So on the second day we drove from Nashville to Asheville, and in the evening ate at what we thought was a neat little pizza place. Come to find out Mellow Mushroom is a chain that has a St. Louis location. It was good, but our efforts to eat local failed.
On Wednesday, the day we were to see Biltmore Estate, we stood in line for Biscuit Head. Gary asked, "Why aren't you getting the Biscuit Eggs Benedict? " What I should have said was, "Because egg white intolerance is the blight of my life," but I blocked from my mind Albuquerque, and Louisville, and any other time raw egg whites snuck into the Hollandaise. Those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it and leave a little souvenir of themselves on the Vanderbilt family's wooded estate near an inexplicably locked bathroom. (We were thinking we might see some bears because of the proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains. There were no bears shitting in the woods along with me. I've dropped that cliche completely.)
Even without that inauspicious start to what was supposed to be an elegant day, I still think I would have been let down by Biltmore. Well - there were some individual rooms that were nice, but the problem was there were sooooo many rooms and it was so crowded that the lovely rooms got lost.
And the only real Christmas tree was the one in the dining room: the other 58 were fake.
Then, toward the end when I heard the house was not all stone but instead a limestone facade, I turned my nose up and it didn't come down.
(Are you making the obvious psychological assumption that being reduced to animal status in the woods led to insecure overcompensation that I could only resolve by looking down my nose at the Vanderbilts? Are you? Well, Gary felt the same way and digested his biscuits like a trouper.)
I had had heard the house rivals Versailles. Versailles has nothing to worry about. Here's an example or the Master Bedroom in both. Biltmore is on the left, Versailles is on the right.
Even though that gold wallpaper at Biltmore is made of solid gold, it looks dowdy next to Versailles.
However, the nicest room at Biltmore is the library, and the library at Biltmore is better in my eyes than the library at Versailles:
Though the ceiling mural looks amateur in comparison to the Hall of Mirrors.
There was one room I did love: the baby-birthing room. Mrs. Vanderbilt would only have her babies in this one room, and I think it's because it has a window seat.
The black velvet brocade put me off, but see that ironwork in front of the window? Past that, the floor transitions into a window seat cushion. The floor of the seat area is level with the bottom of the french doors. You get to it by stepping down into that doorway nook where the two framed pictures are. That, I liked. Two thumbs up for that. I saw no window seats at Versailles.
So Saint Louisans, if you want to see a truly lovely house, I would suggest Versailles - or - better - just drive two hours and look at the Dana-Thomas House in Springfield Illinois.
Of course, that house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, so would I like it? Of course. Does a bear ...