We ended up sleeping better than expected, considering the poor sleep we'd had in Charlotte the night before, thanks to a comfy bed. Breakfast was again included (more waffles!) before we headed towards Biltmore Estate. I'd been concerned about seeing the Estate, as I hadn't been able to buy tickets online. Fortunately there were plenty available on the day.
Ted had been hesitant to come to the Estate too, particularly since we'd both been disappointed with the Queen Mary. As it turned out, he really liked it. Biltmore Estate was built by George Vanderbilt and is the largest home in the United States. It was like American royalty - almost every room was open to the public, and they were all spectacular too (particularly since they were decked out in Christmas themes). The place even included an antique bowling alley and swimming pool. Similarly the gardens could be walked through. Included in the cost of the entry was free wine tasting at the winery. Even though I couldn't buy any wines to take with us, I certainly couldn't miss out on a free offer!
For lunch, we tried to eat at the Texas roadhouse which, to our surprise, wasn't open for lunch at all. We then settled on an Appleby's which was a new experience for us as we'd never been to one before. The drive to Gatlinburg was around 2 hours through the Smoky Mountains National Park and, even though I'd originally made plans to see some of the nature sights on the way, decided it would be better to see the town once we arrived instead.
Before leaving Australia, I had read that Gatlinburg was the better place to stay for adults whilst nearby Pigeon Forge is better for kids. Definitely true. Gatlinburg almost reminded us of a country and western Toontown. Not that it was a bad thing! Everywhere you looked there were moonshine distilleries, country dining and wine bars. We really liked it, as the atmosphere was exhilarating. For dinner, we went to a Mexican restaurant, partly because it had a balcony overlooking the town. Really cool.
We wandered around and looked at some of the distilleries (with their multi-flavoured moonshine) before heading back to the hotel. We were even lucky to see some racoons peeking at us from the drains. Not something you see every day in Australia :-)Read more