2/12/10: Sydney, Australia
I never thought I’d say this, but I hate Nepal.
Going to Nepal toward the beginning of our trip was like watching LeBron James play basketball and then going to coach your son’s fifth grade AAU team. It’s like dating the hottest girl in school and then settling for Icebox O’Shea. It’s like vacationing to see your favorite aunt who gives you money and candy, only to return home and get your cheeks pinched by Aunt Mulva. In all cases there’s really nothing wrong with the latter (Aunt Mulva really is a nice person), but you’ve been so spoiled that nothing else will ever be the same.
Today we did a day trip to see the Blue Mountains, supposedly Australia’s second most popular tourist attraction behind Sydney. We had been praying for good weather ever since two of our roommates last week told us of the dense fog and heavy rain that not only derailed their chance at the picturesque views in the mountains, but also derailed the train they were taking back into Sydney. And despite having yet to experience a day without rain, the skies actually cleared up for us.
Looks pretty beautiful, huh? It really was, as soon as we stopped comparing it to scenery of certain past countries. There’s also an impressive variety of walks and climbs scattered throughout, but the best part of the entire day had to be the funicular train.
If you’ll remember back to Penang, we’ve already had one really bad experience with a funicular train. Usually one bad experience is enough to sour me on something for the rest of my life, so the funicular train should consider itself lucky that it got a second chance. (Oranges have not been so lucky. Neither has Spiderman 2, although that movie made me so angry that I will never ever watch another Spiderman, even if they get Denzel Washington to play Peter Parker and Jennifer Aniston to play the girlfriend what’s-her-name.) The big draw of the funicular train this time though was that at 52 degrees uphill, it is the world’s steepest funicular train. Even though I could have sworn Penang advertised the same funicular superlative, I’m a huge sucker for anything that claims to be the world’s anything-est.
[Side note: I've actually become such a big fan of the word “funicular” (now used seven times in this post), I got to thinking about other things that could really become more exciting simply by sticking the word funicular in front of them:
Funicular household chores
Lord of the Rings: Return of the Funicular King
Funicular board meetings
Five day funicular cricket matches
Obviously I still have no idea what funicular actually means.]
Anyway, whereas the Penang train didn’t actually seem all that steep because you stood on a floor that stayed flat, this ride actually seemed steeper than advertised. At the bottom of the hill the chair backs were almost parallel to the ground, so riders are effectively laying down before the ride starts. Before you know it though, you feel like you might fall off the front of your seat. Not only that, but the train reaches a top speed of 76 mph (ok, I made that up, but it was fast) and a quarter of the ride is through a pitch black tunnel. I’d highly recommend it.
And Nepal, in case you’re reading, I didn’t mean that first sentence. It was simply for effect. I love Nepal.
Picture of the Day: Our inner kids came out during lunch. Don’t I look like Dominique Dawes?