|We did not have to get up as early this morning but by 5:30 Bob and I couldn't sleep any longer. Our day started off with a hour drive to Hearst castle. When we got to the visitor's center we watched a 25 minute movie about William Randolf Hearst and how he made his millions. Then rode a shuttle bus up a winding drive (took 15 minutes) to the top of the castle. The estate was built to reflect the Mediterranean Revival era and Hearst filled it with art and antiquities. It's now owned by the state of California. Outside, the esplanade was filled with fushias, azaleas, varieties of palm trees and citrus trees. Hearst planned his buildings around the Coast Live Oak trees which are native to California. And if it couldn't be done he would have them moved to another location. The 3 guest cottages were 3 to 4 times bigger than my house. The castle has 2 bell towers that mimics the designs of those in Spain. The castle contains 115 rooms, 38 bedrooms, a library, movie theater, (which we got to sit in and watch an old movie clip someone took in the mid 1900's of famous people and movie stars of the time that was invited to stay by Hearst himself). Stars such as Clark Gable, Charlie Chapman, Greta Harbor, Cary Grant, Mary Pickford and more. We only got to do the Great Room tour, which was the dining hall, living room, theater, and billiards room, and one area of the grounds and indoor Roman pool. The day was really chilly, wet and foggy, but I was so glad to get to see this amazing hilltop house. At one time he had the largest private zoo in America. There are still Zebras, Alaskan big horn sheep roaming the land. But after financial difficulty in the 1930's he sold or donated to public zoos. I really had no idea about his life, the woman architecture that he hired to help him with the project, his mother and how influential she was. The Hearst family did a lot of good things for people and charities. He always did a big Christmas for his servants and their families and he held it in his huge dining room which had 2 big 25ft Christmas trees on either side of the room. I would say it was the highlight of the day for me. I love the history and the beauty of the art and architecture and the surrounding Vista. I can understand why they called it "La Cuesta Encantada" (The Enchanted Hill). After lunch we drove down the coastline and stopped near San Simeon and saw hundreds of sea lions laying on the beach. Some males were really large. Lots of little sea lions (pups) were laying with their mamas. One was just born when we arrived. It was really a sight! On the way back down the coastal highway we had rain and low fog most of the way. We are staying at the Cliffs Resort and our room reflects the beach theme. I'm really getting excited for our cruise and beaches! Before I say good night I will have to say how proud I was of grandpa (Bob's dad). He went with us to see the castle and it was 149 steps from ground level to the front door of castle and he made it all the way! Woo hoo! He really enjoyed the tour. Tomorrow after a 2 hour drive, we arrive to board our ship, the Norwegian Star!