Thursday, April 15, 2010


Biltmore House, with SWMBO and JoAnn in the foreground. [Click to embiggen.]

A few weekends ago, we enjoyed a most pleasant visit to Asheville with our friends Gary and JoAnn. It’s hard to complain about a town that has fine hostelries, excellent dining, and the monstrous, bloated Biltmore House, a monument to nineteenth-century conspicuous consumption that makes today’s Filthy Rich seem like smelly hoboes by comparison. And amusing street names, to boot!

We had been to Asheville before. The four of us sojourned there in the fall of 2007, and in May of the following year, I had traveled there for business under the auspices of the Great Corporate Salt Mine. That last trip afforded me my first jaw-dropping glimpse of Biltmore House, the “Biggest Little Cheesebox Bungalow in the World™.”

This particular visit had originally been scheduled for the end of January, but a freak snowstorm that dumped a record-breaking nine inches on Asheville put the kibosh on that. Other people who tried driving there from Atlanta had all sorts of problems - having to get hauled out of snowbanks, sitting in the car for nine hours - so the decision to cancel allowed us to dodge a Major Bullet.

Thus, our visit was in balmy spring weather instead of the chill of winter. Not altogether bad, I’d say.

We stayed at the Grand Bohemian, a property located just outside the Biltmore portcullis. The rooms were nicely appointed, although it didn’t take long to discern a certain bizarre Mittel-Europaische combination of Fine Art and Deer Hunting motifs.

Everywhere I wandered in that hotel, I kept seeing visual puns. Here are a couple:

Branch Manager
The Branch Manager.

The Octomooose.

But my favorite piece of Hunty Artwork was this fellow:

Wild Boar
They call me Mister Boar.

If you look real close (click the photo to embiggen), you might spot the pin from Helen, Georgia’s Oktoberfest on Mr. Boar’s chapeau. Recalling some of the infamous Bloggy Gatherings there, I suspect he’d fit right in!

The weather was cooperative during most of our stay, bringing moderate temperatures and sunshine as we traipsed the grounds of the Biltmore. Sunday morning, as we prepared to leave, the skies opened up... but it was too late for the rain to put a damper on our weekend. A leisurely breakfast at the Tupelo Honey Café’s new southern branch, and we were on our way back home.

A few more pics below the fold.

Hotel Room
Our room at the Grand Bohemian. Note the antler-lamp.

Greek Bust
Part of the Grand Bohemian’s impressive collection of European classical sculpture. There were more Greek busts here than at an Athenian titty bar.

Biltmore Backyard 2
The long portico at the back of the Biltmore House.

Biltmore Backyard 1
The backyard at the Biltmore, which costs more to mow each year than the GDP of most European countries.

No comments: