Well Now, That Was Quite An Ordeal: Sydney Challenge Day 3

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March 20th 2018
Published: April 24th 2018
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It has often been said, although I don’t know by whom other than a Facebook meme, that a good friend will come bail you out of jail while a great friend will poke you in the ribs, handcuffs clanking, and say “Dang, that was fun!” There may not have been handcuffs involved, but my time with Dancing Dave, Denise and Jo Trouble was only one cop car from being there. We were thick as thieves and connected as if we had all known each other for years. Yeah, it was that awesome.

Our final day in Sydney was going to be spent visiting the Blue Mountains. The Indian Pacific Train had passed through these mountains on my last morning on the train, but in the early morning hours there was little to see but dreary grey mist. I was pleased that we were going to be heading down to really visit them up close and personal. Into the car we piled and off we set for our last reality show challenge- surviving the Blue Mountains. Through a canyon in Sydney, we rode over winding roads covered with trees. It was a nice ride. Good humored barbs were tossed among the four of us as we headed out into the country. Little did we know what lay ahead. Ok, so nothing scary or bad, but it was very dramatic for a moment there wasn’t it?

The Blue Mountains were named for the blue haze given off by eucalyptus trees and a scattering of light waves. I did not know this, but yeah, I could see it. There is a very detailed description of how this occurs; however, I took them at their word and hope you will as well. On a hot, sunny day the mountains, trees and valleys were stunning. We stopped at an outlook to check out the views across a vast valley. Down a dirt road we drove until we reached the perfect outlook. Sheer cliffs covered in trees dropped down into a tree filled valley. The silence was amazing. Seldom do I have a chance to be in the woods with no sounds but nature itself. No matter how much I sit here and write, I will never be able to convey the beauty. Hopefully my pictures will help. But, before I knew it, it was time to move on to the next scenic stop just
Hydro Majestic 1904Hydro Majestic 1904Hydro Majestic 1904

Now this was a grown up drink
down the road.

The next spot had a real parking lot, nice signage, bathrooms, and as to be expected, lots more people. We had a perfect vantage point to see some small waterfalls cascading down. Being late summer, they were not full of water, but nonetheless they were picturesque. Perhaps this was the place for me to try out the Bad American Tourist bit I had been threatening to do. If you know me, this is waaaay too easy to picture. If you don’t and are getting to know me, please know that this is totally something I would do. I told Dave, Denise and Jo in the car that I was going to go up to a ticket taker or someone similar and very loudly and slowly, enunciate “Do you speak English?” Of course they would, it is the language of Australia, but the thought of it cracked me up. We all know of the American tourist abroad who when unable to communicate in the language repeats him or herself louder and slower. I really wasn’t going to do it, but I did enjoy threatening my friends with it.

The majority of our time in the Blue Mountains was spent at Scenic World. Not only did this place have amazing views, but it also had a skyway, railway and cable car. I was all in on this place. True, it was fairly crowded, but not nearly what I had expected. We opted to do the Skyway first. We rode over the rain-forest canopy, high in the air to the other side. And then back. And then back again. Dave and I went walking to take in some of the views. We watched the Skyway cross back over to the other side as we walked over to see the top of the waterfall. It was more of a lazy river than the mouth of a waterfall with mothers and kids wading in the water. I know I keep saying this, but it was nice to be out in the warm sun on a leisurely walk. We took the Skyway back to the other side and hunted for Denise and Jo so we could ride the world’s steepest railway. With a 52-degree angle, this is one I wish was more of a roller coaster. And speaking of roller coasters, can you imagine my dismay when I saw the skeletal remains of a roller coaster snaking through the park. Why oh why was it being allowed to die a slow natural death when it could be up and running with happy tourists? Later I researched it to discover that it had never opened. Let that sink in for a minute. A fully functioning roller coaster that never opened.

As we settled into our seats for the ride down, I loudly asked the operator if this is the one that goes upside down. He played along, although I don’t think it fooled anyone. It may have dinged my Day 3 Challenge rating a bit, but I wasn’t worried. To the blaring tune of Raiders of the Lost Ark, we rode the train down the tracks. And you know what? It was steep. Very steep and although it wasn’t a roller coaster, it was a heck of a lot of fun. At the bottom, we walked under the shade trees along a wooden path. Here the tourists were congregating in bunches, blocking the path. Jo used her cane to tap people on the ankle so she could get through. I will give her a lot of credit, because I never once saw her use it as a bat, only as a tap. With Jo leading the way, we headed over to the cable car for the trip back up to the main building. Time was getting late, so some coffee and churros on the outdoor patio were in order. Dave and I did another run on the steep train, this time in the front seat so we could really get a feel for it. And just like that, it was time to leave and head out to dinner.

Along the way we stopped at one last vantage point for some spectacular shots of the 3 sisters formation. Dinner was at the historic Hydro Majestic Hotel. The views were stunning out the windows of the elegant dining room. The weather had turned ugly, so dark clouds were swirling over the mountains in the distance. Dinner was so grown up. We had cocktails and wine with our 3-course dinner. I have posted a few pictures, but they hardly do justice to the awesomeness of the food. My mango dessert was truly one of the best things I ate on the entire trip. Sadly, our time in the Blue Mountains was over and we had to head back to Sydney in some of the worst weather I have seen in a long time. It was a long, fairly quiet ride back. In the end, neither Jo nor I were crowned the winners of the Sydney Challenge. We both were winners with memories and stories to last a lifetime. We parted ways in the airport, but I know that I will see her again, as well as Dave and Denise.

Sad to say, my time in Australia had come to an end. This trip was as epic as I had hoped. I traveled further than I had traveled before. I met absolutely amazing people who showed me hospitality and friendship that I could never have imagined. I ate, I drank, I laughed and I would do it all again. With an eye toward the future, I can see Singapore in the haze. Is that where I will be going next? Hmm, I am as intrigued as you are. Can't wait to see what happens.

Additional photos below
Photos: 39, Displayed: 27


Shadow of our SkywayShadow of our Skyway
Shadow of our Skyway

Which happens to be the highest in Australia
Orphan RockOrphan Rock
Orphan Rock

The lone formation in the foreground. I don't know what the large one in the background is

24th April 2018

I love your travel agents!!!
What an amazing time had by all.
25th April 2018

I couldn't have said it better myself
You are spot on there. An incredible time really was had by all.
25th April 2018

That was Quite an Ordeal
The comment that only we understand. Really cracked us up as I recall. Happy days! I note Saturday to Wednesday in Sydney to your North American thinking is only 3 days...proves that time flies when you are having fun...and didn't we have fun! Absolute delight to have you as our guest Brendan. And thank you for your own generosity. Denise & I will remember our time together for ages. By the way, is 3 days "ages"?
25th April 2018

Wed was only for travel
I couldn't bear to count a day flying away from Australia as a day. Only the good times count. You are right, time flew by and we had an incredible time. Lasting memories and friendships were made.
25th April 2018

Beautiful Blue Mountains
I'm so glad that you've enjoyed the natural beauty and splendour of the Blue Mountains; a delectable repast in the lovely Art Deco Hydro Majestic and some naughty larrikin behaviour with Jo, Denise & David. It all sounds worthy of a return visit before too long!!
25th April 2018

I am very glad too
This was a wonderful day and perfect end to an amazing trip. Art Deco Hydro Majestic, what a place. I hope I can one day return.
25th April 2018

I’m a sucker for an ordeal
Sometimes in life you meet that someone that requires no introduction, no needing to explain oneself to, you just dive in head first & just be. They are fleeting & joyous times. So here’s hoping for more “ordeals” shared Brendan xxd
25th April 2018

Same here
You have summed this up perfectly. When things are meant to be, they are easy. And this was. Thank you.
25th April 2018

Thick as thieves
A grand trip down under! Thanks for taking us along. We have first hand knowledge that time with the Hopper's is full of fun, laughter, insane comments and a few adult beverages. Glad you had a great time.
25th April 2018

Grand trip indeed
Each trip is different, and this one was a perfect one for fun, laughter, and insane comments starting with Cindy in Perth and ending with Dave, Denise and Jo. Ah, the memories.
25th April 2018

You should absolutely go to Singapore; it's one of my very favorite cities. I'll be in Singapore next during the first week of January 2018, let me know if that matches up with your travel plans.
25th April 2018

I am leaning towards it
Thank you Karen. I recently read your blog about you venturing further out of Singapore and vising a new temple. Your blogs are one reason I am leaning towards Singapore. I will be in contact if I am able to make it.
26th April 2018
I think I can pull this look off

Down Under Chef
I think this is a good look for you! A must if you need to BBQ anything, at the least!
26th April 2018
I think I can pull this look off

Thanks Andrea
Good point. I should wear it at work on BBQ days.
26th April 2018

In the Land of Oz ...
Great photos, Brendo and looks like you had perfect weather for sightseeing. :) Pleased to see that you survived the steepest railway in the world. What a ride! And dinner at the Hydro - such a great way to end the day and, how about those views? Hope that you have taken home many happy memories of memorable times and, also hope that we get to see you back in the Land of Oz again somewhere a bit further down the track.:) Jxx
26th April 2018

Thank you so much
I couldn't have put together a better set of memories if I tried. My time in the Land of Oz will always be special, and I would love to return. It is too large of a country to see in such a short time.
28th April 2018

Thank you!
Thank you Brendan for taking me on such an inspirational journey through Australia! I have very much enjoyed reading your blogs, you seem to have had an a amazing time, and Australia looks a truly stunning and varied country to explore. Thank you again :)
28th April 2018

I am glad you followed along
It really was an amazing trip. Great sights, great friends, great food, an overall great experience. Thank you for following and commenting.
10th June 2018

Here's to many more!
I knew it would be a fun special trip - but wow! Whenever, wherever - can't wait to catch up with you again and for more TB family adventures.
10th June 2018

Jo, I can't think of anything to say other than Ditto!! I feel the same. Can't wait to see where we run into each other next.

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