First Time at Hearst Castle

Over 15 years ago Lee got to visit Hearst Castle while he was on a work trip and he has wanted to take me there ever since.  So we knew that Hearst was a must do when we were in Monterey and thankfully we had it scheduled on one of the two sunny days we have had here.  Slushie and Nick wanted to come because they have never been either, but unfortunately Kay wasn’t feeling that well so she decided to stay home and study.  The program here is so intense they do expect they will study on their break, or Exodus as it is called, and since Kay leaves for Keene on Dec 26th she is trying to squeeze in all the studying she can.  Very impressed but where was this kid through high school 🙂  So Lee and I drove down the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) to Hearst.  The drive in and of itself was beautiful and at one point we stopped and took some pictures of the Bixby bridge.

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And we got to stop at Seal Beach and see Elephant Seals less than 10 yards away!!  Really cool.  They have built a long pier along the beach to allow for  watching without bothering the seals.

So many elephant seals!

So many elephant seals!

Cute babies

Cute babies

The scratching was amazing. The flipper is almost like a hand.

The scratching was amazing. The flipper is almost like a hand.

They were making the most amazing noises

They were making the most amazing noises

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We arrived at the Castle Visitors center soon after and met Nick and Slushie.  We had bought three separate tours and spaced them out for a break in between.  Unfortunately the bus ride to or from the castle is a full 15 minutes so the schedule was going to be pretty tight.  Since there is no eating or smoking at the castle we were hoping we scheduled a long enough break for lunch.  It also turned out that Christmas is the busiest week of the year so most of the tours were full.  This kept the tours a little brisker than we would have liked and Lee’s biggest complaint was not enough time to take pictures.  That being said, we took over 400 between the two cameras and I have included some of my favorites below.  It was really a neat place and I highly recommend all the tours.  I thought the $25 each was a fair price for what we got to see. The first tour we took was the main rooms which included some of the gardens (you can walk these freely between tours) and the inside pool which was my very favorite room.  We had people on the tour from numerous continents, which was cool, and even though it had 45 people on it, folks were very well-behaved.

Visitors center was super nice

Visitors center was super nice

The nicest smoking area I've seen in awhile :)

The nicest smoking area I’ve seen in awhile 🙂

Why he built on the hill

Why he built on the hill

View from the tour bus

View from the tour bus

The Jupitor pool is actually leaking from the bottom and it will take four years to finish restoring it

The Neptune pool is actually leaking from the bottom and it will take four years to finish restoring it

View from the terrace of the bay

View from the terrace of the bay

The guest house...not kidding

The guest house…not kidding

The main house!

The main house!

Front Door

Front Door

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Closeup of one of the statues on the side of the door

Nick and Slushie taking a picture of the front door. Aren't they cute!!

Nick and Slushie taking a selfie. Aren’t they cute!!

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The third floor had his office and was added on later. The roof is hand carved teak with the animals he had in his zoo

This statue was from Egypt and over 2,000 years old. It was carved with rocks. Unbelievable

This statue was from Egypt and over 2,000 years old. It was carved with rocks. Unbelievable

Despite it being winter the gardens had some life

Despite it being winter the gardens had some life

Pond in front of the main door

Pond in front of the main door

My absolute favorite statue. So beautiful

My absolute favorite statue. So beautiful

Fireplace in the main room. All the mantles are very old

Fireplace in the main room. All the mantles are very old

14th century choir pews from an Italian Church

14th century choir pews from an Italian Church

Medieval tapestries everywhere

Medieval tapestries everywhere

Several Russian icons. The detail was beautiful

Several Russian icons. The detail was beautiful

Every door and doorway was is an antiqe

Every door and doorway is an antiqe

He collected old ceilings and every one in the house was taken from another house somewhere

He collected old ceilings and every one in the house was taken from another house somewhere

This old choir book was actually used to sing carols

This old choir book was actually used to sing carols

Hearst saw his house as a living museum, but he also wanted it to have the feel of a ranch.  People lived in it and visited it, so despite the priceless works of art it was livable.  For example in the dining room he had ketchup and mustard on the main table, and many of the famous celebrities who visited commented that they felt at home despite the grandeur.  They did complain about the lack of alcohol though. Hearst strictly controlled the hard liquor and wine, but made beer freely available and if you got too drunk in his house you were asked to leave and never invited back.

Dining room table

Dining room table

Beautiful tapestry in the dining room

Beautiful tapestry in the dining room

Billards room

Billards room

The theater was Slushie's favorite

The theater was Slushie’s favorite

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Pretty fancy light fixtures. Life sized statues

The pool was so amazing. Marble stairs going into the pool and alcoves. Loved it!

The Roman indoor pool was so amazing. Marble stairs going into the pool and alcoves. Loved it!

The designs were made up of 1" tile

The designs were made up of 1″ tile

After the first tour we rushed down and grabbed a quick-lunch.  $7.50 for a piece of pizza, yikes, and worse we only had 30 minutes to eat, go to the bathroom, and in our case smoke, then back up to the house for the 2nd tour of the upstairs. This one had a much smaller crowd and since I like antique beds I was thrilled that every single room had an amazing one in it.  Plus more ceilings, doors, and of course the art.  The best room was an open air circular bedroom that was often used as a honeymoon suite.  It was directly under one set of bells, but Heart’s amazing female architect (quite revolutionary for the time) designed it so that the bell sound was muffled.  The bells only ring once a day now and we timed it perfectly and got to hear them before our first tour. Oh and I should probably mention that Hearst and his wife separated (she stayed in New York with the five boys) and he lived with his mistress the famous actress Marion Davies.  Consequently all of the famous actors of the time came and visited her and Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, and many others often walked its halls.  Marion definitely ran the house and Hearst (who was a bit of a recluse) stayed on the third floor occasionally coming down to visit.  My major complaint about the tours was they focused way more on the famous people’s antics than the architecture and furniture, but I suppose the audience is driving that.

This bed was an Italian wedding bed with the initials of the couple carved into the headboard

This bed was an Italian wedding bed with the initials of the couple carved into the headboard

My favorite door and doorframe

My favorite door and door frame

Even the lamps were works of art

Even the lamps were works of art

The library where lots of people hung out and played games

The library where lots of people hung out and played games

The ceiling in one of the common rooms

The ceiling in one of the common rooms

The paneling in his room was beautiful

The paneling in his room was beautiful

My favorite lamp

My favorite lamp was in his room

He was a newspaper mogul and had these papers outside of his bedroom. He said he couldn't sleep until his "babies" were ready for print

He was a newspaper mogul and had these papers outside of his bedroom. He said he couldn’t sleep until his “babies” were ready for print

MArion Davies bed

Marion Davies bed

Another one of my favorite statues

Another one of my favorite statues

He also built these cool loft bedrooms that were really neat

He also built these cool loft bedrooms that were really neat

The bottom view of the loft bedroom

The bottom view of the loft bedroom.  Absolutely no eating in the rooms was allowed.

The outside view of the circular honeymoon room

The outside view of the circular honeymoon room

This cupid was facing the room and his bow was drawn towards it which is a nice tough

This cupid was facing the room and his bow was drawn towards it which is a nice touch

Amazing bed

Amazing bed

Lee noticed this old statue looked a ton like Sylvester Stalone!

Lee noticed this old statue looked like Sylvester Stalone!

Since the bus ride down and back took so long, we decided to stay up top and explore the gardens in between the final tour.  We tried to get an earlier tour but it was full, so just wandered a bit and enjoyed the views.  Our final tour cottages and kitchens had the least things interesting things to look at but had the best tour guide.  She focused on the architecture more and I thought she did an excellent job.  If you can’t afford all three, this is the one to skip, but I thought it was definitely worth doing.  One interesting thing is the ornate ceilings, door frames, and furniture were a little overwhelming in the smaller houses.  Small is relative though they still were mini-mansions.  I felt like I could live comfortably in the big house, but Nick and I both thought the furnishings in the smaller house environments were a bit oppressive.  The kitchens were very cool though.  State of the art for its time and the bathrooms as well were way ahead of their time with some of the showers having as many as seven shower heads.

The Graces statue is outside one of the guest houses

The Three Graces statue is outside one of the guest houses

Front door of a guest house

Front door of a guest house

 

Many of the guest houses had old persian tile peices of artwork near the doors

Many of the guest houses had old Persian tile pieces of artwork near the doors

The three guest houses were named for their views. This was the Sun House

The three guest houses were named for their views. This was the Sun House

This ceiling had cherubs that looked down on you. Kind of creepy :)

This ceiling had cherubs that looked down on you. Kind of creepy 🙂

Loved, loved this bed which belonged to a bishop

Loved, loved this bed which belonged to a bishop

This level of ornateness on the walls just didn't work in the smaller space

This level of ornateness on the walls just didn’t work in the smaller space

Awesome tub!!

Awesome tub!!

Modern Shower

Modern Shower

One of my favorite peices in all the houses was this altar cloth. The picture does not do it's beauty justice

One of my favorite pieces in all the houses was this altar cloth. The picture does not do its beauty justice

Kitchen faucets were cool

Kitchen faucets were cool

Part of the kitchen

Part of the kitchen

Cooking area. He had a male asian chef

Cooking area. He had a male asian chef

This beer refrigerator had kegs going all the time as Mr. Hearst was a beer drinker

This beer refrigerator had kegs going all the time as Mr. Hearst was a beer drinker

The wine cellar was huge and in a vault. When the house was donated the State could not accept the alcohol as a gift so many of the bottles of wine turned to vinegar. The bottles they kept

The wine cellar was huge and in a vault. When the house was donated the State could not accept the alcohol as a gift so many of the bottles of wine turned to vinegar. The bottles they kept

Tennis courts where Wimbledon winners would come to play

Tennis courts where Wimbledon winners would come to play were amazing.  They were surrounded by spot lights for night play

I definitely recommend the visit, but also recommend a long lunch break between tours and packing a lunch to eat in your car.  $75 was a reasonable price for a days entertainment, but the $33 for lunch was a bit much for what we got.  Afterwards we decided to go to dinner before the long ride home and Nick and Slushie found a four-star restaurant nearby on Yelp called Centrally Grown.   Usually Yelp is pretty accurate, but we definitely hit this restaurant on the wrong night.  Their computer system was down, they were short on staff, and terribly busy.  The food was good, when it finally arrived, but the rest of the experience was pretty rough. To sum it up when we went to the bar to pay (after waiting 10 minutes for the check) our waitress said, “So who waited on you?”  Our response “you did,’ sort of sums it up.  But the company was great and we really enjoyed our double date with Nick and Slushie.  So happy we got to spend the day with them and check an item off Lee’s long-time bucket list.

Seriously...California!!

Seriously…California!!

 

Nick and Slushie at dinner

Nick and Slushie at dinner

 

Charcutierie on the menu Cori!!

Charcutierie on the menu Cori!!

 

The plate was lame but the honey was seriouslt the best I have ever tasted

Cori’s charcuterie is better but the honey was seriously the best I have ever tasted.  Cori you need to start adding honey to your plates!!

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2 thoughts on “First Time at Hearst Castle

  1. Lee had said this place was bigger and better than Biltmore Estate and I know see why. At least they let you take pics – couldn’t take pics inside Biltmore.
    And Cori’s charcuterie looks way better!

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