On Monday, Nelli and I, along with another couple at the Flying Fox headed for Blackheath, a $9, 15-minute bus ride down the highway. Due to bushfires, the only trail open was the Grand Canyon Walk, starting at Neates Glen and ending at Evan’s Lookout.
The walk through the canyon was very easy, but absolutely magnificent. The forest floor was lush and vibrant, like a shampoo commercial, with little evidence of the fires that had moved through the area recently.
About halfway through, we stopped for a quick snack.
That’s Nelli on the far left and Ian, a brit we met on the bus over, on the far right. The girl standing next to me and the cameraman was a German couple who’s names I didn’t catch.
There was a large group in front of us who was on a guided tour and they had paused at one point on the trail. The reason was this little guy:
It was pretty funny to see how calm he was as 15 different people shoved cameras in his face. At one point, he almost started … well, posing.
After some more beautiful forest walking,
and some gnarly stairs (after the Staircase, they were cake), we finally reached Evan’s Lookout, where we were treated to spectacular views of the valley.
By the time we started heading back to the bus stop, we were on track to make the 2:39 bus to Katoomba. We had better, since the next bus wasn’t until 4:10. The others were walking a little slow, so I sped ahead in the hopes that I could catch the bus and at least hold it for them. I seriously misunderestimated the distance between the lookout and the bus stop, and was late by about 3 minutes, which was apparently too much. The 5 of us sat there trying to figure out what to do. The next bus into town was coming at 3:36, so we could go into town and wait for the next one to Katoomba, or we could walk into town and catch the train. We had all already paid for the return fare, so option 2 wasn’t happening. We waited until the bus into Blackheath arrived and were pleased to find out that it was the same bus that would make the route at 4:10 and take us into Katoomba. So, we just stayed on the bus for his whole route and then he took us home.
That night we hung around the TV area and watched movies. I helped Nelli transfer some pictures off her SD card and onto a CD. When I brought my dinner into the TV room, I was greeted by a loud “have a nice meal!” from a new girl in the corner. This was Natalie, and she was absolutely hilarious. She was from Italy, currently living in Leichardt, a suburb of Sydney with Isabelle, who was from France (the Riviera region, near Cannes).
Of all the people I’ve met so far in all the cities, no one has been able to put a smile on my face like Natalie could. To say she was full of life would be an understated. She asked me where I was from, and when I responded she gave me a big smile and shouted “America? Bello! Bello! Boston? Bello!” After we watched Primal Fear, with “Oh no!” and other gasps coming out of her every few minutes, a group of us stood around talking, with Natalie as the center of attention. She knew a little bit of several different languages and was trying to speak to the Germans and Dutchman. After a failed attempt at getting everyone to sing (she kicked things off by singing an Italian nursery rhyme), she taught us all the usual hello, goodbye and goodnight phrases in Italian. Then she expressed concerns about “chockronoches” outside near the tent in which she was staying (cockroaches, she had a tought time with that word) and recalled horror stories of seeing them in her apartment in Sydney.
She, and Nelli too, said they had dreams of visiting the US, but also Canada. I started laughing, Canada, really? Nelli said the landscape there is beautiful, but even so, I guess it’s hard for me to think of Canada as being one of those dream destinations. Maybe us Americans tend to take it for granted.
After an hour or so of talking to Natalie I was exhausted and the whole group ended up calling it a night. Stay tuned for my karmic test and one night at a Sydney $hithole.