Big Sur - Hearst Castle
Went down to Big Sur and Hearst Castle last Saturday. We did visit Hearst Castle but since the winding Highway 1 route didn't agree too well with Karthik, we did just a fraction of what we had planned, with respect to Big Sur. So it ended up more like a dress rehearsal of a real trip to Big Sur. But the few glimpses I had of the coastline did strengthen my resolve to make up for for what we missed, another day.
Highway 1, winding along beside the ocean, makes for a great drive. For someone who loves stopping at different spots to just look at the scenery, the drive will take a really long time since each point could be a vista point offering dramatically different views of the ocean, the beaches and waves crashing on the rocks. Due to time constraints we stopped only at a few points but the string of state parks on the way promised coastal access, which meant beaches and great views. So we wanted to stop at a couple on the way back from the castle.
Hearst Castle was built by William Randolph Hearst and is located in San Simeon. It is impressive, different and makes for an interesting tour but unless you are a history buff or have an more-than-usual interest in castles in general, the tour, at $24/ticket is definitely over-priced. What makes it worse is that the castle is divided into four tours and so you get to see only a part of it(accompanied by a lot of talking) on each tour.
A bus takes us to the castle, which is about 5 miles away from the visitor center and from there, its a lot of walking and talking. We took the Experience tour, which is recommended for first-time visitors and got to see the swimming pool, the courtyard and garden, a few of the bedrooms and bathrooms, the huge visitor's room, the dining hall and an indoor swimming pool. They are all visually very impressive and the extravagance is very obvious. The swimming pools in particular are very colorful and eye-catching. From a history and trivia point of view, most interesting was the dining room(which reminds one of the dining hall in Hogwarts castle). Surprisingly, Kavya really enjoyed the castle visit since she considered it a 'princess castle'!
With Karthik not reacting well to the winding drive, we decided to take the straight but rather un-scenic 101 back home from the castle. So we never got a chance to stop at those state parks we had planned to visit. Oh well... there's always a next time :-)
A few pictures(taken with my new S3 IS!) from the trip can be seen here.