Australia – Sydney and the Blue Mountains

Once I touched down in Sydney after 4h45min flight I had to stand in line at the passport control for quite long and again at customs. Then I was finally in Australia, yeah! First got some cash at an ATM followed by an Australian SIM card. On my way to the train station I bumped into another tourist who was just about to leave the country. She gave me her Opal card – the card for the public transport in Sydney – with about $11 still on it and didn´t want to have anything for it. Very nice welcome! If you stay a couple of days in Sydney you should definitely get an opal card. The card itself is free and it is cheaper since you have a daily maximum and a weekly maximum you have to pay. Once you reach that you travel the rest of the week for free. Plus it is a lot more practical than getting a ticket each time, you just tap on and off. I put some more money on it and took a train to Central where I had to change in order to get to Wentworthville to my CS host. I had stayed with Aman the previous year already. He picked me up from the station and bought a pizza for me on the way. After I had eaten, I had a shower and a nap. Aman had to leave for work again. Got some stuff done on my computer and then I got picked up by Pei and Bocca (the newlywed couple I had met in Honolulu) and their friend Nick. We went to a Lebanese Place called “The Sweetie” or something like that and had some tea and sweets there. 20991428_10154623438116856_556124832_o (FILEminimizer)They all had a busy week ahead so it was just a short reunion. They dropped me back to Aman´s place. He was still not home. Later that evening he cooked some nice Indian food. He was busy all the time, permanently on his phone, so we didn´t get to talk too much. Even after my nap I was still pretty tired, so I went to bed. I used the next morning for writing couch requests and booking some hostels had a bit of the chicken curry for lunch and then took a train to town hall where I joined the free city walking tour for about 3 hours. It´s a really nice and informative tour, definitely worth checking that out!

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It was pretty cold in Sydney and I had to wear closed shoes with my foot with the wound on top didn´t like too much. It hurt pretty badly, but I can hardly sit around all day. In the evening Aman had a friend over for a while but spend most of the evening on the phone with the internet provider since his WiFi was not working properly, it was super slow. Next morning was computer work again, but it was a beautiful day and I decided that I didn´t want to waste it inside. So I took the train to Circular Quay and from there the bus to Bondi beach. It was sunny, but still pretty cold. I was quite astonished at the amount of people in the water. Had a nice but expensive salad for lunch followed by Ben&Jerry´s Ice cream, then I started the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. It´s really beautiful there, I can definitely recommend it! You can watch surfers a lot, the rock formations are awesome and the cemetery is amazing. At some rock pools pretty close to the start I ran into an American girl and walked most of the way with her. She left about half an hour before the end and I finished alone.

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At Coogee I took a bus back to Circular Quay where I met Satpal, another couchsurfer I had met the previous year already. While I waited for him i took another few pictures.

He took me to Jimmy´s, a cheap (for Sydney standards) and yummy Malaysian restaurant. After dinner we went to the Orient Hotel in the Rocks. It is an Irish Pub with live music where I finally had a Pale Ale again. I was really looking forward to that. We had a good time, was really nice seeing him again after such a long time. We walked to Wynyard station where we took the same line just in different directions.When I arrived at Aman´s place shortly before eleven, he was having friends over again. So nothing with an early night. Next morning I had to be at the train station at 9:20 to catch my train to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. When I wanted to check the train schedule for Saturday for the way back I saw that there would be some track works and I would need to change several times and need a lot longer, so I decided to probably already go back Friday night. When I arrived at the hostel I told them straight away that I wouldn´t need the third night, but they refused to change the reservation and insisted on me paying all three nights. That doesn´t exactly go on the pro list for this hostel! It was Wednesday so not really short notice. Anyway, the stuff in the Blue Mountains Backpacker Hostel was not the most helpful and friendly staff ever anyway. The whole place was ice cold day and night. It got close to 0°C in Katoomba at night! They would have heating, but they didn´t turn it on. The only place that was warm, were the two seats just in front of the fire place in the common room. Not even the bathroom was heated. You had warm water for shower, but the room was ice cold. So as soon as you would turn the water off you would start shivering. The only real pro for this place was that they didn´t charge anything for using the washing machine and the dryer. You just had to buy the detergent or bring your own. And the WiFi is ok too. So while I was waiting until I could finally check in, I was sitting in front of the fire place writing my journal and did my laundry. I also quickly went to the local fruit and vegetable store just down the street. They have loads of local stuff for cheaper prices as in the supermarkets and some great bargains. Got some other stuff like oats and cheese in the supermarket and returned to the hostel to cook myself some lunch. After I could finally check in, I took a nap since I was not feeling very well. My foot hurt, my back was killing me, I had a slight cold and a headache. After sleeping for a bit I felt a lot better. The beds are quite comfortable and you get a warm doona. So at least in the bed it´s warm. While I was getting my laundry out of the dryer and folding it up a young Aussie checked into the dorm. We went together to Echo Point – a lookout not too far away with a beautiful view over the canyon and the Three Sisters.

IMAG2016 (FILEminimizer)I had the leftovers from my lunch for dinner and sat together with some other guests in the common room. Later I went to the Family Hotel next door where they had a Jam Session like every Wednesday. I didn´t stay very long though since the musicians were not very good. Next morning after shower and breakfast I took the train at 10:14 to Wentworth Falls. I walked to the start of the Charles Darwin´s Walk. When I just walked towards the Gate that marks the beginning, a local started talking to me. He walked part of the trail with me and we had some interesting discussions about life and nature, a bit philosophical at times, but very interesting. He was in the progress of writing a book that has a lot to do with this and also contains a lot about Aborigines and their dream stories. Alex (49, a former architect) promised to send me a copy once he would be finished. I am really curious if this will ever happen. I would love to read it. Shortly after midday he had to go back and I continued the trail on my own. I had a short lunch break next to a beautiful little waterfall.

After that I continued to the Wentworth Falls. It was still a beautiful and sunny day (in contrast to the weather forecast that had predicted rain most of the day) so I continued over the Grand Stairway (very steep) to the National Pass. This walk is very impressive with great views and several nice waterfalls. I liked the Empress Falls even better than the Wentworth Falls. Had another short snack break next to the Conservation Hut and met a retired couple from Victoria there. They offered to give me a lift to the train station in Wentworth Falls. So I walked to their car with them.

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Had to wait for half an hour at the station until the train would come (they only go once an hour) but used this time to write my journal. Back at the hostel I took a short nap and then discovered that my computer got hacked the night before. So the ordeal began. Had to block my credit card, order a new one, change all my passwords, set up the computer completely new and so on. Wasn´t exactly easy to get anything done on the computer since the keyboard would only type nonsense. It took me about 1.5 weeks to get back on track, main problem being that I didn´t have access to my main email accounts anymore and everything was running over these. So also if I wanted to change a password for e.g. FB or CS I would get a confirmation email to the account I could not access anymore. So I lost access to more and more things over time. Obviously I spent a lot of time on my computer and on the phone the following days to get things fixed again and didn´t get a lot of sleep, but still tried to enjoy my trip a little bit and get our at least shortly every day. Big thanks to everyone who helped me with all this shit, especially Stephan and Francine (for computer tips and questions) and my sister and dad (for getting in touch with the gmx support which you can only reach with a Swiss or German landline – very helpful while traveling!)!!! The next day I did a short trip to Blackheath. Didn´t have too much time, since I had missed the train I aimed for due to an annoying receptionist who hold me up for ages. So I had to wait for another hour. I was supposed to catch a train back to Sidney at shortly past 4 pm and still had to get some stuff organized before. Since trains only go once an hour and in the afternoon sometimes even only every second hour I only had 2 hours time until I had to be back at the station in Blackheath. Not too much for all the tracks there. When I was on my way to the information center (which is like 3 km away from the train station) a local guy asked if I needed help when I was checking out some signs and when I told him that I was looking for a track that allows me to be back in time at the station he offered to give me a lift to Govetts Leap Lookout and show me there where I could go. I happily agreed and was dropped off at the lookout with some nice tips on where to go. I walked to the Barrow Lookout from there and over the Braeside Track and the Fire Road back to Blackheath and to the station.

Back at the hostel I heated up my leftovers, checked out and got some stuff sorted before it was time to start my 3 hour journey back to Sydney where Satpal picked me up at the station in Turramurra and helped me with my luggage. We had dinner and then settled on the couch watching Seinfeld while I was getting into setting up my computer again. Next day I had a nice walk doing the Sheldon Forest track close to Satpal´s home.

The rest of the day I was busy sorting my problems. In the evening after dinner we went out. It was Saturday night after all. We went to the Crows Nest Hotel where there was a DJ and also a live band. We had some beers there and a lot of fun.

Next day we did a nice trip to Watson Bay.After bus and train we took a ferry

to Circular Quai and from there to Watson Bay, where we did the South Head Heritage Trail in the Sydney Harbor National Park

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and had some Fish and Chips before heading to the city center where we were supposed to meet some of Satpal´s friends. Due to the bad weather that had hit us half way of the track, they sent a message though that they wouldn´t come. It was raining cats and dogs and got super cold. So we also went back home and had a quiet evening. I had to get up at 5 am the next morning anyway to get to the airport in time for my flight to Airlie Beach. On the way in the train I met an Australian lady of 75 who told me pretty much her life story. She is still fit and traveling quite a bit and got around the world a lot. When she was 20 she went to Europe for two years. Back then almost nobody could afford to fly, so she went by ship which took her 6 weeks one way! Crazy! Traveling nowadays is sooo much easier.

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