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Hearst Castle, Solvang, S Barbara

Oct 5, 2013

So, another early morning awakening so we could do the 45 min drive back to Hearst Castle. Not a bad drive - but we did get behind some slow people, but still made it with 10-15 min to spare. So it was on the bus up to the Castle. We passed some Aoudad big horn sheep on the way...I think it took about 10 min from the bottom up the windy road to the top. Hearst Castle was build by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and it took many years of planning and design and construction - from 1919 til 1947. There are three different tours, and I guess if you had all day, and didn't mind dropping $75 (tours are $25 each, 10% discount if you do more then one) per person. That was a little too rich for us, so we did the grand rooms tour. Included the assembly room, refectory, billiard room and theatre, where you are shown a short movie. The rooms were awesome, of course. The art, antiques, the wood carvings - the carved ceilings were beyond. After the tour was over, you could then explore the grounds. Another very hot day without much shade. We saw the Neptune pool, some of the gardens and I was way more impressed by the Roman pool, where you went to take the bus back down - the gold and blue tile work, the reflection of the tiled walls in the calm pool - it was lovely. We spent an hour on the tour, and about an hour wandering the grounds. Back down to the main area and there is a 45 min movie included in the ticket price about WR Hearst and the castle. We just missed it by a few minutes, so had a while to kill before the next showing. Grabbed some lunch at the cafeteria (they actually raise cattle and sell the beef - in jerky and hot dog form! But I had a turkey club sandwich - Darrin had a hot dog...pricey!) There was also an interesting little museum there about the Hearst family, the newspaper and movie business, and about some of the antiques. Time for the movie...which I kinda nodded off thru - hey...it was hot out and I was tired! And it was dark...

So now the rush was on a little bit to get to Santa Barbara, as we wanted to stop in the Danish town of Solvang. It was about 2pm...and I thought we'd only be at the castle til noon or 1pm. But I enjoyed the visit. If we ever get back, I would for sure do one of the other tours.

I had read about Solvang in an e-guidebook and saw that it wasn't very far from SB...about 45 min and on the way, not in an opposite direction...and I was charmed by the photos of the windmills. We arrived with about 90 min to look around and see the shops before they closed. One of our first stops was a shop selling ice cream, so I had a coconut and chocolate gelato...and then kicked myself 30 min later after passing yet another Danish bakery filled with delicious treats that wouldn't keep in a hot car. Note - if you go to Solvang, do NOT fill up on ice cream before going to the bakeries. We did pick up this huge flat, crispy cinnamon thing, which was very flakey, and I also got a raspberry filled iced shortbread type cookie (can't remember the names). Absolutely divine! There were lots of shops selling Danish goods, of course the neat windmills and lots of half timber stores and houses.

I felt time was pressing as I told our airbnb host we'd be there between 6 and 7pm...so off we went - another winding drive along the coast (with more slowwwwww people in front of us...groan). It was a bit of a trick to find her apartment - the parking was kinda wonky - I ended up having to get out of the car and walk around - it is a complex of buildings and the covered parking is in the middle of what would be the courtyard, or middle of the complex...and the numbers didn't follow any pattern. But after a few frustrating minutes, we found it...but she wasn't there. Luckily, I was able to access her wifi signal while in the yard to find the last message she had sent (after we left the hotel that morning) and she told us where she had hidden the key. She came along a few min after we arrived. Her home was beautiful - the king size bed, the gorgeous comforter and d├ęcor, private bathroom - it felt, to me, like a 4 star hotel. It was a little more then I would usually pay for an airbnb, but I was so taken with the photos, I splurged. She was a really nice lady (a real estate agent!) and she told us where some good restaurants were in Santa Barbara - of course she doesn't know my fussy husband. We actually drove by a few places she mentioned, but on a Saturday night, the very large main downtown street was full of activity and no parking to be found. We drove all the way to the boardwalk (which I had wanted to see) and ended up eating a very noisy, kinda OK pizza place - def not on her recommend list...lol. We then drove over to the boardwalk so I could see of I wanted to return in the morning, but, as I was finding typical of the boardwalks - a few restaurants and some touristy shops...nothing I felt the need to return and see. Back to the room and we were going to explore Santa Barbara some in the morning before heading to Los Angeles.

Posted by u2traveller 16:02 Archived in USA

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