Road Trip Take Two, Day 8

(Crafty Romans and their glass pool!)

It would be a shame to have such a huge fortune like W.R. Hearst only to have descendants spill it away in a week. Besides having constant ideas on how to furnish his estate, Hearst also dreamed of the future, when his grand-kids couldn't be bothered to work but wanted to buy a Ferrari all the same. Why not just sell one of "grampa's" old statues? It would be just one...nobody will even notice.

After several nights waking up screaming below his imported ceiling, Hearst made sure that his wealth would outlive him by more than an average blood cell's lifetime. As a result, his corporation still exists and protects his interests, and – as a result – he still owns everything you have ever watched, heard, or read.

Today, we visited his castle again and took two more tours: one was the most comprehensive (recommended if you've never been there before, assuming there are free spots) and the other was one of the more specialized ones, touring over thirty rooms.

Specific, isn't it?

Well, it least as specific as the castle itself.

So as to not spoil it too much, here are some of the castle's highlights highlighted (tee hee) today.

All tours start with the Neptune pool and – save for the self-guided one – end in the Roman pool. In the middle of the 'wall' facing the staircase closest to the Neptune, there is a recessed area. It was meant to house a statue, but as a result of other on-the-go changes, they never got around to it before Hearst died, so they never will.

An interesting side note: the Neptune pool isn't actually blue on the bottom, but completely white. When it's not drained, 345,000 gallons of natural spring water are contained in it.

Many trees (specifically oak trees) were moved around, so they wouldn't get in the way of the site plan. Workers dug around the root network (which is usually the size of the visible portion of the tree – it's symmetrical) and enclosed it in a concrete 'bucket', moving the trees to a more convenient location. A handful of them (that's one big hand) were moved to accommodate the architecture.

The main house, containing the kitchen, salon/living room, dining room, and libraries, among other things, was designed to look like a Catholic church converted into a house. So, it looks like one outside and inside, but it has some more walls and usual furniture instead of pews and an altar. It's all because he liked the look, you see.

There's not much else to say for fear of repeating myself too much, but I will repeat this: it's full of exquisite art and surfaces, even in the toilet, that was bought from all over the world, so that Hearst could have all of the interesting European places he visited at home, in every room, all of the time.

I'm surprised he didn't buy Stonehenge and put it in his garage.

All of this 'tasteful excess' has to be witnessed in person to adequately understand the contradiction. And to better understand Americans.

Speaking of which, they are in fact the worst tourists. In every single group of US tourists you have a plumber who tries to cover his crack with "engaging" questions, and a group of cackling over-stuffed (I mean food) genetically-modified hens.

That not only takes the trophy from a group of annoying Norwegians, but runs down the street with it. I am also pleased to say that Europe holds the most polite tourists since there were some in our group.

The universe is balanced again, and 'euro-culture' in fact can't be beat.

I believe Hearst said that last bit a couple times.

As much as people like to believe it, people don't change; they just change their taste in shirts. A nation won't change either, bar massive immigration of villagers of course.

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