What I saw in… Hearst Castle.

San Simeon State Park / en route to Hearst Castle

Have you ever been? It definitely wasn’t all that I had expected. Even though I’m a modernist and minimalist at heart, I can certainly appreciate the history and grandness of the Hearst Castle. Just the ride up to the Castle will take your breathe away. Talk about a long-term collaboration, the construction of the Castle was a 28-year project, maybe even more, between the famed San Francisco architect Julia Morgan and William Randolph Hearst. Did you know the architectural style of the Castle was inspired by Hearst’s European travels with his mother when he was a boy? The main house towers were inspired by a Spanish cathedral, guest cottages reminiscent of the Mediterranean, a Roman temple front and columns that anchor the outdoor pool… Can’t even begin to describe the massive European and Mediterranean art and antique collection. It literally covers just about every wall and room (and there are 165 rooms in total!). You have to see it to truly appreciate Hearst’s love of collecting. I was in complete awe.

 

Casa Grande / the main house

 

side view of Casa Grande / entrance to wine cellar

 

Casa del Monte (House of the Mountains) / “House B”

 


Billiard room / Flemish tapestry from 1500

 

tiny glimpse of the kitchen / look at that oversized mixer!

 

Neptune pool / how great is that pattern?

 

Roman pool / 1″ square mosaic tiles decorated the walls from floor to ceiling

{ all camera phone images by Peggy Wong }

 

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What I saw in… Hoover Dam.

Original Exhibit Building at Hoover Dam

To be honest, I had never considered Hoover Dam as a “vacation” spot until now. My very first memory of Hoover Dam was from the movie Superman, and even then, that was a Hollywood-built miniature of the site. And let me tell you, if you are an architecture, history, or even nature buff, you would really enjoy the dam and its surrounding Lake Mead. I was pretty much in awe the second our car pulled into the security area and caught the first sight of the Hoover Dam Bypass, which opened to public last October. The view is absolutely breathtaking. Touring the inside of the dam was even more fascinating. A mere 70-second elevator ride takes you 530 feet below elevation! Speaking of elevator, when our tour guide asked what the elevator platform reminds us of, I immediately said the Empire State Building – art deco accents could be found all around. Besides all the great architecture, the environmental graphics were pretty great too. Pictured above, the original 1935 Exhibit Building at the dam. Mad Men anyone? Takes you back, doesn’t it?

Hoover Dam Bypass

tunnel drilled in the 1930s for construction / 530 feet below elevation

in queue at the visitor center

one of the four intake towers

{ camera phone images by Peggy Wong }

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What I saw in… Concarneau.

Concarneau, France. One of the largest fishing ports in France – it’s only fitting that I lead off today’s post with this brilliant print by an local artist named Valérie Le Roux. Brilliant in every sense. The orange-red was practically jumping out of the wall when I first caught sight of it. Love her illustrative style, what do you think?

 

… I couldn’t get enough of French white lace curtains. Saw them everywhere in France and I have to say, they have really grown on me. And so is the color blue…

 

… just the most charming crêpe stand tugged away in a corner on a cul de sac. Sea green counter with black and white chalkboard/handwriting is too lovely for words.

 

… and of course, more crêpe related graphics! Don’t you just love this? Couldn’t pass this one up. She looks so sweet… with the red and white polka dot tablecloth in the background? Yeah, pretty awesome.

 

… I did say my new favorite color is blue, right? We walked by so many private residences. It was amazing to see them “from behind” so to speak. Look at the one below with their garden out back. A bit unkept, but isn’t that the true beauty though?

 

{ all photography by Peggy Wong }


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What I saw in… La Rochelle.

La Rochelle, France. Even though it was a bit overcast the day we were there, I could still imagine what this western seaport looks like on a sunny day. Focusing on the details again for this post, I can’t help but to notice the color blue, everywhere! What a beautiful common thread – from street signage to floor tiles, in all shades and form. The “Rue sur les Murs” sign (above) is such a classic French street sign. That navy, almost ultramarine blue is just beautiful with the white type.

(more…)

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What I saw in… Lisbon.

Lisbon, Portugal. Where and how do I begin with this city? Full of colors and patterns, everywhere you look. Take this photograph above, how vibrant are the colors? I specially love the teal square windows/shades, so great. And once you start to really explore the place, you are going to very quickly realize every decorative tile on the side of a building was laid in by someone AND sidewalks that are lined with limestone, all done by hand. The painstaking process of it all… and yet I wish we have more of those stateside.

 

… the bougainvilleas were in full bloom when we were there. Just amazing. And the graffiti? Looks strangely at home doesn’t it?

 

… don’t ask me why, I couldn’t help but to take yet another Coco-Cola related image (see a more rustic one in Mijas, Spain, here). This caught my eye straightaway as I was struck by how such contemporary graphics could look that good on a traditional cable car. Doesn’t look out of place at all.

 

… beautiful typography on the side of this building. Still so relevant till this day, don’t you think?

 

… first off, the blue (and white) door! Such an odd shape but I love it. And the tiles… this is what I’m talking about, this and more – all over Lisbon.

 

… I was completely inspired by the black and white photography that was displayed along the buildings, for a good four blocks maybe. And they were ads, much less. Simple, but can you see the emotions in them? And how they echo with the patterned limestone on the ground? Such a strong visual statement.

{ all photography by Peggy Wong }


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