Pritam Rohila Travels

Reports of my travels along with some pictures

Jun 30, 2009


About 20 miles north from Cayucos, on Highway 101, is San Simeon, the home of the Hearst Castle.

Perched high atop the "Enchanted Hill," it offers pnaromic views of its surroundings and the Pacific Ocean.

Built by William Randolph Hearst, on a 40,000-acre ranch, the Castle has 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, tennis court, a movie theater, an airfield and at one time had its own private zoo.

Construction started in 1919, and continued until 1947, when Hearst stopped living there due to ill health. Ten years later, the Hearst Corporation donated it to the state of California.

Now it is a state park complete with a large Visitor Center, which houses information kiosk, cafe, ticket booth, exhibits, and National Geographic Theater with a five-story screen. All tours start from here.

Casa del Sol is an 18-room guest house, where many rich and famous individuals enjoyed the

hospitality of its owners. They included the Hollywood personalities like Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, the Marx Brothers, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, James Stewart, Bob Hope, the renowned aviator Charles Lindberg, and political leaders like Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

Lined with blue Venetian glass and gold tiles, Neptune Pool is an impressive feature, which is close to the entrance to the Castle. The pool is surrounded by a beautiful colonnade and an ancient Roman temple front, which was brought all the way from Europe.

The main house on the property is Casa Grande.

Casa Grande features the Assembly Room,

Refectory (dining room).

Morning Room, Theater, and an indoor swimming-dining pool.

The Castle is embellished with open patios, Persian murals, Venetian ceilings,

many Greco-Roman statues,

some Flemish tapestries, and many other odds and ends.

On the whole, Hearst Castle is grandiose mish-mash of various architectural styles, which was built to gratify the fantastic whims of a wealthy heir.

More information about Hearst Castle at

Jun 27, 2009

2009, April 11 & 12 - MORROW BAY & CAYUCOS, CALIFORNIA

In April this year, during a visit with our son, Snehal and his family, in northern CAlifornia, we all decided to make an overnight trip to the state's central coast.

We went directly to the historic fishing village of Morrow Bay. Morrow Rock, a volcanic landmark stands at its entrance.

A dolphin statue and colorful pinwheels add to the town's ambience.

Even though it was sunny and bright, cold wind forced us to put on our sweaters and windbreakers. Many people sought shelter in the numerous gift an dboutique shops and seafood restaurants, which line the main street around the bay.

Next morning it was sunny and warm - excellent weather for a walk and photography around its picturesque bay. The azure-blue waters of the bay provided perfect background for my pictures.

After breakfast, on our way back to San Ramon, we made a brief stop at Cayucos, a quiet seaside town, just north of Morrow Bay.
It has nice sandy beaches.

The public pier is a popular spot for people to fish from, enjoy a walk or the surrounding scenery.

A girl was doing chalk-drawing on the sidewalk.
More info about Morrow Bay & Cayucos at

Jun 21, 2009


In October 2008, on our way to India, my wife and I stopped in Seoul for four nights.
We enjoyed our visit except for the 60-kilometer taxi-ride from Incheon Airport to our hotel, in the heart of the city.
After getting our luggage around 8:00 p.m., we headed for the taxi-assistance booth. While waiting in line for our turn at the booth, we were waylaid by someone, who claimed to be an authorized tax- driver.
Several blocks before we reached our destination, he demanded payment, an dtried to drop us, along with our four suitcases and hand luggage. We insisted that he take us to our hotel, and refused to pay before we got there.

When we reached our hotel, he demanded $150. After several minutes of loud arguments, we settled at $95. (The reurn trip to the Airport, arranged by our hotel, cost us less than $65). Fortunately, other taxi drivers we came across during our stay in Seoul, as well as other people were quite polite and helpful.
Next morning, we went to Insadong, a tourist-paradise, where shopkeepers and vendors speak English, and the main street is closed to motor-vehicles on Saturdays. One can easily spend hours enjoying Korean folk-cultural performances,
sampling traditional foods,

shopping for a large variety of souvenirs,

or just doing people-watching.
In the afternoon, we visited Changgyeonggung Palace. Set in a park-like setting, it was originally built as a summer palace, but later became one of the five grand palaces. These days more people come here for a stroll or family hangout, than for sightseeing.

Next day, we went to see Gyeongbokgung Palace, the country's prinicipal royal residence for 200 years till the end of the 16th century.
In 1592, the people of Seoul set it afire, in a fit of rage against the royal family and aristocrats, who abandoned the city to escape the invading armies from Japan. The palace was rebuilt 300 years later, but was abandoned again after 30 years, when a Japanese assassin killed the Korean queen in her royal bedroom.

The 15th century guard-changing ceremony is re-created six times a day, six days each week, with great pomp and show.

Paid admission to the Palace allows free admission to the nearby National Palace Museum and the National Folk Nuseum.

In the afternoon, we went to Myeongdong, the favorite hangout of the fashion-conscious young people looking for brand-name clothes and accessories, and to savor unusual Korean snacks sold by the street vendors. We enjoyed a vegetarian pizza at a popular restaurant on the main street.

Next day we were ready for our evening flight to Mumbai.

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