Thursday, May 22, 2014

Biltmore is nothing when compared to good friends.

Got some awesome news about a friend's new job this week, and it jogged my memory that I hadn't written about hanging out with her (her hubby, and another delightful friend) in February. #BadFriendAndTraveler

My friends, Angela and Ashley, have been in my life since 2005 and 2002 (not 2022 as I originally typed. Derp.) respectively. We all worked for the same unit here at the university, and even though since 2007, we've all been long-distance friends, we still talk, visit when possible, etc. They are both just delightfully beautiful women, inside and out, and I just adore the stuffin' out of them both. Angela is a double joy, because with her, is her amazing hubby, M

When Ashley moved to DC (where she still lives), Angela & I were still in the same city, so she & I flew out for a girls' weekend there, and had a really fun time. Both enjoy traveling a lot, and are fun partners-in-crime. We visited the all of the memorials, including the WWII, which I had not yet seen. We went to Mount Vernon, which was really lovely. We went to the Native American Museum on the Mall. In short, we did that city up. 

My favorite photo from our girls' trip to DC. 

Over the next few years, we always talked about another girl's trip, but "life" around the holidays, Ashley & I decided we were going to figure out how to pop down & visit the McBride's, where they live in South Carolina. We found a weekend, we booked tickets and we counted down to the fun. 

Enter this epic winter and it's delightfully "hilarious" weather. Our destination received something like 8" of snow the day before we were to travel. I was going from Ohio to Detroit to South Carolina. Normally, I'd be really concerned about Detroit but not this trip.....

Luckily, as soon as the snow fell in SC, the temps warmed up, the sun came out and by the time we arrived Friday evening, there were just small piles on the sides of roads and parking lots. 

Friday night was Valentine's Day, so Angela cooked for us, so we didn't have to navigate crowded restaurants, and we spent at least 3 hours, if not more, all talking at the table, laughing, telling ridiculous stories, catching up. It was really enjoyable and reminded me how much I miss these ladies in my every day life. 

Saturday, we had a scrumptious breakfast (grits casserole!!!!!), then headed into downtown Greenville to wander and learn their city. We walked along the river and walked across a pedestrian bridge over a pretty falls. 
We walked around the perimeter of Fluor Field, the home of their AAA baseball team, and saw Shoeless Joe Jackson's childhood house, which is on the far side of the ball park, as well as a statue to him too.

We walked by a statue of Joel Roberts Poinsett, as well, the 15th Secretary of War, so, you know, I had to have my photo taken with him. 

Our last stop downtown was a seriously cool, old style general store: Mast General Store. Complete with candy in barrels, it had a little bit of everything. We were in there for at least an hour. I came away with some candy for me, some candy for Spouse and something for my friend, Brigid, who loves anything maple syrupy. 
Sunday, was pretty wicked though. M & Angela are members of the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC, which is about an hour from them. We had timed tours of the mansion, and Angela (ever the hostess with the mostess) packed snacks for us, and off we went. The trip there was really lovely and scenic. The grounds were stunning, even as we just drove to park and then on the shuttle to the mansion. I felt like Lizzie Bennett in Pride and Prejudice when she, her aunt and uncle are visiting Pemberley, because the lands are so extensive. 

The home itself is.....stunning, amazing, overwhelming, gorgeous. I simply cannot imagine living there, and what it took for it to be a fully functioning home. Holy balls

I loved the cupola.
Inside was breathtaking. The level of detail that went into building the 250-room chateau is unbelievable. What else is pretty unbelievable is this was the Vanderbilt's SUMMER home. As in they didn't live here all the time. 

Pictures are not allowed inside and I'm a good girl, so didn't snap any, even unobtrusively, like other guests (heathens). But allow me to say, put this on your list of places to see. You will not regret it at all. Whether you are a history nerd, an architecture nerd, a garden nerd, a foodie nerd - seriously - no matter your flavor of nerd, there's something there for you. (Leather wallpaper, people - leather.wallpaper.)

The setting itself, the situation of the chateau as Jane Austen would write, is also breathtaking. My photos do not do the vistas justice. 
After the house and some of the ground, we wandered down to the greenhouse and took an inordinate amount of photos because everything was in flower, especially the orchid section of the green house. Something I learned from the Biltmore Garden: greenhouses can have hot houses and cold houses. Who knew? 

I'm only going to post a few of the flower/plant photos but wow.






I highly recommend the timed tour of the house (it includes a fantastic audio guide device), as well as the gardens. There are over 2.5 miles of paths and trails around various areas, so you can get in some extra walking if you want and if weather permits. The ground, after 8" of snow, was pretty muddy so we stuck to going from house to greenhouse and gardens in-beween, rather than go farther afield. 

Give yourself a good 4 hours to do the house and greenhouse. More if you want to explore more of the grounds. 

But wait - there's MORE!

You should also visit The Village! A very picturesque village that houses the Biltmore Winery, an exhibit titled "The Biltmore Legacy", Antler Hill Farm, as well as restaurants and other retail establishments. We ate at Cedric's Tavern, which is named after George Vanderbilt's St. Bernard, and it was very tasty. Also the first place I tried Highland Brewing Company, which is a local brewery in Ashville. 
I'm sitting on the back of Cedric, the St. Bernard.
We did a tasting in the Winery, which was very nice - good selection and had a glass of prosecco in the bar, and wandered around the winery. 

Then we went to the farm's petting zoo and watched animals for a bit. There was a hilarious white chicken that had these groovy feathers in-between its "toes" but apparently, I didn't get a good pic of it. 

I'd say, if you want to do the Village, first, make reservations if you can at a restaurant. It helps. Give yourself at least 2-3 hours, outside of dining, if you want to see everything. 

These are my favorite pictures from this trip, courtesy of Mr. McB:

Just amazing. The trip, Biltmore Estate, downtown Greenville, but most of all my lovely friends. 

Anybody else ever been to Biltmore? Thoughts? 
Did I miss something that you think I need to see?
(Someone, please say yes - I want to drag Spouse with me!)


  1. Oh, the candy! Also, I love that you know me from the future. Hehehe. Love you, chica!

  2. I'm such a nerd! I proof each post 3 times. Owel. Never claimed I was anything but dorky. I sure hope I know ya until 2222, ANS :)

  3. Deal! And I'm pretty sure Mast's will still have candy in 2222.