On Saturday, December 6th it was our third day in Sydney and my 32nd Birthday. It felt a little strange given the time change as it really wasn’t my birthday at home in the States. It was only December 5th. But in the land Down Under, today was the day so why not celebrate? (I was still at the age where I enjoyed my birthday and still felt relatively young…ha).

It was a free day ahead and I got to pick what to do. Of course I wanted to do something outdoors, athletic and meaningful. Thus we decided to take a train to the Blue Mountains, a place known for its spectacular scenery and fabulous hikes. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than bushwalking (as the Aussies say). Hiking is one of my favorite sports.

The Blue Mountains are roughly 3,000 feet high and are considered a cool area rainforest.  I had read that it is not only a mecca for Sydneysiders who love to do day trips to escape the heat and crowds, but it is also one of Australia’s best known playgrounds with tons of opportunities for adventures sports.  The guide book recommended a couple of days.  We only had an afternoon, so we decided to make the best of it.

We took the two-hour ride to the mountain town of Katoomba hoping that the unusual cloudy and cool weather would pass.  We wanted to experience that fantastic perfect summer weather that Sydney is known for.  All I had were shorts since I had expected it to be summery weather.  Little did I know, it was going to be freezing as soon as we stepped off the train in the Blue Mountains.  It was even colder there than the mere 60 degree weather in Sydney.  Brutal.

We arrived at our stop at the town of Katoomba, freezing cold and hungry.  It was perfect grazing weather so we decided to test out a couple of the delightful bakeries lining the street.  After loading up on pastries and treats, we headed for the trails to do our bushwalk and work it off.

We tramped around the rainforest for awhile, marveling at all the beauty and sights.  It was the perfect way to spend my birthday:  Doing something I love and being with my dad.

After fully exhausting ourselves and using up all our sugary-induced energy, we headed back to Sydney for one last hurrah at the fabulous restaurant looking right out at the Opera House.  We indulged in a huge, gourmet pig out with two bottles of wine and cake.  It felt great to be 32.  I was looking forward to the rest of the trip.

Here are some photos from the day:

The Blue Mountains were absolutely stunning even in the cloudy, cool weather.  The hiking trails are awash with ferns and gorgeous trees.  You pass many waterfalls and scenic viewpoints such as the one below. 

Birthday girl in the Blue Mountains….if only I could be 32 again! 

Bushwalking in the Blue Mountains with my dad:

Deeper into the rainforest it was as dark as night.  There were also many waterfalls along the way plus loads of my beloved ferns. 

A dinner to remember right next to the Opera House and a show at the Opera

Stay tuned…next post I’m off to the Great Barrier Reef for my first dive!


    1. It’s funny to read this and know that tomorrow morning I’ll be able to say, “I’m 33 next month.” Where the heck did the last ten months go? (And how on earth is it possible for me to have to walk myself through the steps to figure out my age, when in younger days it was always on my mind?!)

      Come to think of it, how can it possibly have been more’n a handful of days since 2003? I so do not buy it.

  1. About Haiti–

    Yes, French would be very helpful in Haiti. Most Haitians don’t speak it, but it is the language of business, politics, and international aid. Only educated Haitians have a chance to study French, unfortunately. For example neither our housekeeper nor gardener spoke anything but Creole–which was challenging. Fortunately one of our guards spoke Spanish, which I speak some, so we were able to communicate with them largely through him.

    I blogged at least 5 days a week from Haiti starting in November 2010 until we moved back to the US in mid-March. My first 6 months there, I didn’t blog–foolishly. Skim through and see what interests you. Titles and tags might give you a sense of what posts are about. I don’t know how exactly to direct you to specific posts you might appreciate.

    Haiti needs so much help!


    1. Wow…that is so cool. I can’t wait to read about your visit there. When I have time…that is something that is always lacking, I definitely want to look back over your posts and see what you did there, with what org and how it all was. Thanks Kathy!

  2. Ten years ago while you were hiking the Inca Trail, we were in Australia and New Zealand. We also made the trip out to the Blue Mountains. The Three Sisters are in the que for my travel photo of the day, one of these days. We also had a chance to tour the Opera House but didn’t see a show. Did you climb the Sydney Harbor bridge while you where there? I did a night climb. It was a great view standing on top the bridge and looking at the city at night.

      1. Yes, we made it to the Great Barrier Reef. The day we went out was the first day they had been out in a week because of bad weather. The boat ride out was really rough. I thought it was fun bouncing from wave to wave, but more than half the people got sea sick. That wasn’t fun and they weren’t up for the snorkeling when we reached the reef. Unfortunately because of the bad weather it wasn’t the best snorkeling. We also stayed on Dunk Island (I posted a photo a few weeks ago) which is a great resort. But in February 2011 it got hit by a big cyclone. It won’t reopen until April of next year.

  3. I don’t think I do, actually, have a post that explains how we ended up in Vietnam.

    When Sara returned to work with the NGO she’s been with on and off for 20 years, we thought we were going to Bangkok, but they ended up needing her as the organization’s interim National Director for Vietnam. We were supposed to only be there for 3 months, but that turned into a year and could have been even longer, had we not been pulled out early to go to Haiti.

    I can share with you privately which NGO we’ve worked with. You will recognize it immediately.

    We have the passion for giving in common.


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