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The Blue Mountains: Katoomba, Australia

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A two hour train ride outside of Sydney, you can find the tourist hamlet of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Tourists have been coming here since the turn of the century (1900). Katoomba itself reminds me of West Virginia in its old coal town turned bust turned tourist vibe. You can now find hipsters and artists in residence.

We took the train out in the morning and spent several hours walking from the train station to a trailhead, down the cliff face, and back up again.

Highlights on the mountain visit include the three sisters, the giant stairway (976 steps!), waterfalls, and the steepest railroad in Australia.

We started our morning at Sydney central

The two hour train ride is a little long. The tourist center by the train station is well worth a visit. That is where we finalized our plan.

8things cafe. Great food and super service

Cassiopia coffee (recommended)

We walked from the station to Echo point (2.3 km).

The Echo Point visitors center

This is where we first caught sight of the famed three sisters. Which we saw many times throughout the day.

Three sisters from Echo Point visitor center

Three sisters from the echo point trail

Three sisters from the trail

Three sisters from just above

Honeycomb cave (at the three sisters)

Three sisters from below on the Federal trail

Three sisters from Scenic World gondola

Here’s what happened in between. After honeycomb cave, we entered the giant stairway. Lots of stairs down (976 in fact). Amy did not do them all.

This is an alternative way to get down the stairs (not recommended by our attorney)

Not here

Here

Flowers and bromiliads

Amy

AMY

A tiny fiddlehead against the mountains

Down

Flowers on the mountain

Looking down 500 feet

The blue mountains

Amy contemplates

Cliff hangers

Amy takes the stairs with a monk

Cliff hangers and rare species

Eventually, we entered the rain forrest at the bottom of the cliff.

The giant stairway is well named. It has been there a while.

Rainforest ecology

Amy rounds the bend

Ferns and trail. The rainforest shift is striking

A very big tree indeed

Katoomba Creek falls

After the falls, we were back in what passes as civilization. Scenic world was first contemplated by coal miners. Just take the train thingy up.

And, why not? Try the cable car too.

We walked back from scenic world (another 2.5km). All told we may have hiked around 5 miles. We deserved a beer.

After a long day hiking, it was high time for a beer!

The 2 hour train ride back to Sydney was slightly too long.

Norway in a Nutshell: Bergen in a Leaf

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Norway in a nutshell is a great way to see lots of a gorgeous country. It’s grueling though! We were on trains, boats and buses for 12 hours! Sadly, there is no beer on the boat until May 1st, so all future tourists make sure not to go to Norway in April.

This montage includes all legs of the Norway in a Nutshell trip plus our time spent in Bergen. We were joined by some great Norwegian friends for the last half of the trip. Conversation and laughter abound.

Norway is stunningly beautiful.

OSLO to MYRDAL

WAY too early

WAY too early

Jack and Daniel in the house, er , train

Jack and Daniel in the house, er , train

Dining car

Dining car

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MYRDAL TO FLÅN

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Incredible!

Incredible!

Is it THIS thing??

Is it THIS thing??

FJORD BOAT TO VOSS

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VOSS

Bus to Voss

Bus to Voss

Bergen in a Leaf

Bergen Night

Sunset from the Restaurant

Sunset from the Restaurant

Akavit

Akavit

Carhart is high style in Bergen

Carhart is high style in Bergen

Bergen Day

Breakfast in Bergen

Breakfast in Bergen

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The cable car goes back down.

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Bergen spring

Bergen spring

Long live Norway

Long live Norway