Blue Mountains, Australia
The blue mountains are easily accessible from Sydney, you just hop on a train from central station, can even use your opal card (cost me $8 something! - a trip that long would cost you over £100 in the UK on a train), a lot of tourists will make this trip in a Sunday as public transport in Sydney is free on Sundays. I hadn't heard much about the blue mountains and so I wasn't sure what to expect when I arrived. I was lucky enough to have my best friend's grandparents offer to have me stay with them and be my tour guides for 2 days, which I happily accepted and packed my bags, heading north 2 hours into the mountains.
So, not having really done any research about Australia (I wanted to maintain the surprise of new things), I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Having seen photos of the Australian outback, I just assumed that the blue mountains would be the same and it was maybe an ironic nickname for them...obviously, it is not. When I first looked out into the mountain ranges I was shocked and speechless, not only was it not what I expected it was huge! Having been to the grand cannon I had expected someone on the same scale but it was completely something else, the grand cannon with a rain forest hidden inside it (I don't think it actually is rain forest but that's what I've convinced myself it is). I was shocked and surprised that all of this land was here, untouched, when so much of the rest of the world is being commercialized, a region as big as the UK has remained pristine and pure.
The blue mountains are named so because of the gum trees covering them, the gym trees release gases that create a blue hue across the mountain range.
FUN FACT: koalas, who make their homes on gum trees, are constantly "high" because of the vapour and leaves of the gum tree, giving them the chilled out/lazy vibe they are so well known for.
At you look out onto the mountains from the lookout points, it's hard to believe that such a calming and beautiful place can be found just 2 hours away from such a busy city like Sydney.