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  1. #1
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Where did you find the funds to tour?

    I'm not talking about the weekend tours or the vacation tours, but rather this question is directed to those who have done extended tours of several months or more.

    For those of you who have embarked on a LONG tour, or are about to embark on a long tour, or are making plans to do a long tour at some point in the future ... how are you funding your trip?

    I did a three month cycling tour of Australia last year (set off a year ago today!) and I funded that trip with my savings. I was pretty strict with my budget, but even so the tour cost more than I had anticipated (they always do, don't they) and so I incurred a bit of debt by the end.

    When I finished that tour, the love of travel and touring was firmly planted in my heart, and I knew that I want to spend a great deal of time travelling and cycle-touring around the world ....... but how to pay for it?????

    I'm too old to be able to pick up jobs in other countries like kids/students under 25 can often do. And I don't have a Bachelor's degree to allow me to work as an adult in many other countries. In reading through piles of immigration information, it seems that more and more countries want immigrants to have a Bachelor's degree (or some other desired professional qualifications) of some sort before moving to the country to work -- they are upping their standards.

    So, I've opted to return to school and get my Bachelor of Education in the hopes that I will be able to find teaching positions in various countries around the world, and thus be able to travel and tour ... and afford it! It's not a quick plan, but I'm hoping it will work for me in the long run.


    But I'd be interested in hearing about any other funding ideas. Have any of you been able to earn a bit of money writing articles for magazines? Writing books? Doing public speaking? Picking up work along the way?

  2. #2
    Senior Member af895's Avatar
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    I've been thinking a lot about that very question Machka.
    I don't have a lot of expenses day to day. I sub-let from family so I can take off on a moment's notice. If the car sits, it costs $70/mo. for insurance.
    Other than that, I'd just have to feed myself.

    I may be young and naive (turned 30 today) but I figured if I had a few hundred in the bank for food and emergencies, I'd probably be fine for extended tours.

    My thought was to tour Canada and maybe the US in the summer of 2006 stopping at every little farm, bakery and corner store along the way, offering to help out for an hour, half day, day whatever.

    A bit of heavy lifting or sales help in exchange for either some food, a few $$$ or a lawn to pitch a tent on. I figure I could travel the world without really worrying much about $$$ as long as I could sweet talk some odd jobs along the way.

    BTW: my heart goes out to you on the BA issue. I chose to spend my education dollars on a pilot's licence. While I'm a qualified commercial pilot (Aeroplane, Group I instrument rating, Class IV instructor) that's an industry you don't so much work in as get married to. Maybe if someone needed a pilot along my travels I'd take a day of flying but I'm skeptical anyone would hand the keys to a plane over to a "drifter".

    Lacking a BA, I find it tough to break in to anything else. (government job would be nice but they don't seem to want me...despite having managed an aviation firm for 3 years. No B.A., B.Eng., B.Sc. etc.)

    Your public speaking idea is excellent! I'm starting to envision an organized tour with booked engagements. Video tape it, make up promo material, do a second tour with heavy promotion...you could really make a living at that if you had an angle to present.

    I'm toying with becoming a certified personal trainer. I'm NOT in shape but will be by Christmas. I could spin-it as my "get back in shape" program. I know people who've done similar and made a living at it. Quasi-health guru/motivational speaker.
    Last edited by af895; 09-28-05 at 06:22 AM.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by af895
    I may be young and naive (turned 30 today) but I figured if I had a few hundred in the bank for food and emergencies, I'd probably be fine for extended tours.

    My thought was to tour Canada and maybe the US in the summer of 2006 stopping at every little farm, bakery and corner store along the way, offering to help out for an hour, half day, day whatever.

    A bit of heavy lifting or sales help in exchange for either some food, a few $$$ or a lawn to pitch a tent on. I figure I could travel the world without really worrying much about $$$ as long as I could sweet talk some odd jobs along the way.

    I've looked into this quite a bit, and it would be OK for a Canadian to pick up odd jobs here in Canada, but sadly other countries are really cracking down on this sort of thing. It is illegal for a person over the age of 25 to get a job in many other countries without the appropriate paperwork (visas and things). There are some places where you might be able to work under the table, but every now and then these places get "busted". Take Australia, for example. I could have picked up work in the fruit picking industry all over the place there ... except that I'm over 25, and if I had been caught, it would have meant a fine of up to $10,000 and deportation. I couldn't afford the fine, but the deporation worried me even more because that would go on my record and I would probably find it difficult to re-enter Australia, or possibly to get into other countries.

    Just another note - count on about $30 a day to survive a tour. Some days you may get away without having to spend much at all ... but there will be other days where you feel like you are forking out your life savings.



    Quote Originally Posted by af895
    Your public speaking idea is excellent! I'm starting to envision an organized tour with booked engagements. Video tape it, make up promo material, do a second tour with heavy promotion...you could really make a living at that if you had an angle to present.

    I'm toying with becoming a certified personal trainer. I'm NOT in shape but will be by Christmas. I could spin-it as my "get back in shape" program. I know people who've done similar and made a living at it. Quasi-health guru/motivational speaker.

    I know of a number of people who do that sort of public speaking ... usually you do have to have something published first, but if you could get a couple articles in magazines ...

    Along with getting my Bachelor of Education, I'm also hoping to take various coaching certification courses offered at the school I am attending. I figure that might broaden my possibilities too.

  4. #4
    No longer in Wimbledon... womble's Avatar
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    Teaching seems to be one of the most internationally portable professions, so it sounds like a good move. I've know a lot of Canadian teachers who have moved overseas for a while.

    $30 a day? Are you set on touring the first world? You can extend your touring time by spending much, much less money in Asia or South America.
    Last edited by womble; 09-27-05 at 10:49 PM.

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by womble
    Teaching seems to be one of the most internationally portable professions, so it sounds like a good move. I've know a lot of Canadian teachers who have moved overseas for a while.

    $30 a day? Are you set on touring the first world? You can extend your touring time by spending much, much less in Asia or South America.

    So far I have toured in Europe, Australia, and North America ... and for those places, I found I had to count on about $30 a day. While I have heard that it is less expensive in some parts of Asia and other areas (I haven't heard anything about South America), I have heard that Japan is quite expensive. Do you have any experience with touring Japan?

    My dream would be to find a teaching job somewhere in Asia for a year or two ... and to do some touring while I'm there. And then maybe South America ... possibly Africa ... India ... etc. etc. etc.

  6. #6
    No longer in Wimbledon... womble's Avatar
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    I've only toured in the UK and South America. Patagonia was crazily cheap- because we avoided main cities and camped a lot, spending money on anything besides basic food supplies was often just not an option. If you can speak Spanish, you can often get free lodging on farms and in public areas (fire stations, sports stadiums, etc) in smaller towns.

    Japan? Yeah, that place is very expensive as a normal tourist, and so I'd expect it to be the same for cycle touring. I can't remember ryokan/hotel prices, but they were in the same league as what I was used to in the UK. Japan appears to be quite crowded and regulated, so I wouldn't want to try random camping there. I'm hardly an expert on the area though- I have noticed that there are a couple of posters based there that you could ask.

    I was staying with some teacher friends in Ontario recently. They mentioned that there are international job fairs for teachers that are held occasionally there. Do you know about these already?

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Well, my minor in University is International Studies, and so I'm learning (re-learning) French right now, and would like to take Spanish maybe next year. I also have my eye on a course to teach me Manderin Chinese.

    During my travels in France, I discovered that people are much more willing to help if you at least make some attempt at speaking their language.


    I have heard rumors about these international job fairs and will have to keep on the lookout for one in my area. I will be attending my first Education Undergraduate Society meeting tomorrow, and I know that society is supposed to be able to provide me with a lot of different teaching/education information, so I will check with them too.

  8. #8
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    I'm just saving what money I can for my "big" 4/5/6 month tour, as well as saving as much vacation time for when I resign. I figure I'll have an extra 9 weeks pay after I resign (I can't save all my vacation time-or I'll lose it).

    My SUV (which I rarely use nowadays) is paid off, but probably not worth my while to sell. Insurance/registration isn't TOO expensive-I might take the plates off it while I'm gone, or leave it for my brother to use.

    A degree in education seems pretty portable across borders-good choice. I'm a bit "pigeon holed" in my field (clinical laboratory science) to hospital labs in the US.

    Most Western countries have there own regulatory/licensure as well. Working in my field in a developing country wouldn't pay much, and would prove problematic in that I'm not multilingual (and don't pick up languages with ease). I have seen a few grant supported positions in developing countries, which pay western salaries, but they require too long of a commitment. I'd get a bit squirily working in an African bush hospital/clinic for two years, but would surely do it for a couple months.

    Too bad about there being an age limit for general odd jobs, but understandable at the same time. One could probably keep on a near "perpetual tour" if short term (legal) bartending/wait/bus/hotel help was available at heavily touristed spots/resorts. Touring from resort area to resort area world wide, working for a month or two at each, would be rather interesting.

  9. #9
    Senior Member thomson's Avatar
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    Perhaps another tack is to train for a career that doesn't require on-site attendance. As an example, I am a software engineer that works from home. All I need is a computer connected to the internet. It doesn't matter what country I am in, I would still be working for a U.S. employer.

    Just a thought...

  10. #10
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    I worked at the same company for twelve and a half years, saved up my money, and traveled through Asia for a year. I had enough savings that I didn't have to work in that year. Aside from Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, Asia is cheap. Lots of people got work teaching English. For the most part you don't need any degree or certificate (or even to speak very good English).

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul2
    Lots of people got work teaching English. For the most part you don't need any degree or certificate (or even to speak very good English).

    Yes, that's still true ... that people without degrees can get jobs teaching English in some countries. I considered that possibility myself ... but as I researched it more, I discovered that more and more countries are starting to tighten up their requirements so that their standards are in line with "western" standards. Right now, for example, it is almost impossible to teach in Japan without some sort of degree (doesn't have to be specifically a teaching degree), and other countries like Korea are starting to go that route as well. In my research I also found that the jobs people without degrees were getting were pretty low-end as opposed to people with degrees who were getting a little higher-end jobs in better locations etc.

    With that in mind, I opted to get my degree, rather than just going with one of those one-month or one-week ESL teaching programs/companies ... I think it opens up many more possibilities for me.

  12. #12
    Senior Member biodiesel's Avatar
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    We should have a forum competition for the cheapest tour per mile.
    Guirilla camping, grocery store food, oyster bucket panniers...
    Only question is alcohol stove or gas (given the cost now...)

  13. #13
    Senior Member af895's Avatar
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    biodiesel: count me in! Next time I go for a ride that involves a least one overnight, I'll post on what the wallet damage, if any, is. I think this thread deserves a sticky so it can be the official "how much do you spend on tour" thread...

    BTW: my neighbor has taught ESL in Korea. She sent me this link: www.daveseslcafe.com
    And this one as a sample posting: http://www.eslcafe.com/joblist/index.cgi?read=11262

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by biodiesel
    We should have a forum competition for the cheapest tour per mile.
    Guirilla camping, grocery store food, oyster bucket panniers...
    Only question is alcohol stove or gas (given the cost now...)

    Yes, but what if we don't want to have the cheapest tour per mile?

    When I toured Australia for three months, that $30 per day I spent included some luxuries too. I could have toured on less ... there are many places to bush camp (and I did do some of that), people gave me food on a number of occasions, and I could have avoided all the tourist attractions . . . . . . but I didn't want to tour like that.

    Instead I divided my nights between bush camping, real campgrounds (so I could shower), the houses of people I knew or met along the way, and hostels (where I could sleep in a real bed!).

    I couldn't count on people feeding me the whole time, and so I had to buy some of my own food. If I had stayed in the populated areas, but areas that weren't known as touristy, my food would have been less expensive, but I wanted to see as much of Australia as possible, and so I went places that were touristy, and places that were off the beaten track, and so food was more expensive.

    And I really wanted to see certain tourist attractions ... so I took a short cruise up the Gordon River in Tasmania, I paid the admission to see Port Arthur, I took the cruise out to the Great Barrier Reef, I took a train to the Blue Mountains ... and so on. I didn't do those sorts of things every day ... it probably worked out that I did one touristy thing per week or so. But those things are included in the $30/day.

    If I had opted not to see any of the really interesting things in Australia, and to just cycle from one bush camp to the next ... I could have probably gotten away with whatever amount it would have taken to feed myself. But how boring!! The ride would have become a Randonee rather than a tour ... and I do enough Randonneuring without spending 3 straight months at it.

    I think it comes down to a trade-off .... do you want to just cycle through a country and see whatever you can from the saddle of the bicycle ... or do you want to experience and see other things -- things you need to get off your bicycle for. Also ... how much or how little comfort do you want?

  15. #15
    Senior Member af895's Avatar
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    Machka, that's cool. Totally agree - everything has trade-offs of course.

    I think a person could tour "free" but the idea of not having a shower in, say, 40-days and 40-nights... oh my! It might not be a tour you'd want to be on.

    I've heard the term "randonnee" but don't really know how it differs from "touring." Grey zone?

    If I might ask, what were some of the touristy things you did in Oz? (theatre, dining etc?) I'm big on cheap, ramen noodles (Udon & Kimchi! Yeah!) which are one Canadian dollar here. Can you get stuff like that in Oz at every corner store? (just wondering since Oz is on the hit list sometime in the the nebulous future)

    BTW, to address the cooking question that someone brought up earlier: Trangia mini burning Methanol (Methyl Hydrate). I can carry enough fuel for days of cooking (maybe weeks), it won't destroy or contaminate gear if spilled and it's the primary ingredient in gas-line antifreeze. In a pinch a gas station would have that. (but most/all hardware stores have cheap, abundant methyl hydrate)
    Last edited by af895; 09-28-05 at 04:36 PM.

  16. #16
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Yes, but what if we don't want to have the cheapest tour per mile? <snip>...

    ...<snip>I could have probably gotten away with whatever amount it would have taken to feed myself. But how boring!! The ride would have become a Randonee rather than a tour ... and I do enough Randonneuring without spending 3 straight months at it.

    I think it comes down to a trade-off .... do you want to just cycle through a country and see whatever you can from the saddle of the bicycle ... or do you want to experience and see other things -- things you need to get off your bicycle for. Also ... how much or how little comfort do you want?
    I tour along a similar mindset, frugal I suppose I should call it. I enjoy experiencing bits of history, museums, castles etc. and they all usually have entrance fees.

    I also find meals from restaraunts and cafes a key experience as well while on tour, I just don't eat out the 3 meals a day. For my long tour I doubt I'll be eating out every day. I hope to "bank" my meals out, for stopovers when I'll be staying in hostels in cities. Heading out for an inexpensive (nice) meal from a hostel is also a great way to meet fellow travelers.

    As far as cheapest miles ridden, I'd think Heinz Stücke would have to be the winner there. He has to be aproaching 500,000Km toured by bike now.

  17. #17
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by af895
    I've heard the term "randonnee" but don't really know how it differs from "touring." Grey zone?
    Randonneuring is ultra-distance cycling. A brevet or a randonnee is a timed long distance ride -- distances like 200 kms (13.5 hours), 300 kms (20 hours), 400 kms (27 hours), 600 kms (40 hours), 1000 kms (75 hours), and 1200 kms (90 hours).

    For example, I just did the Last Chance 1200K - 1200 kms in Colorado and Kansas in 90 hours, including all breaks for sleep, toilet, eating etc.. See story here: The Last Chance 1200K Randonnee

    You can also take a look at my website (see signature line below) for more Randonnees I've done around the world, and some more information about them.

    And these links can fill you in on more info. Randonneuring is my first love, and it is often what takes me to places I might never have otherwise gone ... and I often end up touring before and/or after a Randonnee.

    http://www.randonneurs.bc.ca/links/links.html
    http://www.rusa.org/
    http://www.ultracycling.com/
    http://www.audax.org.au/index.asp
    http://www.audax.uk.net/index2.htm


    If I might ask, what were some of the touristy things you did in Oz? (theatre, dining etc?) I'm big on cheap, ramen noodles (Udon & Kimchi! Yeah!) which are one Canadian dollar here. Can you get stuff like that in Oz at every corner store? (just wondering since Oz is on the hit list sometime in the the nebulous future)
    [/QUOTE]

    The touristy things I did revolved around museums and nature. There was the Gordon River Cruise in Tasmania that took us to see huon pine and also an old prison island. There was Port Arthur - an old prison/penal colony. I went to see a couple rainforests that they've done up with signs and things to tell you what everything is. I took a crocodile cruise in Queensland and saw a couple crocs. I took a cruise out to the Great Barrier reef. And the train and tour bus to the Blue Mountains. Stuff like that. I didn't take in any "theatre and dining" sort of experiences - that sort of thing doesn't really appeal to me. I'm more interested in history, geology, biology, etc..

    Again, see my website in my signature line for the log of my trip there, and also photos.

    And yes, you can get ramen noodles in Australia. However, be warned, food is a bit more expensive there than here in Canada. I found myself choking over the price of stuff like bread and pop a few times.

  18. #18
    Senior Member af895's Avatar
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    RAWK! I didn't know Brevets qualified as a randonee. In that case, I definitely want to get in to those! I know what you mean about touring leading into and after one...that'd sort of be my plan. Pedal like stink for a finite distance just to get from one point to another then slow down and relax - "tour!"

    Do you feel sleep deprived on a those rides? How's a 200km compare to a 1200km? (aside from "six times longer")

    I'm not much into the "opera" type events either - whale or croc-watching - or sky/scuba diving. Maybe an amusement park. They have Six-Flags parks all over the US.

    I'll check out the links! Thanks!

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by af895
    RAWK! I didn't know Brevets qualified as a randonee. In that case, I definitely want to get in to those!

    Do you feel sleep deprived on a those rides? How's a 200km compare to a 1200km? (aside from "six times longer")
    Brevets are the distances from 200K to 600K ... Randonnees are the distances 1000K and longer.

    On rides 600K and over, yes, there is an element of sleep deprivation. On the Last Chance, for example, I got about 4 hours of sleep in that 90 hours.

    Comparing a 200K with a 1200K is sort of difficult. A 200K is an easy day's ride which can be done completely in daylight without incurring any sleep deprivation, and without having to put in much effort.

    A 1200K is a whole different matter. You've got to plan what to carry, and what to leave in bag drops. You've got to have some idea of the weather patterns in the area you will be cycling, and you've got to do your best to plan for them. You need to plan out your strategy including "sleep stops", pace, etc. and then you need to be prepared to have your plans all go out the window halfway through the ride. You've got to be creative (and this part you'll learn on the shorter brevets which are qualifiers for the longer ones) -- being able to find food and water along the way, being able to fix all sorts of bicycle difficulties out there by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, etc.. Staying on the road for approx 90 hours also takes a great deal of mental strength ... when your brain tries to tell you to stop the madness, you've got to push on.

    But I enjoy them!

  20. #20
    Senior Member Rogerinchrist's Avatar
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    Very cool thread!!!

    Belated Happy 30th to ya af895!

    Have sorta had this type of idea rolling around in my head for several years except in more of an early retirement idea though (I'm 40). My desires don't include forien lands other than Canada. My finacing ideas come from the RVer's that are "full timers". There are organizations that help you get seasonal jobs here in the US, set up seasonal mail accounts & other related things. I've cousins that are doing this in thier 50's who live in thier motorhome, travel during the winter months across the southern US & have picked up seasonal work at amusment parks near thier family during the summers, as they've sold thier home.

    One dream is to do something like this with a smaller travel trailer, tow vehicle, & bike. The US National Parks offer this type of employment as well as campground type places to park the unit too. My thought is to work in an area for a season, bike tour during off time or between seasons, then move to another area/National Park for the next season & enjoy more touring! Being that I'd be working in the "touristy" areas I could tour out & away from this base.

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    Quote Originally Posted by af895
    I'm not much into the "opera" type events either
    I'm not into opera either, but the Sydney Opera House had restricted view seats for $20, so I thought, it would be cool to see an opera there. When I went to go to my seat, the usher asked if I wanted to be upgraded. She said to wait until the opera was just about to start, and then take any empty seat. So I got a $100 seat for $20.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    I took a train to the Blue Mountains
    What did you look at in the Blue Mountains? (I live just over the other side)

  23. #23
    Two Tired Traveler
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    Busking and touring go well together. If you have a small instrument you can take with you, or some other "talent" you can show off in the streets, it will help. I've also had some luck offering bike repairs in exchange for money or food.

    I did a stint of tour guiding and English teaching for a few years in Italy--very fun, easy, sometimes lucrative, and you don't need a BA (or even a work permit) but you have to commit to staying in one place for a while. Virtually all of my "touring" was radial trips combining bike and train whenever I had a few days or weeks free. Luckily, it usually worked out that my schedule was open for most of September-October, when the weather was perfect and most of the tourists were gone.

    Freelance travel writing usually doesn't cover the costs of your travels (although if you're doing something exceptional you might be able to publish a book about it and make a lot of money later, and I do know a woman in Rome who sometimes makes thousands of Euro a month writing for upscale magazines--but she's well-connected).

    I've published some of my travel writing for a pittance, and then "gained" hundreds of dollars in a tax write-off. (Don't do this without reading up on the laws, or contacting a lawyer). I don't know how this works outside the U.S.

  24. #24
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacobino
    Busking and touring go well together. If you have a small instrument you can take with you, or some other "talent" you can show off in the streets, it will help...
    This might be possible, but from what I've seen in my travels, a lot of cities are cracking down on street performers. Many make folks get permits, or only allow performing in specific spots or certain times of the day. There is also a bit of competition for "the good spots".

    The regular bus/train backpacker crowd can haul around more/larger instruments as well.

    -I'm not saying it can't be done, just that it apears "more regulated" than it used to.

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by badsac
    What did you look at in the Blue Mountains? (I live just over the other side)

    I just checked my website, and I don't have that information there!! I've got to "finish" my trip logs!! Maybe subconsciously I didn't want it to end.

    On Sunday, December 6th, we caught the train to Katoomba and joined a tour bus from that point which took us to Scenic World where we walked into the Jamison Valley, and then up Echo Point over to the 3 Sisters, past the Katoomba Cascades. Then we caught the bus again to Leura and around to the Leura Cascades.

    Ah, just reading my written log brings back so many memories ... I wish I were there again.

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