Several people had told us to make time for Hearst Castle, so we decided to sleep at a place called San Simeon which was near the castle and had a large campsite. We took our time leaving Santa Barbara, stopping in town for a coffee and breakfast before driving the 2 hours to San Simeon. We were a bit low on supplies so quick wanted to put the tent up before dark. When we got there we saw another couple putting up their tent next to our site and they were well on there way putting the poles in. Triin and I had gotten so used to putting our tent up by now, that 10 min later, our tent was up, beds pumped up and bedding on the beds. As we walked to the car to go to town the couple was still busy and the woman looked at our tent truly impressed. I would have been a good TV ad for the tent company or something, I have to say it felt good to be good at something.
Cambria was the nearest small town that had a store to stock up on supplies and we quickly fell inlove with the town. It was so pretty and the people were so chilled out and happy. We went to a beer tasting at a local brewery 927 Beer Company where the owner made it clear to everyone that he had to lock up promptly at 7pm as he had a dinner reservation with his wife for their anniversary. Other locals who came in to fill up their beer “barrels” all said happy anniversary to him, everyone knows everyone but for a change it seemed nice, the people seemed relaxed and not intrusive.
We found this awesome shop called Love Stories, where the entire place has love hearts in furniture, photo frames and much more – love was the theme and it seemed the theme of the town. It was a real feel good shop, hence us staying quite a while. The owner is a fellow adventurer, having travelled for some months/years in Australia and Europe. As I’m writing this I hope he is already on the road again or planning something because he spoke so passionately about travel.
We bought some wood for the chilling evening and wanted to take advantage of the fire place, after so many weeks in the heat we welcomed our warm clothes and a warm top.
The next morning we aimed to leave early and it was easy because I was super excited to go to Hearst Castle. They offer four different main tours costing $25 per person each. We had seen so many manor houses and extravagant dining halls (i.e. Buckingham Palace) that we decided to go on the Cottages & Kitchen Tour which promised to be awesome. Once years ago, I remember going to a castle by the Isle of Skye in Scotland where we did a tour and got shown around and the part that really stuck with me was the kitchen.
What follows is a bit of history…
First we watched a short film about the Hearst family. During the gold rush in America, the miner George Hearst found what he thought to be silver. He kept digging and hoarding the silver, apparently others even throw it his way cause they were only after gold. Without knowing it was truly silver Hearst bought some donkeys and asked a man to help him haul all this possible silver 500 miles to be melted. When they got there is was in fact silver and they became millionaires overnight. Hearst started buying land due to now being a wealthy American business man.
When he was 40 he married a 18 year old school teacher and had their only child, a son. When William Randolph Hearst was about 8 years old he and his mother travelled through Europe for months. Hearst was inspired by all the different cathedrals, buildings and culture. When his parents died they left him all their money and already a keen collector he had a vision to build a castle. The castle is a true collection of everything that inspired him and with architect Julia Morgan took them 12 years to build and to this day is not yet finish and never will be. Safe to say I was absolutely blown away by this castle.
It later became a haven for famous and influencial people, with spectacular parties being thrown. Even the guest bungalows’ ceilings were individually designed to immense detail, as well as things like the beds. The entire castle has only one kitchen separate from the guest’s bungalows and the idea was that the guests had to leave their room to get food or coffee and had to walk through the gorgeous garden to get to it.
Due to having loads of guests all the time Mr Hearst obviously wanted to make sure everyone is always entertained and had tennis court and an impressive indoor swimming pool entirely made from Murano glass, safe to say the Castle cost a fortune. It was one of my favourite places in America and I drove Triin a bit mad, taking so many photos.
Triin thought the castle was a bit of an overkill. Too lavish and too much all over. The question she mostly asked was Why? – Why does one require to have a zoo? Why does the fence need to be gold? Why spend all this money on designing whimsical tiles for the ceiling with my initial in it? You could’ve probably sponsored a small country with the money spent on making the castle ‘pretty’.
After a picnic by the car we drove through Big Sur and sadly there was a huge fire in the national forest as we passed. We were told that there was a natural spring spa in the area that was open to walk-in guests at 2-4am in the morning and offered the most amazing view over the ocean.We did manage a glimpse of it when we drove past, but obviously due to the fire it was closed as were many camp sites and other businesses near it. We did stop along the way to appreciate the ocean on the epic Route 1 in California.
Next stop – our friend’s Emily’s house in La Honda near San Francisco!