Georgia Backroads: Watson Mill Bridge State Park

Audley and I have been making plans for weekend adventures this summer since it’s mostly just the two of us.  Unfortunately there are people who were not blessed with the gift of common sense who insist on bending the rules, so Audley doesn’t always get the days off he is expecting.  The plus side to this is he always has a job when it comes to construction safety which has now run into most of our weekends.

Being ever the spontaneous people that we are, we turned our recent two days of plans into just one as we threw our empty picnic basket and a blanket into the car, made a stop at The Fresh Market, and continued with a road trip heading up Hwy 78 through Athens, Georgia to a sweet little state park.

Now, when most people think of Georgia, the traffic bogged city of Atlanta filled with people that do not know how to savor the simple things, who would rather run over you than accommodate you, mostly ignore you rather than speak, where people seem so angry and bitter and a town that seems to have forgotten its southern graces immediately comes to mind.

Y’all, I spent most of my youth here, and Southern charm and hospitality are not what comes to mind when I think of Atlanta these days!

Truth is, there is so much more to Georgia than Atlanta and it’s metro counties, and you don’t have to venture too far away to discover it! Just hit those Georgia backroads and start exploring!

Just two hours northeast of the city are beautiful farms and quaint little towns.  This is Georgia.  It is here you can escape the hustle and bustle of Atlanta and where you will find Watson Mill Bridge State Park; a 1018 acre park in Comer, Georgia.

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When Audley and I arrived at the park it was so peaceful and quiet, a true break from the craziness of metro-Atlanta!  The park attendant was probably one of the friendliest I’ve ever encountered and was eager to share this historic and picturesque piece of Georgia with us.

{Small towns y’all; that’s where that Southern hospitality thrives!}

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Watson Mill Bridge State Park is home the longest covered bridge in the state of Georgia, a bridge that spans 229 feet across the South Fork of the Broad River in 1885.  It’s one of twenty covered bridges left in Georgia, but unlike the majority of the remainder, this one sits in its original location.  The bridge is well maintained and you can walk or drive across it.  It is truly a beautiful setting!

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According to the Georgia State Parks website the bridge was built in 1885 by Washington (W.W.) King, the son of freed slave and famous covered-bridge builder Horace King.  It is supported by a “town lattice truss system held firmly together with wooden pins.”  Originally there was a mill in the area, but there are no signs of it remaining.

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Although the park is small there is plenty to do for a relaxing day away from the city.  If you are into camping, there are sites available for both tent and RV camping.  Hiking is relatively easy as you can walk down to the old power house built in 1905, but long since abandoned.   There are also trails for riding bikes and horseback riding as well.  There is a stable for boarding, but you have to bring your own horses though.

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We watched families and adults alike play on the rocks and in the water of the falls.  We even witnessed a baptism!  For the kiddos there is a nice playground, but we stayed away from those areas since the focus of the day was on us without kids. While there are plenty of tables and shelters to picnic,  Audley and I were more than content to throw our blanket down under the trees and enjoy the beauty of the falls and the covered bridge away from the small crowds that were arriving as the morning turned into afternoon.

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There is also the option to rent kayaks and canoes, or you can bring your own and put in above the covered bridge.  Rental for the park owned canoes and kayaks is just $10 for an hour and they do provide life jackets.

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Audley and I rented one of the canoes and had the upper branch of the river to ourselves for paddling.  It was quite lovely, peaceful, and quiet enough to hear so many different sounds of nature the city tends to mask!

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We truly enjoyed this piece of Georgia and Audley has already decided a weekend camping here is just what we need …. when this heat and humidity lay off!

Oh my it’s hot down here y’all!

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Sometimes you just have to sit back and let someone else do the paddling!

If you are looking to escape the city or just want to discover some of Georgia’s backroads definitely add Watson Mill Bridge State Park to your agenda.

Watson Mill Bridge State Park

650 Watson Mill Rd, Comer, GA 30629

706-783-5349

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Eight Things San Diego

The boys & I just returned from a fun-filled fall break trip to San Diego, visiting the beautiful city Audley was once stationed in while in the Navy, and visiting with some of his extended family.  The weather was amazingly gorgeous plus we had a fantastic tour guide with Audley’s cousin sharing fabulous highlights over 3 1/2 days!

I totally fell in love with southern California and wanted to share a few of our highlights for a little travel inspiration for your next trip!

I absolutely love history (it was the other half of my double major in college), so when we travel a lot of sights we visit are related to history.  This has always been a fun way to teach our kids to appreciate and learn about the country in which they live without spending as much time in books as I did!

  1. The Hotel Del Coronado.  This National Historical Landmark on Coronado Beach built in 1888 is one of the very few wooden Victorian hotels left in existence. IMG_E7082       This resort hotel has hosted celebrities, royalty, and presidents for nearly 130 years as well as been the location of many literary efforts and even movies sets!

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{Think Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, & Tony Curtis in “Some Like it Hot“!}

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While the hotel has been added on to and grown much over the years, the original Victorian structure still stands and is used for lodging.  We chose to stay in the original Victorian Building mainly because I am such a romantic and loved the historical element.

Our room was so lovely and very roomy.  They have been renovated in recent years, and the more modern decor mixed with the Victorian architecture was tastefully done.  The staff was so friendly and very helpful which always makes a difference in a lodging experience.

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If you love architecture, the Hotel Del has it!  I love the towers, curves, colors and stairways.  It is a step back in time; most definitely one of my favorite time periods of all.

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Oh, I can’t forget… the elevator!  The old fashioned cage-style elevator is still run by an elevator operator which of course totally amplifies the atmosphere!

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The Hotel Del Coronado is family friendly, BUT I’m not real sure that I would take small children (TOTALY MY OPINION) as there are so many couples there for romance, older couples for the resort vacation, and expensive restaurants where the atmosphere is not really for children.  While trying to enjoy an early quiet morning on the patio sipping coffee and savoring the atmosphere, I was really irritated by parents allowing their children to run wild; screaming, yelling and fighting (UGH) and another parent with a screaming toddler who did nothing but make the situation worse by telling her how bad she was.  I try to be understanding, but respect for those around you goes a long way.   Young children in an unfamiliar and more of a grown-up environment really can ruin for those who appreciate and desire it.

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The Hotel Del offers fabulous shopping options (the B&S Emporium could’ve easily emptied my checkbook AND DID cause my suitcase to need a “Heavy” tag on our return flight) from home decor to formal and resort wear!

The Del Coronado is owned by Hilton Properties now, so those who are brand specific when booking lodging will really enjoy the perks! They do not have a shuttle service, so if you have not rented a car, you’ll need to use Uber or a taxi service for transportation.  Many restaurants, galleries and shops off of the resort are in easy walking distance.  The town of Coronado is so cute and definitely pedestrian friendly.

2.  San Diego Zoo. Don’t let the ticket price throw you or even balk at the idea of a two day ticket ($52 for one day/adult & $83 for two day/adult); the legendary San Diego Zoo is so much fun and absolutely worth it!

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I wish we could’ve had two days to visit, but we managed to make the most of one and enjoyed every minute of it.

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After all, a zoo is not necessarily for the kids; big kids and children at heart love them as well.

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With temperatures in the upper 70’s it wasn’t so hot the animals were hiding out.  We were awed, entertained, and mesmerized by the variety of animals and the show many were happy to put on for us.

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We laughed quite a bit as well since I think some of the animals know you are watching and do things like pose for pictures.

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Do these ginormous reindeer make anyone else want to decorate for Christmas in October?

Some tips for visiting the zoo….

**Go early in the day & purchase advance tickets.  There are MANY school and day care groups that visit the zoo so getting in can be crowded and a little chaotic. Parking is free and appeared to be plentiful and despite the crowds of children the zoo was very clean!

**Wear comfortable walking shoes and prepare to get your steps in for the day… uphill, downhill and everything in between.  We managed over 15,000 steps each on our zoo visit!

**Food is available inside the park.  They have several options that fit the theme of whichever area you may be strolling through at the moment, but like most parks, it’s a little pricey.  We did a “snack” which included a kids meal for me.  I mostly wanted the cute little bag, but it was tasty as well!  If you don’t mind the extra bags, you can bring in your own food and drink.

**We didn’t do the bus tour, but having a guided tour around the entire zoo would definitely be an added bonus, if you have the time.  It does cost extra to do this, though.

**Right now (October 2017) the zoo is undergoing some construction work, creating new exhibits.  This also creates a little confusion when following the map and signs.  Be flexible and don’t be frustrated over it.  Progress can sometimes be a pain, but changing up the park makes for a new adventure each time you visit!

3.  Balboa Park.  If you still feel like walking, right next to the zoo is the beautiful Balboa Park.

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{The zoo is actually a part of the park, but you don’t have to do both at the same time.}

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Named for the Spanish explorer, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the park was originally built in 1915 for the California-Panama Exposition, which left behind beautiful architectural delights that were restored after vandalism, arson, and neglect several years back.  The park has had a storied history, but it is now well-maintained with a Prado for strolling, a theater, shops, restaurants, museums, fountains, a conservatory and grassy areas for picnicking and enjoying the day.

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The park is a National Historic Landmark (since 1977) and well worth spending time inside!

4.  Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma.  This gorgeous National Park overlooking the bay commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542.  This is significant as it was the first time a European explorer landed on the west coast.  There is a fee per car (unless you have a National Parks pass) , then stop in at the visitor’s center for a brief history of the area and monument to give you an idea of what you are seeing.

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Walking is easy around the monument and up to the Point Loma lighthouse (the highest point in San Diego) completed in 1854.  There are often reenactors and historians around the area to answer questions and do demonstrations.  Unfortunately we missed them the day we visited, but check their website or with the visitor center for times.

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The monument of Cabrillo was commissioned in 1939 (to accompany a stone marker placed years earlier) by the Portuguese government and donated to the US.  It is so imposing when you look at it up close.

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This beautiful park is not huge, but worth a stop.  The views overlooking the Naval Air Station and Coronado Beach are stunning and make for a pretty picture.

5.  Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery.  Registered a California Historical Landmark in 1932, The National Cemetery is on your way to Point Loma and covers over 77 acres.  Stop, Pay your respects, and honor the many brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.  If you have your family with you, take the time to explain how important the sacrifice of those who served and/or killed in war, those who served in peace and those who stand ready to defend our nation at any time.

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Read the tombstones and the monuments; there are many scattered throughout.

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Let the magnitude of sacrifice soak in.

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Then teach your kids to respect all those who serve our nation, for without them, we would have truly lost our freedoms generations ago.

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6.  Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.  Yes more history and another nationally registered Landmark, but its history mixed with shopping and food and from time to time costumed reeenactors sharing tales of early San Diego!

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This historic park represents the early days of San Diego and is home to many historic building from the years of 1820-1870.  Some buildings are original to the area, first a mission and military area, while other buildings were moved to the location and preserved.

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Cosmopolitian-Hotel

You can still dine and lodge at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, check out an old schoolhouse, courthouse, and a private home showcasing a little upperclass living in the old west, or shop for local goods from Temecula Olive Oil Company.

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Located in Old Town San Diego, and built in 1825 by lieutenant José Maria Estudillo, Casa de Estudillo unveils the lifestyle of a prominent San Diego family.  Standing as the most famous of the original adobe buildings in Old Town, it’s furnished with representative items from the 16th to 20th centuries and is was built with a Catholic Chapel included within its 13 rooms.

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It was a religious and social center during the early years of San Diego.

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I loved the horseshoe shape of the home with the beautiful courtyard at it’s center.

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Portions of the casa are under construction, but you are still welcome to tour other areas.  It is free to tour as you are strolling through Old Town.

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There are also several authentic Mexican restaurants for you to choose from for you cravings dining pleasure.

7.  La Jolla Cove.  Only pictures can describe this picturesque beach area.  Breathtaking and stunning are the only words I can come up with.

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It is well worth spending a day or two, just swimming with the sea lions!

8.  USS Midway and Seaport Village.  While we were unable to tour the Midway itself, I absolutely loved this area of Naval history.  Our visit to San Diego happened to coincide with the Navy’s Fleet Week so we spent a lot of the weekend doing things related to that with Bradley. With his plans of joining the Marine Corps after graduation he was totally taken in by all of the military activity going on.

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The military police demo with the dogs was wonderful & the marines spent a good bit of time talking with Bradley.

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Bradley was a last minute in a “Run Where the Marines Run” obstacle course & 3-mile run… He did so good!

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This boy of mine will make a wonderful & dedicated Marine.

Around the Midway are several monuments and memorials to sailors or ships from the WWII era and even a tribute to Bob Hope and his work with the USO!

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“Unconditional Surrender”

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US Aircraft Carrier Memorial

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Monument for the USS San Diego and her crew.

If you just want to relax and stroll by the harbor, this is a wonderful park to do that!  You can also catch a trolley (it does cost) and take a guided tour of San Diego near the harbor area.

Seaport Village with architecture from Mexican to Victorian is great for touristy shopping, sweet treats and just strolling through for fun.  There is a gorgeous and historical 121 year old carousel with hand-carved horses!

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The harbor is right near the airport, so it was the final destination of our trip before catching our afternoon flight back to Atlanta and I’m so glad we were able to enjoy it.

Have any of you ever visited San Diego?  What did you enjoy most?

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Biltmore Estate Girls Weekend

Last weekend, my blogging girlfriend Tammie Reed (Talking With Tami) & I took off to Asheville for a really fun girls getaway!

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Weekend of fun coming right up!

 Tammie was reviewing Chevrolet’s new totally electric car, a Bolt EV they provided the trip, and she asked me to accompany her.

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I was able to drive the Bolt EV as well.

Tammie and I left on Friday about lunchtime and we casually drove up, stopping to freshen up the charge on the car in Greenville, SC.  We arrived late in the evening, checked into Aloft Hotel (I’m a hotel snob & I approve), walked down to a local sushi restaurant (who knew that you could find delicious sushi in the North Carolina mountains), and then grabbed some rest for our fun-filled Saturday at the Biltmore House.

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I’ve been a season pass holder for the Biltmore Estate for several years now.  It’s always changing and I think I learn something or see something new with every visit!

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Main entrance… guests of Biltmore have entered this gate since 1898!

This was Tammie’s first visit and she was shocked at the size and beauty of it all.

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We had so much fun walking through the estate and taking in the opulent lifestyle the Vanderbilt family must have enjoyed.  One of the goals of the Biltmore estate is to carry on the many legacies of George W Vanderbilt.  These include a gift of hospitality, sustainability, and education.

Each guest who visits the Biltmore Estate is made to feel welcomed and valued.  The Vanderbilts were known for their lavish dinner parties and weeks of entertaining guests at a time.  While I’m sure Vanderbilt never intended to open his home to the public, he wanted a place designed that had the comfort of his guests in mind.

As you tour the home and see the beautiful tables, you can easily imagine the dinners that were enjoyed by family and guests alike.

When George W Vanderbilt III made the decision to build the estate in the 1890s he was inspired by all of the amazing country homes he had seen in his many travels in Europe.  He wanted a place that he could invite friends and family to enjoy the same hospitable lifestyle he had come to enjoy while traveling abroad.  While this was not his only home, it was one he loved and put a lot of effort into creating.  GW wanted a home that would showcase his love for art and literature (he had an amazing collection of both), while also being a self-sufficient, working country estate.  He used the latest in technology and technique to help achieve his agricultural goals.

When guests came to Biltmore they were celebrated and entertained in a spectacular fashion.  Guest often stayed for weeks at a time and had enough activities planned that they never grew bored with the country estate.

The Vanderbilt’s hospitality was enjoyed by many high-ranking social, political and art individuals including the US Ambassador to Great Britain, Joseph Hodges Choate as well as authors Edith Wharton and Paul L. Ford.

When guests dined at the Biltmore they were able to enjoy large meals served in the banquet hall.  With its medieval decor, large triple fireplace and rich, dark colors it was an impressive setting I am sure!  The tapestries hanging on the wall were antiques from the 16th century when GW acquired them so they are true treasures now!

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Couldn’t you just see this table set for a large dinner party with pressed linens, gleaming silverware, glistening crystal, and beautiful china?  Seating arrangements would have been carefully arranged so that guests of honor were predominately seated for conversation.  Dinner may have been for a party of 6 or a party of 36!

Menus for guests were planned around the seasonal bounty that was readily available on the estate.  Once a menu was planned, Mrs Vanderbilt would approve it, or even tweak it a little.

I found this menu dated from March 26, 1896 published a current Biltmore cookbook:

Blue Points (oysters that would have been overnighted by rail) w/ celery, olives, radishes, salted almonds

Saucie de Lyons

Consumme Royale (a rich, clear soup that has been clarified)

Parisienne Potatoes

Cucumber Salad

Terrapin ala Maryland

Sweetbreads with French Peas

Sorbet

Lettuce Salad

Cheese & Biscuits

Ice Cream

Fruit & Coffee

That is a huge meal and just a sampling of what a guest of the Vanderbilt’s might enjoy!

Guests were treated with the finest of food, almost all of the bounty from the estate itself, although an ocasional telegram might have been sent North to have a shipment of lobster overnighted by rail to the estate!  Attention to detail was a standard guests came to expect when they entered the home.

Oh how I wish we still entertained and showed such hospitality today!

Edith Vanderbilt’s sister wrote after visiting the estate,

“The dinner table, in the center of the room, being too large for common use, a small cosy round table is drawn up before the central fire, & there we dine each night, with 2 footmen in knee breeches, gold garters, etc. to serve and look de style!”

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The breakfast room was a perfect place to enjoy an intimate luncheon or take afternoon tea.  Luncheons were smaller affairs consisting of only five courses.  It was a wonderful opportunity for guests to gather to talk about events of the morning or plan other activities for the afternoon.

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 I love the blue jasperware tiled fireplace mantle!

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Food and drink were an expression of hospitality and home away from home for the guests of Biltmore.

Cooking would have been done in one of three kitchens; the rotisserie kitchen (where meats might have been prepared), the pastry kitchen, or the main kitchen with its large stove and oven, icebox for storage and plenty of workspace!

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There were pantries for canned goods, fresh goods, and a huge walk-in refrigerator!  It was the most modern of its time!

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Total pantry envy!!

After supper, ladies might retire to the salon for conversation and possibly live music, while the men disappeared off to the smoking lounge and gun-room for a nightcap.

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I love the dark masculine interior of the smoking room

Guest lodging was plentiful in the home.  With 250 rooms, you can imagine the space available.

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Mr. Vanderbilt’s own bedroom was set up so that when he awoke in the morning and curtains were open, he could see the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.

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Mrs. Vanderbilt’s room was set up in a similar manner, yet much more graceful and elegant!

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There were so many activities available to guest and residents of Biltmore House during the day and evening.

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Outdoor activities including horseback riding shooting sporting clays, hunting, bocce ball, bicycling, hiking (yes they hiked during the Guilded Age), picnicking, fishing were all apart of life at Biltmore.

A July 1908 New York Times article noted that “Mrs. Vanderbilt hosted a fishing party on the estate and landed 20 large mountain trout, the largest catch of the day!”

{I feel like we are missing out on so much in this day and time!}

If you wanted something more relaxing, a stroll through the beautiful gardens or conservatory adjoining the house would be just perfect, especially as the sun is beginning to go down.

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Tammie enjoying the garden late inthe afternoon

If the weather was less than desirable a guest could remain indoors and swim, bowl, workout in a gymnasium, play various board games or read one of the nearly 23,000 books in GW’s library!

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It is said George W Vanderbilt III read nearly 4,000 books between the age of 12 and his death at 51.  He kept a journal listing all of them.

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“The vast swimming tank under the great hall is a great resort for the young men after exercising — ten feet deep so they can take a deep dive.  This forenoon we are to drive about the farms and see the wonderful stock.  Mr. Vanderbilt is teaching the farmers about the first rudiments of farming.”

~from a letter written by Joseph Hodges Choate to his wife, January 1902.

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Each activity would have required an outfit change, up to five a day!  Could you just imagine the flurry of fashion in that house?!

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Just an example of attire from the Guilded Age

Not only were guests at Biltmore treated well, but so were the large amount of staff and employees.  House staff had their own kitchen and dining areas with fresh foods and game as well as bedrooms they did not have to share, which was a rare treat in that time!  Employees of the estate were able to enjoy the bounty of the estate farms as well, in their homes or on their breaks.  It was as if they were family.

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House staff dining room

The legacy of hospitality and sustainability are two of my favorite reasons to visit the Biltmore Estate over and over as these are still prevalent around the estate today.  No, it’s not exactly the same, but the staff of Biltmore are gracious and kind, welcoming, and knowledgable.  The restaurants utilize a farm to table program with much of the produce and meats are estate raised!  And while we did not visit the winery on this trip (I did purchase some amazing grape juice), the legacy of Vanderbilt land continues.

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Take a trip for yourself and see just how fabulous the Biltmore Estate is!

 

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Strolling the Streets of Cienfuegos

After spending nine days in Cuba, I now understand why Ernest Hemingway had so much love for the island where he owned a home and spent 30 years off and on (mostly on the last 10 years), and found much inspiration for his writing while living and traveling in this country. He left, partially over politics, in 1960, but always referred to Cuba as his home. It’s also where Hemingway wrote some of his best literary works. Aside from the drinking and women (both of which Hemingway was fond & obviously I am not), the music, vivid color surrounding you at every turn, passion of the people, simplicity of living, meticulously kept Fords and Chevys, and a lovely, strong people will draw you in. And despite the differences between those of us visiting and those who live there with their government dictated lives, the Cuban people are filled with natural pride for themselves and their country.

I had several run-on sentences forming in my own mind describing this amazing country as we spent our time there!

“Cuba is a country with no historical precedents: economically poor, but culturally rich; visibly mildewed, but architecturally magnificent; infuriating, yet at the same time, strangely uplifting. If the country were a book, it would be James Joyce’s Ulysses; layered, hard to grasp, serially misunderstood, but – above all – a classic.”

– Lonely Planet Cuba

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We spent most of our mission trip in Cienfuegos on the southern coast of Cuba. Known as the “Pearl of the South,” It’s the capital city of the Cienfuegos province and a bustling, busy city built around a bay. While much of Cuba has a Spanish influence, Cienfuegos was actually settled by French immigrants in 1819 and has actually earned status as an Unesco World Heritage Site due to its architecture and layout. It is a beautiful city and so unlike cities on other Caribbean Islands and even within Cuba!

“The colonial town of Cienfuegos was founded in 1819 in the Spanish territory but was initially settled by immigrants of French origin. It became a trading place for sugar cane, tobacco and coffee. Situated on the Caribbean coast of southern-central Cuba at the heart of the country’s sugar cane, mango, tobacco and coffee production area, the town first developed in the neoclassical style. It later became more eclectic but retained a harmonious overall townscape. Cienfuegos is the first, and an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble representing the new ideas of modernity, hygiene and order in urban planning as developed in Latin America from the 19th century.”

– UNESCO commenting on the Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos

Each morning we awoke in our Casa (B&B) to the sounds of street vendors making rounds on their bicycles selling their fresh baked breads, eggs, fruit and even flowers to homes and restaurants alike. Each had their own unique call to let potential customers know they were coming and what they were selling, many with regular customers waiting in the doorways of their flats to purchase what they might need for the day.

The last day of our trip, while Dad was meeting with the Cienfuegos preachers, Mom, Madeline and I ventured into downtown to see this lovely city we had been passing through all week. We had fabulous tour guides through our friends Oscar and Angelica as we strolled the city streets. Oscar is a 5th year medical student at Universidad de Ciencias Médicas.Cienfuegos (The University of Medical Sciences, Cienfuegos) and Angelica is in her last year of what we call high school.20638774_1165878766847583_947183016067189798_nDuring the day these streets are filled with pedestrians, bicycles, carts, buses, an occasional shiny classic car, dogs, chickens and even turkeys! When you head out you might ride in a cart, take a taxi, or walk, after all, that’s what most of the locals do!

Taxi-Cart | Fiddle Dee Dee

Our taxi ride

We took a stroll down the Prado with it’s eclectic buildings with beautiful facades, bright colors, and vibrant life, stopping to snap pictures and even shop a little and then headed down the pedestrian Boulevard where we enjoyed the Walking the streets of Cienfuegos you feel like you are caught up in a glorious time warp, yet it is 2017!

Here are a few of the highlights of our day sightseeing Cienfuegos.

Our Casa was in the area of Cienfuegos known as Punta Gorda.

Punta-Gorda-2 | Fiddle Dee Dee

Two mornings I slipped out of the casa just after sunrise to explore the area. It’s very safe and such a lovely stroll. Punta Gorda is home to beautiful estates built by money in the late 1910s and 1920s. Many of these have been turned into restaurants, B&B’s or hotels now, but they are still stunning to look at. I also adore the natural chippy paints and colors some faded from the weather and others as vivid as if they were freshly painted.

Club Cienfuegos, once a Yacht Club is now the home of several restaurants with a variety of flavors. While we didn’t venture inside, I loved the beautiful lines and curves of this representation of a bygone era.

CLub-Cienfuegos | Fiddle Dee Dee

Built between 1913 & 1917 the beautiful Palacio de Valle is now home to a restaurant, hosts cultural events, and is a museum.

Punta-Gorda | Fiddle Dee Dee

The Palacio Azul (Blue Palace) is a former private residence built in 1921 for a tobacco baron. It was renovated in 2004 and turned into a hotel. While I didn’t have the time I’ve read that you can actually stop in for a tour as it was renovated to match it’s 1920s ambiance and is stunning!

Blue-palace | Fiddle Dee Dee

The Prado is the main thoroughfare in Cienfuegos. Here you will soak in a little local history, find shops, businesses, restaurants, and maybe the occasional parrot to talk to.

Street-Parrot | Fiddle Dee Dee
Cienfuegos was home to the famous Cuban bandleader and singer, Benny More’. It was a place he called home and stayed even after the Cuban revolution and many other musicians left. He referred to Cienfuegos as the “city he loved best.”  The statue on the Prado is a selfie stop, even for the locals.

Benny-More-Statue | Fiddle Dee DeeBenny-More | Fiddle Dee Dee

If you continue onto the pedestrian Boulevard you will find yourself at the Parque José Martí, a gorgeous city square. Off the square you will find the Benny More’ Cultural center featuring art and photography from locals. There is also a little cafe inside that is a great stop for a bottle of water or a soda made with real cane sugar!

Benny-More-Cultural-Center | Fiddle Dee DeeBenny-More-Cultural-Center-2 | FIddle Dee DeeBenny-More-Cultural-Center-3 | Fiddle Dee Dee

The Parque José Martí (also known as the Plaza de Armas) is the heart of Cienfuegos City.

Cienfuegos-Center | FIddle Dee Dee

Cienfuegos City Center

Parque José Martí | Fiddle Dee DeeParque José Martí-2 | Fiddle Dee Dee

Here the architecture is stunning and history abounds as you find Government buildings, the cathedral, theater and other gorgeous structures.…

Stop in at the old Cathedral de Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción that was first begun in 1833 and finally completed in 1869! It is undergoing renovation right now, totally funded by donations.

Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción - 3| Fiddle Dee DeeCatedral de Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción - bell-tower | Fiddle Dee Dee

Cathdral-Stained-Glass | Fiddle Dee Dee_edited-1

Each of the stained glass windows are being sent one at a time to Spain to be restored, and locals are doing the structural work.

Cienfuegos-Cathdral | Fiddle Dee Dee

Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción | Fiddle Dee DeeCatedral de Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción-2 | Fiddle Dee Dee

The arts in Cuba are so important! Our friend Oscar was telling us about how wonderful the ballet is and the shows he has seen at the ornate Tomas Terry Theater. For just 2 CUCs you can wander around the horseshoe shaped auditorium theater built in 1888.

Tomas-Terry-Theater | FIddle Dee Dee

Tomas-Terry-Statue | Fiddle Dee Dee

Tomas Terry who wanted the people of Cienfuegos to have access to the arts.

Tomas-Terry-Theater-4 | Fiddle Dee Dee

Tomas-Terry-Theater-2 | Fiddle Dee DeeTomas-Terry-Theater-3 | Fiddle Dee DeeTomas-Terry-Theater-4 |Fiddle Dee Dee

We walked up to the top of  The Casa de la Cultura Benjamin Duarte (formerly Palacio de Ferrer), built in 1918. While it looks like it is falling down, this beautiful historic building is currently being restored to her original elegance and is just stunning, crumbling features and all.

Casa de la Cultura Benjamin Duarte | Fiddle Dee DeeCasa de la Cultura Benjamin Duarte-2 | Fiddle Dee DeeCasa de la Cultura Benjamin Duarte-4 | Fiddle Dee DeeCasa de la Cultura Benjamin Duarte-3 | Fiddle Dee DeeCasa de la Cultura Benjamin Duarte-6 | Fiddle Dee DeeCasa de la Cultura Benjamin Duarte-5 | Fiddle Dee DeeCasa de la Cultura Benjamin Duarte-7 | Fiddle Dee Dee

From the top we were able to take in a unique view of the Government building and city in general.

Government-Building-Cienfuegos | FIddle Dee Dee

Roofline-View-Cienfuegos | Fiddle Dee Dee

While the park, Prado & Boulevard areas are lovely the people here still live in poverty.  Even so, they are still a proud, hardworking people!

The Palacio de Gobierno or Government Building is  stunning as well. I could not find a construction date for this stately building, but is acts as the city hall of Cienfuegos and is not open to the public.

Government-Building | Fiddle Dee Dee

Cuban-Car-Show-15 | Fiddle Dee Dee

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little pictorial journey around Cienfuegos.  There is so much more that I can share, but that is for another day.

For more of my Cuba posts, you can click here to check out the Cuban Car Show, or click here to check out our mission trip and all the lovely people that we met!

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