Sunday, 6 January 2013

Christmas and New Year in Melbourne

After the excitement of my Great Ocean Road trip I'm currently in Melbourne and plan to settle here for at least a few months. This is partly from necessity seeing as everything is SO expensive I need a job ASAP, but also because I've really found that I feel at home here and love everything about the place. Compared to Perth which I found to be quite boring after coming from Asia, there is just so much going on in Melbourne. I've been here 2 and a half weeks now and I can still walk around and see something new and interesting. There are little 'laneways' or alleys coming off the main streets where there is usually always some trendy bars or shops or pop up stalls to look at or even some cool graffiti. One of the first couple of nights I arrived, I went out to the night market right next to my hostel for some food, drink and music (which was amazing!) and just happened to walk past one of these where there was an artists street market going on and people playing live music. In the day time you would just walk past without giving it a second glance! I've also been exploring the nightlife out in China town and down by the river on the south bank which is really pretty, had a wander around the botanical gardens and docklands areas. There are loads of weird and funky architecture or modern sculptures in the middle of the street; always something to look at, so its a great place just to have a walk around (perfect for people like me on an almost non existent budget..!).

Despite loving life here in the run up to the Christmas festivities I was feeling really low. Christmas is just not the same down under, with temperatures hitting 40 degrees centigrade, and being without friends and family was a real downer. I didn't even know what I was doing for Christmas day right up until the morning of the 25th, and decided to have zero expectations so I wouldn't be disappointed. It's so difficult to feel Christmassy in this weather and I'm not sure the whole holiday is celebrated as much over here, at least obviously not in the traditional British way I'm used to. It didn't help that every time I did do something Christmassy it just reminded me of how much better everything would be at home. I think I embarrassed myself by being the girl that cried at Home Alone, and then again at It's a Wonderful Life, when it was screened in the hostel - all Christmas films/music are about family and being HOME at Christmas, it's so depressing when you're not! And it didn't help at all that written on the stairs up to my room was a daily reminder of how far away London is from here (16,920 km to be precise). Talk about rubbing it in...   

After opening my Christmas gifts and cards sent from home I was feeling even more homesick, but really appreciated the Christmassy bits that I was sent. I was on a mission to feel festive and after dressing up in tinsel, Santa hat, christmas headband, a flashing brooch, eating mince pies and pulling a Christmas cracker, I think I finally managed to achieve it. At night walking around Melbourne, when the sun isn't so distracting, I noticed all the lights and Christmas displays and music playing and it started to feel a lot more like it should at this time of year! The light show on the town hall especially brought a lot of oohing and ahhing from the crowd, and even though I was homesick I appreciated how much I love this city and the fact that there's so much to see everywhere you go. It's not London, no, but it's definitely on a par!

Sharing my room with 3 Germans and 1 Swede I learnt that a lot of Europeans celebrate Christmas on the 24th (who knew..?!). So this year I had two Christmasses. On the 24th I went with the girls from my room to the park, had a picnic and a sunbathe and took a lot of pictures of us wearing Santa hats in order to make people at home jealous of us in the good weather! The next day I spoke to my family in the morning (who were still on Christmas Eve... I still can't really get my head around the time difference) which made me a bit teary - as can be expected - but ended up having a great day. Think stereotypical Australian Christmas - beach, booze, barbie - and that's exactly how I spent my afternoon. Throw in a stereo cranked to full blast, lots of Christmas accessories, good company, some hilarious Chinese tourists that took a billion photos of us and watching the sun set over the ocean and you've got a brilliant day.

Having Christmas (so far) away from home for the first time has shown me what travelling is all about - stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new experiences. At times it's tough when you're away from your support network at home and I ask myself what am I actually doing here?! But it's all worth it for those little moments of pure happiness that remind me why I came travelling in the first place and I just think "I'm really glad I made this decision!". I got the feeling when I woke up staring at the mountains in the floating bungalows in Thailand; when I was watching the sunset with a cocktail on Koh Tao; when I was being chased by monkeys around the Batu caves in Malaysia; and when I saw my first koala just a few weeks ago. And I got the same feeling at 12 o'clock on New Years Eve when I was watching the fireworks in Federation Square in Melbourne and reflecting on how far I have come and all the things I have done in the last 6 months. I'm having the time of my life and definitely caught the travel bug. I can't wait to see what 2013 brings.

Happy New Year everyone!

Jem xx

1 comment:

  1. Jem it looks like you're having such an amazing time :D definitely don't forget why you're there... you don't wanna be in cold, rainy England!! Cameron's announced yesterday he wants to be in charge till 2020... hmmmmm ok!!

    Hope you find a good job soon :) my cousin went to oz to work for 6 months... 2 years ago! and still loving it so I'm sure you'll find something :) I'm hoping to make my way over to oz after my volunteering so maybe stay out there till then?? ;)

    miss you!!