A Travellerspoint blog

"We got screwed and didn't even get kissed"

Trapped in Suburbia

sunny
View Katoomba, Australia & Sydney, Australia on David.SC's travel map.

I’M JUST GONNA HIT SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS

While Jennifer, Martha, & Donna work during the week, I am left to do as I please. It’s kind of exciting but not as easy as it sounds. Sure, I’ve scoped out the area and walked to nearby stores and you know I have lounged around the pool and hotel some too; but that’s not enough. I want more; I want to go outside of camp and EXPLORE. But figuring out the bus system ain’t easy. It’s down right overwhelming. At times it felt like I was trapped in the hotel; but I have managed to escape my own fears by going out and facing them. Sometimes, sponteneity is the prescripiton for survival and that has helped me. I'm not one for sitting around and obseesing about the plans, I learn by doing.
After, inquiring about the bus system with Emily, the hotel receptionist, she suggested that I ride along with Jack on the hotel shuttle bus. He dropped me off at the library in Castle Hill. I enjoyed my time in the city and felt a surge of adrenaline at my escape from the fortress of solitude. I was able to figure out which bus to take back as well, which built up my confidence.
I have learned that it is much easier catching a bus in the city because they have information booths, maps, and people to help you but catching a bus at the bus stop outside our hotel is much more challenging.

Usually in the evenings, we will go to a nice restaurant with in walking distance or just eat here in the hotel restaurant. However, one evening we decided we wanted KFC. So, we called a cab, told him where we wanted to go. We explained that KFC was in Castle Hill Shopping Center and told him the street name and everything. You would think a cab driver would know the area but apparently he didn‘t or maybe he was playing us and taking advantage of the American tourist. Now, he was foreign as most cab drivers are. When I say foreign I mean he was dark skinned and from somewhere in the Middle East or India, It is hard to tell. He took back roads and said that the GPS wasn’t showing the listing that we gave him; so he pulled into the Seven-11 (gas station) and called his friend, who was apparently on the toilet and had to call us back; he kept the meter running the whole time which infuriated us. To make matters worse, Jennifer and Donna pointed out the building because they recognized it from an earlier trip and he then turns and goes behind the building and takes the long way around the opposite side of the building all the while the meter is adding up quickly . I felt so disgusted, but I began questioning myself, thinking maybe this is normal, maybe his GPS really did malfunction. I confess, I am guilty of being naïve. Anyway, the meter read $37 and he added a $3 service fee which equaled FORTY DOLLARS. We paid the fare; but get this, he didn’t even say thank you nor did he attempt to apologize for anything. The nerve of him. Well obviously he ain’t from the south. This was supposed to be a 15 minute ride with few turns and maybe $16’s at the most.
We got out of that cab, and you should’ve heard Jennifer and Donna, I wish I had recorded that conversation. I learned that I should’ve trusted my gut because we were definitely ripped off. In defense of my naivety> they both have female intuition. We all raked him over the coals. The expression came up “We’ve just been screwed and didn’t even get kissed”. It really is an awfull feeling to be treated like that. I don't want to ever fill that way again.

Let’s all remember to be kind and helpful to tourist.

We took the bus back to the hotel and that only cost us about $3.20 each or around ten dollars, plus the bus driver was much more helpful and accomidating.
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We had dinner with Kylie and her daughter Ajilla one evening. Kylie is an old friend of Jennifer's. They met it Winston Salem when they both lived there some years back. She and her daughter Ajilla, who is three, now live here, just 15 minutes away from our hotel. Small World. Kylie picked us up at the hotel and drove us to Parrametta (pronounce Pair uh met uh). This was on a Wednesday and it was super crowded. This was a city area and you had to wait on the sidewalk outside while others passed by, it was quiet congested and unlike most places back home. Kylie said that on weekdends you would have to make a reservation because it gets so crowded.
Kylie was nice enought to print out some infromation about the busses and pointed out that I could get to Parrametta by bus very quickly and easily. I've gone there twice now. Thanks Kylie. We had a good time talking about the differences in culture between America and Australia. I had lots of questions and Kylie became a sounding board for all of our observations. I have a running list that I will compile in a future blog. It's funny how we both speak the same language yet there is so many differences.
In the scope of conversation I learned that all beaches here are topless. Did any of you know that??

Posted by David.SC 21:25 Archived in Australia Tagged transportation Comments (4)

Day 2: Blue Mountains

Bus Tour

sunny 28 °C
View Katoomba, Australia & Sydney, Australia on David.SC's travel map.

What do blue mountains, three sisters, the 2000 Olympics, & Russel Crowe have in common? Probably nothing....just kidding. Hopefully, I've rilled you in and wet your appetite...read on mates.

On day 2 (Sunday) we got our cabbie to take us to the Gray Line bus terminal in Sydney which began a day long excursion. IMG_4563.jpgIMG_4561.jpgIMG_4567.jpg
Not long after hitting the road the unexpected happened--"I fell asleep". None to worry mates, I woke with a burst of energy ready to experiance the day. Below are a few pics that were snapped as we exited the city. Are y'all noticing the gradual change in my...english. I wouldn't normally say "snap a photo mate". I'm slowly becoming Australionized.
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The first stop was Featherdale Wildlife Park where we encountered Australia's finest.
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Next, on our tour we headed to the mountains, The Blue Mountains that is (no not the Blue Ridge Mountains).
This was near the town of Katoomba, actually Katoomba is the most visitied town in the Blue Mountains. IMG_4710.jpg
We stopped at Echoe Point which is a lookout point where you can see the Three Sisters rock formation that towers over the Jamison Valley. This is another popular attraction and we were looking forward to seeing it but our bubble was burst when fog blocked our view, thick fog.
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Here is an Aborigiean or Indigenous person playing his instrument, he really sounded good. He was playing a very hip and upbeat sound. Jennifer is actually running to check out the scene. You should've saw her, she was about to bust a move, luckily I stopped her before she embaressed us all.
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Check out the boomarang bench
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Next, we boarded the Katoomba Skywalk which carried us clear across the mountain.
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Katoomba Falls
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I know this looks like a framed picture but it is actually the floor of the cable car, a glass floor which allows you to view the mountain below. How could you not appreciate the beauty, not to mention all the thought and labor that went into creating this. IMG_4787.jpg
Ladies and Gentlmen, the moment that we've been waiting for...the fog has lifted and the famous Three Sisters are revealed. YES! finally a clear shot.
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We had lunch at a mountain top restaurant where the floor rotated 360 degrees. Regretfully, I did not take more photos of this, so let me try to explain in to you. The restaurant had a rounded glass wall on one side of the dining area which had such an awesome view of the moutain's and valley below. Since the floor rotated slowly around it didn't matter where your table was at--eventually, everyone got to pass by the glass wall and you could enjoy the view from you table while eating your meal. The food was buffet style but nothing like Ryan's. It was much fancier. This was just the neatest thing, again I admire the people that can envision such things and then make them happen.

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The Legend of the Three Sisters
The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that three sisters, 'Meehni', 'Wimlah' and Gunnedoo' lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe.

These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry.

The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle.

As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witchdoctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come.

After crossing the mountain on the Skywalk, then eating lunch at the restaurant withthe rotating floor we boarded the world's steepest scenic railway which carried us into the bush. We walked through the rainforest and saw remnants of old coal mines and the plush growth of an array of plant life. It was georgeous. Here are a few of the pics we took.
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This roller coaster looking thing is called the "Scenic Railway" and as I mentioned earlier is the steepest incline railway in the world. I figured I deserved some bragging rights. It carried us through a cliff side tunnel into the rainforest.

Our next stop was in a small mountain town called Leura. We window shopped and saw the main part of athe little mountain town. It was much like you would see around the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Olympic Park

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We were told that one of these boats belonged to Russell Crowe. I did some investigating and learned that the smaller of the two was his. Somehow, Jennifer knew that he owned the South Sydney Rabbitohs (an Australian football team) and that today was the first game of the season here at Olympic Stadium, the bus had just avoided traffic in that area. I did some further investigating and one of the guys that worked on the ferry told us where Russell lived. And, No, I did not try to go there. I do believe it was his boat since he had the team logo of the rabbit on there.

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We saw these guys putting body paint on and I assumed they must be hard core football fans since they were near the stadium. But, I wasn't sure. So, I asked them and they laughed. The two on the right are actually getting ready to get married and they are all making some kind of wedding video, recreating a scene from Avatar. It had something to do with Avatar. I started to offer to direct for them but we would've missed our ferry.

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The Harbor Bridge
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Sydney Tower

So, at the beginning of this post I asked a question: What do blue mountains, three sisters, the 2000 Olympics, & Russel Crowe have in common? Well, if you read this in it's entirety (which I am sure you all read every word) you'll know that these were just a few of the things we encountered in our day long excursion.

I can assure you that my other posts will not be this long. It just so happens that our bus tour was full of exciting things and I didn't want to leave anything out. "Cheers".

Posted by David.SC 15:07 Archived in Australia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

My 1st day in Sydney

sunny
View Katoomba, Australia & Sydney, Australia on David.SC's travel map.

After recovering from my flight Samuel, the cab driver picked us up and drove us to the city. We took a ferry to Manly Beach and did a little shopping, saw some street performers, and then ate lunch overlooking the water. Our waitress was from the US (Oregan). She had been here since October; when we asked for ketchup she mentioned that everyone call in tomato sauce over her.
After luch we spent some time on Manly Beach and watched some surfers and enjoyed the view. Oh yea, we took some pictures as well.
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After lunch we explored the very popular Manly Beach and then re-boarded the ferry. It was slightly windy with a small chill, my pull over did the trick though. I believe Jennifer & I did get in a little snuggle time to off set the chill as well. A bit of rain at times accompanied the breeze; it started out as a mist at first. The weather did not detur my ability to take in the sights. I admired the views on each side of the ferry, front and back as well. Beautiful homes, skyscrapers in the distance, and sail boats, and of course the sky line and clouds were picturesque as well. But the sight that stood out the most was the rainbow. I had revival right there. To my friends in the Experiancing God class: does that count as a burning bush.? Probably not but it did remind me that God keeps his promises. Amen! We headed to Circular Quay (pronounced kay). This is a booming area right on the harbor where you will find ferries that come and go to different parts of the harbor, views of the Harbor Bridge, and the famous Opera House. Many restaurants and shops abound in this area as well.
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Next on our list was the Sydney Tower. This is the tallest free standing structure in Sydney. You get a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. We were able to enjoy the day time view and the sunset as well. It amazes me how someone can have a vision, an arcitectural vision and then have something so grand built.

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We were planning on having dinner in the tower restaurant but there was a long wait and we were getting more tired by the minute. So we called Samuel, the cab driver. He took us through McDonald's drive through and we hurried back to the hotel to crash. We packed a lot into1 day.

Posted by David.SC 22:59 Archived in Australia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

My Arrival

sunny
View Katoomba, Australia & Sydney, Australia on David.SC's travel map.

I arrived in Sydney on Saturday morning around 6 am Australian time; this was after a 14 hour flight from LA and 2 prior flights from GSP to Dallas and then Dallas to LA. I passed through many time zones so it was hard to keep up with the actual time verses SC time.

Now, I have to rave about the Boeing 777 that carried me to Australia. It was spacious, comfortable, and very high tech. Flat screen tv's were built into the front of each seat. I was able to choose between movies and sitcoms, video games, etc. I watched Precious, Funny People, and portions of other movies.

Jennifer had arranged for a cab to pick me up at the airport and I had to ask for help many times to find the baggage claim and the taxi area. Samuel was the cab driver and he was very interesting. He talked alot and told me all about Australia and much more. More than I would have ever thought to ask.

It was about a 45 minute drive from the airport to our hotel which is just outside of Sydney in a suberb called Castle Hill. Jennifer met me just outside the lobby. Not to sound mushy or anything but I was so glad to see her. I got acquainted with Donna and Martha who work with Jennifer. Martha is from Blue Ridge and Donna is from Easley. You will see their pictures in the photos. We made arangements with Samuel to go out later but first I had to get a few hours of sleep and a hot shower.

To be continued

Posted by David.SC 23:11 Archived in Australia Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Getting Ready

Aussie Intro II


View Katoomba, Australia & Sydney, Australia on David.SC's travel map.

I thought starting a blog would be fairly simple; apparently I thought wrong. None the less I will persevere. I sent out the link to my blog to many of you. If you are reading this that means you recieved it. Now, I have to figure out how to post a link to facebook.
I depart on Thursday and I hope to be able to keep you all informed and entertained with photos, maps, and of course the blog. Jennifer has little interest in blogging but that's okay since she is there on business and has to work during the week.
In preperation for my trip I did watch Crockodile Dundee this past week to try an gain a little more insight into the culture. Hey, I'm taking this way serious, can't you tell?

Posted by David.SC 17:50 Archived in Australia Tagged preparation Comments (7)

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