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Friday, July 31, 2015

Our trip to Hearst Castle at San Simeon.

This post will not give full details about this magnificent edifice built for William Randolph Hearst (whose father started making the family millions millions as a mining 'magnate') 'newspaper Baron' or as the guide said on Wednesday, 'the Rupert Murdoch' of his time. William's parents had used the land as a working ranch, with extremely humble accomodation, but when William's mother Phoebe died, he set to, to build a BIG house!! The property is still a working ranch of the Hearst Family but the house was 'handed over' to 'the people'...a bit like the National Trust I suppose. If you would like more information, here is a link.

All visitors meet at the visitor centre and are taken up to the ' Castle' by shuttle buses...the house is high on a hill! 

The bus journey is along a steep and twisting road, and it takes a while to get to the house...and there, visitors are met by sets of steep stairs! more climbing!

We could see glimpses of this big house...puff puff...near the top in the next photo but still more stairs to the right. Surely all those movie stars who were guests of Hearst's   in the 1920s, 30s didn't have to walk up that way!!

Soon though, we were standing outside the main entrance for a talk by our guide...and a perfect chance to look at all the art work on the front of the house!
The floor tiles in the main entrance are deteriorating so our tour group went in by a side entrance...we only were shown a few rooms. They were all filled with old art work...some, like the huge tapestries were 500 years old. Others, were thousands of years old. Apparently Hearst was a keen collector of old antiquities and we were assured that all items in the house had the bills of sale. 
Some of those huge, 500 year old tapestries...the carved walls looked like they had come from old cathedrals or maybe just old manor houses.
  Lovely floors and lots of art work inside...

A view of the banquet hall...

A sitting room to withdraw to after dinner...after while in this room, guests would then make their way to the movie theatre room in the house. 
The games room...

Hearst liked to treat his many guests well and during the day they had the choice if many activities, be it horse riding, wandering through the Rose arbour ( just the remnants of that left) or going to Hearst's private zoo on the property. Hearst modelled  it on the then progressive Berin Zoo. We saw the polar bear enclosure which has been left as it was. In the 1930s Hearst suffered business setbacks and decided to dismantle the zoo with most animals going to various zoos. But the zebras were set free to wander...they were not cared for...they were on their own. And they thrived and their numbers now you can come across scenes like this which was on the road to San Simeon...
Zebras grazing with cattle!!!!!

Another pastime for guests was the beautiful gardens...which were my favourite part I think!

The artworks in the garden were amazing!

The views were also amazing...

The tennis courts...
There were 2 pools...outdoor and this indoor pool...

Hearst started the building program for this home in 1919...I wonder how much it cost? The hostess at all the entertaining that Hearst did here was not his wife and mother of his children. Nope...she stayed back east in the family mansion there. Mr Hearst's girlfriend/mistress played that role. She was the actress  Marion now you know! Lol

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wednesday...a rather full day!

In fact it was so full, I'll write 2 posts about it!
DH really wanted to visit the so called Hearst Castle, which is on the central coast of California. Not wanting to drive on this holiday our options were limited to finding a tour...and a day tour at that!! Our relatives here in Huntington Beach thought it wasn't the best idea as it would be a very, very long day. 
( a one hour drive from Huntington Beach to LA and then 4 hours drive to Hearst Castle...2 hours at the castle... and back again!)  But we didn't have time for a more leisurely trip to this attraction. So that's why, yesterday morning, we arose at 4 am and with our cousin driving, we set off from Huntington Beach at 4.45 am, heading for LA where we would meet the tour. This meeting point was Starbucks, in Farmers Market complex  in West Hollywood...note the time on the clock...yep! 6am. 
We were supposed to leave on the tour at 6.30 but we left a little later than that. It was just a small tour...2 couples. Our driver and guide was Chicago born Rich, who has lived in California for 44 years.

We travelled through a number of towns with mostly Spanish style buildings...

Our first stop was at the Old Mission (Spanish) in Santa Barbara...

The towers on the church at the misson have been destroyed by earthquakes 3 times. The last time the towers were rebuilt, bricks/blocks were not used. Instead the solid walls were painted to resemble the bricks of the rest of the church.

Love those old steps and the doors!

An old structure where local indigenous people could collect water, do laundry in the days of the Mission.

There were a number of large pepper trees dotted around the grounds of the old Mission.

One thing we noticed on the quadrangle in front of the buildings was a number of chalk drawings on the bitumen...
They were done on Memorial Day in late May. They are very clever drawings...starting to fade of course..

I loved the sign in the ladies' restroom.
Two more photos...a new vocation in my retirement??? Lol

And Rich offered to take photos of each couple...

Our next stop was the charming Danish town of Solvang...
And what a quaint town it was...

Complete with a statue of the Little Mermaid!

Such beautiful old buildings...

We had a cuppa in a lovely little cafe...(DH also had a slice of bread pudding...)

We even had time to check out some shops; DH bought a souvenir T shirt and I had a marvellous time checking out a shop that only sold socks!
I also found Rassmussens...a gift shop with fabrics and yarns upstairs...yes I do have inbuilt 'radar' which helps me find such shops! 
And that's where I'll leave this recount of our long day...stay tuned for more :-)