Cruising out of Cambria with the top down (the car’s…not mine), we momentarily headed north just up the road to find Hearst Castle. Owned and designed by William Hearst, castle is a bit of a stretch in terms of a description but grand old house it sure is. Perched up on the hills overlooking San Simeon, Hearst designed himself a palatial pad fit for the guests and parties for the Hollywood elite that he hosted back in the day.
Making a last minute decision to check it out, we stopped by for the first of the morning tours. Now the tours aren’t exactly straightforward. They are split up amongst different parts of the house and grounds so unless you book multiple back to back (which can be a little rushed and expensive) then you won’t see the whole place in one visit. Just pick the one you fancy the most and go have a nose. I went for the upstairs tour, undecided between that and the downstairs grand room tour but settling on this one because you get to check out his office and bedroom – hey what can I say, I’m nosey.
Hearst was the media mogul of his day and it shows, the grounds are absolutely massive, so much so, it has its own airstrip and if you look closely enough you might spot some of the zebras that still roam around from the time when he kept a fully stocked zoo, and that is only beginning of the weird and wonderful.
What struck me immediately is that this place isn’t finished, despite being built and rebuilt for over 30+ years before he eventually died and the effect is a little odd. Plus the guy didn’t believe in grand staircases, (they were apparently just functional to go up and down) so the result is you end up crawling up tight spiral staircases stuck in each corner of the building. There aren’t any major historical artifacts as such to see, besides some Grecian pottery that our tour guide pointed out, I don’t think anything is particularly rare but interesting none the less. There is one room that is circular and covered in gold leaf – fancy huh?
Once we’d filled our boots with anecdotes about the eccentricities of Hearst, his empire and his home, it was time to head to Santa Barbara for a few days.
A few hours passed in a flash of coastline and countryside until we arrived in Santa Barbara. The drive was clearly taxing enough to stir up our appetites so we just had to roll in to the first In’n’Out that we spotted. My Instagram is regularly full of snaps of these bad boys and following the thinking that there is safety in numbers, we strolled on in, ordered some double doubles and sat back until we were called up. Now, I should add, whilst most people seem to be a fan, I’d read some mixed reviews, the negative end of the spectrum focusing on wait times and the lack of good fries, both of which turned out to be true.
We waited for 25 minutes before our burgers were ready, that is no fast food affair right there. When they finally arrived, the burger was as good as I had heard, juicy and delicious especially with an extra dollop of ‘spread’ (which they call a version of thousand island but for all UK’ers its essentially really really good burger sauce) but the chips were absolute crap. I’d go back for the burger but forgo the chips, they just aren’t good. Our not so quick pit stop done, we drove off in search of the beach and our hotel, Hotel Milo.
Checked in and bags dropped, we went for a stroll, in theory to to check out the beach but mainly just to work off the burgers.
Stroll done, we headed back to our hotel for a pre-dinner power nap. I’m either still a child or unknowingly Spanish, but either way a siesta always sounds like a good idea to me. Anyone else? Fully rested and ready for dinner we grabbed an uber up to Belmond El Encanto.
Now, this may not be the cheapest of eats you can grab whilst in town but it is for sure one of the prettiest. I’d forgotten my big camera (it is massive and not all that attractive to carry as an accessory on a night out anyhow) so the pictures I took of the view and the outside of the hotel on my phone were awful. You’ll just to put up with the few ok-ish ones that made it.
I warned you they weren’t the best...
We took in the view, I stroked my earrings (as you do) and we got to ordering.
Even with the hot hot days, the night was a little chilly so I was super cool and not at all geeky and asked for a blanket...
Totally goes with my outfit right?
He laughed at me before realising he too was cold, but was too manly (stubborn) to say otherwise, so I asked for another blanket for him...
The food here was great (the pictures of said food are however not so great). I went for the Tuna, as recommended by the waitress, for good reason…it was delicious and karobuta pork chop. Equally as tasty. Plus I’d go back the mash alone, seriously creamy goodness. Desert was a swirl of honeycomb meringue amazingness, light as a feather but hella sweet.
We finished eating and sat chatting until we realised we were the only ones left on the terrace, before calling our chariot (uber) home.
Head back later this week to see what else we got up to in Santa Barbara