August 1st Trip Day 10
It was an early and exciting morning (are you seeing a trend?) as I hurried to get dressed, pack my backpack, and grab some breakfast before heading out the door to go meet my HPS group for a fun day-trip. Our new apartment had a spectacular view of the sunrise over the city, so it was worth getting up early to be able to sit at the dining table and look out through the sliding glass doors at that sight. The best way to start the day! I was excited for the trip with my group as we were going to the Blue Mountains. Even though I had already been there, the cool, serene mountains were just what the doctor ordered after a few stressful days in the city. So, on to the trip. It was a rather long bus ride to the Blue Mountains, but the driver of our charter coach was a lot of fun, so it made the time pass by quickly. It was like returning to visit an old friend when our bus rounded the corner and entered the main street of Katoomba. We travelled through the town and made our way to our first destination: Echo Point and Three Sisters Rock Formation. Our next stop was to the nearby town of Leura (also mentioned in my Katoomba stories) where we stayed long enough to have a look around and grab some lunch. I had packed a lunch and some snacks in my backpack, so I took my time looking into some of the different shops when a little health food store caught my eye. It’s probably not the most exciting type of shop to everyone else, but if you know me, it was right up my alley! I found some delectable goodies inside including some dried figs and a bar of chocolate. But not just any bar of chocolate. As I was looking at the counter of ‘healthy’ chocolate bars, the woman who owned the shop asked me which one caught my eye. I held up the bar of chocolate I had been looking at. I explained that after reading the ingredients, I was happy to see that it did not contain the following which I cannot eat: dairy, gluten, cane sugar, or soy. My only qualm was that it contained nuts. She then picked up a bar of chocolate I had not previously seen sitting there, despite it’s bright green and purple wrapping. I took the bar and examined it’s packaging. “No gluten, no dairy, no sugar, no nuts, no soy, Paleo friendly, and Raw”. I was floored. I told her that I ate a raw diet, so of course, I had to try this mysterious chocolate. I left that shop a very excited girl! I spotted a bench in the shade of a tree, the perfect place for a picnic lunch. I pulled out my bar of chocolate and broke off a piece. I was in heaven! The chocolate was so smooth and melted on my tongue with the perfect balance of tang from the cocoa, sweetness from the coconut, and creaminess from the cocoa butter. It was the best chocolate I had ever eaten. Not the best dairy free chocolate or sugar free chocolate (don’t even get me started on the fact that it was raw), but the best CHOCOLATE! It was so simple and pure. Ok, I promise I won’t dedicate this whole post to chocolate, but that was definitely one of the highlights of my day. I ate a couple more pieces of my precious chocolate before wrapping it up and tucking it into my backpack to take home as a surprise for my sister (yes, I split the rest of it with her. Aren’t I nice?). My afternoon in the Blue Mountains was coming to an end, and it was time to head back. We had one more stop before arriving back in Sydney. This was to Featherdale Wildlife Center. Featherdale Wildlife Center is just outside of Sydney and is home to many Australian animals that are being rehabilitated or can no longer live in the wild (and any young born at the facility stay there, as well). The Center is set up similar to a small zoo, except without the cages and glass walls, with a few areas like that of a petting zoo, a feature I took full advantage of. The animals that are not a threat or danger to people are contained in their "area" with only a split rail type or chain link fence, which is easy for the animals to either walk under, hop over, or fly over. So there were lots of birds flying around, wallabies running under foot, and even a few curious kangaroos. I had such a wonderful time there just walking around, admiring and learning about the indigenous wildlife of Australia, but I will just touch on some of the highlights. First off, I did the very touristy thing, but I’m so glad I did, and I got my picture taken with a koala. How sweet! The other highlight from there was feeding the kangaroos. These were smaller kangaroos, and they were so gentle and sweet. I was having the time of my life surrounded by all those animals. We spent a couple of hours at the wildlife center before it was time to head out. But our bus driver had a surprise in store: on our way back into the city, we stopped at Olympic Park. I thought that was awesome! It was getting on towards dinner time as our bus dropped us off, and I was anxious to get back and tell my family all about my exciting day.