Thursday, December 16, 2004

Doh! Woke up later than expected. Began the day with an all-you-can-eat cereal and toast breakfast at the Kurrara. Our plan was to take the walking path to Leura but we detoured first to see the view from Honeymoon Lookout. I thought we needed the delay because the road to Leura didn't seem that long on the map. Uh huh.

The path along the cliff turned out to be less trodden than the trails at Echo Point. The path descended deep into the valley in places, then sloped up steeply in others, making the walking tougher than yesterday.

We took another detour to view Leura Cascades which though not spectacular, was a pretty sight. The path then took a steep turn up a flight of steps cut into the sandstone leading to Leura proper and the path to the Gordon Falls lookout.

Once we got into the town centre (3 hours from when we started walking) we wandered around looking at the candy store, the toy store, the many handicraft stores, the 2 Christmas stores (selling Christmas ornaments all year round), then June developed a craving for pasta.

Now, it's not easy to find pasta in Leura. It's a more Anglophile town than Katoomba which is practically cosmopolitan in comparison. Eateries in Leura do English-style pastries and teas but eventually we found the BonTon Cafe with a menu that fit the bill.

BonTon served up a thick organic vegetable soup almost broth-like in consistency. June had a delicious Seafood Spaghettinni with fresh mussels, scallops and perch; and I had a Rigatonni Arribiata with spicy pork sausage in a tomato sauce.

At lunch we checked our guide book and discovered that we were too late to catch the last train through the Zig Zag Railway at Lithgow so we had to scrap that idea. It was still early afternoon, nevertheless, so we took the train instead to Wentworth Falls just for a look-see of the village. Small, not very exciting, but like everything around here, friendly and welcoming.

We caught the train back to Katoomba eventually and since the sun was still shining brightly even though it was about 1730 we walked back to Echo Point to find the Giant Stairway which we had missed yesterday.

The Giant Stairway is a 900-step stair that descends a vertical cliff face to the bottom of the valley. No way we would have made it all the way down and back by nightfall -- it's a 2-hour trek for healthy walkers. We only went far enough to reach a rocky ledge cut into the 1st of the 3 Sisters. Just looking down from the ledge makes the knees wobbly, so high up we still were.

We made our painful climb back to Echo Point, hungry again. We found the Swiss Cottage on the way back to Kurrara. Here we ordered a thick tomato soup with garlic bread each and then because we were too full to down individual portions we split a saussicon vaudior (spicy pork sausage in homebaked pastry and rossti) and a banana split between the two of us.

The staff at the Swiss Cottage were very busy and yet very cordial, warm hosts. The blonde who attended to us (presumably Monique) was model-pretty and very charming, entertaining our meal-on-a-budget order. When the restaurant got too full, she even turned away other guests who were prepared to place a larger order than ours simply because we arrived first.

Wish I could have left a bigger tip but they didn't take credit cards [WARNING] so they took all the cash I had. I could only leave a 50 cent tip from the change I got back.

Staggered back to the Kurrara where today, it's too warm to light the fire.

One other thing about the Blue Mountains. Outside when it's warm, each one of us is issued with our personal cloud of houseflies who buzz around us and settle on us when they get tired. They literally make us feel like we're the centre of their little universe.

Leaving Blue Mountains for Sydney tomorrow. I will definitely come back here someday.

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