Hearst Castle & the Big Sur

Trip Start Jan 04, 2008
Trip End Dec 17, 2008

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, November 20, 2008

The next morning we decided to take in one of the local tourist attractions and headed to San Simeon the home of the famous Hearst Castle.  It was built by William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s, finally completed in the 1940s. Hearst was a billionaire publishing tycoon who in the 1940s was making over a million dollars a day.  He lived in his castle where he entertained the rich and famous (people like Charlie Chaplin and David Niven) in its 165 rooms in 4 houses that are decorated with art treasures from mainly Europe.  His pool is surrounded by ancient columns and stonework he bought from Greece and in his main lounge there are 2 massive original tapestries from the Palace at Versailles, bought in an auction in New York and copies of which are now in the Louvre.
It seemed like he bought everything he could get his hands on and managed to make it a part of his castle.  His dining room walls are lined with choir stalls but on the table is a bottle of Heinz Katsup (ketchup) which he ate with everything....
It was a good tour and the buildings were very impressive, especially the pool that was inlaid with gold leaf. Unfortunately, due to his and his guests fears of catching polio this ended up being used by that staff and not the guests.  The grounds cover over 127 acres and once were home to the largest private collection of animals in the US and there are still zebras, springboks and other antelopes roaming the park.
After the castle we headed back to Highway 1 and to start the Big Sur.  The views along the coast as the road clings to the cliffs are amazing so we stopped every few miles to take some pictures.  We stopped for lunch at a lodge on a cliff 400ft above the sea. Feeling quite hungry we made the error of ordering a main each.  When Maud's fish and chips arrived it really was the biggest serving we'd seen - 2 whole fish on a mountain of chips - plenty to feed 3 people !  So I ate half my sandwich and took the rest to go.
We spent the rest of the afternoon cruising up the Big Sur stopping for sunset in Carmel by the Sea before heading to Monterey for the night.  Being back in civilization we decided to head to the cinema and watch the new Bond film.
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