Written from Experience

New Year's Eve - A Copywriter's Night of Inspiration

I believe that New Year’s Eve should be inspirational. I use the night to propel my imagination forward into the New Year by travelling to foreign lands and immersing myself in exotic cultures. As such, every December 31 since the millennium, bar one, I have made sure that I spend New Year’s Eve in a destination where I’m not living. That way, I can be assured that my New Year’s Eve will be unpredictable and thrilling; and the first day of the year will be filled with new experiences and new adventures.

Here are the destinations where I have spent New Year’s Eve since the millennium.

London, England – 2000
What was to become six years of living abroad began in December 1999 - when I left the comfort of Sydney’s North Shore to live and work in London. On December 31, with my new found friends I had just made in a dodgy hostel in Kings Cross, I clambered down to the Thames to watch the fireworks that officially brought in the new millennium at Greenwich Mean Time. The combination of the millennium and my first time living overseas ensured that this night remains one of the most significant turning points in my life.

Paris, France – 2001
After spending five months travelling around Western Europe, I planned my trip so that I’d be in Paris for NYE. A Tale of Two Cities had always been a favourite novel, so the Parisian idea was symmetry for me. Everything was going to plan – I had travelled without incident through virtually every Western European country. Along the way I had met a Parisian in Leuven, a beautiful University town in Belgium. We arranged to meet on New Year’s Eve but without warning I was struck down with something – which no doctor could really diagnose. January 1 I was fine, December 31 I wasn’t. Such is life... but I still dream of waltzing down the Champs Elysées on New Year’s Eve.

Casablanca, Morocco – 2003
I flew from Toronto to Morocco via London on Christmas Day 2002. My plan was to spend two weeks travelling around Morocco before flying to Tunisia. Therefore for New Year’s Eve, I knew I’d be somewhere in Morocco but wasn’t sure exactly where until I started travelling. As it transpired I channelled Humphrey Bogart and arrived in Casablanca. The modern city engenders very little from the World War II intrigue of the film, so I spent a relatively quiet night wandering the streets, saving my energy for the rest of my Mediterranean Africa adventure.

New Delhi, India – 2004
Walking around Connaught Place, New Delhi in December 2003 was quite surreal – India itself is a culture shock but the heart of the city was relatively deserted. All in all, a relatively sober evening – I saved my energy for exploring the city sights the following day and of course the following five weeks of my Indian adventure.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – 2005
This was a rather bizarre evening. I flew from Shanghai into Saigon on the 31st – so I didn’t really have any time to become accustomed to Vietnam. After checking into the hotel, I found a restaurant that advertised itself as being “Australian.” The meal was good and the owner wasn’t particularly busy so I jumped on the back of his motorbike and we hooned around the streets of Saigon.

Queenstown, New Zealand – 2006
As an avid hiker, I relished the opportunity of hiking through New Zealand’s South Island and there was certainly no more beautiful a destination than Queenstown. For this New Year’s Eve, I watched the fireworks on the lake and the following morning hiked in the nearby mountain ranges – truly wonderful.

Queenstown, Australia – 2007
The Tasmanian countryside lives up its reputation of astonishing natural beauty. On December 31, I hiked up Cradle Mountain and then drove onto Queenstown for the night. For the first day of the New Year, I hiked around Lake St Clair where I saw at least six echidnas foraging for food. I was in my element.

Brisbane, Australia – 2008
Ironically, I couldn’t have known in 2007 that I would be living in Queensland’s capital several years later. But in December 2007, I flew up to Cairns and explored Cape Tribulation and the reef, before flying down to Brisbane to spend New Year’s Eve at a house party that my friend had been invited to – yes I crashed it. The host wasn’t too concerned by my presence after I sat down at his Grand Piano and played show tunes all night to the delight of his guests.

Santa Maria Volcano, Guatemala – 2009
I knew I was going to be in Central America throughout December 2009, but I didn’t know exactly where I’d be on the 31st – until I arrived in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Commonly known as Xela, the city itself is ok for a day but I wanted something more. So I found a tour company that were happy to guide my way up the Santa Maria Volcano and organised my tent and food to sleep at the top – we are at altitude here, so the hike isn’t that easy. However waking to a new year - glancing down over the nearby Santiaguito Volcano as it erupts and looking out to the incredible countryside was mesmerising.

El Calafate, Argentina – 2010
This return trip to South America came to fruition after my Aunt won an auction for a Galapagos Island cruise and had a spare space up for grabs. I tacked on some additional exploration of the continent and headed to Patagonia in southern Argentina at the end of December 2010. The first day of 2011 I hiked on the famous Perito Moreno Glacier and watched as massive chunks of ice calved into the icy seas below – an incredible start to a life-changing year.

The Whitsundays, Australia – 2011
Working in Brisbane as the in-house copywriter for Flight Centre, the opportunity presented itself to take a yachting trip through the Whitsundays over new year. The experience of waking and seeing 2012 for the first time surrounded by some of Australia’s most beautiful scenery will always be an unforgettable moment.

Wilsons Promontory, Australia – 2012
The southern most point of mainland Australia had been on my bucket list for quite a while - and in 2012 I decided to make the Wilsons Promontory the highlight of a two week hiking holiday around Victoria. After exploring the Victorian alpine region of Mt Hotham and Falls Creek, I drove back to sea level. On new year's day, I hiked the various trails of The Prom, which extended along the coastline and into the mountains. It was the swamp wallabies who were the first to welcome me to their home and to wish me all the best for the coming year.

Bali, Indonesia – 2013
While thousands of Australians head to Bali every year, I had never managed to get there. I rectified this anomaly in 2013. I spent most of my time exploring the Balinese culture by heading north away from Kuta and Legian. But on new year's eve, I met up with a couple of Australians and we hit the trendy clubs of Seminyak. The torrential rain didn't affect the night - I was up for an adventure, no matter what that adventure might be.

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