I mentioned on Saturday that I was going away on a mini-moon to the Hearst Castle. I’m back and I thought I’d share the details on how we spent money and how we saved money. If you are curious for a quick preview, we did more spending that saving – but you expect that on vacation.
The Hearst Castle is one of the estates that was owned by newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. I should have been more familiar with Mr. Hearst, but my history books dealt more his famous granddaughter, Patty Hearst, and her kidnapping. The tour guide pointed out that the Hearst Castle is a bit of misnomer as, the Chief (as he was known), owned a castle in Europe – this was just his lavish estate to throw parties. It has 90,000 square feet of housing, so there was rarely a shortage of available rooms. You can get an idea of the attention to detail at the Wikipedia article.
Unfortunately the tour price for the Hearst Castle is what it is, you really can’t save any money on it. We could have saved money on our lodging, but the inn was quick to remind us that it was their busiest season when I inquired about a AAA or military discount. Being the busy season, we had to pay $150 a night, but on a normal weekend we might have been able to stay for $75 a night. We only stayed for two nights, so we didn’t need the long week, but having the Monday off afterward to get some stuff done around the house was nearly priceless.
We saved some money by having two picnic lunches. One of the great things about Cambria (a town near the Hearst Castle), is that it has many picturesque and romantic coastlines. The picnic was extremely cheap because used mostly food we had from home. It’s great to not have to pay huge mark-ups on a bottle of wine. One of the great things about picnics is that you can do them almost anywhere. I think they are one of the best great cheap date ideas of all time.
We spent too much money on just about everything else on vacation. We went to a nice dinner and had a couple of drinks (the restaurant was part of our Inn, so there was no driving or taxi necessary). We ended up spending $4 a gallon in gas traveling through Big Sur – you have to pay whatever the gas station says, there aren’t a lot of choices. We went to Monterey on the way back to see an Otter exhibit. The exhibit was much too crowded for our taste, so we ended up enjoying the shops. We tried Dipping Dots, a flash frozen ice cream. It’s different, but we decided that it wasn’t as good as regular ice cream and not worth nearly twice the cost. We went to Del Sol and in a nod to the HyperColor shirts of our youth bought some clothing that changes color in the sun. I didn’t think about it much at the time, but I’m not sure if I’m comfortable enough in my masculinity to wear a dolphin shirt that changes color in the sun. Lastly we finished off the vacation at Bubba Gump’s a restaurant chain. The hour wait for eating at 4:30PM was extreme and I didn’t find the food worth it. They delivered me a well-done burger without even asking me how I wanted it. The waiter’s explanation was, “That’s how everyone orders it.” Needless to say, I sent it back.
That pretty much sums up the trip. By the time we were done we probably spent $600 for the two days. That was pretty much in line with what we expected.Â We easily got every penny of value out of the weekend, which was what mattered to us.