La Cuesta Encantada || The Enchanted Hill of San Simeon

Following his mother’s death in 1919, media magnate William Randolph Hearst inherited thousands of acres around San Simeon and later on purchased even more, until the land he owned extended further than the eye could see. Captivated by the beauty of the landscape, and probably tired of lodging in platform tents whenever he visited his ranch, Hearst hired architect Julia Morgan and asked her to build ”something that would be more comfortable” than the tents.  

Throughout his life, Hearst dreamed of building a castle similar to those he had seen on his European  tour as a boy. 28 years, 68,500 square feet, 38 bedrooms, 30 fireplaces, 42 bathrooms and 14 sitting rooms later (and that is only Casa Grande, the main building of the complex), his dream came true. He called his castle La Cuesta Encantada—Spanish for “Enchanted Hill” and, after a two-hour tour of the Grand Rooms, guest suites, gardens and the spectacular Roman Pool, I can affirm that this mythical structure of epic proportions is definitely ”something more comfortable” than Mr. Hearst’s tents.

During construction, Hearst used the Castle as his residence and it was there he exhibited his extraordinary art collection and entertained his friends. The elite of Hollywood, politics and sports – everyone who was anyone, has stayed in these rooms. Construction was still ongoing in 1947, when Hearst had to leave the castle because of his fragile health which required continuous medical care. Parts of the castle still remain unfinished.

If you enjoyed this virtual walk of the gardens, wait till we go indoors; coming up, views from the Grand Rooms and guest suites.

Hearst Castle, San Simeon

July 12th, 2017

Bixby Creek Bridge

#iconic
#marvels_of_engineering
#mind_the_gap

The plan was to cross the Bixby bridge and continue to explore the magnificent Big Sur. Alas, it was not to be – a giant landslide had claimed a large part of the highway and access had been cut off, since May 2017. It took 14 months and $ 1 billion dollars worth of repairs, to finally re-open the highway in July 2018!

The Bixby bridge was still open, however, so we did cross it… for a mile or so and then we had to turn back. From here on, we would have to drive inland on 101, bypassing Big Sur until San Luis Obispo.

But, before that, there were other wonders to be discovered in the area around Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea, so let’s enjoy the breathtaking view from here, a little while longer.

July 10th, 2017

San Francisco is… the stunning views from Lands End

As if 4000 years worth of art, a spectacular French-inspired building that resembles the Parisian Palais de la Légion d’Honneur (here’s that ”European” feel again), and interesting exhibitions like the Degas and Paris Millinery Trade we’d just seen were not enough, Legion of Honor sits high on the grounds of Lincoln Park, in a unique setting. To reach it, you have to walk (or drive) through a glossy, perfectly manicured golf course. And on your return, you can – no, you must, take one of the Lands End trails, walk past rocky cliffs, shady cypress and eucalyptus trees, cross paths with local runners, find your way around a stone labyrinth, descent to Mile Rock Beach or just let your eyes rest on some of the most stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the ocean you could have wished for.

Lands End

July 7th, 2017

Scribner’s at Golden Hour

The red brick of Charles Scribner’s Sons building is bathed in a warm blood orange colour.

Formerly a printing plant and corporate HQ of the historic printing house which produced works from such legends as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Edith Wharton, Thomas Wolfe, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and Ring Lardner.

Now renovated and transformed into a modern office space.

Scribner’s on 43rd Street, Hell’s Kitchen.

June 8th, 2017

Crossing the river to Hoboken

Believe it or not, there is a whole other world out there, beyond Manhattan and the City. Like Hoboken, for example. This town on the Hudson Waterfront, which an outsider might mistake for an extension of New York, is actually sitting in New Jersey. Easily accessible by car, train or ferry, it is a great alternative for walks alongside the river.

Starting with Hoboken Terminal, the main transportation hub and a magnificent example of Beaux Arts architecture. Just look at the exterior with a steampunk industrial feel and this incredible waiting room, bathed in natural light coming from its Tiffany stained glass skylight!

But the main attraction is, of course, a walk on the waterfront offering some of the best, unobstructed views of West Manhattan, all the way down to its lower tip.

Not forgetting the famous lobster tails, freshly baked directly at the source: Carlo’s Bakery.

For our first visit to Hoboken, we took the PATH from 33rd Street (smooth transit, no delays, no crowds – but it was Saturday…). Next time, which will hopefully be soon, we’ll try the ferry, which is always much more fun than travelling through a dark tunnel, underwater.

May 27th, 2017

Christmas all year round

wp20160905_195325

During the walk, I keep thinking that some people don’t have to wait for Christmas. Behind me and all along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, there are apartment buildings with large windows and balconies. The lower level ones may be less lucky but those higher up enjoy this glorious unobstructed view day-in day-out.

September 5th, 2016