Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hearst Castle

Words fail me when I attempt to describe Hearst Castle. Awe-inspiring? Wretchedly excessive? Ginormous? Impressive? Weirdly beautiful? 75,000 square feet (give or take 10,000). 165 rooms. Built on a mountaintop from which (at one time) everything you could see in any direction belonged to William Randolph Hearst, only son of George Hearst, whose character was deliciously defamed in Deadwood in a chilling performance by Gerald McRaney, Hearst Castle is filled with antiques (tapestries, furnishings, entire ceilings) that once graced European castles and were sold by cash-strapped Europeans to wealthy Americans following WWI. We took two tours: Tour 1, the starter tour, and Tour 2, which shows more of the inside of the Casa Grande (the Big House). Let me digress for just a moment here to say how much I loathe most tourist sites: the visitor centers with their crappy souvenirs, the buses, the crowds (there were 60 people on Tour 1), the people who step on carpets or sit on chairs or take flash pictures even though the patient-as-Job tour guide has repeatedly told them not to, the people who push past you to be first on (or off) the bus, and especially those who bring crying babies on tours that last over an hour. Aggggh! Argggghhhh! Ahhhhhhh!

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