Destination: Monterey Bay, California

Hello, there!

After a lovely stay in Cambria, my family and I moved on with our travels through central to northern California (back in 2010, that is, as part of my college visiting tour). We’re heading on to two popular destinations north of Cambria: Hearst Castle and Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Now, before I get started, I want to clarify that I did not visit both places at the same time: I visited Hearst Castle back in 2010 along with my tours of Santa Barbara and Cambria; for Carmel-by-the-Sea, I went in early 2014 (which is after I’d started my blog, I realized, but never really wrote about in full detail. However, I did allude to it in this post here). However, I’m choosing to put both together in this post, just because they are part of the huge Monterey Bay stretch in central-to-northern California.

Any case, let’s get to them!

Hearst Castle (August 2010)

After an overnight stay in Cambria, my family and I packed our bags and hit the road once again; we were on our way to San Francisco, but decided to stop by Hearst Castle for a visit, since it’s quite a famous landmark in California. It’s actually not a castle but rather a bunch of mansions and the ranch estate surrounding it, once owned by W.R. Hearst, an affluent newspaper magnate (he certainly did have a lot of money!). The buildings and facilities were a blend of European and Greek-inspired architecture, evident in the outside Neptune Pool; the water was so blue that I was tempted just to dive in!

Neptune Pool in Hearst Castle.
Neptune Pool in Hearst Castle.

Inside the mansions, we saw plenty of Victorian-styled furniture in the rooms, Swedish tapestries, and a massive dining hall that reminded me that of Hogwarts’! The tour also took us outside to the ranch, where it was nothing but acres and acres of roaming land…I’m told that there are zebras living on the estate- how crazy is that?!

Hearst Castle.
Hearst Castle.

After that visit, we left and headed on towards the third college to visit: Stanford University. I absolutely had no chance of getting into this prestigious college, but it didn’t hurt to take a look at how beautiful the campus was. And I tell you, it was gorgeous! We arrived just as the sun was about to set, and the light rays cast lovely shadows all over the brick-red colored buildings and Spanish-styled tiles. We saw the Hoover Tower, which houses the university’s library, as well as took a brief stroll in a small garden with rows of statues. Stanford was amazing, even if I didn’t end up going there for school; still nice to visit!

Carmel-by-the-Sea (January 2014)

After visits to Solvang and Cambria during college winter break, my family and I decided to head north to visit the beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea, rich in natural scenery and quaint atmosphere that’s not too far from the famous 17-Mile Drive along the Monterey Coast. About a two-and-a-half hour drive from Cambria, the town of Carmel surprised us with its small, but adorable charm, as we arrived just in time for lunch. Since it’s such a popular destination by the beach, it’s guarantee that food and shopping will be crazy expensive in Carmel. Which is true, but we’d done our research beforehand and chose a *reasonably-priced* restaurant to dine in. We were treated to delicious platters of escargots, fresh fish, and bouillabaisse, a southern French fish stew that I also had the fortune of trying when abroad in France two years later. Sooo good… 😛

Afterwards, we headed out of Carmel to take the scenic 17-Mile Drive. We drove along the winding road, passing through filthy-rich mansions and golf courses while also admiring the beauty of the coastline from the distance. We stopped every so often to take photos of the shoreline, as well as visited the Lone Cypress, an icon of the West Coast and considered one of the most photographed trees in the United States. Seemingly protruding out from a rock, this 250-year-old tree has survived fires and other natural occurrences, which makes it all the more special today. There’s also the Ghost Tree, which is located in an area known for extremely dangerous storm waves, and is off-limits to surfers.

Along the 17-Mile Drive.
Along the 17-Mile Drive.
The Lone Cypress.
The Lone Cypress.
The Ghost Tree.
The Ghost Tree.

In any case, we finished the 17-Mile Drive, and headed back to Cambria to finish out our winter break vacation before returning to Los Angeles. Overall, it was a good trip; while I think that one visit is good enough for both Hearst Castle and Carmel-by-the-Sea, I’m glad to have visited anyway!

Stay tuned for an exciting post soon, on my visit to the lovely city in the Bay area: San Francisco! 😀

— The Finicky Cynic

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