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Biltmore - Vanderbilt Farm

April 1

Written April 2

Dear Friends and Family,


On Sunday, my goal was the Biltmore Estate - or originally a "Farm" for the famous family.  I had passed on actually staying at the hotel on the grounds.  It was slightly more pricey than the Blue Ridge Motor Lodge. 

The estate is nothing if not organized.  I got there at opening time, so after only a moment in line, a liveried gentleman pointed to "Kathy's" desk and I paid my $59 entrance fee.  The Vanderbilt saying is that they don't run Biltmore for the sake of profit, but they make a profit for the sake of Biltmore.  Fair enough.  From the ticket house to the parking for the main house is a three mile drive. Every gate and turn is manned by friendly and organized folks.  I could tell that today was not a day in peak season.  This organized crew could handle thousands I'm sure, not the several hundred visiting on the first of April.

After getting out at House parking lot A, one of the friendly folks mentioned that I could park down by the gardens, if that was what I wanted to take pictures of, so that's what I did.  In fact, the garden parking lot was a  good travel tip. It's next to the garden and fairly near the house itself.  Since I was carrying a considerable amount of camera gear, distance mattered.

In the garden, I went nuts and took almost a hundred pictures of tulips, dogwood, lilac, wisteria and many, many other flowers I can't name.  Considering that back home in Pommersfelden, only the earliest of flowers are out, this was a real treat.  Besides, taking adequate pictures of flowers is fun and easy.  (Really special flower pictures are much harder, but that's after I do thousands of "adequate".  It's called practice and that was the Sunday goal).   Some of these pictures are below.

After the garden, I went up to the main house. I added to my picture collection with some outside shots, but inside photography is strictly forbidden and I'm sure the friendly people would make sure that was the case.

In fact, I can not do justice describing the house.  I highly recommend going to the website to get a hint of the ornate place, perhaps the finest American chateaus.  It was built in five years, from 1889 to 1895, and was used by the Vanderbilt family as a home for gracious entertaining for over a half decade.  One can only imagine the stories the walls hold.

I left the house, the garden, and my primo parking place and headed to the winery for lunch at the Bistro.  Like everything else on the grounds, this restaurant was a combination of friendly and professional -- and the food was tasty to boot.

By 2:00 pm, I was headed out the gate, after a six-hour castle and grounds tour that was equal to any we have seen in Old Europe.   I suppose that was, after all, George W. Vanderbilt's goal.

So, I do recommend a visit to Asheville and the Vanderbilt farm.  Hopefully, you will look through my picture gallery and get some idea of what I saw on this first day of April.


Photo Gallery (Too many, I know, but that's what my goal was.)




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