I was frequently asked which is my favorite destination but I never had a honest answer for that. I used to say that every city has its own beauty and I cant choose a preferred one…and it was actually true. Whenever I visit a new city I felt in love with the place marking it as my favorite…until one day.
Sydney, simply stunning
I was landing in Sydney after 14 h flight over the ocean, excited to discover my last destination in Australia. After I visited Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne I had a big feeling of disappointment classifying Australia as a boring continent with nothing else to see other than cute Koalas and jumping Kangaroos.
I didn’t have much expectations from Sydney either, many people saying the Opera house (the most famous touristic attraction) doesn’t look like in pictures and it is actually an old and shabbier building. Ignoring others opinion and decided to find the truth by myself I m leaving the hotel wearing a summer top and a short skirt hitting the road which takes to Bondi beach, accompanied by a Serbian colleague.
Sun, waves and surf…
The weather is just amazing, even if is January, Australia is in plain summer and the buses are suffocated with people wearing shorts and carrying with them the surf equipment. We both regret not bringing the swimming suits with us, watching with admiration and envy in the same time, the courageous surfers playing against the waves. We change some words with some of them, listening their scary and most probably SF stories about encounters with sharks and then we continue our walk on the beach.
I have the weird feeling of being on the California coast given by the beauty of the place but most of all by its freedom. Hundred couples are sitting on the sand, hugging, kissing, playing without anybody judging or even looking.
The love is literally in the air and I am floating on my cotton cloud, enjoying the relaxing atmosphere filled with happines.
I could spend the whole day here if Maya, my colleague would not insist for us to go. I agree with her but not before of taking some “artistic” pictures in my brand new outfit.
Maya looks very excited about our next stop, the Opera house while I am a little bit skeptical regarding it.
Opera by the bay
The walk from our hotel to the famous landmark is through a beautiful park full of blossom flowers and exotic birds. Few couples are lying on the grass sharing kisses while the tourists are watching with stupefaction their loving demonstration. Hundred people left the work and now are gathering in the bars and restaurants with the view towards the Opera house. Everything is so peaceful but so full of life in the same time.
We are stopping for a while, lying down under the shade of a pine three with a direct view over the Opera house and surrounded by gardens with fully blossomed flowers.
The building designed by the danish architect Jorn Utzon gives the impression of a huge fish brought to the shore by the ocean’s waves, being the symbol of an entire continent, Australia. Even the tourists who are not passioate about the opera are coming daily to admire its beautiful futuristic design.
But what makes Opera even more atractive are not the artistic performances which take places inside of it but the amazing location on the Bennelong Point, surrounded by the city, the ocean and the modern Sydney’s bridge.
On the way back to the hotel I am admiring the beautiful houses trying to figured out the meaning of the modern sculptures displayed next by the bay. Each property in this area cost few million Australian dollars but I guess it worth the money as long as you have neighbors like Russell Crow and a direct view over your private boat.
Next day agenda: Blue mountains
Next morning finds me in the hotel’s terrace sipping from a coffee while waiting for the bus which will take me to a new adventure: Blue mountain. Unfotunately all my colleagues refused to accompany me on this trip due to the high price or long time alocated for it. I respect their choice and I am planing to have lot of fun, exploring a totally unknown location all by myself.
Our first stop, is a small zoo with Koalas and Kangaroo (to not forget that we are in Australia) and also lot of other exotic animals and birds. The little Koalas are sleepy as always and nobody is allowed to ruin their long siesta (20 hours per day) with the flash of the camera. Luckly, some of them are waking up attracted by the smell of their favourite food, eucalyptus, giving us the chance to take some souvenir pictures.
But I m even more excited to meet for the first time my cute friends, the penguins, which are really smart and funny creatures. Most of them are sitting together in a corner and seems bored of the curious audience while the stars of the group, two penguins, are giving their best performance in front of the photo cameras.
Leaving the Zoo behind…
Approaching the Blue mountains we are all curious from where it takes the colored name. Apparently the wide eucalyptus species expel oil which in combination with water vapors and dust particles are creating the impression of a blue line on top of the mountains.
Once you are here, its impossible to not notice the “three sisters”, one of the most impressive and massive mountainous structure.
The aboriginal legend says that once the stones were 3 beautiful sisters who felt in love with the wrong and after a fight between the tribes an elder petrified them to avoid the disgrace of the village. Now, they are guarding over the valley, as evidence of poor love and sacrifice.
A ride on the steepest train of the world
The tour guide is coming back to our meeting point with some access bracelets and a fun plan. We are going to have a ride on the steepest passenger railway in the world. Luckily (or not) I am not familiar with the meaning of the “steepest” word, waiting my turn, excited, looking forward for the magnificent view over the valley and some great pictures.
The first group of the passenger is boarding the train and after departure I can hear them screaming. I wonder why and I can guess they are kids otherwise I see no reason for being afraid of a train. The second group, same story and this time I start feeling a little bit anxious, trying to find an exit from the queue before my turn. Unfortunately is too late…the train is back and the employers are pushing me inside.
The last thing that I see is a blackboard where previous tourists where scratching some notes. One of them states “one year, no incidents”. What about the years before? It means there were some incidents in the past or the message is about a personal achievement? I am scared and I don’t know what to expect from this ride. I just close my eyes and I let it go…
Finally the doors are closing and the railway is starting its descent in a dark tunnel with 52 degrees incline and… lot of speed.
It feels like a horror movie, everyone arround me is screaming while I am sitting there freezed of panic, holding the handrail in front of me very tight. All I can see is a small whole pierced by the sun light and I am sure once we reached there everyhing will be all right. But I am wrong, the journey continues for 5 more minutes this time out of the tunnel but with the same scary incline.
My legs are shaking once I am leaving the train and I swear to not take it on the way back even if I have to climb the mountain.
Is thereany other way back?
Walking through the beautiful valley I meet some of my trip companions, few Australian elder couples, which also don’t look very well. With red faces, fast breathing and shaking legs they are sharing the same frightening experience about the railway. Fortunately now we are all save and decided to find another way of getting up there.
We all agree about the cable car which seems to be less dangerous than the train but more crowded and with lack of oxygen in the tiny cabin. I can say that I had an enoyable ride but at least I am back to the top and I m heading straight to the restaurant for a quick snack and a cold water, waiting unpatient the moment of our departure.
The missing girls
On a last count, the driver realize that two girls are missing and obvious we cant leave without them. I am worried that they are lost in the forest and I cant imagine how scared they might feel right now.
Few passengers are going in their research and after more than one hour, they are back, safe. Just how I imagined the girls couldn’t find the right way, walking in the opposite direction for the whole time.
Tired, I am lying in my two seats and fall asleep instantly until the driver is announcing the end of our journey. He buy for us tickets for the ferry and wish us a pleasant trip back to the hotel.
I have no clue where I am and I can read the same on the perplexed face of the other passengers but we board the ferry listening the last instructions of our tour guide.