Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hearst Castle

Today we met our friends Letha & Tai. We will be doing 3 tours of William Randolph Hearst's Castle, together, one today and two tomorrow. Today we visit Casa Grande.

There is no flash photography inside Hearst Castle and this is the only inside shot we ventured to take. Even some outside shots were difficult, due to the intense fog that always threatened to lift--but never quite managed to do so. We could not see the Castle from the entrance, nor could we see it on the winding road up the hill. The weatherperson had predicted sunny and clear in the pm; but, we all know what liars they are. We hope for clearer weather tomorrow.

Billiards Room Ceiling. This European ceiling, the second oldest on the estate, dates from before Columbus sailed to the New World.

According to Wikipedia, "The estate is a pastiche of historic architectural styles that its owner admired in his travels around Europe. Hearst was an omnivorous buyer who did not so much purchase art and antiques to furnish his home as built his home to get his bulging collection out of warehouses. This led to incongruous elements such as the private cinema whose walls were lined with shelves of rare books. The floor plan of the Main Building is chaotic due to his habit of buying centuries-old ceilings, which dictated the proportions and decor of various rooms."

The guide noted several times that Hearst never referred to this home as a 'castle.' He usually called it "the ranch"--there was a 250,000 acre ranch he owned surrounding the home. As a child (long before construction on the castle began), he referred to it as "camp hill." Formally, he later named it "La Cuesta Encantada" (Enchanted Hill).

Outside, we browsed around the colorful gardens until it was time to take the bus down the 5 mile drive back to the Visitor Center at sea level. There is a drop of approximately 1600 feet on this trip.

Cottage With Flowers

The decor and architecture actually work well together; but, it is an actual hodge podge of styles from across the world and the centuries--from Egypt in 3,000 BC to Europe in the 1600s.

Cottage Exterior

I thought several of the statues were very appealing. I was especially touched by the first one for its tender sentimentality.

Statue in Garden

Another Statue in Garden

Statue in Garden, Finale

Teak Exterior, Front, Casa Grande

Castle Bell Tower

Neptune Pool is a gorgeous construction that we were unable to approach closely, today; they were preparing for an event this evening.

Work on the castle stopped in 1947 when Hearst stopped living here because of ill health. Here is evidence of this incomplete state of construction.

Unfinished Castle

Monarch in the Garden

On the descent we were on the lookout for wildlife remaining from the zoo. We spotted several zebras grazing near a small herd of cattle at the bottom of the ranch.

We had a quick lunch nearby and drove to our Motel 6 to check in and prepare for a brief 3 mile hike.

On the Trail With Letha & Tai

Tai & Letha Stop On the Trail

Completing the hike we drove around til we located a family style bar and grill for a quick meal: beer and burgers for Tai and I, clam chowder in a bread bowl for Letha, and salad and a cup of clam chowder for Claire. A delicious end to a lovely day.

I would like to build something upon the hill at San Simeon. I get tired of going up there and camping in tents. I'm getting a little too old for that. I'd like to get something that would be a little more comfortable. ~ William Randolph Hearst to Architect Julia Morgan