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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monterey Bay Trip - day 3

Our third day began with a leisurely drive towards San Simeon to visit the famous Hearst castle. We took the Pacific Coast Highway (which is really scenic). This is just a sample of the gorgeous views almost the entire drive till the end of Monterey County.

More beautiful views while driving. Interesting side note: since we take turns driving, the person sitting in the passenger seat controls the Ipod and the choice of music. On our return trip we no longer had an audio-book so we listened to downloaded music. Jojo was driving this stretch and my music choices included the soundtrack of The Phantom of the Opera. It was just so dramatic to listen to that while driving past these fabulous views. When it's my turn to drive, Jojo plays music by Coldplay, Linkin Park and Maroon 5 - which, in my opinion, does not quite do the scenery justice!

We drove through the Los Padres National Forest. I like the shadows the trees cast.

After a while, we were no longer impressed with the view. The drive was becoming tricky with so many sharp turns and the fog coming in. I drove first then got a bit scared with the steep inclines so Jojo took over. After 30 minutes, I had to drive again since I was getting carsick on the passenger side.

This is how bad the fog was. It was hard to see more than 20 feet ahead so we were driving with fog lights and really, really slowly. Good thing the fog cleared up once we got out of Monterey County and into the flat plains of San Luis Obispo county.

Two hours later, we arrived at Hearst Castle. This is the impressive home of William Randolph Hearst who owned newspapers, magazines, movie studios and more. He was one of the wealthiest men in the US during the early part of the 20th century. We pulled up to the visitor center where you join the tour to see the actual castle.

Before joining the tour we got some lunch the the cafeteria. The meal was nothing great so I won't post about it anymore.

From the visitor's center, you have to take a bus to get to the castle. You can see it here (on top of the hill). Mr. Hearst owned all this land and beyond. He owned 39,000 acres. I can't even begin to imagine how big that it - but our guide said it's as far as the eye can see in any direction from the castle.

This is bus we took to get to the castle. It is a 10 minute ride up winding roads that pass the poultry, grazing lands, farmlands, private airstrip, private zoo, and the bunkhouses where the castle's workers and servants lived.

Here we are at Hearst Castle. It is inspired by the European architecture that Mr. Hearst loved.

The very beautiful Neptune pool. Doesn't this pool just make you want to dive right in?

This is the main courtyard. To the right are three guest houses (each one more than 3,000 square feet - almost double our house!). Behind me is the main house or better known as "casa grande". Mr. Hearst had such a beautiful home and impressive grounds. He definitely was a wealthy man and knew how to live large.

Here is Jojo posing in the main hall. It is a super imposing space that has seating for almost a hundred people. There were works of art everywhere and all the walls were covered with beautiful floor to ceiling tapestries. It was quite dark though and we were not allowed to use flashes when we take pictures so as not to damage the art work.

This is the castle's main dining hall. Our tour guide was regaling us with fascinating stories of some of the famous dinner guests Mr. Hearst had over. It is a virtual who's who of politicians, movie stars, athletes and authors. We visited the bedrooms, movie theater, game rooms, etc. My favorite was the indoor pool area which was inlaid with gold. (Yup, real gold!). Most places were dark though and the pictures did not come out very clearly.

After our the Hearst Castle tour we watched the 40-minute movie on William Randolph Hearst's life and how the castle came to be built. It was getting pretty late (almost 4:00 pm) and we still had a 4-hour drive back to LA. So after hitting the gift shop to get my refrigerator magnet, we headed home.

This is the end of day three of our three day vacation.


mom said...

What a delightful 3 days vacation you have had. Really so uplifting for both body and spirit. I may not have been physically present but your very detailed and colorful descriptions made me enjoy the sights and experiences as much as if I was there. Thanks for sharing.

leslie ty said...

My internet was down for 3 days...GRRRR...
When I found out that it;s working already...i opened your felt like I was on the trip with you guys =) I really like the pictures you posted...i can really imagine the places you visted =) Now I badly need a vacation =)

Joanne said...

Glad you both enjoyed the posts!

Thanks mom and Les for being there and sharing your comments =)

Take care.

Auntie Lillian said...

Thanks for the very detailed blog regarding your Monterey get-away. Uncle Jr. and I have not totally explored all what you did - oh well - Hearst Castle sounds very interesting - we missed that when we went on a coastal drive long long time ago. Hope we can do that sometime - the pictures you took especially of the Neptune pool looks like what they have on the website. All the food you ate especially the clam chowder made me hungry. Glad you had fun with Jojo.