Solvang - A (not so) danish town

Trip Start Sep 14, 2007
Trip End Sep 23, 2007

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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

We started our day with a little breakfast basket delivered to our room at the Orchid Inn.  The contents weren't anything special, but it was a nice touch.  We checked out bright and early and headed over to Hearst Castle, just to find out that most tours were booked until late in the afternoon.  Late in the afternoon didn't work for us because we had to drive another 200 miles.  Lucky us the man at the front desk found us an opening at 11:00 am - tour #2 it is.

We had the choice of spending our time in the visitor's center gift shop or restaurant and chose neither.  After all our tickets had been quite expensive: $20.00 per person and you don't even get to see the whole place!  This did upset us a little.  Can you tell?  We decided not to spend any more money on the castle grounds and went back to our "Ohhhh and Ahhhh" space from the night before:  The elelphant seal rockery.  It's just a short distance from Hearst castle and how often do you really have a chance to see these cute & wobbely animals again?

They were still there, actually exactly in the same positions they were in when we left the night before.  You'd think they are dead if it wasn't for their occassional moan or sand shuffling.  Soon it was time to return to Hearst Castle.

We had to take a bus from the visitor's center to the castle and while on the trip we were briefed on the Hearst's history.  It was interesting... I mean can you imagine Zebra's and Kangoroo's roaming the hills of California?  Me neither, but apparently the Zebra's are the only ones who made it and are seen sometimes by visitors.

The castle grounds are just spectacular.  I love the pool.  It seems such a waste that you don't get to take a dip.  Even more so to imagine that it barely was used as not many people were able to swim at the time the Hearst family lived here. 

The inside of the castle was... uhm... interesting.  A huge collection of everything old, heavy and boring.  Lots of it, Hearst went to great lengths to obtain all these lovely antiques.  He despised all modern art of the time, like VanGogh.  All the art in the house are paintings of religious scenes.  Holy Mary here and Holy Mary there.  Don't get me wrong -  I love art, but he just didn't know when to stop.  I almost felt relived to leave the "clutter temple" and get back on the road.

Our drive to Solvang turned out to be the opposite of Hearst Castle - quite unspectacular.  Today's route took us inland and gone were all the beautiful ocean views.  They were replaced by driving by crop fields filled with hardworking crop helpers and through small towns that weren't quaint at all. 

It was early evening when we finally arrived in Solvang - "Velkommen".  We quickly checked in at the Holiday Inn Express (no passport required) and went on our way to explore the town and restaurants.  Solvang is a very neat and well kept.  Tidy flower beds and neatly trimmed trees on every corner, bright and freshly painted houses and the streets smell of Aebleskiver (the local pancake pastry served with rasperry jelly and powdered sugar). 


Solvang is a cute little town, but we had to call it a day and go to bed.  The next morning we decided to expore a little more during daylight hours.  We found plenty of cheesy but yet irresistible souvenir shops, even a beer garden and a few Edelweiss shops that seemed to fit the touristy style of Solvang, but are they really danish?  

One thing that is truly danish is "Hans Christian Andersen".  He wrote a lot of very meaningful tales: Like the Emperor's new clothes, The little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling.  The Little Match Girl was one of my favorite tales when I was a little girl and it never failed to make me cry. 

You'll find Hans Christian Andersen all over Solvang, i.e. The Little Mermaid Restaurant, The Storybook Inn and so on. Solvang is very proud of him and they should be.


We drove down the raod to the Mission St. Ines.  This mission has a beautiful rose garden and you have to take time to smell the roses!  I had a hard time leaving, but we had to get going because we needed to be somewhere... And that somewhere was Laguna Beach ... baby!   

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