Monday 26 December 2016

The Blue Mountains

I was leaving Sydney on a Sunday  and it turns out that with an Opal card (like an Oyster card) I could get to the Blue Mountains for 2.5 dollars  and no charge if I returned the same day. It was th best transport bargain I'd had the whole trip. The train was a double decker so that was very exciting,  the downside was that the bike storage was the type where you have to hang it up which I find strangely difficult. Once done time to relax and plenty of time for it as the train stopped at about a zillion small stations.  Some of them were having extensive work done and the transport information centre guy had told me the story behind it. Apparently a disabled man in a wheelchair had got the last train home but it ran late and when he arrived at his station all the staff had gone home so the poor man was stuck on the platform all night. He successfully sued the railway company to make a point about accessibility.  He gave the money to charity but it meant his point was made and all stations were being made wheelchair accessible.
Arrived in Katoomba and rode through the town to the youth hostel.  It was immediately clear that this was the Keswick of the Blue Mountains.  It was full of outdoor shops,  cafés,  gift shops and hotels. It was a similar size and even had a Penrith a few miles east.
The youth hostel was wondetful,  converted from a hotel and was an ocean of tranquility compared to the Sydney hostel.
The towns in the area are on the edge of the plateau overlooking the mountains and forest below.  I decided to walk down to see the view as the hill looked steep to cycle back up.  The view certainly is lovely.

On the way back up the steep road I was somewhat hobbling in my usual fashion when a car stopped and offered me a lift because they said I looked as though I was in pain (which I was). It turned out the couple in the car had got engaged a few minutes earlier on the skyway which was a sort of horizontal chair lift.  She was incredibly excited and talking on the phone and to me at the same time. Later on the way to the shop someone else stopped to offer a lift as I looked in pain but I was only going across the road but thanked her. I was beginning to feel old being offered lifts due to my decrepitude. 
It was time to get on the bike the next day where I feel a lot less decrepit.  In any case I discovered on leaving Sydney that I had lost one of my brake blocks and the nearest bike shop was a couple of towns away. It wasn't the best ride as road was very busy but brake fixed and views viewed.
On the last day I decided to cycle down the steep hill and do a short route round the area  but got sucked into the tourist experience of the skyway, funicular railway etc experience.  The railway was originally for the mines then was used for tourists  and later rebuilt. it is the steepest in the world. The main virtue is that it gives you the opportunity to go down to the rain forest although it is all highly controlled with walkways. 

The route back up was made less steep by taking a longer gentler  route then collected my luggage and returned to Sydney part two. 

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