“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust
on monday, my love and i headed over to the biltmore estate, a very popular american tourist destination here in asheville. lucky for us, we live only 5 minutes away from this amazing place, so we can enjoy it whenever we want (we are also lucky to be annual pass holders). now, biltmore estate is the largest privately owned home in the united states, consisting of hundreds of rooms in the mansion, located on thousands of acres of beautiful land. it is literally a breath-taking place – something you just have to see if you visit the asheville area.
at one time, a family did live here – living much as i imagine the people on the popular series “downton abbey” live. it’s crazy in my mind to think about men and women and children, friends and family, using the rooms, eating meals, walking in the gardens, riding horses, celebrating holidays, and just living their lavish life here. but, every time i visit, i have a movie playing in my head…
now, of course, no one lives here, but the estate is open to the public as a grand place of history and beauty. and if you are lucky enough, as we are, to live nearby, it is possible to visit anytime to just walk the trails or sip on a glass of wine at the winery – yes, they have a winery and organic farms and stables and… you name it.
like i said, monday my love and i decided to drive the five minutes to the estate and just spend a few hours basking in the glorious weather. we stopped to pick up some coffee on the way and then entered the grounds and drove up to the house – all decked out for the christmas season. we didn’t go in the house, though. instead, since the sun was warm and the sky was blue, we went to a veranda just to the left of the house, beside the mansion’s amazing library. we sat under the twisted, bare vine branches of the veranda and just chatted, sipping on our coffee. it was about 45 minutes of pure peace. some tourists milled about, and i even took a few photos of one couple for them. but, mostly, we just sat and gazed out over the mountains, or looked up at the grand palace, in awe of the architecture.
of course, i see something new or experience something new every time i visit the biltmore estate. it is a magical, majestic place. and, again, if you visit us (or asheville), it is a must see. but, there is more to just visiting this amazing place that overwhelmed me on monday… it was the realization (once again) of how easy it is to be a tourist in one’s own hometown. not every town or city has the biltmore estate, but it’s not about the big-ness of this place… it’s actually not about the place at all. it’s much more about how we look at things, what we see, and whether we open ourselves up to experience something new or not.
yes, it is a dream to be able to travel to far off places… but, it is also amazing to open our eyes and our minds and look at where we live with a fresh perspective. it’s really just about enjoying where you are, wherever you are at any given time. that’s what makes like rich… soaking up those ordinary moments and letting them be transformed into magical ones.
so, go exploring during the holidays and see what you can find just around the corner. it’ll be fun, i promise!