You can see the Hearst "Castle" from miles around as you approach. In the photo above it's just right of the centre on the horizon line, see it?
Here we're getting a little closer, this is from the ride up on the shuttle bus. You have to see this place as part of a tour, and the visitor centre where the tours leave from is a few miles down a switchback road. Hearst owned at one point I think they said 400 square miles of land surrounding his "ranch" (which is what he called it). It's a State park now. The weather was unstable last Saturday, made for some amazing clouds! (Remember, the weather is usually perfect here, so you notice clouds.)
Here's our group climbing the stairs at the entrance of the main compound of buildings. Those are oranges on the trees- there were orange-laden trees everywhere.
This is one of the guesthouses- looks adequate, I think I could be comfortable roughing it here.
These next two are of the outdoor pool, the Neptune pool:
From a terrace overlooking the pool:
It's not a bad view from the terrace, some of the gardens are in the foreground, and more oranges:
This cathedral-like building is the main house. Our tour sped by a few outdoor things that we didn't stop to see, because, good heavens, the skies started to spit rain! The tour guide didn't want to get wet.
I didn't take many photos of the inside as I'm not skilled enough with my camera to handle low light levels, but here are three pictures from the dining room. The banners are there to bring some colour into the room, Hearst had wanted stained glass windows originally but it was thought they'd block too much light. Isn't that carved ceiling amazing?
Next stop was the indoor pool. The gold detail you see is real gold, and it's even on the tiles you walk on. They say Hearst was disappointed that few of his guests actually used the pool- but back in those days (the 30's and 40's), few people knew how to swim. The indoor pool was the most expensive part of the construction... I guess when you pave the floor and everything else in gold, that can happen.
This is the diving platform- the pool must be deeper than it looked:
The snaking switchback road on the trip back down to reality: