Now that the intensity of holiday week is over, Sarah and I have opted for a few days of peace and tranquility unmarred by the headaches of hangovers and bad photographs. Not to say that this hasn’t been one of the most fun weeks of my life, but it is nice to get out of the hectic city.
We spent the better half of the morning on New Year’s Day pacing through the Chinese Gardens at Darling Harbour. A hidden oasis in the city, the Chinese gardens were designed by architects from Sydney’s “sister” province in China, Guangdong. I could have spent forever walking over the stone bridges and staring down at the carp playing in the stream’s current. There were beautiful pagodas and archways around every corner. I ended the visit with jasmine tea and dim sum in the teahouse. It was a perfect way to contemplate the year to come and a very “zen” start after the night before’s crazy antics.
Today we left the city altogether and headed for the Blue Mountains, about a couple of hours away by train. Altogether misjudging what altitude does to temperature, we arrived in shorts and t-shirts to utterly freeze in the mist covered mountain range. Ignoring the goosebumps covering our legs, we hopped on board the Trolley tour from Katoomba station straight to “Scenic World.” Katoomba is a strange mix of quaint b&bs and seedy looking restaurants, clearly suffering from an ill-conceived makeover from mining town to tourist hub. Scenic World itself reminded me of the Penguin Parade in Melbourne: theme park-esque in its dedication to being tourist-friendly. Everything is brightly signed, clean and exaggerated. In a way it is a shame that it is so over-the-top, since the Blue Mountains themselves are so beautiful. We can easily see that ourselves; we don’t need to be told so by laminated brochures.
Indulging in all that the Blue Mountains have to offer, Sarah and I rode the steepest incline railway down into the valley and then the cable car back out. They are not exaggerating on the steepness of the railway. With a little jammy begging (and maybe some winking? I’m not sure…) Sarah and I managed to score the very front seat. It was literally a “hold onto your hats” moment as we crept over the edge, faster and faster. Now I may have bungeed… jumped out of a plane… swung through a gorge… but it still didn’t stop my throat from catching just a little.
Tomorrow we descend upon the East Coast with vigour. We’re zipping through – our gorilla tourism at its best – hopping from place to place in a month. The weather forecasts are pretty grim for the east coast, to say the least. If it ends up being awful, we’re heading back down to Melbourne for some Australian Open action — I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that seeing Federer in action may just make my trip.