Trip Start Apr 06, 2007
110Trip End Jul 23, 2007
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The tour started off slow - the driver seemed a little out of it, although he did have a pretty neat accent. We found out later that not only was he Uruguayan, raised in South Africa, but he was also deaf in his right ear completely, and had lost his hearing aid for his left ear. Jose was already planning on how he was going to make fun of this guy in the blog after he responded to the question ""is it time for a cigarette?" from one of the other passengers, his reply was "no this is an automatic..." We were really confused - and he didn't explain the deaf situation until about an hour later...(Jose decided to cancel his blog about that....) he was an overall nice guy, but he just talked way too much with horrible grammer
After about an hour picking up the rest of the tour group (a couple Americans, one dirty Gator, a Dutch couple, and a fun group of guys our age from Toronto), our first stop was the site of the Sydney Olympics. It was fairly impressive, although nowadays it looks like a ghosttown. They are trying to turn it into a sports facility that people will actually use as a concert venue - but it looked pretty dead. Some neat sculptures and fountains - see attached pictures, but overall nothing too exciting.
After about a 45 minute drive, we were in the Blue Mountains - the name of the town I've already forgotten. We drove into a national park - with flashbacks of New Zealand as the roads became twisty and turny, uphill and downhill. I really did wonder if our little shuttlebus was going to make it - we had a couple of close calls going up!! The guide kept telling us to look for kangaroos - "Yeah right" I thought. But after unsuccessfully spotting any on the drive, he parked the shuttle and pointed to an open area in the park - there were about 4 kangaroos! They were just hanging out - laying, eating, and hopping around! They were much cuter than I expected - one even had a little joey in her pouch. After we stood there in amazement for about 20 minutes just watching them (and Jose took about 5000 pictures of them) we continued to walk around the park - only to notice more and more kangaroos just lying around! It was so cool - obviously they are not afraid of people anymore, but this was definitely not a zoo. They were in their natural habitat and just unafraid of us (although we didn't really get any closer than about 5 or 6 meters)
So after a treachorous trip back out of the campground/park, we headed to another park where Wentworth Falls are located. The guide took us on a hike for a little over an hour - down deep into the canyon and then back up again. It was pretty interesting - he showed us lemongrass, tea trea, eucalyptis, and a few other interesting plants that we could either eat or rub on our hands for a cool smell. By the end, we all smelled kind of like a face wash I used to use...mmmm... Our guide was really knowledgeable, but I think he got a kick out of trying to scare us. He kept talking about seeing snakes, pythons, black-red belly somethings, etc. Luckily, we saw no snakes. We did see the remains of a parrot vs. snake encounter, however...and it was pretty obvious that the snake won!! We also learned that the Blue Mountains are named because the eucalyptis leaves that cover the area exude a blue colored oil - which in turn make the mountains appear Blue. Another cool fact - there is Iron Ore running all through the mountains there -and you can really see it
Anyway, after a long walk ending with a beautiful scenic view of the valley, we hopped on the bus and headed into town for lunch. Our lunch was included in the tour, but apparently everyone else's was not. So we hung out in this small tourist village for a bit, and then jumped back on the bus to head to see "the three sisters" at a place named "Scenic World". The Three Sisters are a series of three pieces of a mountain - there is an aboriginal legend that three sisters disobeyed their father's orders and tried to awaken the evil spirit at the bottom of the valley
Anyway, Scenic World looked to be a bit of a tourist trap, a pseudo-Disney type place. After grumbling over forking over an additional $40 for the tram ride down to the bottom, we were excited to see the tram. Our other option was to climb 1000 steps down and 1000 steps back up - for free - but this did not sound liek too much fun! We settled for the tram! Apparently it is the steepest tram in the world and goes down at a 52 degree angle. Unfortunatley, the ride is short and it doesn't go super fast - but it was pretty interesting to see, regardless
Anyways, after a LONG traffic jam that added an extra hour to the trip, we finally made it back to the hostel. Good night everyone!!!
Andrea and Jose