Early Friday morning I returned from a week long trip with my daughter to North Carolina. We spent 4 days in Charlotte then three more near Asheville at the Biltmore Inn. It was my first time in N.C. and I loved it. The people are warm and friendly, Charlotte is a beautiful city full of charm and tall trees, and the Biltmore...well...there really are no words. Most of the pictures I took were at the Biltmore Estate but I can't put them on here because they have a rule about not publishing pictures of their property without permission. However...you can check it all out, the Inn, the spa, the winery, etc. here.
My daughter was attending an ACN conference so I was on my own in Charlotte during the day. I arranged to take a tour of the city with Queen City Tours led by tour guide Jay Whipple who agreed to pick me up and drop me off at the door of my hotel. His knowledge of the city and it's history is impressive. No detail was left out and he was entertaining as well as informative. I had expected a crowded bus but was happy to find out it would be a smaller van with only two other ladies taking the tour. It was fun being able to talk back and forth throughout the tour. I can't say enough about Queen City Tours. If you're going to be visiting Charlotte check them out. The tour is great and the price was lower than I would ever have expected, great value for your money.
I discovered "The Last Word" bookshop on my first day. It was within walking distance of my hotel but I had to cross eight lanes of traffic with no crosswalk so getting there was a little hair-raising. What a find though. Lots of great books and comfortable couches and chairs to relax on. I sat there reading till I felt brave enough to risk the walk back. I had four books in my hand but made myself put two of them back since it was only my first day and there wasn't much spare room in my luggage to begin with. I bought "I'll Never Be French - no matter how hard I try" by Mark Greenside and "Like Water For Chocolate" by Laura Esquivel, both of which have been on my to-read list for a long time.
After four nights in Charlotte we drove to Asheville and checked in at the Biltmore Inn where we had booked a three night bed and breakfast package. Wow. The estate is beautiful and the Inn was nothing short of amazing. Our room was large and lovely with a beautiful view of the mountains and Asheville nestled among them. We had dinner one night in the Inn dining room as well as breakfast each day, and one afternoon tea in the Library Lounge. Every meal was excellent, but the dinner was a true culinary experience with every course imaginatively created and presented. The flavors! So well balanced and so delicious. It's a great place for dinner sometime when you're celebrating and looking for something special. It's pricey, but it's the once-in-a-while kind of place worth saving up for. And if it's still on the menu, order a Moonshine Sweet Tea. Seriously.
We spent our last day driving through the mountains into Tennessee where we drove around Knoxville before heading back. The mountains were absolutely gorgeous. And that was the end of our trip except for one very long day of travel to get back home to New Brunswick. The best thing about N.C. was the people with their charming manners and friendliness; the worst thing was the "stink bugs" that tried to invade our room at the inn. They were dispatched quickly though and all was well. Better than well...it was one terrific week in North Carolina.