Thursday, January 29, 2009
THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
This past week we took a trip to the Blue Mountains.....in a car. We usually choose to go with public transportation in order to enjoy the scenery while someone else does the driving. You know, “Go Greyhound” and leave the driving to us. However it was much CHEAPER (amazingly) and gave us more flexibility to rent a car and we wanted to spend the night up there as well.
Driving on the left hand side isn't hard. Turning is also OK with help from my pretty nav-lady lisa. It's that damn wiper stalk that gets hit every time I want to turn. US cars have the turn signal on the left stalk of the driving column; the Australian cars have it on the right. Aargh. Throughout our trip I wiped my windshield incessantly (and unnecessarily). Cleanest window in Australia!! In addition, the lanes are narrower here than in the States so you feel like you are always encroaching on your fellow drivers.
100 km later we are in the Blue Mountains. Quite lovely, as they would say. The green Jamison Valley seems miles down as you view it from the outlooks. These views are sometimes on the trail or sometimes, at a touristy overlook area such as the one where we experienced the famous “Three Sisters”. On the days we were there only a few fellow hikers were around. . Nice, not crowded. But one cannot sustain the One World One Trip team with nature alone. We need food.... and shopping!
Though only a “Wombat Crossing” sign, an Echidna stuffed animal and a Fairy Calendar were purchased, we all enjoyed the small quaint little shops. Katoomba must have a lot of readers because we saw a lot of used books stores. Even the thrift stores had a lot of books. But we have enough books right now. That we doesn't include Siena who has once again read herself out of books, having read four since this past Sunday. And restaurants...we had a really good meal (overstuffed ourselves) the night of our stay. Caesar Salad, “Rump” steak, cheese quesadilla, and a steak sandwich, plus enough “chips” (fries) to feed an army were eaten. After we left the restaurant we walked back to the hostel but found the Common Grounds Cafe first. It was too cute to pass up so we stopped in for a drink. Though the rest of town had light tourist traffic due to it being mid week, the Common Grounds Cafe was packed. Low lighting and lots of native woods, it exuded the Blue Mtns charm.
We walked backed to the Blue Mountains YHA where we spent the night. This was our first hostel experience and knew this one was a really nice example. It was a BIG older hostel, lovingly restored. A nice but somewhat sterile room with accommodations for a family of six and a clean good shower. Nothing fancy. The lounge and kitchen had people sitting about talking and fixing their food. Some played pool. Marty did what he wanted here....uploaded and edited pictures to KodakGallery. Our wireless internet connection at Coogee didn't work. We had to run to Internet Access places with a memory stick. Not at the YHA. We got three albums uploaded and one album edited. Now that's success!!! We have said it before, sometimes we judge the quality of the place by the strength of their internet connection. What have we become? Instead of worrying about the number of pics stored in cyberspace shouldn't I just say “NO WORRIES, MATE” like they continually say here.
We hiked more the second day. Again beautiful settings but.... I forgot the “BUT”. The flies. The Blue Mountains are close to the outback where there are large cattle stations. Apparently they drift from the lowlands inland in.....to our faces. I thought this was a made up story until we heard the same reason from a second collaborator. You are always swatting them. Someone said they could tell the tourists because they are always waving their hands. The locals just ignore them. Again YUCK!!! We decided near the end to avoid another face full and get into the car and “fly” back to SydneY.