Christmas splendor at the Biltmore Estate

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, North Carolina, near Asheville

WEATHER: Sunny and warmer. High mid-50s

Our daughter that lives here in Asheville works at a hotel across from the Biltmore Estate. She was able to get us complementary tickets to visit the Biltmore Estate (normally $85 each!)

So, George stayed home to mind the housesit and pets while she and I did the tour.

The Vanderbilts built this mansion in 1895. It is always beautiful to visit, but especially now decorated for Christmas. Each of the 250 rooms had its own tree and decor….

There were lots of tourists viewing the house. (George would not have liked the crowds.) We saw lots of ballrooms, banquet rooms, dining rooms, living halls, bedrooms, and atriums. It was also interesting to see the downstairs floors – swimming pool and bowling center. We read that this was before automated bowling pin set-ups, so servants had to reset the bowling pins after each throw. Then,, in the the sub-basement we got interesting glimpses of the servants’ quarters, kitchens, and laundry.

After the house tour, we walked around the gardens, mostly barren this time of year, and then to the arborteum. It was glorious, especially with the Christmas additions of poinsettias.

From there, we visited another part of the Biltmore Estate, where they have hotels, a winery, shops, horses, and restaurants. We ate at a pub called Cedric’s, named after one of the Vanderbilt’s favorite dogs. We shared a ploughman’s lunch….

After dropping our daughter back at her house, I rushed back here in order to arrive before dark. There are a lot of curvy, moutain roads that are hard enough to negotiate in the light.

DINNER: The cover of one of my food magazines proclaimed recipes for “the world’s best grilled sandwich and home-made tomato soup”. So, unable to resist, we gave the recipes a try. They turned out really well. How could you go wrong since the grilled cheese sandwich included great cheeses……Manchego, sharp white cheddar, Monterey Jack, Gruyere, and Brie?

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