into North Carolina. The odometer showed 48515.

I can't remember what time we reached Biltmore. We bought our tickets after we had parked the car at a nearby visitor center, before we got on the shuttle.  They were for 2.00 p.m.  A lady at the door of this extraordinary home ushered us in.


You can take a shuttle bus to the main house, which we did, but you cannot ride one back to where you parked your car.  I did see people dropping off their family members but from way off.  



I am not sure what the protocol is about this because a parking attendant seemed to be telling them to move on very quickly, and this was way off from the house.  


If you had a mind to visit in the future, I would check up on what the procedures are because it is a long walk. We didn't do any research along these lines and you might find a better way to get down to the house.  



For a Monday it was packed with tourists, so many of them. I was surprised to tell you the truth but it shows how very popular this Biltmore is. It is rather an extraordinary home.  


The above area is not too far from the front door. I think we would call it an atrium. The family would have had to navigate the few steps down.  It was blocked off to the general public and people were stretching their necks over the ropes to look around. Chinese lanterns hung from the branches of small trees.  They looked very pretty, very colorful. 


I was just thinking how lovely it would be to visit this place during Christmas.  


The glass roof and the wooden beams are spectacular to see with your own eyes, everywhere is.


The website is at this link.   You can also read about its history here.  George Vanderbilt visited Asheville with his mother and liked it so much that he built his country home here.  Construction began in 1889. It has 250 rooms and its architecture is that of a French Renaissance chateaux.  It has to be seen to be believed.  I am a visual person and I was absolutely mesmerized.  It is truly hard to capture it in photos.


One you get inside you can rent the hand-held self guided tour device, or join a guided tour led by a docent.  We didn't do either but there were plenty of docents in every part of the house where you could glean very interesting facts about the family. They are very receptive if you want to ask questions.


It is truly hard to comprehend the great wealth it must have taken to create this luxuriousness.  


There is an exhibit taking place until July 4th.  In each room there were mannequins dressed in the costumes that actors wore in various movies.  


These two photos were from unidentified characters in the movie "Sleepy Hollow".


I couldn't get too close to the costumes as the room was roped off, but they were from the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.


The following costumes were from "Finding Neverland", released in 2004.


The same with the following two photos.


I share copies because it shows the fireplace better in this shot.


As I have always had a great interest in traditional clothing down through the ages, this exhibit was definitely my cup of tea. The workmanship of each costume looked incredible, and I would have enjoyed getting closer to examine each and every detail, every stitch.  


In the photos above and below, these costumes were worn in "The Golden Bowl" released in 2000.


All costumes were kept behind ropes but I was grateful that they were not individually encased behind glass, as I have seen in exhibits elsewhere.  A big plus for those who want to take photographs.  There were many doing just that, and taking videos.  When I asked if pictures were allowed as we entered the building, happily they were, just as long as you didn't use a flash.


From one of my favorite books "Jane Ayre".  I have read it several times over the years.  These costumes were worn in that movie, released in 2011.


Sometime in the future I will do another post on the other costumes I saw here.


We looked at rooms on two floors and could have gone to the top of the house, but we both had reached our limit.  


We had walked up one very long flight of stairs, and those to the top of the house seemed narrow, steep and claustrophobic.  It was a hard decision to make but on overhearing our conversation, one of the staff told us about a movie showing in a room close by.  Watching the movie we could see those  top floors.  


Also he said that there was an elevator he would take us to afterwards, so that we wouldn't have to walk back down the stairs.  He guided us through the barriers, unhooking the ropes as we passed in front of lines of people, and showed us the room where we watched the movie.  Then he took us to the elevator.  


It wasn't probably as small as I thought it was at the time, but it felt a teeny-weensy thing.  Two young ladies waited in front of us, and they were going down with the husband of one.  He was pushing their very sleepy toddler in a stroller.  These young ladies offered us their place and we said no at first but they insisted, and we gratefully accepted.  Gregg then gave up his place to a lady with a walking stick, and she thanked him.  

The elevator isn't in regular use, so I think we were lucky.  It is used for those who have difficulty navigating the stairs.  The lady who pushed the buttons told us it had the original mechanism still in place.  They wanted to keep it going for as long as they could before they had to replace it.  I tried to imagine the Vanderbilts using it all those years ago.

We started down.  No it doesn't have the smooth ride of a modern elevator but it did its job very well.  I did, however, have a flashback to a rickety elevator in a very old hotel in Switzerland when I was 13 years old.  I was on a school holiday.  The elevator was one of those that look like a cage and two of my friends were going up to our room.  The elevator grinded to a halt between floors, would not budge. Panic!  


We started shouting down to the bottom, and even yelled to the top, hoping someone would hear us.  Sure enough the sound of footsteps running up several flights of stairs.  A porter who was very good natured, reassured us that everything would be okay - at least I think that was what he was saying as we didn't speak French.  (We were actually learning the language and encouraged to use it by our teachers, but we could not understand a word he said dear man.)  

He worked his magic and after what seemed like an intolerably long time, the elevator jolted upward, on its way to where the kind gentleman was waiting for us.  We shot out of our prison like scared rabbits, thanking him profusely, he was our hero.  "Merci beaucoup Monsieur!"  At least we could say that.  

But for the rest of our stay, did we ever set foot inside the cage again?  That would be a definite no. We did get lots of exercise going up and down all those flights, and I have not thought of that in years, until getting into the old elevator at Biltmore.

I couldn't hop off it as fast as I could when I was 13, and I let the lady with the walking stick go before me, even though I was eager to get out of there as I am a tad claustrophobic.  

In turn the young man waited for me to exit.  He was a very nice young man and said he and his family were from South Carolina, and he would be driving back home, that it would take two-and-a-half hours.  He was hoping the baby would sleep and his wife could get some rest.  The little one could barely keep his eyes open.  I said there was a good chance that their wish would be granted, and so finished another pleasant interlude in the day.

Gregg and I will enjoy coming back here one day, maybe in December.  There is a lot to see and who knows, next time we will get to the top of the house?  Then maybe not but I am thinking positive.  The elevator doesn't go to the top floor.  I'm positive I might not make it up there, but I will live in hope.

Coming down back to earth after that mind boggling chateaux, the walk back to our car seemed twice as long, but we eventually made it. 




In the distance, still on Vanderbilt land, the patch of yellow was very striking.  Later we found that it was a crop of canola.  This may be a city girl talking but I had no idea that canola could produce such pretty yellow flowers.



We will be getting back on the North Carolina 143 W for about three hours.  Gregg wanted to take a pretty route he had read about on Yelp.  When we exited the Parkway we drove about 30 minutes to our hotel.  We noticed that there were still patches of snow in places up there.

8.01 p.m. we are at the bottom now and the sun has set.  We have been driving at the side of a very picturesque river, with gently rolling white water.

9.00 p.m. we reached our tour hotel for the night.  A long day for us as we usually stop between 6.00 and 7 p.m.  Time for another good night's sleep.




42 comments:

  1. My daughter and I were at the Biltmore in 2014 and we were not permitted to take photos inside. I enjoyed seeing your photos! Happy Easter to you and yours!

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    1. Others have told me that too. Just hope they don't change their minds before my next visit :)

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  2. What a wonderful post! I had no idea about the beautiful yellow canola flowers. I am scared of old and small elevators!! I used to be scared of all of them, but having to go on the big ones so much has cured me of that. But I won't go on the small ones. What a wonderful house, and I love they let you take pictures inside! I had heard that you cannot take pictures inside, so how wonderful!! I do love the green dress that looks rather Egyptian. Many aspects of this house remind me of an old castle. And it looks like it even has it's own church! You did not make it all the way through, but you did much better than I would have. You saw most of it, and the parts that were the most important. What a dining room!

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    1. I haven't ever seen a field of blooming canola flowers before Ginnie. I hope they don't change their picture taking policy. I loved the Egyptian costume also. Thank you for your comments Ginny.

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  3. What an incredible place - and how nice of the staff member to escort you to the lift.
    I suspect you will sleep VERY well.

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    1. That night I slept very well I hope yours is a better night's sleep also.

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  4. I am glad that you and Gregg might be going back in December, Denise. Beautiful photos. Thank you so much for sharing this tour.

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    1. Thank you Linda and I am keeping my fingers crossed for December :)

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  5. fantastic place to visit. I love your phoptos

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  6. WOW! What a brilliant place to visit and so much to see. I loved seeing al the costumes. A brilliant post Happy Easter.

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    1. Thank you Margaret and Happy Easter to you too.

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  7. Wow! Wow! What an amazing place. I was particularly intrigued by that banqueting table filled with plants. Thanks for sharing these lovely photographs, Denise.

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    1. You are very welcome Valerie and that banquet hall table with all those flowers was really something wasn't it?

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  8. I have never seen canola growing or knew that it is a flower. something new every day. the photos are amazing of that gorgeous house. my two favorites are the close up of the lion and the lantern... those dresses are amazing. I would not ride on the elevator at all since I am more than a tad claustrophobic. I only ride one when I absolutely have to... I was stuck in the freight elevator back in the early 80's when we had a power outage. we were moving manquins from downstair in sears to upstairs. the two of us were yelling the house down in the dark

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    1. This is the first time I saw it also Sandra. I can understand your dislike. The freight elevator was not a good experience.

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  9. That atrium would be beautiful, with lit lanterns, at night.

    The painting, where you are talking about not wanting to climb any farther up.... Looks like a John Singer Sargent one.

    Ohhh you actually were in one of those old cage-like elevators!!!!! Not a happy experience for you, but they are so interesting.

    Have you seen the one, in the old Doris Day film, "Midnight Lace"!!! It is delicious, although the film is a nail-biting thriller. :-)

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    1. Thank you LC. I seem to remember the title but can't place the movie. I did watch a lot of Doris Day movies.

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  10. Nice....keep saying that one day I will go to the Biltmore but as of yet, I have not made it. I love those dresses. In my teens I worked in the gift shop at the Hermitage Home of Andrew Jackson and on days off since I loved that stuff so much I toured other historial homes around. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. It took us years Pam. Thoroughly enjoyed this story, must have been so interesting.

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  11. I have never seen so many photos of Biltmore, and because I have never been there, your post was a real treat! Such amazing beauty. Lovely architecture. It would be a place to visit over and over because I imagine it's hard to see everything in one tour. Lovely shots.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it Marie. Hard indeed!

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  12. Hi Denise, and wow what a beautiful place to visit, sounds as if you had a long and strenuous day, I should think you slept very well. Some of the clothes look exquisite but must be a nightmare to keep dust free and clean. It seems somewhat foolish to supply a shuttle to get you to the house but leave you to walk the return, surely the bus must return to pick up the next visitors??. All the best John

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it John. You described our day perfectly and yes, we slept very well:) I agree, I can't imagine the amount of dusting needs to be done around there. It does seem strange not to have a shuttle for getting back to our car. Gregg did ask the driver at the end of our tour and we just about groaned when he said, sorry no can do. Service is provided for getting people to the house, not back to the cars :(

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  13. What a beautiful building. Love some of those costumes they are quite stunning. We have lots of rapeseed (canola) around here at the moment the fields are stunning. Thanks for sharing Diane

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    1. You are very welcome Diane and I was very interested about your own canola fields over there.

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  14. What a crazy thing you experienced in that elevator. It's good that everyone exited safely. I love those costumes, but can't imagine me wearing them. Too tight. I will continue to wear loose fitting muumuus.

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    1. An experience I will never forget Gigi. You are right, those costumes would be hard to wear in hot weather.

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  15. ¡Hi! I just have known your blog and I follow u now. I hope u can visit mine and follow me back.
    Kisses ;)

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    1. Thank you Sky. So nice to meet you. I am going over to enjoy your blog right now :)

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  16. Your photographs of the interior are beautiful. The first time we visited Biltmore we toured the house and the grounds. That was an awful lot of walking! The second time we toured on,y the grounds...still lots of walking. I believe I would have difficulty doing all that walking now.

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    1. Thank you Linda, good to hear you visited Biltmore. We didn't' have time to check out the grounds but hope to next time.

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  17. Oooh such a lot of goodies here Denise. I love the gardens and those pretty paper lanterns. Gorgeous architecture and the costumes are magnificent. You've done a fabulous job with all your commentary. Happy travels :D)

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    1. Hi Sue, there certainly was. I was fond of those lanterns too. Thank you so much for the kind comments.

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  18. What a beautiful place, Denise. You've captured it splendidly.

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  19. This looks such a great place, so much to see.
    Loved all of your photographs.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thank you Jan, it is an amazing place.

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  20. that must be one amazing place to visit. I can't even begin to imagine the opulence.

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    1. Hi Felicia, yes it was. I can't imagine living that kind of life.

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