Day two of our quick sightseeing trip with my aunt and cousins. (You can read about Day 1 HERE).
We woke up early that morning because we had 9:30am tickets for the Hearst Castle tour. I didn’t really know much about Hearst or his castle until my aunt arranged this trip for us, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. She told us that the place once belonged to Sir William Randolph Hearst. After he died his children decided to donate part of his property to the state of California, and since then it has attracted many visitors. It was a well known fact that Mr. Hearst only invited aristocrats and elites into his home back when he was alive (some of his favorite guests included Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill) so I suppose a lot of people simply wanted to see the place that these famous people once visited.
Ate Maryann dropped us off at the Hearst Castle Visitor’s Center at around 9am. (She couldn’t join us for the tour because she had to work.)
It was a beautiful sunny day. Just look at that lovely sky~
In case you were wondering, this isn’t the castle yet. It’s just where visitors go to get their tickets and wait for the tour guides to pick them up.
We looked around inside and explored a bit while Kuya Wibet went to the counter to get our wristbands.
Mama Darling headed straight for the gift shop XD
Tour packages available for visitors. We got the Grand Rooms Tour.
Map of Hearst Castle
Our tour bracelets:
My mom helping me put mine on
Ta-dah! All set for our tour.
We had about 10 minutes before our shuttle arrived so we just did more exploring and took a few more pictures at the visitor’s center
Poor Kurt woke up with a heavy migraine that morning and could barely stand. But he didn’t want to miss out on the tour so Ezra volunteered to be his crutch for the day, lol. It must have been hard on him seeing as she’s so much shorter, but at least he was able to walk around (really slowly) through her help.
He still managed to smile for cameras too. (He said it was because he didn’t want to look back on the pictures and videos in the future and see himself in pain, lol). But he got better throughout the day and even managed to take pictures during our tour. (Some of the shots I will be posting in this entry were actually stolen from his camera XD – Thanks Kurt for the copies!)
Soon our bus arrived to take us up to the castle. As we drove up, our bus driver gave us a bit of info about Mr. Hearst and this place. He told us that all the land we saw around us belonged to Mr. Hearst. He used to call this place La Cuesta Encantada (“The Enchanted Hill”). Mr. Hearst loved animals so he filled this place up with them. We saw a couple of black cows, deer, rabbits, squirrels and some zebras on the way up. Supposedly Mr. Hearst even kept polar bears around back when he was still alive (but he made sure they were locked up of course).
All of this belonged to Sir William Randolph Hearst. I can’t even imagine what I would do if I owned this much land! Probably build my own amusement park.
It took us about 10 minutes to get up to the castle, where our tour guide was waiting for us.
Our first glimpse of the famous Hearst Castle. It’s beautiful, but not what I expected. I sorta envisioned a modern Hogwarts when my aunt told me we would be visiting a castle, lol. This seemed more like a church or a cathedral to me – which was actually what it was modeled after (according to our guide). Oh well, it may not have been Hogwarts, but it was still gorgeous.
Speaking of our guide, here’s a quick shot I took of him. Doesn’t he sort of look like Jack Nicholson? I kept telling my mom that and she didn’t believe me, but my dad and aunt agreed with me XD
Anyway, Mr. Nicholson-lookalike (I can’t remember his name, sorry) gave us some background information about Sir William Randolph Hearst and his famous castle. Supposedly he had a lot of strange quirks and was quite eccentric, but no can could deny how brilliant he was. He was a perfectionist and he loved art. As for the castle, something that many people may find interesting was that it was designed by a woman named Julia Morgan. While this may seem trivial to some, our guide reminded us that the castle was built in the early 1900’s and female architects weren’t as common back then. According to him, Ms. Morgan was a brilliant architect and she utilized a lot of modern technology (well, modern for their times) which allowed the castle to withstand a lot of earthquakes and survive up to this day. (He did admit that the castle has undergone many restoration projects but there wouldn’t be anything to restore if it wasn’t for the castle’s strong foundation.)
After his brief introduction of William Hearst and his castle, we were finally allowed to go inside. We had to go through the side entrance though because the main entrance lead to a hallway which had intricate mosaic tile floors. In the past, visitors were allowed to enter through there, but eventually the tiles became damaged and the people running the place had to pay to have it restored, which took years! The guy who fixed it told them that they better not let anyone walk on those tiles again, because there was no way he would agree to repair it a second time.
One thing we all noticed going in the castle was how tall and narrow the doors were. Only one person could fit at a time, so we had to queue up to enter the building. Some people even had to walk sideways. It makes me wonder if weight loss didn’t present as much of a problem back then as it does today.
Inside we were taken in to see the assembly room. It was huge and reminded me of a fancy hotel lobby.
It looked so cozy and inviting. I would have loved to have curled up on one of those armchairs with a good book. But we weren’t allowed to touch anything, let alone sit on the chairs. In fact, visitors were only allowed to step on the areas marked with a black/gray carpet to prevent any sort of damage to the room. Flash photography wasn’t allowed either because they wanted to avoid light damage, so forgive me if some of the following pictures turn out a bit blurry.
Look at the details on that ceiling!
There were two of these huge Christmas trees inside. (Uh yeah … it was the holidays when we went there. I guess I should probably mention again that I’m pretty lazy when it comes to blogging, which is why this entry is 5 months delayed ….)
Took some selca shots while our guide explained more about the room
After this our guide took us to the dining room. (Or as Mr. Nicholson-lookalike liked to call to it – “The Hogwarts Great Hall”) Admittedly it’s nowhere near as big as the Great Hall we see in the films, but it does have that Hogwarts feel to it, especially with the long tables and the flags hanging on the wall:
Our guide told us that Mr. Hearts treated his guests nicely and they were always welcome to stay as they wished, as long as they provided him with entertaining stories. Mr. Hearst usually sat at the head of the table and his newest and most entertaining guests would sit next to him. He would listen to their stories every day. But as he grew bored with them they were pushed further and further down, until they reach the other end of the table. Many took this as the universal sign for them to pack up and leave, at least until they find more interesting stories to tell.
Another shot with Ezra (you can see the black/gray carpet I was talking about earlier)
After this we were lead to the Billiard or Entertainment room
We passed this lovely Christmas tree on the way there 🙂
It was here that our guide pointed out how much Mr. Hearst loved large wall tapestries/paintings. We saw plenty of them inside. Not just in this room but in other ones as well. I didn’t really get to take pictures of them, but Kurt managed to get a few:
We passed through a couple more rooms but didn’t stay long in some. Our last stop was the theater, where we were shown a quick documentary on Sir William Randolph Hearst and his castle:
After this we were taken outside again and informed that the tour was over but we were free to look around the pools and gardens for as long as we wished. There was so much to see so we spent the rest of the morning just walking around the estate.
View of the castle from the front. Super gorgeous! I’m so glad I used my wide angle lens that day 🙂 (It really does look like a huge church doesn’t it?)
Another shot from the side of the castle this time
I found Dumbledore’s white tomb just outside! I guess he decided to leave Hogwarts and move to this castle after he died, j/k.
There was a fish pond there too
I’m not sure what this place is supposed to be, but it’s gorgeous:
Tried to take an SP here, but the sun was too harsh so I couldn’t look up at the camera for very long. Also Ezra’s shadow (she was taking the picture) kept covering up half my face.
We found a lot of statues in the garden. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about art, but they looked very Greek/Roman to me:
Also I noticed most of them were nude
Kurt didn’t seem to mind. (He also didn’t seem to mind that some of them didn’t have heads, as long as they were equipped with certain body parts, lol)
(LOL, poor Ninang was so sleepy from having to drive us around)
My mom wanted a hug from this angel
Looks like Kurt wanted something else from her XD
After this we dropped by the famous Neptune Pool. Since we didn’t have a guide with us to give us information about the pool, I will now quote Wikipedia:
The Neptune Pool is the name of the outdoor swimming pool at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. It is fed by mountain water and is surrounded by ancient Roman style columns and statues. Designed by architect Julia Morgan, the Neptune Pool was started in 1924 and was finally completed after several redesigns and re-buildings in 1936.
The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle was rebuilt three times to suit its owner’s tastes. Its centerpiece is the façade of an ancient Roman temple that William Randolph Hearst had purchased and imported to California.
And according to HearstCastle.org :
The final version of the pool as it stands at the Castle today is 104 feet long, 58 feet wide and 95 feet wide at alcove. It is 3.5 feet deep at the west end, 10 feet at drains and holds 345,000 gallons of water. Other unique aspects of the Neptune Pool include the oil burning heating system, the light-veined Vermont marble decorating the pools and colonnades, and four 17-century Italian bas-reliefs on the sides of the colonnades.
Unfortunately visitors aren’t allowed to swim in the pool. It’s a shame because this place would have been perfect for an epic pool party XD
More random pictures as we walked around the estate:
I think I was showing Ezra my hangnail here. (I got them a lot during our vacation because of the dry atmosphere)
She offered to bite it off for me (ew) but of course I refused XD
Mr. Hearst supposedly had a lot of fruit trees in his estate. I searched for an apple tree (because I’ve never seen one before) but I only found these little orange (?) ones.
There was even a tennis court there
Our last stop was the Roman Pool. Unlike the Neptune Pool, this was located indoors. Again here’s some background info which i stope from HearstCastle.org:
The pool and surrounding room, which were built from 1927-1934, can be compared to an ancient Roman bath. The pool, like the baths, is located indoors. Its water was heated as in a tepidarium. However, in Hearst’s complex there were no hot or cold baths as there were in the ancient complex. The Roman Pool complex was designed to contain an exercise room, sweat baths, a handball court and dressing rooms.
The Roman Pool is decorated from ceiling to floor with 1″ square mosaic tiles. These glass tiles, called smalti, are either colored (mainly blue or orange) or are clear with fused gold inside. The intense colors and shimmering gold of the tiles combine to create a breathtaking effect. The designs created by the tiles were developed by muralist Camille Solon.
Can you imagine the effort that went into designing this?? Every single tile had to be placed manually! And this was done from floor to ceiling!
Anyway, we were getting hungry after this so we headed over to the bus stop and waited for the shuttle to take us back to the Visitor’s Center:
Quick shot with the Hearst Castle bus/shuttle
Kuya Wibet went down much earlier so we were left with an odd number and I ended up having to sit alone T__T (Okay fine, I sat next to some random guy so I wasn’t technically alone, but you get my point.)
At the Visitor’s Center we waited for Ate Maryann to pick us up so we could go grab some lunch.
We decided to eat at the The California Pizza Kitchen:
Hungry girl waiting for food
Ezra looking happy because Starbucks was right next door and she was able to access their wifi
I ordered the Kung Pao Spagetti
Kurt and Ezra split this pizza, I can’t remember what it was though
Our tour tickets. Upon closer inspection we discovered that we were entitled to watch a 45 minute documentary about the castle (called Building the Dream) at the visitor’s center. Such a shame we missed it T__T Nevertheless, we had fun during our short tour and even it if was no Hogwarts, I was still glad I got a chance to see Mr. Hearst’s famous castle and explore his estate 😀
We ate quickly because Ninang had to make it back to LA by 6 that afternoon for her work. So after inhaling our food we headed back to our cars and prepared ourselves for the long drive back home.