Blue Mountains, Bondi, and Beyond!
On Monday I took a tour to the Blue Mountains. Every time I've been to Sydney, the locals have told me that I *have* to go out to see them and get out of the city for a bit. And so I decided to do it. Sadly I went with a big tour bus, but it still was a good trip. Got up early, popped some cold medicine (oh yes, sick again, I'm sure it wasn't the 16th plane ride of this trip), and took the bus down to the Aquarium to pick up the tour bus. It was a double decker. Lovely. And I was sitting next to a lovely woman from South Africa who was a bit large. And I'm not exactly a skinny Minnie myself, so it was a fun trip. After a short stop at a small little town for coffee and bathroom breaks, we arrived at Scenic World.
Yes. Scenic World. *WORST NAME EVER*. It sounds like some super generic tourist site that you would see in a Jurassic Park movie parody. Now, to get to Scenic World proper, you take a cable car from one cliff to another. But the line to get on the cable car was long and I really wanted to stretch my legs. So I ditched the tour and headed off on the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. Which was definitely a good call. The sun was out and the view from the trail was awesome. Stopped several times to take pics. The Blue Mountains are sort of like the Grand Canyon. Except green. Lots of green. There's still the stark canyon walls, but there's actually a tropical rainforest at the bottom of the canyon. So amazingly pretty. And I think even Sarah Beth would be impressed by the speed walking I was doing. The walk was supposed to be 45 minutes and I only had two hours here, so I needed to step it up to see the rest of "Scenic World."
Now it's sunny and I'm sweaty AF, but loving it. I get back to the cable car and there's still a queue. Another tour bus has just dumped their folks into the line. But I finally get on board and its a short, but impressive trip between two sides of the canyons. Once I get to the main Scenic World building, I head immediately to the railway car. They'd turned an old mining railway, one that is super steep, into passenger rail that takes your about half way down into the canyon. You can adjust the seat and I set it for the super steep option and it's definitely an E ticket ride as you go down through a short tunnel and then down through a crevice and down into the rain forest. I walked around the rain forest for a bit and it was cool, but I was running short of time. So back up the train. Grabbed a bite of lunch. And then headed for a short walk to see the Katoomba Falls. Very cool.
After Scenic World, we headed to the Featherdale Wildlife Center. So Kangaroos, wallabies, dingos, ostriches, crocodiles, you name it. It was pretty cool. But I was feeling the sun at this point, so I went to the cafe to grab an ice tea and suck up some wifi. From the wildlife center, we headed to Homebush which is where the Sydney Olympics were held to catch a river cruise back into downtown Sydney. We made it back to the main harbor area just at sunset so the Opera House was glowing in the light. Very cool.
My last full day in Sydney and it's overcast. Of course. My original plan was to go to Bondi and lay out and swim. Now, with my nearly radioactive skin at this point, I'm thinking laying out isn't a good call. But I've heard the cliff walk from Bondi to Coogee is really nice, so that's my new plan. I catch the bus out to Bondi and while it's overcast, the waves are pretty nice and there are surfers and swimmers in the water. I had brought my swim trunks just in case and I'm like sure, why not. So I do the towel change on the beach and jump into the water. Hmm. A bit colder than the water in Fiji. But it's all good. I swim for a bit and even do some body surfing, then it's time to start walking.
The walking is good. Great views along the cliff walk and I totally understand why 80% of Australia lives within 100 miles of the coast. The scenery is just spectacular as you walk from one cove and sandy little bay to another. Now, while it's overcast, it's also humid, so even without the sun, I'm sweating. Lovely. I make it to Bronte Bay with no problem. But the section of the trail from Bronte to Coogee has been damaged so there are detours, and the walk is more steep and not really as pretty. And my toes have started to hurt. So I'm ready for this walk to be over. But I make it to Coogee just as my bus is arriving back to the city, so I hop on and am glad to be off my feet. I ended up having dinner with a nice bear I had met and then called it a night.
My great 50th birthday trip is almost over. Just the long, long, long flight back to DC and the real world. Which is a bit sad. But it's time.