But would it be enough…?
Staring sulkily ahead, trying to ignore my girlfriend sitting beside me, I tried to figure out why so many journeys on our ‘trip of a lifetime’ seemed to have become dominated by moody silences. What had gone wrong? We’d argued from the moment we’d boarded our train at Sydney’s Central Station, much to the amusement of our fellow passengers.
In our best, most whiney six-year-old voices, we’d fought about everything from who got the window seat to the endless stuff we’d forgotten to pack.
Bickering had no doubt become our favourite pastime on the road and our relationship, like our backpacks, had taken a visible battering.
The answer, it had seemed, was a romantic getaway – which is why we found ourselves sitting on a train, ignoring each other, as we headed towards the Blue Mountains.
Despite a bad start, things quickly looked up. There’s nothing quite like arriving somewhere new to help lift the mood.
Getting off the train at Katoomba is immediately exciting. Not because you’re met by crazy locals or dangerous animals (although my suggestions have been forwarded to the tourist board) – but instead because being a mountain town it’s so different to the vast majority of places that travellers see in Australia.
There’s no sandy beach, sticky rainforest or dusty Outback, just a chilled-out town that feels like it’s been plucked from somewhere on New Zealand’s South Island. There’s even a steady drizzle to help complete the image.
Strolling through the charming streets, which are packed full of friendly cafés and the sort of interesting little curio shops you could literally get lost in, our moods quickly lightened.
Test of faith
My genius plan was a mixture of adrenalin and pampering in a weekend away from the big smoke.
To start us off we were going to try canyoning – an all-action day of abseiling, jumping down waterfalls and generally trying not to drown. The thrills and spills would bring us closer together, and besides, what could be sexier than helping each other get out of damp wetsuits?
Not dismayed by the deluge doing its best to drown us before we even got near a canyon, we were soon kitted up and driven into the mountains.
Despite the ridiculously oversized waterproof jacket I’d borrowed, the rain was coming down so hard we were quickly drenched.
It didn’t start well. In between shivering uncontrollably, I could see my better half beginning to have doubts about my choice of a ‘romantic’ activity.
However, suddenly it was our turn and there we were, side by side, putting our faith in a bit of rope and leaning back over a cliff-top. After a few early nerves, the cold was soon forgotten and we were hopping down the rocks like a pair of frenzied commandos. The frowns were quickly replaced by grins.
But it was the afternoon’s canyoning we were really looking forward to… Which is why we had a bit of a dilemma when our climbing pros informed us it was a no-go. It was simply too dangerous to head into the canyons after so much rain.
Therefore, did we want to call it a day at lunch or just do a load more abseiling? I wasn’t going to miss the chance to earn some serious bonus points – cue suggestion we skip the afternoon and catch a rom-com at Katoomba’s giant (and warm) Edge cinema, before a quick stroll around the shops and retire for a, ahem, siesta. Let’s just say the suggestion was a welcome one.
Fully ‘rested’, we headed for a romantic meal at the Carrington Brasserie, an offshoot of the historic hotel that dominates Katoomba’s main street.
Luckily the prices don’t match the posh art deco surroundings, so in no time at all the wine was flowing and we were scoffing a mouth-wateringly tasty feast, while jazzy tunes drifted up from the live band downstairs.
Feeling well fed, happily tanked up with wine (which had thankfully never seen the inside of a silver bag) and steadily more loved-up, we headed to a café over the road for some chocolate crepes before a late night romantic stroll to see the lit-up Three Sisters. It was then back to the hostel to cash in some of those brownie points…
We awoke to glorious sunshine and so took a stroll on one of the many walks that twist and turn out of Katoomba.
We headed into the woods, avoiding the tourist crowds on the cable cars, emerging now and then to glimpse stunning views of the Three Sisters, Katoomba Falls and the tree-clad valley below.
We couldn’t dawdle too much, however, as we had an appointment back at the Carrington I had no intention of missing.
Getting (semi) naked
Walking into the Yindi Day Spa, a quick glimpse at my beloved’s face was all I needed to know that I’d done well… Big time.
Soothing music filled the air and Mediterranean garden scenes covered the walls while we lay face down and semi-naked on benches side by side.
For the next hour a truly incredible full body massage took away all our aches and pains. We floated out of the spa and on to the train back to the city, by then so relaxed we couldn’t have bickered even if we wanted to… Which we no longer did.