Friday, September 30, 2011

Heart Castle, Revisited

Today we did two tours of Hearst Castle at San Simeon: First, Upstairs Suites and then Cottages and Kitchens. Again, Letha and Tai were with us. We planned both tours for morning so that our afternoon would be free for lunch, a walk and some down time.

The guides are consistently impressive; they prefer to have people ask questions to inform them of our interests (and maybe to keep themselves from becoming stale from constant repetition; but, they are rotated among the several tour offerings--so that helps, too.)

We were able to walk through several levels of the Castle and look into many of the rooms--there are something like 168 rooms in Casa Grande alone! The cottages are larger than many homes--and they don't even have kitchens.

Ready to Wear

Mantle and Fireplace. Hearst collected mantles; so, he built fireplaces to showcase them.

Ceiling. Hearst also collected ceilings--and room sizes (plans for them) would often be modified to accommodate his collection.

Wallpaper. This room has a curtain-like covering on the walls; this means that the hard surfaces need not be finished--and they aren't!


Guest Bedroom. Every guest had their own bathroom, even when the bedroom is shared. This would be unusual even for a grand home in the early 20th Century.

Library. Part of his world-class Greek pottery collection is here; much of the remainder has been sold to important museums around the world. The Castle is now a museum and it is not permitted to dispose of any remaining works of art.

Walk-in Closet

Nepture Pool, Ground Level. There was a function yesterday evening and we were not permitted to be on the pool level. Today, we were able to roam at will.

Study. Hearst had a private floor--shared only with his partner: either his wife or Marion Davies, depending on what time period we consider. Regular guests were not permitted on this level.

Old Ceiling. This ceiling dates from before the time of Christopher Columbus.

Wine Bottles. The wine cellar was never visited by guests and was purely functional--no frills at all. The wine remaining here is no longer meant for consumption, and the upright bottles are empty. There are full bottles packed in straw; these date from the late 1800s.

Bell Tower. We had a clearer view of things, today--there was less fog.

Stairway to Sleeping Loft. A few of the guest rooms were split level--the sleeping area above and the sitting room below. We loved this wooden stairway.

Dispelling the Rumors. Apparently it is not true that this bed once belonged to Cardinal Richelieu. But, David Niven is supposed to have smuggled bottles of booze in here, against all rules, and left the empties in nooks in the bed. Hearst permitted drinking, though it is said he watered down the hard liquor--he liked good conversation, not drunks.

Cute Vase

The last area to view on this tour was the kitchen, which was enormous and state of the art. There was an enormous metal-topped table that served as a preparation area and had an enclosed steam table beneath, to keep food and plates warm.

Tai in the Kitchen

Two German Draft Beers Were Always on Tap

Industrial Grade Mixer

Pressure Cookers

Prototype Costco Roaster

Servant's Dining Room. Servants often ate in here; they were well-paid (by the standards of the day) and they ate what guests did.

Having finished the tour, we walked around the garden and outside a while, to get a final impression of this grandiose place.

Menage a Trois. Just at this picture was being snapped, a guard came scurrying over to remind us that there was no touching of the museum objects!

Leaving the Castle, we were hungry and drove to Cambria to look around and have lunch.

Letha and Claire With Scarecrow. The town of Cambria was having a contest to see who could come up with the most clever idea. There were scarecrow figures all over town doing various things. The Catholic Church had a priest and a group of singing nuns for their entry.

Letha had wanted to eat at this location for several days--they arrived before we did. Today is the day.

Fab Four at Lunch in Cambria

Claire's Lunch of Fish Tacos

Chuck's Breast of Chicken Sandwich

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered. ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton