There's a new album on my photo site featuring snaps from my two free days in Sydney and the Blue Mountains this week.  Enjoy...

A story to go along with it.  On Wednesday, as mentioned, I took the train to Katoomba to visit the Blue Mountains.  Katoomba is a cute little town, not completely overrun by its touristic connection.  After touring, I walked the town's main street (aptly called Katoomba Street) in search of lunch.  I ended up in a small place called "Mac Free Zone".  It seemed like a standard sandwich shop, so I ordered a smoked salmon sandwich for takeaway.  As I waited, I discovered that this place was a little different.  The two guys manning the shop that day seemed, well, hmmm, how do I say this politely?  Relaxed might be an appropriate word.  Nice guys, especially the second guy (who ended up making my sandwich).  He was very talkative, asked me what I was seeing in Katoomba, why I hadn't dressed for the mountain winter weather (it was a nice day, really...), whether I wanted "salad" on my sandwich (lettuce, tomato, onions, cucumber, beet root, capsicum), etc.  He actually asked me "where are you from?" and when I replied "America", he said "oh, so you won't be wanting the beet root".  LOL, nice stereotype.

What I found most interesting about this place was its name.  I couldn't figure it out at first.  While waiting for my sandwich to be finished, it became clear.  Katoomba has a strong, independent café culture.  "Mac free zone" is a tribute to that spirit -- as in, they'd like to keep chains such as McDonald's out of Katoomba.  Thus, "Mac-free zone".  Long-time readers know how much I dislike chain restaurants, so my hat's off to the fighting spirit exhibited by these two Aussies and their neighbors.  Long live the stoner sandwich shoppe. :)

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