Saturday, November 13, 2010

Touring Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA with Friends

Hi all, Dianne here.   We've talked about our dear friends, Jay and Nancy, before.   For years, Jay has talked about visiting San Simeon (Hearst Castle).   Last summer in Indiana, when we told them our plans to visit the central coast of California, including San Simeon, the idea was hatched for them to fly out to meet us and visit together.  Great idea!  Roger and I arrived in Morro Bay a few days ahead, then they joined us for four days of good friends and good fun.

We signed up for two tours of Hearst Castle:  Tour #1 is an overview showing most of the first floor of Casa Grande (the main house), the famous neptune swimming pool, and the underground Roman pool.  (Note the diving platform in the top center of the photo below.)  I wonder how many movie stars dove from that?  
After lunch at the visitor's center we took Tour #2, which included the upstairs of Casa Grande, the industrial kitchen, the tennis courts, and ended back at the Roman pool. 
 I especially liked the original tiles and faucets in the kitchen, designed by the architect, Julia Morgan.

It's truly a historic and beautiful place.  For those of you who are not familiar with it, it was built by William Randolph Hearst.  He entertained many famous people there, including Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, even President Calvin Coolidge.

Amelia Earhardt and Charles Lindbergh used the private air strip to fly in as guests.  Hearst was known for his lavish parties and priceless art collections.

It is now part of the California State Park system.  Pictures add more than any of my words, so here are some highlights:

The beautiful Neptune pool.  Can't you just imagine the pool parties?  Wow.  They do rent this out in the summer for folks who want to use it.  My active imagination pictured me on a warm, tranquil day floating in this pool all by myself....  Back to reality now.

This statuary is from Ancient Egypt:

This is the outside of Casa Grande, the main house.  The beautiful photo at the top of the blog is of one of three "guest cottages."

I took Jay and Nancy's photo in front of the door at Casa Grande.  Jay can now cross Hearst Castle off his "bucket list."

No flash photography is allowed inside the house, but I was able to get a few interior photos, like the one below of the dining room:  (This photo shows our tour group and the guide.  As you can see, they have already begun decorating the house for Christmas).

Some of the most spectacular items were the ceilings imported from ancient and medieval houses in Europe, like this one in the dining room.  The colorful flags were imported from Siena, Italy, just to "add color" to the room.  

They recently discovered that one of the imported ceilings from medieval Spain was not black at all, but when cleaned had a colorful pattern.  Above is a shot of a restorer cleaning part of the ceiling.  It will take years for it all to be finished.

Here is a photo of Jay attentively listening to the guide describe the features of the upstairs library from Tour #2:

The landscaping was gorgeous, and the castle is built on top of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The indoor "Roman Pool" has 23-carat gold-leaf tiles covered with protective glass in the design.  The gold tiles are even incorporated into the pool surround, so that we all were able to "walk on gold" as we passed through, back to the tour bus.

At this time the tour costs $24 per person for each tour selected.  It was money well spent!

Wrote this one quickly and came back to add a very cool whippet photo of the day.  We are now in Morro Bay.  While walking the dogs along the bay, Roger saw a man walking two dogs in the distance coming toward him.  They were both astonished when they came close to see that both were walking identical whippets!  What are the chances of that?  Roger didn't have the camera, but the kind man e-mailed us a few photos.  Check this out:

1 comment:

Gail Durham said...

Looks like a wonderful place to visit, thanks for sharing.