Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King Weekend

Today is Martin Luther King Day. It is a federal holiday to honour Martin Luther King Junior. It is supposed to be a day of service to others, but we didn't quite get that memo in time and decided to take an exploratory trip -- our first since we've been living here. On Saturday we packed our weekend bags and headed to Asheville, a small city that lies just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We stayed the night in a motel in Asheville.

Lauren at the Biltmore EstateThe next day, we went to the Biltmore Estate. It is a huge estate with, amongst other things, its own high-end hotels, restaurants, stables and winery. It can best be described as a stately home on steroids. It's not that old. It was built just over 100 years ago by a Mr George Vanderbilt, who one day said to himself "I have shedloads of money. I wonder what I can spend some of it on?"

Mark, Emily & Lauren at the wineryWe started off looking around the stable's museum, then went wine tasting at the winery. We had intended to check-out the maze, but instead decided to look around the house (about 4 miles from the winery). The house boasts four stories (one of which contains the servants' quarters); and a basement that includes an indoor swimming pool, gymnasium and bowling alley. Mark was mostly envious of their library. Because of the time in which it was built, the whole house was able to be built with electricity and plumbing throughout. This also meant that the tour of the house was also able to include architectural plans and construction photos.

Mark, Emily & Lauren at Biltmore EstateWe were very impressed with the value for money. We got to see a large proportion of the house (compared with what's open to the public at your standard National Trust or English Heritage site). In addition, all the furnishings were the Vanderbilts' original furnishings. By the time we finished we were the last members of the public to leave the house. Our car was the only one left in the car park and it was dark as we drove around the estate trying to find the elusive exit.

The next day we went to a small town called Black Mountain, set in a valley, with mountains in the distance.

Black Mountain
We drove up into the hills a bit, then visited a lake called Lake Tomahawk. After lunch we headed home.

Emily & Lauren on the swings at Lake TomahawkMark & Lauren at Lake TomahawkThe Seven Sisters at Black Mountain

1 comment:

Ahthene said...

I went to Asheville years ago, and I absolutely loved the Biltmore Estate. I had mostly forgotten about it until I read your blog.