Last Christmas was my first Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere. It was something I wanted to experience for a long time. I had visions of everyone going to the beach en mass, with their BBQs, sun hats, buckets and spades and having a right big party.
However, this was a pretty big stereotype, along with the thoughts that in Australia and New Zealand, they bask in glorious sunshine all year long. That is of course not true. Last year, I was in Auckland, New Zealand for Christmas with part of my family (my aunt, uncle, cousins and sister). It rained and we didn’t have the traditional Kiwi Christmas dinner, which is in fact roast ham, or turkey, new potatoes, peas and salads. So we actually had a champagne breakfast, and a small BBQ in the late afternoon, before my sister and I were left, as the rest travelled to Taupo for the rest of their Christmas holiday. We felt quite deflated after it all.
This year, I happened to be I Hobart, Tasmania. Flying into Tasmania on Christmas Eve felt like flying into New Zealand. It was so green and unpopulated looking. The airport was also tiny, about the size of Nelson Airport in New Zealand. On the way into town, I was surprised how many hills Hobart had, but also how dated Hobart looked. The architecture appeared to be from 1940s/50s and a lot of the shops seemed to be very local/independent. Although I later learned after a walk into the town centre itself that Hobart does have shops (and a mall) like any other big town. It still had a great buzz about it though. Our first day included getting a $10 lunch at the local Irish Bar (this later became a daily thing, as it was so cheap and actually saved money)
I woke up early after a sleepless night at the hostel we were staying in (more to come on that story later). Christmas day didn’t really feel like Christmas day to me. If I was at home in Northern Ireland, I would wake up Christmas morning to the smell of turkey in the oven. My dad would be preparing other food for Christmas food. We would go to church, and return home, and await the arrival of the rest of the family for the all-day event, broken up by a walk, to work off all the food we had eaten.
Back to Tasmania, after we stumbled out of bed and got ready, we did go to church, as it’s something that is quite important to me. We ended up at c3 church in Hobart. It was quite short service, but good to be there. There was a family feel element to it, which made me miss my family after a while. After church, we headed back to the hostel our Orphan Christmas day dinner, which was indeed a BBQ. It was also 26 degrees outside, which equalled a pretty stereotypical Australian Christmas day. The hostel put on a pretty good spread of stuff .. BBQ sausage, roast ham, chicken, salmon and salads. The food was great. It was nice to sit outside in the sun, and watch other play cricket, but it honestly felt like any other day.
Camara (my travel buddy on this trip) and I hung around until mod afternoon, then went to explore parts of Hobart on foot. This little adventure ended up seeing us pretty dehydrated as we walked for miles without water, in the heat, and the realised that there were a limited amount of shops open. We happened to find a petrol station though, and got water and ice cream.
Overall, Christmas in Tasmania was good … I felt like I had a good day of exploring, food and being with a friend. I am not sure I would have fared too well if I was on my own. Although I love to travel, and at times feel like I could be this global nomad forever, there is nothing better than spending Christmas day with your family. I think Christmas 2014 may have to include a visit to Coleraine, Northern Ireland.