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Biltmore

This past weekend, rosepurr and I ventured to Asheville, North Carolina to visit her grandmother for the holidays. Asheville is a fun city, but I had never been to its most famous attraction, the Biltmore Estate. So, while it wasn't the purpose of the trip, we made a point of taking a day to visit.

Here's a description of Biltmore's historical significance, totally lifted from Wikipedia:

Biltmore House is a Châteauesque-styled mansion near Asheville, North Carolina, built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895. It is the largest privately-owned home in the United States, at 135,000 square feet (12,500 m2) (although publications claim 175,000 square feet (16,300 m2)) and featuring 250 rooms. Still owned by one of Vanderbilt's descendants, it stands today as one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age, and of significant gardens in the Garden à la française and English Landscape garden styles in the United States. In 2007, it was ranked eighth on the List of America's Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.

Visiting such opulence at a time of widening economic disparity and the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement is a strange experience. The house is huge, beyond the needs of anyone. It is lavishly decorated, but not gaudy. I really expected garish, and it's not.
That said, with the Christmas decorations providing more light (in the past, it would have had to rely on sunlight through windows, candles, and the flickering flames of the fireplace), the mansion still seemed big and dark. The rooms that most appealed to me were the ones that felt the most lived in - the library (of course), the smoking room (which held books, too), the gun room (perhaps the most masculine room in all of existence), the sitting room between the two main bedrooms (his and hers) where the family often ate breakfast.

We walked around, did the wine tasting, petted animals at the farm, had a yummy lunch at the Irish pub-type restaurant on the grounds, marveled at it all. In short, we had a very nice day together. rosepurr asked me what my favorite part was and I said, truthfully, that it was spending it with her. I'm glad I saw Biltmore, but it wouldn't have been nearly as fun by myself or with anyone else.

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