Nov 27, 2009 5:17:39 AM
Humbug! The 5 best places to avoid Christmas
If the festive season is not your season to be jolly there are plenty of great places to leave it all behind. Here are five ways to ensure that Christmas is kept at arm’s length - or even ignored altogether.
On a plane
Let’s bash a myth over the head: flights are not cheaper on Christmas Day. It’s just that less people want to travel on this day, so there are more seats available. Depending on which airline you fly (hint: go for Arabian carriers to avoid reindeer antlers and cotton wool beards on cabin crew) you might get a perfunctory Christmas greeting or a Turkey dinner, leaving the world to argue over games of Monopoly far below your feet. Best of all, land anywhere on Christmas Day and you’ll breeze through customs and into town with no queues at all.
Morocco is the closest and most interesting place to most of western Europe which doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Moving a few degrees south brings you to the very non-festive Sahara, ancient souqs of Marrakesh and Atlas Mountains. There’s a risk someone may try to pull a cracker with you in the larger hotels in Marrakesh, so aim for a riad deep in the old city where you’ll be unlucky to see a Santa. Even better, spend Christmas Day itself exploring the spectacular gorges and Berber villages to the west of the city or surfing the dunes at Erg Chebbi - better than turkey sandwiches in front of the telly.
On a far-flung peninsula in the wild north-west highlands of Scotland sits Ruabh Reidh lighthouse, which has been blazing out a warning beacon since 1910. Where better to wait out the festive season with a few close friends and a bottle or two of whisky? The lighthouse today offers rooms in a comfortable B&B with delicious home-cooked food. If there’s enough of you the whole house can be rented, and there are great walks to work up an appetite too.
With festivities observed according to the Orthodox calendar, Russia largely celebrates Christmas Day on January 7. This means December 25 is just another winter day. So in St Petersburg you can tour the Hermitage, tour some of the city’s stunning churches or just keep warm in Prival Komediantov, one of the city’s best and most historic cafes.
Cycle the Boluminski Highway, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea
As much a place to escape the entire world as it is to run away from tinsel and boring loved ones, New Ireland is a cracking place for an adventure. Once you’ve transported yourself and your bike to Kavieng, via PNG’s capital of Port Moresby there’s not much to do but potter along the Boluminski Highway that runs along the east coast of the island. Every few hours you’ll come to a fishing village, often set around a sandy beach. Here you can rest, stay a night, swim and snorkel. (It’s technically the wet season but you’d be unlucky to get more than a short drenching.)
Where do you go to dodge the tinsel? Let us know!