Hearst Castle: A Weekend Trip

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Hearst Castle: A Weekend Trip

Obviously, big trips are extra fun, but we also love going on little weekend getaways! In January 2016, we went to San Simeon to see Hearst Castle. We also snuck in a little wine tasting on the way back.

Hearst Castle  in the rain. Still beautiful!

Hearst Castle in the rain. Still beautiful!

We live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so we just drove down to San Simeon on Saturday morning. It took about four hours. We tried to leave early to avoid the traffic, but I no longer think it is possible to avoid the traffic here. 

In order to see Hearst Castle, you must have a tour. It is possible to join a tour when you arrive at the Visitor's Center, but a lot of the better tours fill up. The guides told us that in the summer, weekend tours often book well in advance. About a week before we went, we used their website to reserve two tours for the day, The Grand Rooms Tour, focusing on the main rooms, and the Designing the Dream Tour, focusing on the architecture and design of the property. The website is very easy to use. You can book tours here.

The Roman Pool at  Hearst Castle .

The Roman Pool at Hearst Castle.

The Designing the Dream tour was much better. It had fewer people, and we got to get closer to the rooms and go inside. I would recommend that tour, but it was good in combination with the main rooms tour. The only overlap was the indoor Roman Pool.

It rained the entire time we were at the castle, but it was actually just fine. I would like to return to spend more time seeing the outdoor archictecutre, but the majority of the attraction is the sumptuous decor in the interior rooms.

The tours start and end at the visitor's center. That's where there are restrooms, guides, and shops. There is of course a souvenir photo. An interesting side note: the visitor's center at Hearst Castle has hands-down the best beef jerky I've ever had. We bought one pack to snack on and we immediately wished we'd bought more. Do yourself a favor and get some when you visit!

Cheesy souvenir photo.

Cheesy souvenir photo.

That night, we stayed at the Cambria Beach Lodge, located about ten minutes south of the castle. It was adorable! I wish the weather would've been nicer so we could take advantage of the great beach location and the free bicycles. The downside to the Cambria Beach Lodge is that there are no real drawers in the rooms. It was a little odd. Also the walls were quite thin.

For dinner, we walked over to the Sea Chest Restaurant. It was right next door. The Sea Chest was tasty but...we'll say quirky. First, it is cash-only, so be prepared for that. The decor is dated and they do not take reservations. You just have to go early and hope for the best. Thankfully, we went at around 5:30pm and got a table right away. It was also pouring rain, so that probably helped to thin out the crowds. I got the catch of the day, halibut, and my husband got salmon. I far preferred my meal. His salmon was good, but they put a very strong mustard sauce on it that I did not care for. My husband enjoyed it though. Guess that's all that matters.

At  JUSTIN  winery in Paso Robles.

At JUSTIN winery in Paso Robles.

The next morning, we enjoyed a free continental breakfast at the Beach Lodge and then headed out to do a little wine tasting before heading home. Cambria is very close to Paso Robles, which is a fantastic wine-growing region known for Cabernet Sauvignon in particular. We started at JUSTIN because their cabernet is one of my favorites. It did not disappoint! They had several limited-release wines that are only sold in their tasting room. My favorites were their Pinot Noir and their Isosceles Blend. It was very fun. We had a nice little snack at their outdoor restaurant before heading home. It was a fabulous little weekend!

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Hawaiian Honeymoon Part I: Journey, Car, and Hotel

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Hawaiian Honeymoon Part I: Journey, Car, and Hotel

Last June 2016, we got married and left immediately after our wedding for Kauai, Hawaii. I highly recommend leaving right away or a couple days after. It was so exciting and really prolonged the celebrations.

Since it was our honeymoon, we splurged on this trip. We flew first class on Hawaiian Airlines from Sacramento to Honolulu, then took a short plane ride from Honolulu to Kauai. Neither of us had flown Hawaiian before, and we were pleasantly surprised at both the good service and the comfortable seats. Immediately after we sat down, the flight attendants offered us a tropical cocktail made with fruit juice and sparkling wine and garnished with a piece of pineapple. 

 

Welcome cocktail from Hawaiian Airlines

Welcome cocktail from Hawaiian Airlines

We were served a perfectly decent, albeit carb-heavy, brunch. I am a big proponent of Paleo and Whole30, so I prefer packing my own plane snacks. However, my husband loved the pineapple cake!

Hawaiian Airlines first class bunch menu on June 5, 2016 from Sacramento to Honolulu

Hawaiian Airlines first class bunch menu on June 5, 2016 from Sacramento to Honolulu

Dinner menu on the way home, Honolulu to Sacramento on June 11, 2016.

Dinner menu on the way home, Honolulu to Sacramento on June 11, 2016.

For entertainment, the flight attendants provided individual iPad Minis that were pre-programed with music, movies, TV shows, and games.  It was far more convenient than the headrest monitors. I loved curling up with my blankets and movies during the flight! All cabins have access to these iPad Minis, but there is a surcharge of $15 if you reserve and pre-pay, and $17 if you purchase in-flight. The fees are waived for business/first. I highly recommend renting a tablet! There is a wide variety of entertainment, including both children's movies and adult movies.

In-flight entertainment iPad Mini from Hawaiian Airlines. The case showed some wear, but the iPad functioned perfectly.

In-flight entertainment iPad Mini from Hawaiian Airlines. The case showed some wear, but the iPad functioned perfectly.

As soon as we landed at the Lihue Airport in Kauai, we took the rental car company shuttle to our rental car. We pre-reserved a convertible. In Hawaii, convertibles should be required. Renting a car in Kauai is unavoidable unless you want to eat every meal at your hotel (so boring!). Most of the activities on Kauai are spread out. Plus, the entire island is so beautiful, you would miss it if you never struck out on your own.

Our Chevrolet Camaro for the week

Our Chevrolet Camaro for the week

Because we were on our honeymoon, we chose to stay in the more secluded Princeville area of the island. It is located on the north shore of Kauai, approximately a 45 minute drive from Lihue Airport. The Koloa area on the south shore of the island, is much busier. It has big hotels like the Sheraton and the Grand Hyatt, Poipu Beach, and a lot more kid-friendly activities. The Koloa area is approximately a 30 minute drive from Lihue.

Specifically, we stayed at the St. Regis Princeville. It is one of the only hotels on Princeville with its own beach. The nearby Westin is owned by the same company, so guests of the Westin can take a shuttle bus to the St. Regis beach.  However, given that we were splurging already, we opted for the convenience and luxury of the St. Regis.

Our hotel, the St. Regis Princeville. 

Our hotel, the St. Regis Princeville. 

The lobby of the  St. Regis Princeville . So beautiful!

The lobby of the St. Regis Princeville. So beautiful!

We booked an Ocean View King Room. It had a wonderful view of the water and the pools. No balcony, but we got plenty of outside time at the pool and the beach.

The view from our room.

The view from our room.

Our little window seat with our welcome leis.

Our little window seat with our welcome leis.

Ocean View King Room, with our trusty  Filson  bags.

Ocean View King Room, with our trusty Filson bags.

The staff at the St. Regis were fantastic. Everyone was so accommodating and kind. However, keep in mind that most people who stay there are celebrating something, whether it is a honeymoon, a birthday, or anniversary. Therefore, do not roll in expecting upgrades or special treatment. They treat everyone with the same care, whether it is a special occasion or not. 

With that, we wrap up Part I of our Hawaiian Honeymoon Trip. Part II will feature some of our activities and Part III will showcase our favorite meals in Kauai! Mahalo! 

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So I Started a Travel Blog

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So I Started a Travel Blog

I am certainly no expert on travel. I adore adventuring, but I'm one of the strange people that also loves planning the trip. My husband is the spontaneous one. This little blog is meant to be part travel journal and part things I wish I would have known. Hope you enjoy!

 

His  and  hers  carry on bags by  Filson.  His is sold out, but I linked to a similar one.

His and hers carry on bags by Filson. His is sold out, but I linked to a similar one.

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