I love the mountains.
The combination of humbling peaks, valleys, cloudy air, river streams, and lush forests soothe me more than anything else. Nothing on earth smells better than mountain air.
Mat and I recently went away to The Blue Mountains for a spontaneous getaway weekend. We stayed at a quaint bed & breakfast in the laid back village of Katoomba, one of my favorite places in Sydney. It’s like the entire village refuses to keep up with the digital world. They would prefer to use fax machines, read newspapers that stain your fingertips black, and write letters with a feathered pen. Whenever I go I like to imagine that I’m going back in time, from boarding the rickety old tin train at Central station to off-boarding at the center of town and inhaling cold mountain air. It’s a refreshing and welcomed break from the hustle and bustle of a cellphone addicted, deadline driven life in Sydney.
Life in this mountain village is raw and pure and a little rough around the edges. It seems like all the café’s and restaurants are run by awkward teenagers who just scored their first job. Watching them giggle behind the counter reminds me of the days when I was 16 and had my first job at a coffee shop in Canada. It makes me smile remembering that time of innocence and unbearable sensitivity; when my entire day was ruined if someone yelled at me for getting their order mixed up. It’s an interesting feeling to notice myself age, to actually feel the sensation of those early years of life slipping further and further away from me.
After checking into our bed & breakfast we decided to go to our favorite antique shop called Mr. Pick Wicks. This shop has countless little trinkets spread across two levels. The basement is filled with books, from floor to ceiling. While Mat investigated gadgets on the first floor, I walked along the aisles of books, the floor creaking under my feet, reaching for any leather-bound book just to hear it crackle as I’d open it. I found one with a hand-written note inside, written in faded pencil, a gift from a stranger to another stranger, forever etched on the inside of the book.
We had dinner at a restaurant along the main street that reminded me of the diner in Saved By The Bell. We sat in our own little intimate booth and as we looked at the menu, I glanced over at the teens in the booth across from us sipping their vanilla milkshakes. Once we finished dinner I looked at Mat and said, “The Carrington?”
Nothing epitomizes The Blue Mountains quite like The Carrington Hotel. It is a grand hotel perched on top of a hill. It feels like, in order to enter, I need to be wearing a strapless gown, wrapped in a fur shawl with my hair fixed neatly in a 1930s hairstyle. The Hotel is elegant and classic with decorative rugs, sculptures, and armchairs that face a large fireplace. It makes you want to drink red wine, wear bright red lipstick and dive into a revealing conversation. There is just no point in getting into superficial chitchat when you are at The Carrington! You are either confessing your deepest darkest secrets or plotting on an elaborate death. There is no room for the in-between.
The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing and wandering through paths in the forests. It was so lovely to get away. It’s almost like the mundanity of a 9-5 existence lures me in a like a hypnotic spell. I need to force myself to break away from routine, to fire up my imagination, to allow my eyes to soak up a purple sunset, and to look up at a velvet night sky filled with billions of stars. That’s like multivitamins to my spirit.
Maybe one day we’ll buy a house out near Katoomba, away from the madness of the big city.
In the meantime, I’m grateful that a place like the Blue Mountains exists. A place where I can always go to reset and remember that life when things were a whole less chaotic than they are.