I woke up early to get a good start on some of the walking trails since I planned to only spend a half day in The Blue Mountains. I saw the Three Sisters once again standing proudly on the outcropping. Interestingly, the Three Sisters were actually Seven Sisters at one time before the other four broke off and crumbled into the valley. From there, I started the Prince Henry Cliff Walk since it was a fairly long walk without venturing too deep into the valley. The path covered a variety of terrain. I passed areas that had desert-like features such as blazing sand before ducking into the rainforest and a boardwalk that was boarded by ferns and palm trees and some other thick bush that shielded me from the beating sun. I was getting quite exhausted from the constant wave of steps so I found a shady spot with a bunch. Not gonna lie after walking the path for a while it was getting kind of lonely. A group of international travelers picked the same spot as me to have a picnic. The group was quite a mixture of people including two Swiss, one French, one Turkish German, one German, and one Welsh. I started to talking to the group and they let me share a bit in their picnic. They were a fun group to be around. What made all the conversations interesting was the different ways everyone expressed themselves. Depending on the culture we grew up in, we had different ways of saying things and types of humor. The one French was still learning the basics of English so it was fun teaching him certain words. I had to break down my English into simpler terms. The German girl helped the Turkish German with English words and phrases he wasn’t familiar with and the French Swissman did the same with the French guy. Basically, the group couldn’t work without each individual person making up the whole. I joined them for the rest of the walk and showed them a path I found the day prior. I found out quickly that while American youth are fascinated with Europe, Europeans want to see Australia and frequently backpack through SE Asia. So I got to some stories about their travels thought Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, etc. which fascinated me since I would like to make a lengthy trio there someday. We took a quick nap under some trees and joked around sometimes confused by what the other person said. I talked with the German girl quite a bit since she was in New Zealand for two months and go to know the country quite intimately. I have done my fair share of research on New Zealand but she opened my mind to other options and places I would like to pursue as well as an intriguing mode of transportation: hitchhiking. Kiwis are apparently very friendly and willing to drive a roadside backpacker. We kept walking and eventually finishing the Prince Henry Cliff Walk before going into town to get something to eat. After we ate, we sat around sleepily on the benches. While waiting at the train station, we heard about a hostage situation back in Sydney near Martin Place. I was stunned by the news when I first found out a gunmen held quite a few people at gun point. We gathered more details from others waiting at the station and soon realized the gravity of the situation. I brought up the possibility of meeting up for a day at the beach tomorrow. After a relaxing trip back to Sydney Central, we went our separate ways with me wishing I had stayed at their hostel instead. I got back to my hostel in desperate need of a shower; all that hiking in the dry heat got to me. A new arrival entered the room friendlier than the many before that I had gotten used to. He’s an 18 year old from England starting off on his working visa. All I know is I wasn’t prepared to do this kind of traveling at his age. He first asked me how the hostel has been. I looked at him straight in the face, smiled, and then shook my head; it has easily been the worst hostel I have ever been in. He told me that his first bad impression of the hostel came right at the front door when a girl toting her bags said she felt sorry for him. She is a melodramatic girl but it is not very encouraging when you know you will be staying there at least two weeks. He asked if I wanted to grab a pint which sounded quite good after an exhausting day. I told him we had to drop by Mad Monkey, which is a sister bar to Brados Hostel, to say hi to a couple cool mates I met when I first got to Sydney. I told them about the amazing views at Blue Mountains and got some advice about what to see and do while at Bondi Beach tomorrow. We talked about football (not the American variety) and local Sydney sights. Adam and a guy named Ben from Texas and told me that while I am at Bondi Beach I must do the coastal walk to Coogee, one of the other more famous beaches. I never heard or read of it while doing research for the trip but that’s what is great about the people you meet while traveling; you will learn and experience things that would have never been possible without them. Maybe I am just making this really sappy and lame but I feel like I carry them and those memories with me. The conversation eventually progressed to the topic of Brados because of the newbie. Being great guys, they seemed to put some of the worries about the hostel at bay for Adam especially after I ripped it to shreds, deservedly so. The two of us left to find the bar that was recommended and found an overly crowded establishment with bottom shelf liquor as their only specials. Seeing how I don’t believe in self-abuse, we went back to Mad Monkey to hang out with the guys awhile longer before I called it a night. Surprisingly the room was relatively quiet with the exception of the street sounds entering the open missing window. I guess I showed up at the worst possible time for this hostel. They raged on the weekend unlike I have ever seen. Anyways, cheers to a good night and to the amazing people that I have met during my travels that make the experience of backpacking that much more special and memorable.
Down Under Day 4: The Blue Mountains