Christmas in Melbourne and the New Year in Tasmania (23.12.-1.1.)

23.-25.12.07 – 87 - 89th day – Christmas in Melbourne

We got to Melbourne on the 23rd of December as per our plan. We spent most of the following day resting. 24th of December is not a holiday like in Czech, people go to work. We started the Christmas day with a fruit salad and yogurt. After the breaky, we opened the presents. We bought a beautiful book (guide) about the Czech and Slovak republics and some Pilsner Urquell beers for our hosts. Mark and Prue are planning to ride bicycles in Europe next year and the book was also an invitation to our country. They promised to visit us. After that, we went to the park to play cricket, which is the most Australian thing to do. Everyone plays and watches cricket here. We couldn’t quite understand what is so fascinating about this game. Then, we all prepared the Christmas dinner, which was supposed to be lunch, but we were not ready with the meal until about 5 pm. The dinner was a multicultural combination of food. We had roast turkey, smoked salmon, Czech potato salad, beetroot and oysters, which must be eaten raw. Martin didn’t even try one when he saw and smelled the thing.

26.12.07 – 90th day – Boxing day

On Boxing Day, Mark and Prue spent the whole day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground watching a cricket match between Australia and India. The Australians were batting. We went to the city and joined them later to see the finish of the game. Prue tried to explain the cricket rules to us. It seemed that nothing much was happening on the pitch, I could hardly see the ball and most of the time was puzzled what made the audience exult. Some Czech immigrants told us that it took them 20 years to get into the game and enjoy it. But we liked the atmosphere at the stadium and were very lucky to see 2 streakers. The first one didn’t get very far, all I saw were 3 security men lying on the poor guy trying pull his shorts and a T-shirt back on him. The second streaker was more successful, but he wasn’t naked, he had shorts on. He made it right through the pitch. Then, he slowed down, because he’d achieved what he wanted and in this instance, 3 guards sprinting after him caught him and dragged him off the playing area. The fine for that was 6000 AUD and a life ban to the cricket matches.

27.-28.12.07 – 91st – 92nd day – Visiting the city

We spent most of the rest of the time in Melbourne cleaning and repairing our gear and visiting the city, which we both liked very much. Melbourne is a cosmopolitan, modern and quite relaxed city with a lot of arts and a strange blend of architecture, soaring glassed-in skyscrapers next to historic sturdy buildings, which don’t seem to be at odds next to each other. On the contrary, they compose one big piece of art. There are many cycling trails and green parks there. The city looks magnificent and lively. I could live there for some time.

29.12.07 – 93rd day – Travelling to Tasmania

We said goodbye to Mark and Prue on 29.12. and rode to the harbor to catch a ferry to Tasmania. The trip took 9 hours. We met Susanne there, a Canadian cyclist we had met on the Great Ocean Road. In the ferry cinema there was a very interesting program about Tasmanian devils, which are very endangered at the moment. They population has been drastically decreasing due to road kill and a malign disease. These animals fight a lot and thus spread cancerous tumors among themselves.
We arrived at Devonport in the early evening. After the first kilometers, we could tell the difference between the mainland and Tasmania. The island is a lot greener and hillier and there is water in creeks. It is also cooler here, which we appreciated a lot, because the temperature in Melbourne reached 40 degrees. We spent the first night in one farmer’s garden and when we got up, we saw little black kids playing around. The couple couldn’t have children, so they adopted 3 babies from Ethiopia. We were invited to their orchard for breakfast, where we could eat a lot of different berries. Yummy.

30.12.07 – 1.1.2008 - 94 – 95th day – New Year on Hungarian farm

We spent the New Year on a Hungarian farm in the middle of bush close to Lilydale. We met the farmer’s brother on the Nullarbor and he arranged with his brother in Tasmania that we would visit his family there. They immigrated in the 80s to Perth and when they got fed up with the city life 15 years ago, they bought a piece of bush with a water spring in Tasmania and moved there. Step by step, they cleared a part of the bush, built a house from the wood and started to grow vegetables, fruit and grape wine. They bake their own bread, make wine and distill schnaps. Sandor, the farmer, is a technician and he built a small water station, which generates electricity for the whole farm. They live their lifestyle and are proud of what they have built with their own hands in the middle of the bush.
We spent 2 days with Sandor, Ildiko and their children Andras and Ildiko with family. They invited us to their friend’s place for the New Year lunch, where we had a lot of delicious Hungarian food. There were about 20 people there, mostly Hungarians and Germans by origin. We spent the evening chatting and playing cards.

We had a great time with these nice people and on the 2nd of January we set off towards the next Tasmanian experiences.
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