Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What Hearsts the Most


Getting here is a definite trek to no man's land, although the mountain hikes and long stretches of beach are enough to soothe even the hardened adventurer. Hiking and mountain biking the interior regions of California are adventures in themselves.

The trek to San Simeon is rather amazing, first because it is literally plucked down in the middle of nowhere California and second, it is astounding thinking that this "castle" was owned and created by just one person, although someone with obvious, over-sized ego to match. Standing beside one of the largest pools I think I have seen taking in the ocean views it is easy to imagine what those movie stars of the 30's, the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson must have thought being invited to spend the weekend with plenty of other famous people by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, sort of the Bill Gate's of his day.

It is easy to close your eyes and hear the music playing and people splashing in the pool, laughing, playing tennis and just being amazed at their good fortune at having been lucky enough to be invited. What was fascinating was the story that Hearst kept ketchup bottles on the table and made sure everything was kept casual being that this was his "country place". Any look around at the gaudy, gothic extreme which envelopes the interior of San Simeon quickly makes you note the irony of that statement. Either way, this is quintessential California at its grandest past.