I decided to take this trip when I got an e-mail from American Airlines advising my miles were going to expire soon. After calling American about giving the miles to my son…they wanted to charge me $480 to transfer them. WHAT? I already paid for them! Anyway…I got off the phone and started looking to see where I could go non-stop just using the miles I had accumulated. The only place was Charlotte so I booked my free round trip business class ticket and now it was time to look for a free Hilton room using points…oops…there it was! Doubletree by Hilton Charlotte Airport…though it was miles from the airport! All I was going to have to pay for was my rental car.
I got together with my friend for dinner to exchange Christmas gifts and I told her what my plan was…she was going to be on vacation from work so I invited her to come along if she wanted. I texted her the flight information when I got home and she was able to get a ticket on that flight…right next to me!
January 1st we meet at Logan Express in a town that is about half way between us and off we go to Logan Airport. We arrived in Charlotte and get our rental car about 3:30-4:00 and head for the hotel. We settle in and check out hotel options in the area and decide on BLT Steakhouse in downtown Charlotte. We did not have a reservation and were unsure how long we might have to wait but we had the place to ourselves. Our waitress said everyone was taking the night off after celebrating the night before! One of the best parts of this restaurant? Their infamous Popovers! We even got a card with the recipe on it. The second best part? I wanted a Diet Coke and this is a Pepsi place…the waitress went to the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton (this restaurant is attached to the hotel) and got me a can of Diet Coke!
Thelma…oh…did I say? We call ourselves Thelma and Louise, she is Thelma. Thelma and I decided we were going to walk around the city a bit after dinner. Downtown had very little traffic and we were figuring for quiet it wasn’t going to get much better. There is a bakery that is also a part of the Ritz-Carlton, Bar Cocoa…amazing creations! We went inside and there was a connection to the bar inside the hotel also. I guess if you wanted to stay in downtown Charlotte this would definitely be the place to stay…assuming it is part of your budget.
There is a building that we called the Wedding Cake Building…the top of it looks like a tiered wedding cake…to us anyway. There were murals, what appeared to be large candlestick holders as sculptures, and we went into another hotel to check out their Christmas decorations. We were also briefly harassed by a homeless person looking for money. There was no one else on the streets and it made us a little nervous when we said sorry…he followed us for a bit and then turned around.
Our plan…Thelma likes a plan…was to head to Tiger World shortly after opening. It was a really overcast day with threats of rain so we grabbed our umbrellas heading out. We got to see most of what we wanted to see…most…before it started drizzling and we decided to leave. The animals here were beautiful and a few of the tigers were the first thing we saw when we walked down the path.
Then the White Bengal Tigers…
Then the Black Leopard, there were two but one hid and peeked out and the Spotted Leopard…
Then the Barbary Lion and White Lion…
The amazing Black Swans…gorgeous!
Eerie Black Vultures…these guys were everywhere!
East African Crowned Crane, a Macaques, a Peacock, a Wallaby and a Eurasian-Eagle Owl…
The owl and the black swan were the last things we saw before the rain started…we did see another area where there were tigers but I showed you the best images I have so no need to be repetitive. 🙂
After leaving there Thelma wanted to go to Asheville to see the Biltmore Estate decorated for Christmas…after driving all the way there we discovered that we could not get in…it was all sold out so we sat in the parking lot for a bit trying to figure out what to do. It was still drizzling so the Biltmore would have been perfect to get out of the rain.
We decided to go to Grandfather & Grandmother Mountains. Not a lot to see on a drizzly, overcast day but it was still pretty and I bet it is spectacular on a sunny day.
We went to Murray’s Mill and General Store in Catawba, NC…
Before heading back to Charlotte we did a little bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway…you know, when in Rome...since it was late on a dismal January afternoon, I change most of these to black & white images.
We stopped for dinner late and headed back to the hotel after getting a little lost…did I mention Thelma and I are directionally challenged? Apparently we are even using Waze we can still manage to get lost!
Tomorrow promises to be a busy day…so far there is only one thing we (well me but she is coming along) want to do but since I know where I was I know it was a busy day…be sure to come back for the journey!
You know the routine by now….come visit me at my page on Facebook, on Instagram and at my website. If you find something you like on my blog and you don’t find it for sale, please contact me. I will give you a quote.
See you on the road!
Once the travel bug bites, there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life. ― Michael Palin.