Flip Flop No More

With each stage of the trip completed comes the same set of responsibilities and activities. Resting the legs, and witnessing the shrinkage of your thigh muscles as you go for literally whole days at a time without doing any exercise. Eating as much if not more than ever, even though your body probably doesn’t need the same quantities of carbs and sugars that you’re stuffing down your face. And of course the joys of sorting out your worryingly musty and moist kit, before hunting down boxes and tape for packing up before the flight.

With the tents dried and boxes found surprisingly quickly from a local bike shop though, we’ve been left with little to do other than enjoy the sights and surrounds of Sydney.

The Opera House and a quick stop off at a beach were really all we managed to do though, before the weather decided it had better plans in store, bringing more grey and cold in toward the coast.

And so we fled the city, catching the train to the Blue Mountains for the weekend. Of course it should go without saying that here the weather would be even more foul; cold, misty and rain by the bucket load. But at least we found a pleasant and comfortable place to stay at the Flying Fox. Summer may be when the tourists flock here in their thousands, but winter in the Blue Mountains can be just as amazing. With fewer people in the town and trails, and a log fire in the hostel, the town of Katoomba and the forests around have a very relaxed and comfortable feel.
The Blue Mountains, and the views from Echo Point and beyond is somewhere that seems stunning no matter what the weather. When it’s blue skies and sunshine, the sheer expanse of it all is breathtaking. During gentle mists and light rain, there’s a much more atmospheric quality as the Three Sisters peer through the clouds. And even in the thickest fog, there’s an intense feeling as you stand at the cliff’s edge and feel enveloped by white as if the whole world above and below has disappeared.
Of course, I’d understand if you felt slightly short changed if that were your only experience of the Blue Mountains….

And so despite making the most of the weather and exploring the forests below to as great an extent as cold wet jeans would allow, we still spent much of the time wrapped up in front of fire in the hostel reading or trying to compromise on our differing rules of the same card games.

Having not paid for any accommodation while in Australia, this was our first experience of an Aussie Hostel. Its one of the nicest hostels I’ve stayed in during this trip (though they’ve mostly been pretty good), and yet its amazing how clichéd in so many ways it is. The young American and European travellers backpacking around, and settled in the hostel’s common room wearing their scruffy clothes and their shaggy hair “playing” guitar and talking about their unique and dramatic lives.

Is it wrong to feel a little bit superior to them?

Probably, yes.

Does that stop me?

Not yet, no.

The rain’s been hammering down now for about 24 straight hours, and shows no sign of abating as we make our way back on the train to Sydney. My usual over confidence and cockiness about my flip flops finally wore as thin as the skin on my feet. Sadly my trusty green sandals from Singapore that have been with me this whole way around the world finally gave up the gun the other day – Australia always seems to claim a pair from me. And so when the cable ties finally wore through, I was humbled to inherit yet another item of clothing; Ash’s thongs (NB: please be aware of the difference of thongs in Australia and everywhere else in the world).
Unfortunately though wearing flip flops for hours on end while trudging along muddy tracks through forests in the pouring rain is likely to lead to blisters.
Its also likely to lead to cold wet feet for most people, though this seems to be something I’ve become immune to after countless hours wearing them in the freezing cold of Europe…

So I’m sat now on the (reasonably priced) train barefoot, before getting the (extortionately priced) bus back to Frenchs Forest.

Its amazing that transport in Sydney seems even more costly than that in London, something I thought impossible as my bank account is sucked into a black hole every time I step onto the tube.

And thus begins my preference of bikes over other forms of transport….

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4 Responses

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  1. THAT, my friend, is Port Jackson Bridge. I know it’s now called Sydney Harbour Bridge, but originally it was Port Jackson bridge (Port Jackson being the part of the harbour that it’s in) and it features on the tie that I often wear!

    In case you have forgotten, I am in Port Jackson Division (boarding house) (as assistant housemaster).

    Looks like you’ve had a lot of fun! Been great to follow your trip again.

    L

  2. Hey Cliff, a friend of your girlfriend emailed me and let me know about your trip. What a great adventure! I hear that you are heading to Tokyo or something…I live in Sapporo, way up north in Hokkaido. If you’re planning on coming this way, then let me know. I’d love to catch up (I cycled from Japan to Europe, and then skateboarded half way around the world….).

    Cheers,
    Rob

    http://www.14degrees.org/en
    rob.thomson@14degrees.org

  3. Ah home. Everything you talked about above brought back fond memories.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed your time in my home country.

    Also, I’m now very addicted to your blog. Looking forward to the next installments from Japan.

    Give Sydney a hug from me ;)

    1. Sydney says hi!

      Been great being here, seeing Ash, and taking some time out. Will definitely miss Australia- Japan and America have a lot to live up to now!

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