Biltmore Estate

Visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville on December 4th.

Had photography been permitted inside the house, it would have taken me 1000 hours to get through all the rooms. Ah, the massive print collection included works by Durer! Even the kitchen had views of the mountains! All the creamy white subway tiles in the swimming pool room! The brass animals! The giant library step-ladder! Needless to say, I could go on.

These pictures are from our walk through the Shrub Garden (the Ramble) and some other gardens near the house designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (must return in spring). We finished the day with high-class desserts at the Library Lounge at the Biltmore Inn (with live piano playing Christmas music).


Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film

Last night we went to see 10 short films at a film festival in Durham co-founded by our neighbour. We wrapped up in blankets and perched at the top of the hill which looked down at the screen. Bugs flying in front of the projector tricked me into thinking they were fireflies. I’m glad I brought tea because the evening felt more like September than August.

The evening’s program was called Swiss Shorts and it was a combination of animations and “video art”. I liked the animations best.

The Harmony Centre

Another stop from last weekend’s Doors Open event, the Harmony Centre. Formerly a United Church, the 140-year old building was recently repurposed as a non-profit arts education centre housing a soup kitchen as well as community groups. We visited just at the right time to see a singing group perform!

The CPR Station

Yesterday (Sunday) Eric and I checked out Doors Open, a yearly all-Ontario event where The Public can visit heritage buildings for free. We dropped by the CPR station (again), but the second time with camera.

Originally built in 1946, with its Modern design and excellent downtown waterfront location it would be hard for any semi-imaginative person not to see how this place could be transformed into a magnificent brew pub.


(DAY 7)

Arriving at the belfry, the very friendly ticket man asked us where we were from. For simplicity’s sake Eric just said “Canada”. Then the man asked us what Canadian building was modeled after the belfry of Ghent? Part of me wanted to wait to see if Eric could pass this test on basic Canadiana. The only building I could think would be a possibility turned out to be the correct answer: the Parliament Buildings, of course.

You can see better photos on the Belfort website’s “virtual tour of the Belfry“. Here are mine:

Saint Bavo’s Cathedral

(DAY 7)

We had three goals to accomplish before leaving Ghent on Monday:

  1. see Jan van Eyke’s Adoration of the Mystic Lamb at Saint Bavo’s Cathedral
  2. visit Belfort, the Ghent Belfry
  3. eat at a vegetarian restaurant listed on the veggie map

Everything about Saint Bavo’s was incredible. First, I spent half an hour listening to an audio guide about the altarpiece (a few panels of which we’d seen in restoration at the Museum of Fine Arts, a five year project that began this October). I cut it short only because we did need to catch a train some time that day.

Not only are the altarpiece and the cathedral building itself awe-inspiring, so are the wall paintings, the windows, the organ, the oak and marble pulpit, the illuminated manuscripts, and the 12th century frescoes in the crypt…

Despite all the “no camera” signage, I snuck one photo of some newer stained glass:

See more photos of Saint Bavo’s using Google Images.

Ghent illuminated

(DAY 6)

The city of Ghent has won awards for its light plan which illuminates its historic buildings and monuments creating a walking tour that takes a couple hours. We wandered some of it, but didn’t stick strictly to the lights. If you can believe it, I think we ended up in a bar…


(DAY 6)

We started our second day in Ghent by visiting Gravensteen or “Castle of the Counts”.

Just when you’ve fallen completely in love with everything medieval– the stonework, the hundreds of spiraling steps, the arched windows, turrets, stained glass… just when you start thinking, Oh I wish I could’ve lived back then! Maybe I should take up archery?… Bam, there it is: the Museum of Torture Instruments. Oh yeah: hot iron. Not to mention the cold castle latrine…