“Wait… I forgot my sunglasses”

Got up early and looked at my email. Found this article in the Australian, the newspaper. http://video.theaustralian.com.au/2130195670 Enjoy.

Now…on to the blogging. Yesterday morning we had to get to the train station and catch the 7:01 into the city center. We were off to the Blue Mountains in a GUIDED TOUR. I know, you probably wonder what got into us. Who knows. Oh, I know. Ray had gone on a guided tour before and thought it was swell so he recommended we do it. So. We booked it. As we were backing out of the garage, I exclaimed, “Wait, I forgot my sunglasses.” I dashed back into the house and grabbed the glasses. As soon as I was back in the car Ray said, “if we miss the train, it’s because of your glasses.” Gasp. Of course, I did not let that stand but I’ll spare you, dear reader, the details. So off we rushed to the train platform only to see the door close from a distance of a staircase. Oh, well, the next train was to arrive at 7:08 and I figured we were still okay to make it by 8 since it really only took us about 30 minutes to get into city center yesterday if you, of course, subtracted all the time we spent lost.

Ray was, shall I say, extremely concerned. I kept assuring him I had the phone and we could call or the guide could call us. Still. It was all about my glasses. The thing is…even if I hadn’t forgotten my glasses…we still would have missed the train…

But I digress. Ray was a nervous as a whore in church and Bernie and I were not. But then…an announcement came over the speaker…the 7:08 train was cancelled and something about a train hitting a truck. OMG. A few minutes later it was announced that the next train would arrive around 7:15 more or less since there was a delay due to the earlier trouble. That’s the train we caught. So…we got downtown with 10 minutes to spare. Only we jigged when we should have jagged and exited the wrong way. A man in a stand cooking bacon and eggs in the underground corridor gave us directions…he had heard of Rawlins, for heaven’s sake. So off we ran. Arriving huffing and puffing, there was no van/bus. “It’s because you forgot your glasses”, he said. We called. The tour guide was late. When he did show up, he ran to the back of the van and swept the floor. Then he popped out and we jumped on the van and it was a good thing because he had our reservation as two and we were three so there was one too many passengers. So, one lone passenger got driven to an undisclosed location to meet up with another van. As he exited the van, the door closed and the guide said, “just told him the van was up the street…I didn’t say it was arriving tomorrow. Just kidding.” The guide was a jokester and that made the entire adventure a kick.

There were 21 of us. We were from France, U.S., Canada, Vietnam, Australia. A diverse crowd which added to the enjoyment. And I must say, we were enjoying not being in charge as we headed to the Blue Mountain but then came to a screeching halt and wallowed in a traffic jam for the best part of an hour. Sydney, despite the trains, has traffic problems just like we do in our big cities. The observation I am required to point out at this juncture is that they don’t drive big SUVs as trucks like we do. Many more compact cars and mid-size even. Nice change of pace if you ask me.

But, I digress. Our guide, let’s call him Darrell, took us to Flat Mountain/lookout and then onto some other lookouts. See us below.





Tried to capture the size of the place…it’s hard to do. In the picture below, you see the three sisters rock formation.

This is a swell time to visit Australia. The place is not overrun with tourist…you know, people like us!!

There were several different activities to engage in at the Blue Mountains and most involved walking or climbing. The only flat rock was the one we stopped at first. Every other rock involved a sheer drop. So, Bernie, latched onto two young women and they elected to take the scariest stairs down. Ray and I took another way down that involved very steep stairs, walkway etc. When we got down part way there was a train that took us back up for $11/head. I figure it would have taken us the rest of the day to walk back up…at which point, Darrell, would have had to throw us on the floor of the van so that we could complete the act of dying lying down. I’m just saying.

Below is a pic of me mid-journey.
See the waterfall?
Rayman at the “train”.
Sign at the train.

Ray on the train before “take off”…almost horizontal.
So, did I mention that Darrell lost the French people? They couldn’t communicate with each other. Where did they go? They were to be back at the van in 15 minutes. OMG. In the end they were found but it was a hoot. The other group dynamic that was observed is that Darrell stressed how important it was to be on time returning from lunch in a small village called Koumbba or something like that…and then he showed up late. Well…for the rest of the trip…it was like herding cats…no one was ever on time again. He was a good sport about it though…and many laughs were heard emanating from our van.

On the way back, he did a detour and we saw some kangaroos hanging out in shade of trees. Then he drove us through the Olympic Village…OMG…it was enormous. At that point we bid them fond adieu, avoir, etc. and jumped off the van and headed into the train at Olympic Village to start our migration back to Oatley, our home away from home. We knew we would be stuck in traffic and so we opted for the rail. Theoretically, it would be, say, moving!!

Some other interesting things happened too. Getting back involved numerous changes of trains. There are trains everywhere. And so there are platforms on various levels everywhere. A change always involves finding the next platform. So, you can go from platform 3, let’s say, to platform 12. This involves stairs, lifts, or elevators. We mostly chose stairs…so why haven’t I lost weight?

But I digress. After a change of trains and platforms, Ray wanted to sit near the door. So we did. Then a fellow got on who greeted us and then launched into a lively hymn with made-up lyrics and completely out of tune. And he kept this up, it seemed, without taking a breath. So, we moved to the seats on top…but we continued to be serenaded for about 15 minutes…you could hear him everywhere in the car…Here’s the Mormon Tab Choir’s rendition:



Did I mention that the reason we met up with the next- act -you- will-never- see on American Idol is because I left my sunglasses?

But I digress. By the time we arrived in Mortdale station (near Oatley), we decided to go to the pub across the street for a much needed drink. There were people sitting outside having appetizers and drink. Looked good enough. Besides, we met a local the night before that recommended the place. She was a 50-something woman originally from Scotland. So, we went inside. The place was smoke-filled, full of men…smoking, gambling and tipping a cocktail waitress who was teetering on high heels and who was “wearing” bra and panties…nothing more. Ray kept say, “look at the waitress”, while cocking his head to one side (afraid to point?) OMG. The bra did not fit. She needs a private fitting at Nordstroms. And the panties were just shy of a thong. OMG. Well does the term, “get the hell out of here” having any meaning to you?

Back out on the street we decided to drive to Oatley and get some pizza. So, we stopped in front of a place that was busy, parked illegally and stepped inside. The nice man at the door told us they were booked until after 8 p.m. It was 7:00 p.m. We were way too desperate for that. “Could we get a pizza to go (they say “take away”)? “Sure you can but the pizza oven broke down, it’s been repaired and is heating up again. The reheating part will take 20 minutes and then it will take a 20 minutes to cook the pizza.” Exit stage right. We thanked him but told him we’d come another time…armed with reservations. So we drove down the street to the Mugla Cafe and the place was near deserted. We entered and I asked if we could eat there. Well, actually, all the tables were waiting for their occupants…but there was one table right by the front door…we could have that one. So, we jumped on it. Then Ray left to go buy a bottle of wine. They weren’t licensed for selling wine and so the Aussie’s have a great practice. It’s called BYO. And then they charge you $1.50/glass…think of it as a glass usage fee!! Very clever and cheaper than a corkage. I’m not sure how many places operate with this rule…but we really liked it. So, Ray came back with brown bag which had inside it a bottle of AU wine and we settled down for dinner. Finally. At last.

The rest of the evening involved getting home…this involved going thru a few roundabouts. And it is confusing. Also a few right turns which are confusing. At one point…he waited and waited and I said something like, “Ray you can go now”…he said something like, “I’m not going to go until I’m darn good and ready. I don’t want to make a move until all the traffic is gone, okay? Do you get it?”… and with that he stepped on the gas as he was looking left and while Bernie and I were looking at the car on the right speeding toward us…the car which Ray somehow did not see. I personally think the hot air was blocking his vision. He said, “Where the hell did that car come from as he went from 2 mph to 40 mph in a nano second to avoid what certainly could have been a collision. Bernie and I howled. After the peels of laughter subsided I injected, “I think it is because I forgot my sunglasses!”

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