We frequently visit San Francisco and while we enjoy exploring like locals, we also shamelessly indulge in touristy activities. On our most recent trip, we realized we’d never been on a boat in the San Francisco Bay. We hadn’t given it much thought since we had seen it from countless vantage points around the city, and really, would it look any different from a boat? On our last morning of the trip, we found a Groupon deal for the Red and White Fleet’s Bridge 2 Bridge tour so we took it as a sign to try it out.
At first we thought we were lost. With Highland Park behind us, we slowly made our way up a series of narrow, twisting roads. We had only been in the car for 15 minutes, but the scenery felt as though we had left the city altogether. When we finally reached the entry gates, we were shocked by the sight of the gardens at the Self-Realization Fellowship in Mt. Washington.
Even after watching Citizen Kane twenty-plus times and seeing endless photos of the real palace, the first sight of Hearst Castle is an overwhelming spectacle of architectural and decorative awe. Only four hours from LA, the castle sits atop 250,000 acres of ranch land in San Simeon, CA., with 360° views as far as the eye can see. Architect Julia Morgan was commissioned to build a grand estate for the Hearst family, and over a span of nearly 30 years, Hearst and Morgan built 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways, including the world’s largest private zoo. Quite accurate by Xanadu’s description, Hearst collected countless artifacts, art and antiques from all over the world, which led to the continual expansion of the property to warehouse his goods.
Since it was our first visit, we chose the Grand Room Tour which included the main assembly hall, the refectory, the billiard room and the theatre. Although the tour hardly covered a fraction of the estate, it was evident that the artifact collection was quite serious.
It has been awfully hot in Los Angeles for the past week. And by ‘awfully’ we don’t just mean a measurable sum – we mean we’re holed up with the shades drawn in, the AC on blast, and lots of lemonade at hand. Instead of dreaming of the beach, we’ve been missing New York. Here are some of our leisurely strolls through Central Park back in May, when it was a temperate 70° and the skies were perfectly cloudy.