Inspiring Hearst Castle Experience

"Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life - and travel - leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks - on your body or on your heart - are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt."
- Anthony Bourdain

The quote above perfectly echoes my sentiment about travel. Almost four years ago, I took a trip that inspired me and left a mark on me. It was an experience that affects me to this day.

With some notes I wrote during the trip and the memories I carry with me, join me as I look back on this inspiring journey.

This trip took about a couple of weeks to plan. My family and I flew to San Francisco and stayed there for three days before starting our road trip to Los Angeles. On our way to LA we stopped by Monterey, San Simeon, and Santa Barbara. Each city had its own charm and beauty, but my most favorite was San Simeon. It's where the Hearst Castle is located.

It was already dark when we arrived in San Simeon and we had a hard time looking for a hotel to stay in. We miscalculated the length of the trip from San Francisco. We thought we'd be able to stop by Hearst Castle at daytime and continue the drive to L.A. Luckily, we found a nice and cozy place which also had its own restaurant. We got up early the next morning and immediately left after taking a shower. A short drive from the hotel was the Visitor's Center where we bought our tickets for the castle tour. It's also where we got picked up by a bus along with other tourists. A narrated clip about how the castle was built immediately started playing as the bus ascended up the hill.

We were greeted by the tour guide as we got off the bus and on the entrance I noticed the small orange and lemon trees. With beautiful scenery in every corner, I started snapping pictures right away! From the entrance we were led to the main house, we gathered in the assembly room, and from there we moved to different areas of the house. There was this dining room that could seat several people and the gigantic fireplace. The game room had two pool tables where women can play alongside men and the ceiling was made of 14th century Spanish carved wood. There was also an indoor theater where some clips of Mr. Hearst and his Hollywood friends were being played. And Oh, did I tell you about the indoor Roman Pool? It was so fancy!

The last part of the tour was spent outside where everyone had the chance to check out the view and take in all the beauty there was. As I stood there overlooking the coast, I realized just how small I was , but I also felt inspired. Just thinking about all the planning, the hard work, and the time (30 years) it took to build the castle awakened the dreamer in me. It reminded me that if you really want something, you must do whatever it takes to achieve it. It is unfortunate, though, that Mr. Hearst died before the construction was finished.

The tour ended and we were taken back to the Visitor's Center. In there we watched the documentary film "Hearst Castle: Building the Dream." It outlined William Randolph Hearst's childhood, his family's history, and the European trips he took with his mother which inspired him to build this gem in Central California. The story along with the music was so inspiring and  beautifully narrated that I ended up crying. Mr. Hearst was a very controversial man who did controversial things, but it was the dreamer, the visionary in him that I admired so much.

So, you might be wondering why this trip was inspiring. Well for one thing, Hearst Castle was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. But the main reason is the story of how it was built gave me the motivation to go after my dreams. Because of that experience, I am now living my longtime dream of going back to school. As soon as I got back from that trip, I immediately dedicated more time studying and preparing for the exam I needed to pass in order to get accepted to college.

The castle is not just a reflection of Mr. Hearst's wealth, but also of his dream. I know my writing won't give justice to the beauty of this place, but I hope the pictures I took will do.

The road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles was a great experience and I think it could have been better if we at least spent a night in each of the city we passed by. If you ever go on a California  road trip and take the same route as we did, make sure to spend enough time to explore Monterey Bay and  Carmel Walks. Those were two places that I wished we I got to see more of, but there just wasn't enough time.

Here are other things you can do if you plan to see more of San Simeon, according to tripadvisor.

Where we stayed in San Simeon: Cavalier Oceanfront Resort 
Where we dined: Sebastian's is a good place to have lunch after visiting the castle.
 If you want to know more about Hearst Castle or interested to take the tour, click here.

💕  Bianca

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