Hearst Castle

Trip Start Oct 20, 2009
Trip End Jun 23, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, April 16, 2010


We'd had a wonderful day’s ride along the west coast of the USA between Pismo Beach and Rugged Point, still moving between highway 1 and 101. It’s scenic all the way through with beautiful varying coast, rolling hills, and quaint little towns in between. Some of the hills looked like green velvet quilts with shading across the grain, dark green and light green and soft rounded shapes. Every so now and then, there was an outcrop of stones and rocks in grey or brown and trees, bushes and wildflowers to add to the pretty landscape. The roadway cut through hills and in many places there was a long drop off down the cliffs to the coast, as it is in Rugged Point where we spent the night at the Rugged Point Resort Inn.

There are also Elephant seal colonies along the coast with literally hundreds of sea lions sunning themselves on the sand. As the cliffs are high, it is virtually inaccessible to humans, and just as well too. I’m not sure, but I guess it would be a sanctuary.

We drove through a little town called Harmony. Not much happening in this tiny town, and with a population of 18 it has a bit of a way to go to catch up to the city of Los Angeles which has 4 million inhabitants. Anyway, Harmony was nestled between those gorgeous hills and was mostly farming community. Harmony's one attraction, which was advertised along the highway, was a glass blowing factory.

Our destination today was the Hearst Castle, which we easily reached by 12:30pm, it was only about 88 kilometers from Pismo Beach. We had one stop for coffee at a beach in Los Osos and watched a sand castle builder and some kids flying kites. It was a nice relaxing morning, and Des had a walk on the jetty there.

Hearst Castle was a treat. We thoroughly enjoyed the guided tour by Loran and photographing the extensive grounds. It’s a bit of a mixture of architecture between French, Italian and Gothic, with religious themes here and there. The odd Egyptian statue stood among pure white cherubs and angels. The Neptune pool was magnificent with columns and fašades with an ancient Greek influence and was lovely to photograph.  The indoor pool was completely tiled and looked gorgeous.

William Randolph Hearst entertained the rich and famous at the castle and we watched a movie called 'William Hearst, building the dream', in the enormous theatre in the complex. The architect he employed to design the castle, Julianne Morgan, was employed for 15 years designing and redesigning the castle as William kept changing his mind and adding new influences from the many things he saw on his world travels.

Naturally the gardens were unbelievably beautiful, and the castle and grounds cost the state of California 12 million dollars annually to maintain. There are 5 different tours available around and through the castle every day of the year and it is among the top tourist destinations in the USA. At upwards of $20 per person, it must generate a good bit of income for the state. Of course there are food, drink and souvenir shops which value add to the bottom line.

The castle is established in the most wonderful landscape imaginable and is set high on a hilltop with no neighbours around it for miles. Views to the coast and surrounding hills are uninterrupted, except by the Hearst cattle and the winding road to the castle. No wonder San Simeon and surrounding area is a top tourist spot. 

As we searched for our next overnight stop, we couldn’t help but notice the beautiful cliffs, sandy coves and blue water of the Big Sur coast.  We pulled over in one such cove and as Des stepped onto the gravel path, a cheeky chip monk came up to him, stood up on his haunches and practically begged Des for a scrap of food. It was so cute, and held our attention, until we saw the hundreds of elephant seals lying below us, sunning themselves in the cove. Fascinating. The seals were like lumpy carpet blending in with the sandy beach, there were so many of them lying close together. Every so now and then, one became a bit rowdy,  then several of them copied the instigator. There was a great deal of commotion as the bulls created an almighty ruckus, knocking other seals about, left and right. We wanted to stay near this lovely coastal cliff area and take some photos to remember this picturesque landscape. So, we checked into the Ragged Point Inn, at a rude $143.16.  There was a $5 charge for internet, which we didn’t avail ourselves of this night. There were no shops and nothing but the Inn and grounds to see. The concierge also told us to be sure to book into their restaurant, but if te room prices were indicative of the restaurant charges, we’d be cooking for ourselves on our little gas stove, in our room. (Tuna, corn, snow peas, and baked beans)

Unfortunately, the room was nothing outstanding or remarkable, just a basic room with a hard bed, no bedside table or coffee table  between the outside deck chairs, so I took a couple of drawers out to use, on their ends, as small tables. I really prefer a table next to my side of the bed and will sometimes use the waste paper basket turned up for that purpose. I guess I’m getting a bit set in my ways. The garden of the Inn is manicured and beautiful.
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Ann on

Amazing Hearst's Castle - what a gigantic and opulant folly!

mona on

i'm so glad you made it to hearst. gorgeous, right?

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