Today we enjoyed a day in San Jose, which is not far from San Francisco. After an unsuccessful search for breakfast, we visited the Winchester Mystery House. This "house" was built by the widow of the owner of Winchester rifles - a very rich, eccentric lady. After the deaths of her young daughter and then her husband, she consulted a psychic who told her the spirits of all those killed by Winchester rifles had killed her family. She was then told to build a house and not stop building in order to placate these spirits. So for the next 32 years that is what she did! The result is a twisted, warped and beautiful mansion. Apparently construction continued 24 hours a day up until the time she died in 1922. She paid double normal wages and cared more about quality than speed so the builders did some amazing work. There were stained glass windows imported from Vienna, some amazing wallpaper and fittings and the woodwork was spectacular. Unfortunately, all the furniture was auctioned shortly after her death so we can only imagine what it would have been like. An example of the amazing work that was ordered was some of the cabinets and doorframes - they were made of redwood but then handpainted to appear like a different wood grain!
We then took in some slightly older history at the Rosicurian Egyptian Museum. We thought this could be slightly dodgey, but were happily surprised. They had some really good displays, a lot of original pieces including mummys as well as replicas of important and well known artifacts. everything was set out in a way that told stories and gave an insight into the ancient Egyptian way of life.
Just around the corner was the San Jose Rose Garden. This has been voted the best Rose Garden in the USA. Whilst we are in no position to judge this (having seen no others), we were very impressed. We had a lovely walk through the garden, made even more pleasant by the lovely weather.
We then thought we would have a relatively short drive to Merced (on the way to Yosemite), however, this turned out to be a very frustrating drive, taking 2 hours longer than expected due to some very heavy traffic.
We made it safely to Merced (eventually) and took our frustration out on a good meal and an alcoholic beverage also helped!