The day was finally here, I could not tell whether it was nervousness or excitement or a little bit of each, but I had mixed feelings at that particular juncture. We had been planning for this trip since the beginning of the school year. I still recall that day vividly when our literature teacher, Mrs. Davis, announced that we were going to have an end-semester trip. As a class, we had been on so many trips, but something about this one left the entire class with the fabled warm and fuzzy feelings. Personally, I could not contain the excitement because this was a dream come true. A trip to Biltmore Estate! Like the famous museum in North Carolina, the largest private home built in America. My first encounter with the name Biltmore Estate was in a history class, and immediately I knew it had to be on my bucket list.
We assembled at the school bus park ready to begin our school trip. As part of the precautionary measures, an inspection was done to ensure that all students had carried the relevant materials for the journey. Among them were entrance tickets, cameras, notebooks and recording devices. It did not take us long before the trip commenced to the famous Biltmore Estate. According to my calculations, it would take us two and half hours including the lunch break to get to our destination. Due to my anxiety and curiosity, I found myself visiting the internet to learn more about Biltmore Estate. Mrs. Davis always said, prior to any visit, make sure you have the history and details of the place. This was the perfect moment for me to learn a little about this famous privately-owned home.
The beautiful scenery and the architectural design left no doubts in our minds that we had arrived at the Biltmore Estate. I was awed by what was standing in front of me. As we approached the entrance of Approach Road leading to the front of the Biltmore Estate, I could not help but notice the native and exotic plants creating the essence of a subtropical terrain. There were multitudes of people visiting the estate; evidently we were not the only group interested in uncovering the rich history of the Biltmore House, admiring the picturesque sceneries and participating in the activities offered at the Estate. With my entrance ticket and camera in hand, I rushed out of the bus eager to start my trip; after all, time was of the essence. Everyone, assemble so that we could begin our guided tour, I could hear Mrs. Davis address the other students after everyone had alighted the bus. I was completely engrossed in the beauty of the Biltmore Estate such that I did not hear Mrs. Davis call out my name on the register.
The tour began with a brief history of the biggest home in the United States, Biltmore Estate. Did you know that the Biltmore Estate is commonly referred to as the legacy of the land? No, you did not, and neither did I. The house belonged to the Vanderbilt family, and it lies on 8,000 acres of land with around 250 rooms. Chateaux from France inspired its splendid architecture, and it took him six years to complete the estate. After his death, the Biltmore Estate was left to the Vanderbilts grandson who opened the house to the public for tours. Thus, the name legacy of the land was born because it carries the family's history, its unique construction process, and its hospitality to guests.
It was time to admire the architectural features, and this was the most interesting part of the tour. It was hard not to notice the cantilevered staircase, which led to the rooms on the second floor of the house. According to the tour guide, the staircase was inspired by the Chateau de Blois, who built it. Above the stairs, lies the massive chandelier, which is estimated to weigh around 1,700 pounds. Since it is an 18th century home, the roofing has tiles with copper flashing to prevent water from penetrating. George Vanderbilt's initials are engraved on the ridge of the roof to preserve the family's sense of belonging. However, the inside has been fitted with Guastavino tiles, named after the Spanish architect and engineer Rafael Guastavino. A tour of the Biltmore Estate is never complete until you have visited the Louis XV Room, commonly known as the Heart of the Home. History has it that this room was the birthplace of two Vanderbilt generations. The room is filled with clothing, accessories, furnishings and other priceless objects. I was more interested in the Vanderbilts library, which holds around 10,000 books. For those guests that visit the Biltmore Estate for more than one day, they are allowed to borrow the library books and return them at the end of their visit. The Biltmore Garden comprises of ancient trees together with all American Rose Garden.
There were so many places to tour around in the Biltmore Estate but time factor could not allow us to visit each area. However, we were lucky to visit the Biltmore Winery and experience wine tasting. The winery gets its grapes from the estates, which are grown on the west side of the place. A visit to the cellar was enlightening for me because I learned the art of making the best wine. On this particular day, a movie was being filmed at Biltmore Estate. Therefore, there was limited access to most of the sites in the estate. The movie, The Clearing, was being shot on that location, and although we had to cut short our trip, it was such an honor to meet the famous Robert Redford and Helen Mirren. After close to two hours of our guided tour, it was time to return home. We all left with unforgettable memories, but it was my intention to make a return trip to Biltmore Estate during the summer. This time I would spend a few weeks with the aim of partying in the banquet room, picking flowers from the gardens and, of course, my favorite, reading some of the books from the library. We all took with us the Biltmore Estate guide book together with other gifts courtesy of the estate. In case you are thinking of taking a vacation in the North Carolina Mountains, think of The Biltmore Estate. It is the place to be!
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