Hearst Castle, California, Nov 2011

By Eugene Sulyma

(For those who didn’t read my post " San Francisco" - I recommend to start reading that post first, as the story begins there.)

I wanted to visit this beautiful historic place long time ago. I have been there once in Sep. 2010, but only at the Visitor Center. I didn't get inside the Hearst Castle as all tickets were sold out due to high volume of visitors. This time I didn't want to make my mistake twice and bought our tickets online in advance.

We left Orange County at 7:30 in the morning after we rented a car from Enterprise. We got lucky to get an upgrade from the full size to the SUV. We got 2011 Hyundai Santafe, not a bad ride for such a road trip. When we left OC the weather was nice and clear.

We had to be at Hearst Castle at 1:00 pm because we got our tickets for a guided tour that starts at 1:45pm. It took us about 5 hours to get to Hearst Castle from Orange County, CA as we had to pick up one of our friends from San Pedro, CA who was going with us. Also, we made few stops to get gas and sandwiches.

When we got to Hearts Castle it started to rain and was freezing. I could not believe the difference in weather just a few hours and couple hundred miles north of Orange County. As we got there a little earlier a friendly park attendant asked us if we would like to start the tour early as the tour bus was leaving at that moment. We gladly said yes, otherwise we had to wait another 45 minutes for the next one. The bus took us from the Visitor Center to the top of the hill where the estate is located.

Hearst Castle was designed in 1919 for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and was under construction for 28 years. He brought different sculptures and building materials from around the World to make a unique look to his estate. He wanted to build something special and I think he got it.

The Visitor Center provides with different tours around the estate. We picked “Grand Rooms” tour. It’s suggested for first-time visitors.Our tour began from Assembly Room. The tour lady told us different historic stories about the place and tried to make jokes about what happened inside house's walls. All decors in Assembly room are dated the 16-th century. Here Mr.Hearst's guests had cocktail parties and poker nights.

After Assembly room we moved to Refectory Room where at that time all meals were served. Mr. Hearst named it the Refectory, the term for a monastery dining hall. Here he had dinners with his guests from Hollywood and politicians.

Hearst Castle has 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield, and had private zoo, at that time biggest in the World.

After each room’s story our tour lady asked us if we had any questions. Then people from our group started asking her random questions and she gladly answered them right away. It seemed like she lived in the house in the 20th and knew everything that happened.

Also, our tour passed through Movie Theater. Unfortunately I don’t have pictures from there. It was too dark for shooting and their policy doesn’t allow using flashlight.

After our tour was over inside the house, we were given a free time to walk around on our own and see the garden, swimming pools and tennis courts. But after we exited the house it was still raining. So, covered under umbrellas we started running around to take a quick look and some pictures.

Even in that gloomy weather everything looked pretty. It was a good contrast of grey foggy sky and snow-white marble statues.

After a little walk we spotted Neptune Pool. Mr. Hearst was a picky man. This pool was rebuilt 3 times before he was satisfied. From this point there should be a nice ocean view but it was so foggy we didn’t see it. I just could turn on my imagination and see how people rocked this place back in that time.

The whole tour ends at Roman Pool. This is an indoor pool decorated with statues of Roman gods, heroes and goddesses.

The pool was built from 1927-1934. Water in it was heated.

This pool really impressed me as the tiles are made out of real gold.

After exiting this beautiful pool the bus took us down to the Visitor Center, where we were supposed to watch a 45 minute movie about the Mansion. But we didn’t want to lose any time. We got inside our car and continued our road trip to San Francisco.

To continue reading about San Francisco, click here.