Days 3 & 4 - SS on 101 & California Coast on Hwy 1

Trip Start Mar 13, 2013
Trip End Apr 13, 2013

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Where I stayed
Courtesy Inn San Simeon
Read my review - 4/5 stars
What I did
Hearst Castle San Simeon
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, March 16, 2013

It was a long but interesting walk from the BART through the seedier part of town trudging up hills to the car rental place on O'Farrell St. Also the city takes St Patrick's Day seriously and is already winding up for Sundays' celebration. Shell is sick from last night, I am fairly ordinary, and Rich is spritely as a fox. We picked up the car and took a short drive over the Bay Bridge before going home to pick up our overnight bags for the trip to San Simeon. 

We had a night tour of Hearst Castle booked and because we had such a late start we decided to take the quicker inland Highway 101 to ensure we weren't late. Hearst Castle was magnificent at night and the models in period costumes wandering around the grounds or sitting in various rooms added to the experience enormously. Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable and the museum that is the Castle is amazing, with all the antiques and art works. I won't say too much about the history, as I've done that on my previous USA blog; but it is testament to the place that I returned for a third tour!

After the Castle we had a late dinner at the restaurant adjacent to our hotel - complete with discount - and chatted a bit before hitting the sack.

In the morning we got up, packed up and hit the road North along the coast for about 5 miles, then stopped to see the Elephant Seals. It's a bit late in the season at this time of year and there were not as many here as my last trip, but the bonus was that a docent named Babs came and chatted with Shell and I and gave us a lot of information about the seals; their differences to regular seals, their life span, why they come to the beach in the first place, their migration habits etc. We were sad to learn that many of the seals left on the beach would likely die, as they had not learned to feed themselves early enough to be able to get fat enough to withstand the trip to Antartica. Elephant seals do not nurture their young, when the pup is 8-9 weeks old the mother takes off and the pup has to learn to fend for and feed itself.

After the seals we made our way along the coast, stopping at Nepenthe at Big Sur and other spots along the way for coffee or just the view. Nepenthe is a fabulous restaurant for lunch, if only for the views. It was a glorious day with fog sitting just off the coast, occasionally getting blown closer in.

Once back in the city we drove through Golden Gate Park and on over the Golden Gate Bridge, where we parked and braved the cold wind for the photo op, before returning the car and heading towards home.

In Glen Park we chose Chenery Park Restaurant for dinner, where we were impressed by the food and service and by the novel way they kept the cold wind from the door being opened from chilling the patrons by a heavy curtain on a circular rod just inside the door. After a very satisfying dinner we wandered over to a Tavern we'd spotted earlier, Glen Park Station, where I fell in love with Christian The Graceful Bartender. He was extremely busy and flitted up and down the long bar with amazing speed and efficiency - he was fascinating to watch and as an old barchick, I appreciated his work! He told us about a free meal there the next evening in honour of St Patrick, along with free live music. We missed the last bus home so forced our tortured calves up the hills and were careful to be quiet when we got in, unlike our raucous return of Thursday night, when we woke up the downstairs tenant with witch-like cackling (her description).

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