I don’t think I’d ever in my whole life spent Christmas apart from my family; every year we’ve got the whole family together either at my parents, Mr S’s family home or our own flat. Opening presents, eating turkey and watching Christmas TV together have always been our standard traditions and it’s even more fun now we have lots of young children in our families.
But back in 2011 Mr S and I decided to take a five week trip to Australia, which would mean spending Christmas away from our family for the first time in our lives. But as a fully fledged adult I was grown up enough not to miss my parents on Christmas day and I could cope without seeing my nephew excitedly rip open his presents…or could I?
Christmas came towards the end of trip and after visiting Melbourne, Sydney, Ayers Rock and Queensland we flew back into Sydney for a final few days of sun and fun before heading back to freezing cold London. Several friends of ours had moved out to Sydney, and we had visions of spending Christmas Day with them, having barbecues and eating turkey on the beach. But of course, all our friends already had plans or had holidays of their own over Christmas. So it looked like Christmas would be spent just the two of us.
For the final leg of our trip we were staying in a super cool boutique hotel called the QT, right in the centre of town. When the 25th of December dawned, I jumped out of bed and took a look out of the window. It was pouring with rain…so turkey on the beach certainly wasn’t going to happen. And I had to admit I started feeling very sad, I wasn’t going to get my unique Aussie Christmas and I wasn’t going to see my family either. Feeling slightly disheartened we headed downstairs for breakfast to get our day started. But then what? With rain pouring outside and everything shut for the holidays, we had little choice but to stay in the room watching Australian cookery programs until it was time for lunch.
With little choice of what else to do we had decided to book a Christmas lunch at the hotel, but to be fair it was a good deal and food was always excellent at breakfast. My spirits were lifting, ably abetted by my glass of bubbly.
It was a multiple course menu including a lobster burger, stuffed oysters, turkey of course and loads of tasty side dishes and with all this beautifully cooked food and a bottle of wine, we were starting to feel rather festive…
Particularly as we had several desserts to enjoy.
Full up of good wine and food, I was at least able to stick to one Christmas tradition and have a good sleep after lunch! When we woke up it was early evening, the rain had cleared and I was able to have a little bit of time experiencing my Aussie Christmas as we went for a walk to the Opera House where Mr S got an ice cream.
Boxing Day is usually spent with my extended family but as we were in Sydney and everything was closed, we’d arranged a little treat for ourselves…
We’d booked a seaplane to take us to a gorgeous boutique hotel called Jonah’s where we would be getting lunch and staying over night.
As someone that’s scared of heights, I was pretty nervous about getting in that little plane, stomach flipping and legs shaking I climbed aboard but it was all smooth sailing as we glided through the air marvelling at the beauty of the Sydney coastline below us. It was only a ten minute journey from the seaplane station in Rose Bay to the hotel in Palm Beach and the plane landed on the sea bobbing up and down before the captain let us out. The combination of my fear, the bobbing of the plane on the water and yesterday’s rich feast left me not feeling quite so great but when Mr S excitedly suggested that we get some champagne cocktails on the terrace, I reluctantly agreed.
The view from the Terrace was gorgeous and we were so lucky that the clouds and rain of yesterday were all gone and we could just admire the beautiful beach before going for our lunch.
Though still not feeling 100% I just nodded along when Mr S ordered a bottle of Taittenger, and I did manage to force a few glasses down…though I was very surprised when he ordered the second bottle.
The food at Jonah’s was incredible and definitely of Michelin quality standard; it was turning out to be the perfect day with no worries about being apart from everyone at home. Mr S suggested we had dessert back outside, but though the rain had cleared the winds were still bashing and I just wanted to stay inside. The promise of a beautiful view and a blanket persuaded me to step out with him and I was handed a menu that had been designed especially for me.
‘Princess Angie’s Calorie Free Dessert Menu’ but rather than desserts it was a letter to me from Mr Silver. Of course, I was more concerned about having my dessert and I hadn’t worked out the true meaning of the letter until I looked up and Mr S had got down on one knee…
With the proposal of marriage accepted I was then allowed to have my dessert before we were taken up to our room…
Which had been decorated with petals and contained another bottle of champagne! Of course, the rest of that day was spent excitingly discussing all the things that we had to look forward to in the future and as soon as the time difference allowed we phoned our family and friends. Later that evening we opened the champagne and not wanting another full on meal, we enjoyed a charcuterie platter together on our balcony over looking the sea.
The next day would be our final full day in Australia and as we got into the seaplane, to head back to the QT we gazed at the beautiful iconic sights below. We were saying goodbye to the most amazing trip of a lifetime in our dream destination but we would soon be saying hello to a new life as husband and wife.
Though I was sad to spend Christmas in a foreign country without my family, I have to say (sorry mum and dad) that it was maybe the best Christmas celebration ever and an unforgettable experience.
This post is part of the December travel link up with Emma, Rebecca, Kelly and their guest host Ayla. Tell us something about the festive season, do you love it or hate it? Do you have any special or unusual stories to tell? Simply add your post to the link up widget on one the hosts’ sites and check out some of the other bloggers taking part in the link up.
PS Check out my festive post last year on being a Jew at Christmas.