I was blown away by the creativity (and madness) of my first experience of renaissance faire in Michigan. Upon learning that we have our very own ren-faire in North Carolina, I could not resist but go, enduring a two-hour drive to Charlotte and the cold Carolina fall. The village was stunning especially with the fall trees adding magic to the background. And when you are in the village at dusk, it is simply beautiful. The renaissance village is like a coveted paint on a black canvass: lights glowing, sun setting and a ton of merry-making.
Category Archives: North Carolina
Hubby and I were spoiled with cruises while we were in New Bern, NC. After a wonderful cruise at Cape Lookout, we were more excited to conquer the waters. My parents-in-law arranged an hour and a half cruise on the Neuse River for four of us. And aboard the Nirvana, a 43 foot sloop navigated by Captain Malinda Cayton, we found ourselves sailing one of the widest rivers in the United States and the waters which the infamous pirate Blackbeard roamed in the early 1700′s. Dad even got the chance to take the wheel and steer! The cruise departed from Northwest Creek Marina at Fairfield Harbour. It was a calm and beautiful afternoon, perfect for a cruise. It was very peaceful, hubby smiled when he squeezed my hands as I squeezed his in response.
It is still a wonder until today why I am passionate about lighthouses. I tried but I had given up knowing. Is it the beauty or the concept of guidance? Hard to tell. I have been, however dragging my hubby with this enthusiasm. We have said our hello’s to the old Mackinac Point Lighthouse in Michigan and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse in South Carolina. And about two weekends ago, this time with my parents-in-law who offered us their utmost hospitality at Wyndham Resort at Fairfield Harbour Point in New Bern, the Cape Lookout Lighthouse charmed us with her beauty. This was less than a week before hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, when we were lucky to have a weather perfect for a tour around the Outer Banks.
The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is a 163-foot high lighthouse located on the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina with a rotating 1,000-watt beacon that flashes every 15 seconds, 24 hours a day, perhaps the only lighthouse known to operate during the day. It is painted in a black and white diamond pattern to indicate compass direction. When the sailors see a black lighthouse with a white diamond pattern, that meant the ship was sailing east or west. However, when they see a white lighthouse with a black diamond, that meant the ship was sailing south or north.
A short walk trekking the boardwalk from the lighthouse surprised us with a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean. If you stare long enough, you will be enchanted with dolphins as if inviting you to take a dip into the water.
Getting to Cape Lookout and the Lighthouse is only accessible through authorized ferries and boats and is an adventure itself. Aboard the Outer Banks Ferry, it takes half an hour from Beaufort to the docks of Cape Lookout. The 3 hour tour with one hour disembarkation at Cape Lookout Lighthouse cruised down the shore of Shackleford Banks, giving us a glimpse of the wild banker ponies that inhabit the island. And just when we thought the adventure is over on our cruise back to Beaufort, we were more than delighted to be entertained with dolphins. They get really close you are tempted to touch their fin!
And it seems we were not the only ones enjoying this cruise. The tour captain’s dog seems to be enjoying as well. Yup, Cape Lookout has a way of seducing you, your pets included.
The North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort is one of the three maritime museums in the state. The other two is in Southport and Hatteras. The museum holds interesting documents, artifacts and researches of the maritime history in North Carolina coast with displays of dugout canoes to motorboat and different marine science. It also exhibits North Carolina’s commercial fishing and whaling industry highlighting a display of a 33.5-foot sperm whale skeleton. The most popular exhibit however are the artifacts that are claimed to be from the shipwreck of the famous Blackbeard the pirate’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge.
Just across the street from the Museum is the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center which is a boatbuilding and restoration facility. It practices the traditional boatbuilding where visitors and tourists can watch the process and learn. The facility also offers weekly and daily class of boatbuilding to those who are interested.
Tryon Palace first served as a meeting place for the colonial assembly and a residence for the Royal Governor of North Carolina. All the buildings are reconstructed buildings except the stables. The Palace is a gorgeous Georgian architecture with exquisite furnishings and a garden beautifully manicured with a diversity of plants which are said to be native to the river edges of coastal North Carolina. And with the aim to give visitors a better museum experience, Tryon Palace opened the The North Carolina History Center complete with the state-of-the-art interactive technology and living history programs.
Starrlight Mead is a labor of love. It is an epitome of a defined purpose and noble cause. A reminder that in this fast-paced and competitive world where almost everything’s worth is measured in currency, love still moves us.
The couple Becky and Ben Starr discovered mead while attending Renaissance Fair. After hearing good results from their friends who are home brewing mead, they decided to do their own. They liked the mead they did and their friends who have tried their mead liked it as well and would come back for more bringing pitchers with them. On their first competition, they brought home the Best in Show prize out of the 210 entries in the home mead-maker category, an amazing feat they themselves did not expect as beginners. And the rest, as they say, is history. Starrlight Mead is a labor of love, created not for capital gain but out of the couple’s desire to share to the world this beverage and their passion for this craft. As a matter of fact, the Starrs are still doing their respective full-time jobs out of the meadery.
Mead is a fermented beverage from honey, much closely associated to wine than beer. It is a separate and distinct type of beverage, also known as honey wine, probably the oldest known fermented beverage. At Starrlight Mead, scheduled tours are available.
Their wide selection of meads consists of Traditional Off-Dry mead, Blackberry Off-Dry mead, Traditional Semi-Sweet mead, Black Berry mead, Sweet Peach mead, Spiced Apple mead and Meadjitos. I liked the Black Berry mead while hubby liked the Spiced Apple mead so we bought a bottle of each.
Starrlight Mead is located in Pittsboro, North Carolina. It is a meadery that will remind you of home, the kind where you just want to sit down, sip mead, talk like old pals and wonder of Renaissance as you glance at their beautiful collections of dragons and drinking horns.
I love the pewter goblet heart sets. They are paired to make one heart!
My hubby was drawn to the dragon interior displays in an instant.
Starrlight Mead also cares for the environment. Bottles are recycled by local artists, and corks, both natural and synthetic, are reused to make other items. Inside the winery is a display of colorful bottles recycled into a beautiful candle holder.
When people do labor of love, it inspires souls. It exudes and it reflects. It makes me conclude that Starrlight Meadery’s secret is not North Carolina’s honey but love – lots and lots of love.
A visit with my hubby to the 8,000-acre estate in Asheville, North Carolina covering the Biltmore House & Gardens and the Antler Hill Village—featuring the Winery.
For a comfortable walk around the estate, arrive as early as 8am, the time they are open for a visit and when the sun is still about to shine sparing yourself from sunburn as you hike. While most visitors would head straight to the mansion, a climb up to Diana’s gazebo will give you a stunning landscape. A secret haven for those adventurous enough for a short climb, Diana’s gazebo served as a playhouse for Cornelia, the daughter of the owner George and Edith Vanderbilt.
Proceed to the European inspired gardens carpeted with a variety of flora.
And be amazed with the thousands of beautiful collection inside the estate’s greenhouse. The terrariums are my personal favorites.
After a morning tour of the gardens, pamper yourself with a sumptuous lunch at the Stable Cafe. Yes, they are stables turned into a cafe where dining booths are formerly horse stalls! The cafe offers a fantastic menu and an excellent service and an experience you will never forget. Outside the cafe are specialty gift shops like A Christmas Past with sparks of Christmas ornaments and music, the Bookbinder’s, the Carriage House for home decors, accessories, wines and jewelry, the Confectionary for sweet treats, and the Toymaker’s for old-school toys.
Noon and it is but perfect for a house tour! Built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895, this mansion is the largest private owned house in the United States with 250 rooms although only a number are available for public viewing. It is a self-guided tour and no cameras are allowed inside the mansion but audio tours and guided specialty tours are available with additional cost. When it became a house museum, no family members have lived inside. Some rooms for viewing include the magnificent dining hall, the two-story library which houses thousands of old books, the wife Edith’s elegantly furnished room, the indoor swimming pool, the bowling alley, early 20th century gym equipment, kitchen, laundry room, servant’s quarters.
The Antler Hill Village just located a couple of miles from the Biltmore House showcases the family’s farm and winery. Our guided winery tour took us a to a stroll through historic cellars to wine making and tasting. The tour starts and ends at the Wine Shop for house wines and goodies.
The Biltmore House and Estate is one of the bests North Carolina has to offer giving us a glimpse of the wonderful lifestyle of the south.
Note: Admission prices vary, visit http://www.biltmore.com for more information or directly click : http://www.biltmore.com/buy_tickets/ticket_prices.asp for price updates.
A four-hour drive from home and we found ourselves exploring Asheville, a city located northwest of North Carolina. After a quick stop at the city’s visitor center, we decided to visit a regional brewery. If you love beer, or just wanted to learn more about brewery, or in my case just wanted to see someone rejoice while feasting on beer samples, then this is the place. Highland Brewing Company is my hubby’s paradise. They offer free 45 mins to an hour tour and free tasting (!) – Monday-Saturday 4pm. For more information about the tour, visit their site at http://www.highlandbrewing.com/.
A walk around downtown Asheville exudes a hippie impression, reminding me of the days when life is all fun and everything is cool. Had I continued skim boarding and pursued my dreadlocks, I am sure to fit in. We also passed along a beautiful church and took a snap of it.
It was nearly sunset and we had a play to catch. Presented in an outdoor theatre in a park downtown Asheville, Shakesperean plays are featured all summer long. “Much Ado About Nothing” as you enjoy it under the stars was awesome. The production was never mediocre, the actors and actresses were excellent at their craft, the audience was great and simply the fact that it was held outdoor where fireflies were out and the actors and actresses interact with the audience (and my hubby was holding my hand) was just perfect. When you visit Asheville, you sure would not want to miss this!