Different Christmas trips: 3st Advent is written by The editorial staff RejsRejsRejs
Christmas is also Christmas, even if it is kept away from the cold and other. In this series of Advent stories, we take you on a different Christmas journey.
Advent: (H) Christmas in New Zealand
(H)Christmas in New Zealand is written by Sascha Meineche.
Christmas lasts until a motorhome in New Zealand.
For many, Christmas is perhaps both holy and in a very specific way. The way in which the wrong color of the Christmas tablecloth can ruin the whole evening, or if 'Dejlig er jorden' is not sung at the Christmas service in church. And not to mention the sauce. If it's not right in the cupboard, then everything is ruined.
That's how I feel, too. In a way anyway, and yet far from it. Or yes, just with the sauce - it should preferably be right in the cupboard. But I really like to shake up the slightly old – pardon my French – but sometimes sick and stressful Christmas traditions.
I do that best by slipping away. Preferably as far away as possible.
The perfect Christmas with a good Christmas atmosphere
The perfect thing for me is Christmas at home, Christmas out, Christmas at home, and then Christmas out again. Then you get the best of everything almost at once, and you actually get to look forward to the next 'Home Christmas'.
I have now celebrated Christmas in quite a few places. From the neon-lit plastic Christmas tree mecca above them all in Malaysia to my parents' home, where of course there is always one big tradition, to a motorhome on New Zealand. Without both neon and plastic Christmas trees. And without snow for that matter.
Christmas far away from Denmark
And it's New Zealand we're going to now.
So far away from Denmark, as we can get, on a campsite without either glitter, glamor or neon-coloured plastic. We drove New Zealand thin in one of those – for those of you who have been there – smart, orange 'spaceship' cars.
Such a mini version of a motorhome; i.e. the cheap model where you just pitch a tent on the back. We lived there.
Pygmy Christmas tree and almost traditional Christmas dinner in the camper
On Christmas Eve we walked around in the sun, but still med Christmas spirit, and shopped like it was any other day. We are not really used to relaxed shopping at home either; there you reach the max in the local use to panic buy the last thing.
We went a bit crazy with some of the slightly more luxurious souvenir Christmas gifts that we wrapped in what we just had. Christmas presents were needed, and as a backpacker you don't carry that kind of stuff with you from home. We bought a tiny Christmas tree, shopped for some goodies, and then we set about making a luxury dinner. Of course, as much luxury as you can make in a camping kitchen.
It turned into chicken, potatoes, gravy and salad. Very close to luxury. At least when you make it on a campsite in a micro kitchen without equipment.
Then we went back to our car, sang a little carol while looking at our pygmy Christmas tree, unwrapped presents and saw Pyrus, and then of course we called our parents and wished them Merry Christmas, about 12 hours before, they themselves had considered putting duck in the oven.
Christmas on wheels in New Zealand is, after all, something different from Christmas here at home.
Advent: Christmas on the Spanish terrace
Christmas in Spain – with surprises
Christmas Eve on the terrace in 20 degree heat? Yes, why not?
A few years ago, my mother, sister and I flew over Gran Canaria i Spain. We all shared the same opinion that this was a more liberating way to celebrate Christmas than having to embark on the big Christmas race at home.
We had lost a family member the year before, so a different and less stressful Christmas was clearly what was needed in the family.
No stress from mother in the kitchen, no imposed Christmas traditions, just us, for Christmas and Christmas spirit in the heat.
A few festive Christmas experiences
On the way out one evening we came past a small cozy area with restaurants, small shops and bars. We sat down at a restaurant where it quietly dawned on us that the evening's entertainment was one Drag Show.
It was an incredibly entertaining and different evening and I have good picture of my sister and I along with a lot Dragon Queens.
I think my mother also changed her slightly conservative attitude in this area!
The next day we decided to go for a long walk on the beach.
We soon found out that our little stroll had ended at the nudist beach, so it was also festive, just in a slightly different way...
Christmas Eve without traditions
We celebrated Christmas Eve with a quiet dinner at the hotel, as far away from all the Danish Christmas traditions as possible. Exactly as we had wanted.
The only small Christmas spirit tradition we took with us to the south was a small Christmas present for each. My sister got something as simple as a sweater – a sweater she even managed to lose before we flew back to Denmark.
The beauty of this trip was that we agreed to travel more together. Just us three ladies.
We have since visited boats Budapest og Dubrovnik, and our next considerations are on either Tallin or Krakow. As there is great variation in the age group, it is important to us that it is not too far away.
Happy 2nd Sunday in Advent, no matter where in the world you hold it.
Read about John's Christmas in Vietnam below the picture
1. Advent: Christmas on a prison lake
I love Christmas, but I must admit I love warmth at least as much. That's why my boyfriend and I decided last year to spend Christmas abroad - and preferably a place that could be combined with beach and experiences.
We had several places up to turn; at least 25 degrees and sun was a must though. We stumbled upon Con Dao, which is a relatively pristine archipelago in the south Vietnam . The main island Con Son is an old prison island and therefore offers both good weather, exciting history and unspoilt beaches. We packed the Santa hats a few days before Christmas and left.
The road to Christmas spirit and palm trees
From Ho Chi Minh City to Con Son it took 1 hour by plane. From airport to hotel we drove only 15 minutes before arriving at something reminiscent of paradise. Six Senses is one of the most beautiful hotels and places I have ever seen. With a private pool and a view over the beach from the room, it could hardly be better.
Despite the 30 degrees and palm trees, it was easy to get into the Christmas spirit as the whole hotel was decorated for Christmas.
From prison island to holiday paradise with a Christmas atmosphere
Con Dao, however, has more to offer than beautiful scenery and white beaches. The island is known for its bloody past and served as a prison until 1975.
When visiting the prison, one must be prepared for an exciting but gruesome experience. It's not hard to imagine how horrible the prison has been. As the picture shows, figures have been erected depicting the prisoners' lives as they were.
After the jail visit, we took our rented scooter and drove to the Van Son Pagoda. An impressive temple on a hilltop with beautiful views, wild monkeys and local Vietnamese who come here to pray.
Then the Christmas bottles were lit.
Finally it was the 24th of December.
We were prepared for the menu to be Vietnamese spring rolls instead of roast pork. But to our great surprise, the hotel had prepared a Christmas buffet for all the guests, which both offered brown gravy, potatoes and duck. The atmosphere was good, the Christmas tree was lit, it oozed Christmas spirit and despite the unfamiliar surroundings we still felt at home for Christmas.