I had my least Christmassy Christmas Day in 53 years on Saturday.
My Christmas lunch was a Quarter Pounder in the Departure Lounge at Sydney International Airport.
The reason I was eating my Christmas lunch at the international terminal was that I’d booked a holiday in Fiji with the kids.
I was admonished by a few people for my financial irresponsibility – the trip has gone on my credit card – but the past two years have taught me that you embrace opportunities when you can.
The eldest has just finished the HSC and didn’t book schoolies, while the youngest wanted to work on her Snapchat shots in exotic locales. I wanted a relaxed holiday that gave the three of us a chance to unwind together.
So, when the NSW Premier announced that international travelers no longer had to quarantine on arrival, I hit the travel websites … and got a serious case of FOMO because Wotif kept crashing and jamming.
I decided it was because everyone in Australia was doing the same thing as me. So I relentlessly refreshed and re-typed my details until I scored a deal at a dinky little place called Funky Fish Resort on Malolo Island.
I felt giddy with equal parts stress and triumph as I paid for our package deal.
(The next week I discovered that just six people in the whole of Australia booked flights to Fiji that day, so the only person I was battling with for the best deal was myself.)
Little did I realize when I paid for our holiday that COVID still had a few surprises in store for us. It was pre Omicron when I put my money down and I foolishly believed that the worst was behind us.
In the week leading up to Christmas things were looking pretty out of control in NSW. It seemed like we’d need a Christmas miracle to make the trip happen.
But we passed our travel COVID tests and it was all systems go.
I was vibrating with stress as we cleaned up from pancakes and presents on Christmas morning with my ex, then he drove us to the airport.
There are a lot of hoops involved in traveling internationally right now. And I was petrified that I’d forgotten to jump through one of them as I jittered in the Fiji Airways check-in queue.
I also nervously assessed everyone standing in the queue with me, wondering who might have COVID and be bringing it on the plane.
While things were pretty frenetic inside my head, the actual check-in was smooth and uneventful, I hadn’t forgotten anything important! Then we made our way through the empty customs area to the food court, where most outlets other than Macca’s were shuttered.
Our plane was delayed by almost two hours, so it was close to five hours after we arrived at the airport that we finally boarded the plane.
Aside from some turbulence, it was an uneventful flight and – as I’d convinced the kids to only take cabin luggage – we were straight off the plane and into our transit bus within minutes, heading to the wharf to travel by boat to our final destination: Malolo Island.
The rain was driving down and there was only a tiny bit of cover over the boat as we sped for an hour through the night. We were drenched when we finally pulled up at the Funky Fish Resort.
Despite it being around 11pm, Max the chef had saved us some Fijian-style Christmas dinner – roast chicken, beef, spinach in coconut milk, potato salad, rice and yams.
We damply and wearily devoured our dinner, then rambled down to our beachfront bure – large, backpacker basic and our home for the next six nights.
And that was my Christmas Day.
We just have three more COVID tests to pass and they might let us back into Australia again on New Year’s Eve.
I hope you’re dodging COVID in your neck of the woods.
I felt the same apprehension leaving Sydney and coming to the North Coast. I actually left a lounge because I thought there were too many people around me. And then the plane was packed!
Sadly, my gamble didn’t pay off. Hope you are in good health