Sydney life.

Before leaving the Blue Mountains for good, I spent a night right next to the Grand Canyon. Yes that’s right, Australia also has a Grand Canyon! It was very beautiful, though not quite as grand as the American equivalent. Oh, and I’ve also learnt that the blue comes from the gum trees and eucalyptus trees, they give off a blue sheen.    
 After having been there I made my way to Sydney, and the caravan park north of the city. It’s the first one I’ve booked in advance since Uluru, which was good because the night I arrived it was completely full. 

 It was so hot though, 38 degrees (100 F) so I got right back in the car and drove to a nearby cinema to escape the heat.   
  Bush turkey. They’re everywhere.  
Cooking by the car that night. Since I’ll be staying at the caravan park for a week I’ve been able to buy things that needs to be in a fridge so finally I could cook something fancy.  The beef stew I made was amazing, and I had left overs for two days.  

The camp spot. I’ve got both electricity (a outlet right where I’m standing to take this picture) and my own water tap! Such luxuries.   
Someone’s been to IKEA! Knäckebröd and Kalles kaviar. Super Swedish and so good. Kalles is a creamed smoked fish roe and it’s really delicious, especially on eggs. Though their commercial is usually of them making people from other countries try it with very lousy results…

The next day I took the train into Sydney, which is about a half an hour ride. 

  
    

Can you see the tiny people walking up the bridge? 
    
 

I walked around in the area the rocks for a while, it was really nice. I enjoyed a drink by the opera house before I decided to go on a tour of the building. It was such a fun tour too, the guide was funny and knowledgeable. 

  
 
Before we started she asked if there were any Danish people or architects in the crowd because they usually had the most questions. A short while later she asked if we knew what the roof is made of so I spoke up that it’s ceramics from Höganäs in Sweden, to which she exclaimed “oh the swede! I forgot to ask for the swede before, because you always know about the roof.” Thank you aunt Ingegerd for telling me about it though, before I came to Australia I actually had no idea…    
  The concert hall. The organ has more than 10 000 pipes, crazy! The entire opera house  was supposed to take three years to build but apparently it took two years just to tune the organ… It took 17 years all in all and cost 100 million, and not the predicted 7. Wow.   
  The seating in the opera and ballet hall.   
The roof. It’s self cleaning, whenever it rains it cleans itself. How clever is that?

 When we were in the ballet hall we were told that their new ballet The Sleeping Beauty was premiering that night. I’ve always wanted to go and see a ballet, so when the tour was over I went to the box office and crossed my fingers. No I didn’t. Crossing your fingers means that you’re lying in Sweden, we hold our thumbs for luck. 

And I was lucky! There was one single ticket left! The perks of solo travel again. I got on the train back to the caravan park, changed clothes, ate and got right back on it again. A bit stressful but definitely worth it! I couldn’t very well go to the opera house and a premier in shorts and tshirts.    

I got to walk the pink carpet!

  
  They were filming and I had to take this picture. That used to be me, standing outside with the camera man looking in on the actual guests of things… I must say it felt really nice to be on this side for once!
 The ballet was so good! It was funny and beautiful and I loved every minute of it. I’m so glad I went. I’ve loved ballet for many years, even though I’ve never really enjoyed dancing it myself. I was forced to do it on and off for figure skating but I preferred to be on ice. Still enjoy it though and even more now!

 
The next day I was very tired, so I spent the day at the caravan park. After having spent so much time in the wilderness that much excitement in a day made me exhausted. But I had another event that night: my last Taylor swift concert for this time. There were four different events happening at the Olympic park and they were expecting 150 000 people so I got there very early.    

  A common misunderstanding is that she sings “Starbucks lovers” and not ex-lovers in blank space, but these girls took it to the next level.   
Cheerleaders everywhere! I love how people really get into dressing up for the concerts. There was 76 000 people there, her biggest crowd ever. I’m so glad I got to go, she was just as amazing as ever. A couple of guys sitting behind me were super sarcastic at first but after a while they just went “this is the most insane thing I’ve ever seen, she’s my new hero!” Yep, she’s amazing. Especially live. 

   
I love her so much.  Amazing. Queen! 

After the concert it took me 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive the 13 km home. For an hour I couldn’t even leave my parking spot. Not much to do about it so I blasted my music and briefly considered spending the night in the parking lot instead before I actually could drive away. 

And this is what I’ve done today. I felt almost hungover when I woke up this morning, I was so tired, so I’ve been listening to podcasts and reading. A pretty good Sunday in my book.   

And now for the honesty moment on this blog. I just wanted to talk some as well about some things I’ve been struggling with. I don’t think a single day goes by without me thinking what might have happened if I had only done a single thing differently in the days leading up to my accident. What if I hadn’t taken an extra rest day in Charlotte, or Banners Elk, or what if I had forced myself to go a little bit further each day instead of hiding from the heat, then everything would have been different. My trip has been so insanely great, I can barely believe all the things I’ve done, but not a single day goes by without me mourning the adventure that didn’t happen. I’ve called my mother in tears feeling like a complete failure just a few weeks ago, even after having had so many months to get used to it. I’ve had to stop following all the bicycle tourers on Instagram and Facebook because it hurt too much to see it, and some days I’m really struggling accepting that I didn’t get to have that adventure. Like I said, it’s been so great. In some ways probably a lot better than it would have been otherwise but some days it’s just hard. Really hard. And I’ve always been honest here and I want to keep being that. It was not easy to give up on my dream, far from it, but I still don’t see how I could have done it any other way. 

But I’m really missing my family, and I’m super excited to get back home in January. I’ve been applying for jobs, I’ve signed up to start with gymnastics for adults and I have so many great plans. To be honest I doubt that I would have made it around the world on my bike, but sometimes it feels like I barely got to try. But the most important thing is that I made it out alive, and that I’m happy and healthy. I think it has made me grow as a person. But yes, it’s still a struggle but I’m trying to tell myself that I didn’t fail. I didn’t give up. In some grand way of the universe this was meant to happen, to give room for other experiences. That’s what I will hold on to, and what I’ll put my faith in when things are hard.  

Leaving Berea that last day of cycling, June 21 2015. 

Into the wild in the blue mountains.

Oh, the blue mountains. I don’t even know where to begin. 

I arrived in the early afternoon to the city of Katoomba, which is the central point of the blue mountains. I got myself a spot at the caravan park and then walked over to the nearby scenic world to check it out.   
It has a skyway (as seen above) and the worlds steepest railway, including lots of nice walks in the area. I decided to come back the next day to actually go on the different type of rides they had there, and instead spent the afternoon walking around, looking at everything they had to offer.    

    
   
The caravan park was great and right next to scenic world, but I ended up right next to five Brazilian guys in their early 20’s. They went out and came back at 1:30 making so much noise, I was so annoyed. If I hadn’t been a solo female I would have said something but now I didn’t. Even though there were other people there too, I definitely didn’t feel comfortable telling a bunch of drunk guys to be quiet in the middle of the night, instead I lay there getting more and more upset… But eventually they passed out luckily. I got a sick kind of satisfaction the next afternoon though when they were sleeping in the their tents and a man with a screaming baby walked around that area haha. Revenge! 

Anyway, the next day I was up early and went back to scenic world. I rode the skyway over to the other side first, and even walked over the glass bottom. I was scared to ride the chairlift but no problem with walking on glass hundreds of meters up in the air…

   
      
   
The three sisters on the left and mount solitary on the right. 

I had packed my backpack full of water and snacks which was lucky since it was very hot that day, 34 degrees. And I was also about to walk down the Great Stairway, 900 steps that goes from the top of the three sisters down into the rainforest below. 

     
Even though I had made the wise decision to walk down instead of up, my legs were shaking so bad when I got down. Totally worth it though! And then followed a beautiful rainforest walk back to scenic world. If someone had told me that I would be walking in rainforests before coming here I would have said “no way! What about the spiders and snakes?” To be honest I barely think of it anymore. And I’m definitely not going to keep from doing stuff just because there might be animals around. It would be very unwise to go to Australia at all if you’re just going to be scared all the time. 

A few hours later I was back at scenic world and boarded the world’s steepest railway at 52 degrees to ride back up again. It was really cool, felt more like a very slow roller coaster than a train. I’ll post a video here instead, hopefully you can see kind of how steep it was. The view is through the roof of the train…

 
I spent the afternoon on a blanket by the car reading a book. I can’t think of a better way to spend my day to be honest. I’ve always been a huge book worm.   

And yes,that is my laundry that’s hanging outside of the car. 

The next day (after a quiet night, apparently the brazilians were all partied out) I ate breakfast while watching a game of cricket. If I hadn’t been sitting there in pajamas with hair sticking out in every direction I would have felt like I was on an episode of downton abbey. 

  
I left Katoomba and headed towards jenolan caves. Since it was a weekend and the blue Mountains are so close to Sydney, I at least knew that I wouldn’t be alone. 

Once again I was forced to endure tiny mountain roads with barely enough room to meet another car, and still a 100 km/h speed limit (I’m seriously staring to question the Australian road safety rules) but I made it in one piece!   
  
 
 
 The caves were great, but I didn’t go on a guided tour. I though they were too pricey so I just guided myself instead. 

I had kind of planned where I wanted to stay that night, but as I was about to leave Jenolan I saw this sign.   

I instantly recognized that place from someone I follow on instagram, he had posted that same view the other day and I had wondered where it was! The best part about not making too many plans is that I can easily change them. I looked up the campground on my wikicamps app (I’m not sponsored, I just couldn’t live without it right now!) and saw that there was no phone coverage up there so I sent off a quick text to my mother telling her my plans before I headed towards Kanangra Walls. Sometimes I’m a thoughtful daughter…

The best places are usually the ones you stumble upon by accident, and this was definitely one of those. I am SO glad that I saw that sign because wow. 

 
   
   
I also saw my first snake! A big black thing that slithered across the path 3-4 meters in front of me and the old couple I had met at the overlook. Luckily my first instinct was exactly what the books tell you to do: I froze mid-step and didn’t move again until it was gone. I didn’t get a photo but weirdly enough I didn’t get scared at all. My heart didn’t even start to beat faster. 

The campground was 7 km away, a very basic but large site with drop toilets (utedass) and nothing else. We were quite a few people camping there but everyone kept to themselves. In the early evening a mystical fog came swooping in which made for these magical photos. 

 Camping afternoon! A beer of course, and on the armrest you can see my spot 3gen, the gps tracker I carry everywhere. Since I didn’t have phone coverage I could at least send a satellite signal to my family to let them know I was alive and my exact location. 

  

 
The next morning the fog was still present so I decided to camp there another night. I wanted to go hiking at the kanangra walls but didn’t dare to do it in the fog. Just look how different it looked the next day. 

 
Instead I spent my day reading and reading and when it got too cold, watch downton abbey on the tiny tv in the car. A lovely Sunday in other words. 

  
 That’s not coffee or tea. It’s red wine. Hehe.    
I got wallaby visitors each evening at dusk, such pleasant company. This one allowed me to come very close and take a picture (or 15). 

    Camp ground sunset. 

This morning I woke up to sunshine again, so finally I could go for that hike along the rim of the kanangra walls.  It was really beautiful up there and I’m glad I stayed. The remote camping was amazing and the kanangra Boyd national park was beautiful, I highly recommend a visit. 

 
 Hello!

  Can you see me?

The kanangra falls waterfall. 

Now I’m in the tiny city of Oberon just a short distance away. Over the next days I’ll slowly make my way towards Sydney, where I’ll be from Thursday and stay for a week. On Saturday it’s time for my last time of seeing Taylor Swift for this time, but trust me when I say that when she announces the next tour in roughly a years time (like she’s done every other year since forever) I’ll be first in line to buy tickets no matter where in the world it is. 

Oh, and if anyone have tips for great getaways close to Auckland, please let me know. I’m trying to plan my last week of travels, for the beginning of January in New Zealand. Let me know! 

When you’re in the mountains, every day is Friday. 

I don’t know what it is about hiking, but it makes me unexplainably happy. I very rarely find cycling up a mountain fun, mostly because it’s not. It’s hard and if you stop it’s really really hard to get going again and did I mention that it’s hard? Well, it is. But hiking up a mountain is so much fun. Even when you’re panting and sweating and your thighs are burning you can just stop, drink some water and admire the view. Maybe even sit down for a while and have a snack. When you start walking against you haven’t lost any momentum and it’s not very likely that you’ll fall over because you’re going too slow. Yes, I’ve seen that happen to cyclists, I almost had that happen to myself when cycling up the dreaded Mur de Huy in Belgium. 

So you can only imagine how happy I was when I was about to hike up Mt Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest mountain at 2228 meters. You can walk from Thredbo village to the highest point, but that’s not what most people do, and neither would I. Instead I got on the chairlift to where the mountainbikers were about to head down the mountain again, and got on the 14 km round trip to the very peak.  
I had a mountainbiker in front of me. I hope they have lightweight bikes, because they just had to hold on to them on the chairlift.   
A stream coming down the mountain.   

I look happy but I was slightly terrified. I’m not usually scared of heights but it was a little bit scary.   
 

View from the top of the chairlift, where my 14 km hike would begin. 

   
    
Some kids who had been camping up in the mountains were having a snowball fight. I hate snowball fights. I used to be scared of loosing contact lenses and now I’m scared of breaking my glasses. I value being able to see over getting ice in my face. 

 Happy to be walking on snow! I never thought I’d be able to see snow in Australia. 

The actual hike was pretty easy. Since the ground is very uneven and wet they had put elevated walking paths everywhere so it was not very challenging. 

  
Mt Kosciuszko is the peak to the left.

  
On some paths I had to trek through the snow. I missed my hiking poles but they’re back in Sweden.   

 I made it! Well, I think anyone who can walk 14 km can make it but still! Yay! I was the 5th person on the mountain that day, and on top I met this super cool guy who has been cycling around the world for ten years. TEN YEARS. Wow. He had even cycled in Sweden. He’s on the home stretch now and will finish in Melbourne soon. I also met a girl from Germany who was super nice. We sat at the top talking for almost an hour before it got too cold and windy and had to begin the hike back down.   

The hike was supposed to take 4-5 hours. Even with almost an hour break at the top it took me 3,5. 

 
I found a dandelion! I love dandelions. I even have one tattooed on my arm so that kind of proves that. 
    
And then I had to take the chairlift back down again. It was terrifying! If I thought the ride up was scary then the trip down as awful! I look happy but I’m clutching the bar and that smile is just a tiny bit forced. I was scared I’d fall down, and that my backpack would fall down or that I’d drop my phone. Oh wow. 

  
The view down. Ughhhh. Oh! And if you’ve just walked 14 km and then sit down with your feet above ground for 15 minutes you’ll limp when you start walking again. Things I learnt the hard way. 

 That night I camped at this pretty place in the woods.   
   
The night sky was insane. 

Here I could talk about how much I hate driving on small winding mountain roads that are too small and with crazy Australian drivers but I’ll skip it. It was scary enough just having to live through it once, I don’t want to relive it. 

Anyway! The next day I headed for the Yarrangobilly caves. It’s low season but I still expected there to be some other people but nope, apparently I was the only one there. I started out at the thermal pool which is so cool. The water in it gets heated in the underground and then flows into the pool through cracks at a speed of 100 000 liters an hour. It was so warm and nice, even though the  bottom of the pool liked quite creepy. 

  I saw my first kangaroos in a long while! As I was walking down this path to the pool they jumped out in front of me. I froze and they froze but I managed to get a photo before they jumped off.   
   
After a swim in the pool I walked along the river to The South glory cave. There’s a lot of different caves there, so I was very excited. Little did I know what was waiting for me…   

    
    
   
As you can see from these pictures, the cave was very dark. And very empty. I was the only person in them. The lights were motion activated and sometimes it was completely pitch black until I got right up there. And since they were activated by motion I couldn’t turn around, it would have been completely dark until I had passed them! I was so scared. The dark and being alone and only hearing my wn steps echo through the cave. Nope, that’s something I’ll never do alone again. Never. 

 I quickly left the Yarrangobilly caves. I recommend going there but not alone, and not at low season. I kept driving but had planned to camp within the park for the last night, right by a small dam

 As I drove in and parked, I saw a kangaroo. Then I looked around me and realized that there were dozen of kangaroos around. I hadn’t seen any for so long, and then suddenly they were all around!   
    
  
Whenever I moved they all stopped and stared at me. I kept my distance though, they’re still wild animals. 

I enjoyed a leisurely afternoon at the camp site, I even tried out my camp shower for the first time. The camp grounds at the national parks have toilets but nothing else so I hadn’t showered in a while. It was nice though, even if I had trouble getting it high up so I wouldn’t have to squat underneath it. 

   
   
Tomorrow I’ll reach the blue mountains national park which I’m so looking forward to. I have an entire week to spend there before its time for me to go to Sydney. I’ll be hiking a lot I hope, and just enjoy the views. 

Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world. 

The mountains are calling and I must go.

The last time I wrote I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go, so I just kept following the road along the coast to the tiny village of Seaspray on the coast of Victoria. I checked myself into an almost empty caravan park right be the ocean and even though the weather was unstable I spent two days going for long walks on the beach and reading a lot. It was such a nice park too, a huge indoor (!!) kitchen (first time in 1,5 months!), clean bathroom and very little people. It’s obvious that it’s low season at the moment which suits me perfectly.  
Storm clouds coming towards me on the ninety mile beach.   

  So I hid in the car.   
Going hiking on the beach!

  The wild life is sometimes not so wild.   

   
   
While I was there I decided that though the coast is lovely, I wanted forests and mountains and maybe even snow. I looked at a map and noticed that the Koscioszuko (that is probably spelt wrong) national park was nearby and remembered that a friend had told me that I should go there. After consulting her my plans were finalized, the mountains were calling I had to go! (That’s a John Muir quote by the way.) 

I started heading north and ended up staying a night at the platypus reserve. Unfortunately I saw no playtpus though but I had a lovely time still. 

     
New state! New South Wales finally! 

 So pretty. So far New South Wales kind of reminds me of the U.K.    

Lots of sheep in this area.   

My house has the pretties views.   

Dinner making.   

I was down by the river trying to find platypus at night. It was cold though. This cheap fleece blanket from ikea has really saved me. It continues to dropping below 10 at night which gets cold in a car. But I put the fleece blanket under the covers and I’m toasty warm all night, it’s great.      

And today I got to Kosciuszko (seriously, who named this place?!) national park and it’s so great. The drive here on B23 was just as great and I could see the snow on the mountain an hour before I got here. I paid 17 dollars per 24 hours as the park fee, and entered. A river runs through the valley, I can camp for free at any of the campgrounds and the park is almost empty. Some hikers and mountainbikers are here but most things are closed. I don’t mind. It’s a ski resort in the winter mostly so this is low season. Even though it’s even colder here it feels great to finally be up in the mountains again. It felt like my heart started singing the moment I got here. 

     

Even the Australian alps has the French  flag at half mast. So sad. 

  
SNOW!!          
Another great view from the back of my car. 

Tomorrow I’m hiking mount Kosciuszko, which is the highest point in Australia at 2200 meters. I’m super excited about it! Though I suspect I’ll have to dig out my down jacket for the very first time since Sweden, but I don’t mind. I prefer this to the outback heat any day.  
The snowy mountains sure have been great so far, and I’m loving being in a national park again. I feel right at home. 
Update: my friend Thomas who is from Poland originally was very kind to update me on the fact that Tadeusz Kościuszko was a national hero in both Poland and USA. He fought the Russians when Poland was split up and was captured, and then immigrated to USA and fought in the civil war. He’s been on stamps and there are statues in both Poland and USA and someone named a mountain and a national park after him in Australia. Still not entirely sure why about the park in Australia, but I bet he was great. The more you know! Thank you Thomas!