Living my life

VIVIR MI VIDA (Marc Anthony)

Sometimes the rain comes, to clean our wounds

Sometimes only one drop can stop the drought

I am going to live in this moment

To understand my destiny

I am going to listen in silence

To find my path

And why do we cry, why

If something hurts you, forget about it

And why do we suffer, why

If that’s what life is, we have to live itMarea 4

Rocamadour, on the route to Santiago de Compostela

October, 2018

One of the neighbours in Frayssinet-le Gelat tells me Rocamadour is not worth visiting. Too many other more interesting places. I am pleased I ignored her advise and drove my car over the incredible small but fabulous road, in between Le Vigan and the place, where 170 miracles happened. I suppose you better avoid this very popular destination in high season, when several buses are unloading tourists and pilgrims on a daily basis. This time of the year is perfect for a visit, with barely any traffic on the road and the sky crispy clear. The best and only way to discover Rocamadour is by foot. Just park the car opposite the tourist information office and start walking on the road, from where you get an unforgettable view over the canyon and the old medieval village, with its churches, chapels and the Château.

We start our tour high up on the cliff, in the gardens of the Château. The interior is not open for the public, but you can walk via the steel bridge, bordering the garden and overlooking the Alzou Canyon. The entrance is 2 euros and you need coins for the machine to open the gate. You better start walking through the gate immediately, as there will NO ticket coming out of the machine (although it says so) and the gate closes right behind your back. A lot of people lost their money! If you are tiny, you can squeeze with two people through the gate in one go! Obviously, we didn’t try…..

Again, I had to push myself up the stairs, although I felt nearly sick of my fear of heights. The panorama is just something you should have witnessed.

From the top of the cliff, we descended over the winding road with the various stations of the Cross. At a certain point we found a small cave, where you could buy nails, and hammer them in a cross, as for protection of the pilgrimage journey. I refused to do such a thing.

 

The curvy and shady road ends where the 8 churches and chapels are draped around a little square. Here you find the Chapelle Notre-Dame with the Black Virgin and also the Romanesque-Gothic Basilica of Saint Sauveur. The beauty of these medieval buildings is stunning.

 

From here the famous 216 steps of ‘The Grand Escalier’ go down to the picturesque main street, where many boutiques and cozy restaurants are overlooking the canyon. Imagine the pilgrims were climbing all those stairs on their knees. Some of them still do these days…….

We leave the beauty of Rocamadour, while walking through one of the four gates. From time to time we stop and look back on the impressive three successive levels of this village above the canyon.P1040870

There is an old local saying;

‘Houses on the river, churches on the houses, rocks on the churches, castle on the rock’…….

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In between castles, cathedrals and the french country life.

September, 2018

Nearly two weeks I am staying now in Frayssinet-le-Gelat and just loving it! I am running from one cathedral to the other, discover empty, spooky houses, drive along the river Lot and explore all the hiking trails around the village (where I even spot a deer walking in between the houses).

In between I work. On my blog, following courses and loads of other administration. I have to get used to shop twice a week, as there are no supermarkets in the neighbourhood. Constantly, I am out of supplies, so sometimes my meal consists of tomatoes and tuna or cheese and olives. The bakery is closed on Monday and the only eatery in town, called café Le Bourian, closes Tuesday night and Wednesday. If I am touring around and I see a big store, I immediately stop the car and go shopping.

While being in France, you should at least once visit a Brocante. It reminded me of the time we lived in Greece, when once a month whole families got in their car at 6.00 in the  morning, on their way to the carbootsale. Most of the time it was held at a big parking spot in front of the supermarket. It was a great way to get rid of old clothes, toys, books and all kinds of rubbish. At the same time it taught the children how to sell their own stuff for the highest price possible and it had a social function; afterwards we spent the earnings in the taverna with other ‘carbootsale friends’. Here in Prayssac it looks exactly the same, but the socializing and money spending starts already at lunchtime!

Frayssinet-le Gelat is surrounded by hiking trails, just like all other villages in the Lot department. Only the signs tend to disappear after a few kilometers. At least I noticed, that you are safe following the yellow sign and NOT the yellow cross! The best map these days is my phone; at least it tells me where I am (very important as I get lost everywhere!). One day I discover, that just five minutes walking up the road behind ‘my’ house, there is this ‘château’, totally abandoned. I heard that it belongs to two sisters, one passed away and the other one left. The garden is overgrown and it looks, even on this sunny day, a bit spooky. I try to take some pictures from the other side and would have loved to get through the gates and see it from the inside!

I continue my hike into the woods and feel pretty uncomfortable. No other souls walking here, only plenty of mosquitoes flying around and I even more spooky houses present….

My speed is increasing and I force myself to keep on walking. Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel; I arrive at a road, which leads me back to town. On my return in the village, I have a relaxing moment with a glass of wine at Le Bourian.20180924_175603.jpg

On another occasion, I get in the car to drive to this very impressive castle, just thirty minutes from where I am staying. It is called Château de Bonaguil and according to the map I can reach it via the small village of Saint-Front-sur-Lémance. While driving along the scenic road, I just can avoid a dead deer. Not a nice start, but nothing can spoil my day. The weather is superb again and I can’t wait to see the castle. Just today they broke up the road in the tiny village. In my best french I ask the roadworkers if I can walk to the castle. Oh yes, not a problem at all! So I park the car somewhere in the shade and start climbing the road. I have my water and my biscuits, as always. I follow the signs and the road has a lot of curves and is awfully quiet.

The only car which passes, is the car with the same roadworkers coming from the other side!!! Ehhhh? Why didn’t they tell me that there is another way to the castle? Ah well, it is a nice walk, although again I am the only person hiking. The road becomes smaller and now goes through the woods. I see a sign; castle one kilometer. Yes, I made it! Suddenly, there is an open space and wow, the castle is right in front of me, situated high on a cliff. I look at the castle and at the road in front of me; it is going down and down and the curves are going the wrong way. It means that I have to walk up and up again later. This is too much. No clue where I will end up. I decide to go back and will try to reach the castle via another way, but not today! After an hour (going down goes faster), I reach the village again. The roadworkers are still there and I decide to give them a big smile and just rush to my car. At least I did see the castle!!!P1040359

An unexpected introduction to Ossip Zadkine in Les Arques

15th of September, 2018

To find a book in The Netherlands, with information about interesting places in the Lot department, is difficult. Plenty regarding the Dordogne and Lot-et-Garonne, but nothing for this area. So thanks to Google, I make myself familiar with my surroundings, as I don’t want to miss out on anything important. While investigating, I read about this small, but important museum in the vicinity of Frayssinet-Le-Gélat. Next moment I hop in the car and drive direction Cazals and then halfway I turn into a ‘white’ and curvy road, which brings me to Les Arques.

Both scenery and village are very peaceful, authentic and worth visiting. I park my car and hear a lot of voices, from people having lunch in the one and only restaurant in the village. Later, they will all visit the museum, but by that time I am gone again.

The Église St. Laurant invites me in and immediately I am attracted to the Pietà in the crypt; just a wonderful piece of art, made by the Russian artist Ossip Zadkine, who bought a house in Les Arques in 1934, the place where he felt deeply connected with nature. He took care of the renovation of the church and created the wooden Christ on the Cross. Zadkine was a tremendously gifted sculptor and there is a museum in Les Arques, opposite the church, with bronze and wooden statues, engravings and  various photographs and testimonies of the artist. It is a small, but delightful museum!

 

Zadkine is the maker of the famous statue ‘the Destroyed City’ or ‘de Verwoeste Stad’, on Plein 1940 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. It remembers the bombings during the Second World War. From the 6th of October 2018 until the 3rd of March 2019, there will be an exhibition in Museum ‘Beelden aan Zee’ or ‘Statues by the Sea’ in Scheveningen, The Netherlands, with work from this remarkable artist. It will be organized together with the ‘Musée Zadkine de la Ville de Paris’.

After my visit to Les Arques, I drive home and make a stop by the tiny Chapel of Saint Andrée. There is nobody else and the church door is open. It feels weird and a little bit lonely, to be here, in the midst of fields and forest and in a place where Zadkine played such an important role; with his help it was possible to unveil the frescoes of the late 15th Century. A picture shows Zadkine sitting on a small chair in the little chapel. For a moment I sit myself on the same old and simple chair and feel his presence around.

 

 

 

A housesit in Frayssinet-Le-Gélat, France

11th of September, 2018

There was a time, that I was a member of five housesitter websites. That was before I settled down in the Netherlands. The time I was still kind of ‘homeless’. I kept the membership of one of the most popular and best working websites, as there are always moments I can skip daily life. Definitely, since I am without a job again. Flipping through one wonderful housesit after the other, my eye catches this cute house in Southern France and I already start packing, when reading the description. Immediately I apply, without even having looked in my diary. Normally, there are several people applying at the same time and chances are small you get chosen. Though until now, I have always been pretty lucky and also this time I get a positive response more or less right away. Oh dear, I was not ready for this! Now I really have to do some serious thinking. My children encourage me to go (‘you deserve it, mum’; really?). Do I go by car or plane? Is renting a car an option? What are the costs of flying? After some calculations the conclusion is made that driving myself is best and cheapest. I have a look at the map and notice I need to go via Paris. Last time I drove through Paris is around 25 years ago, on our way to Spain and that was in the middle of the night. This time it will be daytime! Do I book a hotel for the night or just see where I will end up? I have to arrive the second day at lunch time, on time for the introduction and instructions. The night before I leave I barely sleep. Paris is hunting me……..but cheerful I drive away in the dark at 6.00 a.m. My adrenaline is flowing and keeps me awake until 4.00 p.m. For sure the strong coffee along the route keeps me awake too! (1.80 euro for a big cup; different prices than Switzerland!)20180911_144110.jpg

I passed Paris with ‘sweating hands and drops on my forehead’, while trucks were trying to push my little Twingo at the side in the tunnels. At that moment I started to feel like the lady I am now; a senior! In Vierzon I stopped at the first hotel I noticed. I got their last room. Coincidentally, it was one of the budget hotels from my list. I slept like a baby and arrived fresh and cheerful at my house- and catsit on time. Pfffffffff…………..

 

 

Frayssinet-Le-Gélat is a very tiny village, about half an hour from Cahors, in the Lot department. There are roughly 300 inhabitants, a bakery and a tiny pizza place.

 

One of those villages you drive through and not many people realize that on the 21st of May 1944, a massacre took place right in this village, by the Nazi’s. It happened that an SS Rifle company of the second Panzer Division ‘Das Reich’ stopped for a refreshment break. Believing that one of their officers had been shot by members of the French underground, fifteen hostages were taken and executed. Ten young males from one child families and five young women. This was to prevent any further family line of descent. A memorial remembers the victims.

 

 

The surroundings of Frayssinet-Le-Gélat are green, authentic and also very quiet. There are several interesting towns to discover, musea and castles, so I will not be bored! Every day there is somewhere a market. On Friday mornings it is Prayssac, on Sunday morning Cazals and on Tuesday Puy L’Évêque. During the first days I visit the two markets, both with a totally different atmosphere. I prefer the market in Prayssac, a typical french market and barely any foreigners. Here you can find lot’s of treats and local produce; truffles, confits, lamb, grapes, foie gras, prunes, walnut cake, goat cheeses, ready-made chicken, teas, olives and of course Cahors wines! My next market will be in Cahors!

 

 

 

The Engadin houses, groundhogs and spiral tunnels of Graubunden

23rd of July, 2018

Our next stop will be a tiny place called Schmitten, in Graubünden. Here, we will stay for five days in a lovely apartment. After some investigations of the map, we decide to take the smaller scenic road over the Sustenpass and Oberalppass. No regrets, we enjoy every minute of our drive! The road is pretty curvy, but the views are impressive. We pass gorges, waterfalls, gletchers, snowpatches, wild rivers and even a lake high up the mountain. The rock formation reminds me of the Rocky Mountains between Jasper and Banff in Canada.

Finally, when descending, we can see the Gotthard tunnel from the corner of our eyes. As most of the times, cars are all in line waiting for their turn to get through.

We can follow our route via another tunnel; the Oberalppasstunnel. The rough landscape is changing into green fields with grazing cows and we buy some cheese, fresh from the farm. We now enter the lovely countryside of Graubünden. Schmitten is situated around 1350 meters in the mountains. There is only one small grocery store, one butcher, who sells only all kinds of schinken, no restaurants and not even one café. The old and new church are the landmarks of Schmitten and form a centerpiece on the hill-top with fabulous views down into the valley.

Nothing blocks the view from our balcony! All you see are the impressive mountains right in front of you!

25th of July, 2018

Just down the road from our apartment, a trail starts direction Filisur. This picturesque village is situated in Parc Ela and is known for its ‘Engadinerhäuser’ and the fabulous panoramic view over the ‘Landwasser-viaduct’, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. This is part of the Rhaetian Railway or Rhätische Bahn. No tourists lined up on the platform here, as you can only reach it via a very steep and small path. So it is more or less a hidden secret!

On the other side of the gorge we can see another platform with many more visitors, but they never have the same fabulous view as we have! We continue our walk down to Filisur following the river and admiring all kinds of different butterflies and flowering bushes.

The long-stretched village of Filisur is like an open-air museum with a variety of Engadiner houses. These houses used to be farms with a barn at the back. The front side has a double door, where carriages had to be able to pass. The windows are placed deep into the very thick walls. Most houses are decorated with different designs. After admiring the houses in this extremely quiet village (since there is a new road around the village, there are less tourists visiting……….), we have a tasteful lunch and return all the way back up the hill to Schmitten.

26th of July, 2018

Today we meet up with friends, who are waiting for us in the very attractive village of Bergün. It is only a short drive from Schmitten and just like Filisur blessed with beautiful Engadin houses. Besides, it has a vibrant center and a fantastic outdoor swimming pool. Around Bergün, the alpine railway line lingers through the landscape. Just above Bergün you can see the famous village of Latsch, known from the Heidi movie in 1952.

Our hike for today starts right in Bergun and goes high up in the mountains from the ‘Álp da Tisch’ and the ‘Crop Sot Igls Munts’………. A fabulous walk under guidance of the expertise of our friend, who totally trusts our hiking skills.

Very pleased to have a stop at the one and only café up the mountain. The person, who prepares and serves the food, also has to help the people out of the chairlift, so he is running around like crazy.

We wait forever for our drinks and are tempted to go and help him in the kitchen! It seems that today brings more people up the mountain than expected………

Our second leg of the hike gets rewarded with the ‘whistle’ of the groundhogs or ‘murmeltieren’. We wait in silence, just as the dog is, and finally we can spot them on a few different locations. What a great way to end our fabulous hiking day!

27th of July, 2018

On our last day in Graubünden, we decide to take the train from Filisur to Preda and walk back to Bergün. Just one more day to enjoy this amazing canton of Switzerland! It is nice to experience the train going in and out of the tunnels and rolling over high bridges with stunning views. In Preda we get off and have a look at the Info Arena, where you find explanations regarding the construction of the old Albula Tunnel of 1903 (now a UNESCO World Heritage site) and the rebuilding of a new tunnel. The inner walls of the old tunnel are not safe anymore.

 

From the Info Arena, the Railway Historic Path starts alongside the Alpine Railway Line, back to Bergün or even further to Filisur. Sometimes easy, sometimes a bit rough, but all the time with views on the spiral tunnels, the impressive bridges and fast running waters underneath.

A couple of hours later, we arrive in Bergün, where we finally can have a cold beer after this long walk in the heat! Later, we take the train back to Filisur and say goodbye to ‘The Engadina’ or “the valley of the river Inn”.

 

 

 

 

Hiking around the Thunersee and Brienzersee

20th of July, 2018

In Meilen on Lake Zürich, we take the ferry to Horgen and drive from there to Luzern. We park the car in one of the many garages in town and hope our three-hour stop will be enough to get a glimpse of this attractive city. It seems as all the tourists from Switzerland arrived at the same time as we did, but we work our way to the Vierwaldstätten See and pretend we are the only ones…….

The main hotspot is the wooden Chapel Bridge and the octagonal Water Tower, dating back to the year 1332. After a fire in the year 1993, it was totally rebuilt. Just a few of the paintings did survive……..

 

We follow for a while the river Reuss and find our way back to the car via the cozy streets of the inner city. By now the rain starts and we continue our route over the Brünigpass, along the Brienzer See, via the outskirts of Interlaken and finally reaching  our hotel Movieworld in Spiez am Thunersee. The hotel is one of a kind; it has a movie theatre on the lower level, rooms with a (very basic) theme, a parking under the shopping centre and from the breakfast/dining room a fantastic view. Just a ‘bit’ too close to the train station…….

We decide to hike to the tiny harbour down below, bordering an impressive park with olympic swimming pool. For the first time we need long trousers and sweaters, as the climate is totally different here in Berner Oberland. The few restaurants are pretty occupied, but we find a small place with simple, but pricy food…….

21st of July, 2018

The next morning, after a delicious breakfast, we hike to Thun. Part of the road goes through the fields, part through the woods and also a part through an ugly little village. Finally, somebody shows us a nice way to the lake and we follow this path, until we reach Thun.

 

The ‘Thunerseespiele’ Mamma Mia will be performed on a huge stage right on the lake and this event attracts many people from all over Switzerland.

Also famous in Thun is the fast running water of the river Aare, by the old bridge, where surfers are showing their ability to stay on the paddle board. Some are experienced and some not……

 

 

 

After, the old town invites us for a drink and a bite on the central plaza. Thun has many interesting landmarks, but we are running out of time. The enormous castle on top of the hill has to wait for maybe another occasion. Walking all the way back is also not an option. Our feet are sore and the train is bringing us back to Spiez in just ten minutes.

 

22nd of July, 2018

We need a good night sleep for our hike the following day up the Niederhorn. First we drive to the long-stretched village Beatenberg on the Brienzersee and from there we go via small and steep goat trails all the way up. It is a beautiful walk with amazing views over the mountain range on the other side of the lake. With clear weather you can see the Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger! Many visitors just take the funicular to the highest point and back, but we enjoy our hike away from the crowds.

 

 

 

 

 

Zürich, city by the lake

17th of July, 2018

My friend invites me for a two-week trip to Switzerland, a country which he visited many times in the past and where some of his relatives and friends are living. It’s July and I am hesitant, as I like Holland in summer time and I am not too keen in travelling during high season. Too late, as my travel hormones are already flying through my body and in no time my bag is packed and my garden treasures are left in the good hands of my neighbour.

Our program will be very exiting, as we start in Zürich and go from there in different directions. On a sunny Tuesday we hop in the car and drive the whole day via a very quiet highway through Germany, until we reach ‘City Stay Apartments’ on the Kieselgasse in Zürich. Our spacious residence is convenient situated on walking distance of the lake and historic centre. We are just in time to catch a glimpse of the sunset over Lake Zürich.P1030354

The walkway along the lake is filled with people of all ages and nationalities. People are having a picnic on the grass, some are playing guitar and some are just chatting away. This is definitely the spot where people like to spend the evening. We reach the old centre after a thirty minute walk and are just in time to find a place where they still serve some food. This is my first encounter with Swiss prices (which are very high!) and I am glad we booked mainly apartments, so we are able to cook our own meal!20180717_212506

18th of July, 2018

The next morning, we visit some relatives, go for a hike up the mountain P1030247and relax by the lake in Uetikon am See in the afternoon. This place is great for swimming. No entrance fee and a fabulous recreation area and even a small cafeteria with reasonable prices. The views are amazing and the water is luke warm.20180718_133154

19th of July, 2018

On the morning of our last day in Zürich, it is time for discovering the old town. Today is a pretty hot day and most people left the city for their holiday in the mountains. We stroll via the bridges over the Limmat river, from one side of the city to the other, and admire the St. Peter church with its enormous clock. Supposedly, it is the biggest clockwork from Europe.

 

We walk through the famous Bahnhofstrasse, fall in the middle of the shooting of a German movie and visit the impressive Grossmünster and Fraumünster church.

 

Another attraction of Lake Zürich are the swans. I never saw so many together in one spot.

 

We return to our apartment via the walking trail along the lake, where musicians are trying to earn some extra money. Many come from South and Central America! We grab a beer and sit ourselves down on one of the many benches. Tomorrow, we will leave this charming town and go direction Berner Oberland.

 

National Park Eifel, Germany

June, 2018

Since being back in the Netherlands, after living in Canada for many years, I fully enjoy the European culture and nature again. Flying in Europe is pretty cheap and by car you are in no-time in a totally different scenery. Even in the surroundings of my hometown there is plenty to discover. There are many castles, musea and cultural events. Lately, I am trying to improve my walking spirit again by extending every time the amount of kilometers (or miles, as we used to say in Canada). The new hiking shoes are waiting impatiently to get their first exercise. The last pair finally gave up after a 24 kilometer hike through the fabulous Eifel in Germany. I can’t recall I ever visited this beautiful area, just a three hour drive from my home. It’s the perfect spot to go hiking, with endless trails to choose from and overall very well assigned. From high hills to flat land, wild rivers to dreamy lakes; you can find it all. Be sure not to get lost in a village (like we did)………we ended up walking another extra 10 kilometer, as we were confused with the names of the villages! Our hike of four hours, became 7 hours!!! So glad the beer is always cold in Germany and every village has a pub (or two)……….

 

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From our lovely apartment, just outside Einruhr, you could reach the touristic town of Monschau within thirty minutes. Probably, in July overwhelmed with tourists, but now pretty peaceful. Wherever you go in this tiny town, you will hear water streaming. Monschau is famous for its half-timbered houses and the castle high up the hill.

During our short four day stay, we choose two hiking trails: the Waterland route and the Narcissen route (Daffodils route).

We started our first hike from the town of Einruhr around the Obersee, along the Urftsee dam and passing the Paulushof dam to Rurberg. From the Urftsee reservoir you walk via the Eifelsteig back to Einruhr.

Our second day hike started in the small town Höfen and from there we followed the path through the protected area of Perlenbach- and Fuhrtsbachtal. In springtime there seem to be plenty of daffodils all around the trail. Now, we enjoyed all other type of flowers, while the route guided us through the woods, along wild rivers and meadows. Another fabulous hiking day!

On our way back to the Netherlands, we decided to drive via the historic University town Maastricht, situated in the province of Limburg. It has a southern atmosfere and you will hear all kind of languages, while strolling over the famous plazas. Maastricht is more or less on the border with Belgium and Germany. Even Luxembourg is just a short distance away.

In Maastricht you can dream away by the river Maas, admire the impressive Basilica of Saint Servatius and visit the famous bakery ‘ Bisschopsmolen’ or ‘ Bishops Mill’. Here, you will find the oldest working water-mill of the Netherlands and in the store they sell the delicious ‘ Limburgse vlaai ‘. What a perfect way to finish this short outing!

The Australian Reptile Park

The 7th of March, 2018

You can’t leave Australia without having petted a Kangaroo or a Koala, so we all hop in the car and drive for an hour up North to the Australian Reptile Park, situated close to Gosford. Once out of the city, you drive through immense national parks and all you see are forests and rivers from both sides of the Pacific Highway or M1. The Reptile Park is fun, as you have the opportunity to be very close to all kinds of animals. During live entertaining shows you get to learn more about snakes, crocodiles, tortoises and arachnids. The park gives you a great impression of Australia’s wildlife.

Kangaroos and wallabies are hopping by and the trees are filled with sleeping Koalas. You get a chance to mingle with some of the animals and feed or pet them.

The dingoes are sound asleep, only when a show is announced through the speaker system, they start howling! The Tasmanian devil is also present and so is the cassowary. My daughter is getting excited as she sees the popular platypus. The bird-cages are filled with all kinds of owls, the kookaburra and cockatoos. The colourful lorikeets are lined up in the trees in the park.

Today is a week day and fairly quiet, so plenty of space to admire the animals on our own. The Reptile Park is also famous for its lifesaving snake and spider venom collection work. After spending a couple of hours in this interesting park, we go for a late lunch and drive back towards Sydney, just before the rush hours starts.

 

Famous Blue Mountains

6th of March, 2018

A visit to Blue Mountains is definitely a must, while spending time around Sydney. One day is not enough to fully enjoy the beauty of this World Heritage area, but there is no more time left. My daughter and I decided that we don’t need any touring companies to guide us to the mountains. We just take an early train from Central Station, which brings us within two hours to Katoomba, a nice village with plenty of eateries and all kinds of stores. It is also very close to the famous Three Sister rock formation. Walking through the main street of this little mountain village, we notice the drop of temperature. It is at least a 10 degrees difference with Sydney and we are shivering in our shorts. At the end of the street, we arrive in Echo Park, from where you can admire the Three Sisters from different levels.

The legend of the three sisters; three beautiful sisters once lived with the Gundugurra people in the Jamison Valley (down Echo Park). The maidens fell in love with three brothers from the neighbouring nation of the Dharruk people, but marriage was forbidden by tribal law. The brothers were warriors and decided to take the maidens by force. Tribal war forced the Kuradjuri (clever man) of the Gundungurra people to turn the sisters into stone. He intended to restore them after the danger had passed and the war had ended. Unfortunately, the Kuradjuri (clever man) was killed in the battle and to this day, nobody has been able to break the spell and turn the Three Sisters back to their natural form (this is one of a number of versions of the legend).

From the lookout point, there are several walking trails going left and right, and even possibilities to join a scenic skyway, cableway or railway! We just want to get away from the groups of tourists and enjoy the bird and water sounds of the rainforest.

There is a giant stairway, with 1000 stairs to the valley below, but as we only have half a day, we decide to take the Prince Henri Cliff Walk, which connects Echo Point to Leura Waterfalls. There are plenty of scenic lookouts along the edges of the cliffs.

The colour of Blue Mountain is indeed blue! The ‘blue’ haze is enhanced by millions of oil droplets, released into the atmosphere by the huge numbers of eucalyptus trees. As for the sheer cliff line, the plateau was created around 170 million years ago, when forces in the earth started pushing the rock upwards. Over millions of years, weather and rivers carved out valleys and gorges.

The Leura Waterfalls are impressive. You can look all the way down from the top of the falls and we can spot some people sitting on the enormous rocks down the path. We decide to continue our walk, as we still have to walk back over the road to Katoomba and catch the train end of the afternoon.

If ever I will go back, I would love to stay a couple of days in Blue Mountains, as there are plenty of other walking trails and waterfalls to explore. I also would love to witness the early morning light over the mountains and the shadows during the sunset. I am still impressed to find such a pristine environment, on just a two-hour train ride from the centre of Sydney.