Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas in Oz

For the first time in my life, I spent Christmas without my family, snow, or chocolate dessert.  Luckily I was surrounded by other people who were in the same position and we definitely made the most of our first Christmas in Australia!

Our office closed and the end of the day on December 23 and we are on break until January 10.  It is just like being in college again and I love it!!  People here are amazed when I tell them that at home we only get one day off for Christmas and one day off for New Years.  Before you get too jealous - I should say that of our 11 days of holidays during this time only 3 of them are public holidays.  The remaining 8 days we have to take as vacation.  But we get more vacation here than at home.  And I am not complaining about being required to take two weeks off.

On Christmas Eve Kelly and I went to the Christmas Eve service at St. Francis in the city.  The service was at 6 in the evening and the city still looked so busy with shoppers and tourist that we didn't think there would be anyone at church.  We were wrong!!!  We arrive about 10 minutes before church started and already there was nowhere to sit.  There were people lined up down each of the side aisles almost all the way to the front of the church.  We were originally standing in the aisle until a few people made additional room and we each got to sit - just not together.  The service was not but did not even come close to competing with the candlelight service at the Prairie City CoB!!!

After church we met up Verena, Valerie, Steph, Graham, Nase, and Thurai for dinner.  We had no idea where to go for dinner as there were many places that were closed for Christmas Eve or they were already full.  We decided on Borsari, an Italian restaurant on Lygon St.  It was delicious.   I would highly recommend the fettucine pappone to anyone in the Melbourne area looking for a good Italian meal in the city.

After dinner we went to Madame Brussels - a bar we had tried to go to earlier in the week for our Secret Santa gift exchange but it was too busy  Kelly and I got in the festive mood and surprised everyone with our Santa hat and reindeer antlers that we had found at the South Melbourne market.  The bar closed not long after we arrived so we headed to The Elephant and the Wheelbarrow for some live music and a little dancing.

Kelly, Steph and I at the Elephant and the Wheelbarrow

Because all of us are used to snow and freezing temperatures on Christmas, we decided we needed to celebrate Christmas with a barbecue.  On Christmas Day Val, Verena, Kelly, and I met up with Graham and Steph at their apartment before heading out for our big barbecue.  Graham and Steph had discovered that there are a lot of free barbecues along the river not far from their apartment.  The only problem was that we had underestimated how many other people would have the same idea.  After walking for about 20 minutes we found an empty picnic table, but no available barbecue. We had plenty of food so we snacked on taco dip, salad, and bread while waiting for a barbecue to free up.  Verena and I struck out several times trying to politely ask people if we could have the barbecue after them.  Finally we convinced Graham to go make friends with some people and he was successful.  I think we definitely overestimated the amount of food that we needed.  After snacking on everything none of us were feeling especially hungry but we cooked up everything we brought anyway - I think mainly because none of us wanted to carry it all back!

Our Christmas Feast

Our 2010 Christmas family
Kelly and I were also introduced to a new Christmas tradition: Christmas crackers.  Christmas crackers are a small cardboard tube with a gift inside and wrapped in Christmas paper.  Two people pull on opposite ends of the cracker and the person who ends up with the larger portion gets to keep the present that is inside. 
Val and Kelly pulling their Christmas cracker
On the 27th Kelly, Bre, and I went to the Cricket.  I'm guessing 98% of the people reading this blog don't understand cricket so I won't try to explain it (mostly because I know you don't care but also because I just learned about it in the past few days myself).  The Ashes contest is four test matches between Australia and England played over one month.  That's right - it takes a month to figure out the winner and there is still a chance it can end in a tie. (and people here try to tell me that baseball is boring).  This week is the final test and that day we attended was day 2.  Unfortunately for Australia, day 1 (boxing day) did not go so well.  The first day ended with Australia scoring 98 runs and England scoring 157 runs with no outs.  That means that England got to begin batting on day 2.  We were at the cricket from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and England was still batting (you have to get 10 outs).

We had really good seats and after lunch when the sun came out it was actually pretty enjoyable.  I think we got more excited about doing the wave and watching trash blow onto the field than we did about the actual game (okay, maybe that was just Bre and I).

Kelly's favorite player Mitchell Johnson (don't you love the sweater vests)
Next up on our holiday itinerary:  Grampians National Park, NYE in Melbourne, and Fiji!

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