I want my computer to work faster, expect to instantly be connected to the internet, and appreciate immediately booking a flight, hotel room, and restaurant reservation. But on a recent visit to Hearst Castle I was reminded of the pleasure of anticipation.
As the bus traversed the Santa Lucia Mountains heading up the two lane road towards La Cuesta Encantada, passing grazing cattle and rolling golden brown hillsides, Casa Grande’s towers came into view and then disappeared again. “How much longer until we’re at the castle?” a boy asked his mother. It would be a while. The road leading from the California State Park’s visitor center to the sprawling estate once owned by William Randolph Hearst is five miles of switchbacks. There is no choice but to sit back and enjoy the views up the hill and down the hill, where on that day the Pacific Ocean peaked through a blanket of fog.
However, even when we arrived at the top and disembarked, the 68,500 square foot Casa Grande we were to tour remained hidden by a tiered garden, with many stairs and pathways.
Although we had to wait to see the “castle,” there were lovely gardens, impressive marble statues, and incredible views to keep us entertained.
Then the eclectic architecture of Casa Grande was suddenly there towering over us, and we were ushered inside to rooms with massive fire places, tapestries, and furnishings, rooms where Hearst’s guests enjoyed rolling up the rug and dancing, or playing a game of Monopoly, as back in the 1920’s and 1930’s there was no television, no computers and no internet.
Before long I began anticipating being outside again, in the garden with its lovely plants, beautiful sculpture, great views, and bright sunshine.
Then as our visit had come to an end, we followed the signs to the bus and to my surprise came across the incredible Roman Pool I had completely forgotten about, a pool decorated with eight statues of Roman gods, goddesses and heroes, and tiled in patterns inspired by mosaics found in the 5th Century Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy. It was very impressive and a fun surprise!
Thank you Roberta for a wonderful vacation, and with great pleasure I anticipate our next one!