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Asheville North Carolina The South

Asheville – The Artsy and Architectural Town in the Carolinas

October 2, 2017
Biltmore

North America – North Carolina

Asheville – 35.5951° N, 82.5515° W

Crisp Mountain Air… Biltmore… Beer… Artsy Scene…Architecture

Where is this place?

Ok, 72hrJetsetterGirl will be upfront and honest and will admit that she had never heard of the Vanderbilt family let alone Asheville, North Carolina and it was definitely not on her must see US destinations. However, all this changed when her US Buddy, Linda, mentioned “Biltmore”. Biltmore to 72hrJetsetterGirl was the pattern of her Royal Doulton dinner service which was packed away in storage back in Australia.  What is the connection?

Downtown Asheville

Downtown Asheville

Vanderbilt

Linda educated 72hrJetsetterGirl on the Vanderbilt family which then sparked her interest in all things Anderson Cooper, Grand Central Terminal, Breakers, the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic site in Hyde Park, NY  and the largest private residence in all of the US of A – Biltmore.  From that moment on, 72hrJetsetterGirl had an affinity with all things Vanderbilt.

Breakers, Cornelius Vanderbilt's Summer Cottage at Newport Rhode Island

Breakers, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s Summer Cottage at Newport Rhode Island

Setting the scene

For those who are not familiar with the Vanderbilt Family, here is a brief synopsis of the American Family of Dutch origin that were the “who’s who” of the Gilded Age.  It all started with Cornelius Vanderbilt, also known as “The Commodore”, who left school at the age of 11 and started a shipping and railway empire.  He was the richest American in history until his death in 1877.  In a kinda different league to 72hrJetsetterGirl! For the scoop on the rise and fall of the Vanderbilts check out Wikipedia!

 

Biltmore

Biltmore

One word Diverse

Asheville is nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains in the west part of North Carolina.  It has often been compared to a West Coast town that is artsy, eclectic, environmentally conscious and outdoorsy in one word DIVERSE.

Sculpture on the Asheville Urban Trail

Sculpture on the Asheville Urban Trail

72hrJetsetterGirl thought that Asheville had a very similar atmosphere to the coastal town of Byron Bay in Australia, except having a mountain setting instead of white sandy beaches.

Smoky Mountains

Smoky Mountains

Let the exploring begin

After the easy drive from Charlotte, 72hrJetsetterGirl was ready to explore the “San Francisco of the East”.  Signing up for a downtown walking tour was the perfect option to get acquainted with the town that is getting the reputation as a “weekend warrior” location.

Romantic Asheville

Romantic Asheville

Meeting at the Vance Monument (The Egyptian Obelisk) the local tour guide, provided a local’s only would know commentary during the 2-hour walking tour.  Along the way 72hrJetsetterGirl had an opportunity to admire the beautiful Art Deco buildings in downtown Asheville as well as passing by the Basilica of St Lawrence, the Jackson Building, City Hall and The Grove Arcade just to name a few of the highlights.

Jackson Building

Jackson Building

Asheville City Hall

Asheville City Hall

 

Basilica of St. Lawrence

Basilica of St. Lawrence

Asheville's Art Deco

Asheville’s Art Deco

Downtown Asheville

Downtown Asheville

All the Important Food Groups Covered

All this walking certainly made 72hrJetsetterGirl a bit thirsty!  Having read that Asheville is known for its local micro-breweries, 72hrJetsetterGirl was keen to try a tasty ale.  The Wicked Weed Brewing Pub was the obvious choice to re-hydrate. As 72hrJetsetterGirl approached the bar to order her “Coolcumber” American ale and she was “carded”.  God Bless America! There is nothing like the ego growing as you are asked for identification to order an alcoholic beverage.  That anti-aging cream must certainly working!

Wicked Weed Brewing's Coolcumber

Wicked Weed Brewing’s Coolcumber

Insulin to follow

After lining up for 30 minutes, at French Broad Chocolate, 72hrJetsetterGirl indulged in some heavenly chocolate delights.  First off she sipped on a cold bittersweet chocolate drink of organic coconut milk, ginger and ice….two words – Brain Freeze.  Not to be out done she snacked on a chocolate snicker-doodle as well.  Definitely not “weight watchers”.  But it was for a good cause as she needed all her energy to explore the largest private residence in America!

Chocolate Delight

Chocolate Delight

The Day to be Wowed!

Up bright and early, 72hrJetsetterGirl made her way to the main attraction in Asheville, North Carolina – Biltmore built by the Commodore’s grandson – George Vanderbilt.  Construction commenced in 1889 after George visited the Blue Ridge Mountains the year earlier, which sparked his imagination for his country home. 72hrJetsetterGirl wouldn’t mind a country home like Biltmore!

Biltmore

Biltmore

Upon arrival at the mansion home which was completed in 1895, 72hJetsetterGirl was given an audio tour to self navigate around the 250 room home, oops mansion.

Biltmore

Biltmore

Whilst waiting to enter the house, she notice that there were two additional tours available – the roof top gargoyles and the servants quarters tours. 72hrJetsetterGirl opted for the roof top gargoyles tour. The general admission ticket included the gardens.

72hrJetsetterGirl was blown away by the magnitude and extravagance of Biltmore. Unfortunately photography inside of Biltmore is not permitted. During the audio guide 72hrJetsetterGirl was advised that George spent years traveling the world to find the wonders that fill this magnificent house.

Roof Top View of Biltmore

Roof Top View of Biltmore

 

Biltmore

Biltmore

RoofTop View of Biltmore

RoofTop View of Biltmore

Biltmore

Biltmore

Roof Top View of Biltmore Gardens

Roof Top View of Biltmore Gardens

After exploring Biltmore it was now time for 72hrJetsetterGirl to wander on the 2.5 mile path of formal and informal gardens designed by America’s foremost landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon!

The Gardens of Biltmore

The Gardens of Biltmore

The Gardens of Biltmore

The Gardens of Biltmore

The Gardens of Biltmore

The Gardens of Biltmore

The Gardens of Biltmore

The Gardens of Biltmore

The Gardens of Biltmore

The Gardens of Biltmore

A village near by

After spending a wonderful day discovering Biltmore 72hrJetsetterGirl visited the cute and quaint Antler Hill Village and Winery located on the Biltmore Estate before heading back to accommodation in town.

Waterfalls

Before making the drive back to Charlotte International Airport, 72hrJetsetterGirl decided to take in some crisp mountain air and enjoy a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

First stop of the morning was the gorgeous cascades of Looking Glass Falls.  A roadside waterfall off the Parkway near Brevard.

Looking Glass Falls

Looking Glass Falls

Then 72hrJetsetterGirl cruised along US276 through Pisgah National Forest, which is part of the southern Appalachian Mountains, to Sliding Rock Falls.  This slide type waterfall has a gentle slope ending in a large deep pool at the bottom.  What a shame 72hrJetsetterGirl did not bring her swimwear to take a dip!

Sliding Rock Falls

Sliding Rock Falls

Time for some Mountain Air

Climbing to an elevation of 4710 feet, 72hrJetsetterGirl had reached The Cradle of Forestry Overlook.  This overlook offers stunning views of  Mount Pisgah and the Blue Ridge Mountains, with its claim to fame as being the birthplace of forest conservation in America.

Views of Mount Pisgah and the Blue Ridge Mountains

Views of Mount Pisgah and the Blue Ridge Mountains

Views of Mount Pisgah and the Blue Ridge Mountains

Views of Mount Pisgah and the Blue Ridge Mountains

#FunFact

  • Biltmore has 4 acres of floor space and a total of 250 rooms – including 35 bedrooms for family and friends, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, three kitchens, and 19th Century modern novelties such as electric elevators, forced air heating, centrally controlled clocks, fire alarms and a call-bell system.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway was part of US President FDR’s NewDeal to provide jobs to hundreds of Americans during the Great Depression in the mid 1930’s.   The 469 mile parkway turned out to be one of America’s favorite scenic drives,  stretching across the mountaintops of Virginia, North Caroline and Tennessee.

The Nuts and Bolts of this Weekend Getaway in the Mountains

Why this Destination?
  • For the love of all things Vanderbilt and mansion homes!
Considerations?
  • Asheville, North Carolina is definitely a great weekend getaway destination. The laid-back atmosphere is certainly very welcoming from the hustle and bustle of any US major city. In saying that, for 72hrJetsetterGirl, 72 hours was more than ample time to explore Asheville and the surrounding area.  If mansion homes are not your thing, then probably an overnight stay would be sufficient. Whilst if hiking in a national forest is more your style, then 3 or more days would be ideal
How Long?
  • 2 nights, 1 full day and two half days for sightseeing.
Getting Around
  • After scanning Google Flights, it appeared that flying in and out of Asheville was on the high side.  Unfortunately, 72hrJetsetterGirl’s travel budget is not the same as the Vanderbilts so she needed to be resourceful. Option 1 – the American holiday “road tripping”.  The drive from DC to Asheville 7 hours – do not think so, definitely not suitable for the 72hr timeframe.  Option 2 – fly into Charlotte, NC which is an airline hub and drive 2 hours to Asheville – must more doable and cost effective.  Once in Asheville a car is certainly needed.
What to take
  • Just the normal things you would throw into your carry-on for a weekend getaway.  No bikinis required just hiking boots if planning to trek the Pisgah National forest.

Verdict

72hrJetsetterGirl enjoyed her time exploring Asheville.  The quaint town has a nice offering for all types of travellers.  From a mansion home, to artisan food and beer, to hiking a US National Park to those looking for a romantic weekend in the mountains – Asheville is a great option.  To be honest, 72hrJetsetterGirl would probably not fly all the way from Australia to visit Asheville, however if doing a US road trip holiday, then certainly include Asheville on the itinerary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida North America - USA Orlando The South

A Delightful Cultural Experience in Florida – YES!…Tiffany…Dali…Mickey Mouse

August 9, 2017
St Petersburg, Florida

USA – “The South”

Orlando, FL, USA – 28.5383 N, 81.3792 W

St Petersburg, FL, USA – 27.7518 N, 82.6267 W

Tiffany, Venetian Canals, Mickey, Dali and Beaches

What?? Isn’t Florida just – Mickey Mouse, Theme Parks, South Beach, Snowbirds, Alligators, Key West!!

Mickey and Minnie - Disney Springs

Mickey and Minnie – Disney Springs

Winter Park

Well that is what 72hrJetsetterGirl thought before she discovered the hidden gem of Winter Park just a few miles north of Downtown Orlando.  Wandering  down “Park Ave” as affectionally called by the locals, 72hrJetsetterGirl, enjoyed Winter Park’s cosmopolitan atmosphere with its tree lined street,  sidewalk restaurants, boutique shops and museums.

"Park Ave" Downtown Winter Park

“Park Ave” Downtown Winter Park

Winter Park was originally founded as a “winter” resort community for wealthy northerners in the late 19th century.  As 72hrJetsetterGirl window shopped her way along the vibrant main street, she was surprised that this trendy precinct also had a college town feel about it.  Well as it happens to be Florida’s oldest recognized college, Rollins College (1885) is situated at the southern end of Park Avenue and many students from the private liberal arts college frequent this delightful and laid-back area.

"Park Ave" Downtown Winter Park

“Park Ave” Downtown Winter Park

"Park Ave" Downtown Winter Park

“Park Ave” Downtown Winter Park

The retail stores and dining establishments along Park Avenue are certainly upscale, definitely no “Dollar Tree” or “Potbelly” in sight. However, on the spare of the moment, 72hrJetsetterGirl treated herself to a souvenir of her visit.  Who could resist a pink flamingo, which was also a fund-raising initiative for breast cancer research.  Cute and for a good cause! As 72hrJetsetterGirl walked out the shop with her new purchase, it suddenly dawned on her,  how on earth is she going to to fit this cute garden stake  in her “backpack” carry on luggage, more to point how is it going to get pass the TSA officer!  Hopefully they will think it is cute as well!

"Park Ave" Downtown Winter Park

“Park Ave” Downtown Winter Park

A Tiffany Extravaganza

After the shopping expedition, it was now time to visit the the most stunning attraction on 72hrJetsetterGirl’s Winter Park itinerary – a Tiffany Extravaganza. No, not the Tiffany Blue Box kind (we all do like those as well!), but the most comprehensive collection in the world of Tiffany glass, ceramics and jewelry of Louis Comfort Tiffany.  The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is the home of all things Louis Comfort Tiffany!  The museum does exhibit other well known American artists, but 72hrJetsetterGril only had the Tiffany Collection on her mind.

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art - Winter Park

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art – Winter Park

Who would have thought that a museum north of Orlando who be home to the Byzantine-Romanesque Tiffany Chapel with its brilliantly colourful windows and mosaics! This Tiffany masterpiece, was designed and created for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago (1893) and fully reassembled and open to the public for the first time in more than 100 years in 1999 at the museum. Absolutely priceless.

Laurelton Hall, Tiffany’s home located in Laurel Hollow, Long Island – NY, housed many notable pieces of works as well as being a work of art itself.  The home was destroyed by fire in 1957.  However the owner of this museum managed to salvage many of the windows and other architectural pieces and restored them to their former glory and are now on display in Winter Park.

Photography is not allowed in the museum, however the minimal museum entrance fee certainly allows for some purchases in the gift shop.  72hrJetsetterGirl walked away with a copy of “Maiden feeding flamingoes in the court of a Roman House” leaded glass which was originally exhibited at the Chicago world fair and then made its way to the artist country estate, Laurelton Hall. Yes, just in case you were wondering 72hrJetsetterGirl loves anything “flamingo” and used a great deal of self control whilst browsing the gift shop – she could have walked away with a suitcase full of Tiffany treasures.

Feeding The Flamingoes - Louis Comfort Tiffany

Feeding The Flamingoes – Louis Comfort Tiffany

Serenity on Venetian Style Waterways

Next on 72hrJetsetterGirl’s cultural agenda was a scenic boat cruise on Lake Osceola, the pristine chain of lakes in Winter Park. The hour long guided tour cruises through three of the seven lakes and two narrow man-made canals.

72hrJetsetterGirl @ Scenic Boat Tours - Winter Park

72hrJetsetterGirl @ Scenic Boat Tours – Winter Park

During the tour, 72hrJetsetterGirl felt she was on the Grand Canal in Venice as she ducked her head to pass under a replica of the Rialto Bridge, in a pontoon boat rather than in a gondola.

Scenic Boat Tour - Around the pristine lakes of Winter Park

Scenic Boat Tour – Around the pristine lakes of Winter Park

Scenic Boat Tour - Around the pristine lakes of Winter Park

Scenic Boat Tour – Around the pristine lakes of Winter Park

Alan, the skipper, skillfully circumnavigated the pontoon boat around the tight corners of the man made canals whilst 72hrJetsetterGirl could admire the lush ferns on the banks and could literally reach up and touch the overhanging Spanish Moss.

Scenic Boat Tour - Around the pristine lakes of Winter Park

Scenic Boat Tour – Around the pristine lakes of Winter Park

Once out on the lake, 72hrJetsetterGirl could take in the breathtaking views of the opulent private homes along the shore line.

The opulent private homes along Lake Osceola - Winter Park.

The opulent private homes along Lake Osceola – Winter Park.

. The 21st US President of the United States, Chester A Arthur, reported that Winter Park was “the prettiest place I have seen in Florida”.  72hrJetsetterGirl could not agree more as she wrapped up her adventure to this hidden treasure!

Happiest Place on Earth after dark!

Ok, now 72hrJetsetterGirl needed her Disney fix! Where can you experience the “happiest place on earth” in the evening?

Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista)

Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista)

The answer is Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista). A great place to grab a bite to eat, listen to live music and shop in unique boutiques… what more would a girl want – food, entertainment and shopping.

Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista)

Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista)

Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista)

Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista)

The Lego Disney characters were very impressive – not sure 72hrJetsetterGirl would have the patience to be a Lego creator.

Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista)

Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista)

What girl cannot resist having their photo taken with a Princess… 72hrJetsetterGirl just needs to find her Prince Charming and can then live happily ever after.

Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista)

Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista)

72hrJetsetterGirl always wanted to be Born to be Wild.

Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista)

Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista)

Head West Young Girl

Next day, 72hrJetsetterGirl’s cultural experience continued in Florida with a quick road trip of 115 miles from Orlando to the Gulf side of the state to St Petersburg or as affectionately referred to as St Pete by the locals. And in case you were wondering; yes, it was named after St Petersburg, Russia. Peterburgian railway baron Peter Demens had the crowning rights to name this area after winning a bet on a toss of a coin.

St Peterburg, Florida

St Petersburg, Florida

St Petersburg, Florida

St Petersburg, Florida

Exploring St Pete’s Waterfront

Sedwaying around St Pete's Waterfront

Sedwaying around St Pete’s Waterfront

Before embarking on her cultural experience, 72hrJetsetterGirl had a delightful sunshine filled morning Sedwaying around St Pete’s coastal bike track passing by The Don CeSar Hotel aka “Legendary Pink Palace”.

The Don CeSar Hotel aka “Legendary Pink Palace

The Don CeSar Hotel aka “Legendary Pink Palace

Another detour on the tour and not to be missed was at the Ponce de Leon’s “foundation of youth”. Not sure if 72hrJetsetterGirl has extended her life expectancy by drinking the youth potion but the refreshing water was very well received on a hot day Sedwaying around St Pete.

Ponce de Leon’s “foundation of youth” - St Pete - Florida

Ponce de Leon’s “foundation of youth” – St Pete – Florida

Dali’s Collection

After farewelling goodbye to the Sedgway team, it was time for 72hrJetsetterGirl to continue for cultural adventure of Florida.  Next stop – the Salvador Dali Museum.

Salvador Dali Museum - St Pete, Florida

Salvador Dali Museum – St Pete, Florida

The Salvador Dali Museum building is an architectural masterpiece itself – hurricane proof walls out of which erupts a large free-foam geodesic glass bubble known as the “Enigma” – which is made up of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass and stands 75 feet at its highest point.

Salvador Dali Museum - St Pete, Florida

Salvador Dali Museum – St Pete, Florida

The surrounding Avant-garden creates a unique environment of learning and tranquility.

Avant Garden - Salvador Dali Museum - St Pete, Florida

Avant Garden – Salvador Dali Museum – St Pete, Florida

Avant Garden - Salvador Dali Museum - St Pete, Florida

Avant Garden – Salvador Dali Museum – St Pete, Florida

Upon entering the museum, the interior architecture is just as impressive as the outside.

Salvador Dali Museum - St Pete, Florida

Salvador Dali Museum – St Pete, Florida

Salvador Dali Museum - St Pete, Florida

Salvador Dali Museum – St Pete, Florida

72hrJetsetterGirl was amazed that this museum houses the largest collection of Dali’s work outside of Europe – a staging 96 oil paintings, over 100 watercolors/drawings and 1,300 graphics, photographs and sculptures. The museum is home to 7 of Dali’s 18 masterwork including The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.  72hrJetsetterGirl’s personal favorite by the Spanish surrealist painter at the museum is the “Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at a distance of 20 meters is transformed into the portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko)”.  Amazing!!

Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at a distance of 20 meters is transformed into the portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko)”.

Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at a distance of 20 meters is transformed into the portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko)

As 72hrJetsetterGirl made her way to her rental car, she could see something on the windscreen flapping in the wind… mmm wonder what could it be – maybe a discount coupon??…mmm… no such luck…. a parking ticket!!….72hrJetsetterGirl should have parked in the museum’s parking garage instead of opting for street parking….Oh No…lesson learnt.

Before heading back to Orlando, 72hrJetsetterGirl had a lovely beach walk on the white powdery sandy shores at St Petes Municipal Beach and dipped her toes in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The beach is always 72hrJetsetterGirl’s go to place.

 St Petes Municipal Beach

St Petes Municipal Beach

St Petes Municipal Beach

St Petes Municipal Beach

Winter Park #FunFacts:

  • Scenic Boat Tour is Florida’s longest continuously running tourist attraction;
  • Louis Comfort Tiffany is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau Movement.

St Petersburg #FunFacts:

  • Nicknamed the Sunshine City due to its some 361 days of sunshine each year and has a Guinness World Record for logging the most consecutive days of sunshine 768… no wonder if a popular beach getaway!
  • What is a considered a “masterwork” – paintings must measure at 1.5 m in any direction and have been worked on for over a year.

The Nuts and Bolts of this Cultural Experience:

Why this destination:

  • Fan of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Dali;
  • 72hrJetsetterGirl saw a good value return flight to Orlando with more than enough time to drive to St Pete and back to Orlando.

How long:

  • 2 days / 2 nights (In Friday night, out Sunday early evening).

Getting Around:

  • Flew into MCO – Orlando International Airport.
  • Rental Car is a must in Florida!

What to take:

  • As 72hrJetsetterGirl was flying a low cost carrier airline, the luxury of a carry on roller-board meant extra $$s, so she mastered the art of packing two days outfits into a backpack which could fit under the seat in front of her. One advantage, summer time in Florida is always HOT, so shorts and t-shirts will suffice.

Considerations:

  • Read parking signs and do not assume that “weekend” street parking is free.  Definitely not in St Petersburg, Florida.

Verdict

  • 72hrJetsetterGirl really enjoyed exploring the cultural delights of Florida.  If planning a trip to Orlando, a side visit to Winter Park is well worth the effort.   The Tiffany Collection is simply stunning and wandering, eating and shopping around Winter Park is certainly a lovely way to spend an afternoon. The Dali Museum is definitely a must a see attraction for all art lovers and with the added bonus a beach nearby makes it a good value destination.

  

Who else has been caught out and incurred a parking fine when travelling?