This site contains the archives of my travel blogs from 2010-2016.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Just when you think it can't get any colder...

I've never been in so much physical pain due solely to the weather. If you would have asked me a few weeks ago, I would have told you that 15°F (-9°C) probably isn't all that different from 26°F (-3°C).  Entering my apartment after my 45-minute walk home this evening, however, I will tell you otherwise.

26°F is a nice, comfortable temperature, requiring only one layer under a down jacket, and leaves gloves optional.  If you happen to wrap more than one scarf around your neck in 26°F, as I did this morning, and walk briskly for more than ten minutes, you're likely to actually overheat and start peeling off the layers as you go.  

On the other hand, you may well die a slow, miserable death if you're not bundled up beneath a fur jacket in 15
°F.  If not imminent death, I guarantee that you will lose an appendage to frostbite if not equipped with proper gloves.   This evening my fingers passed the point of numbness -- which is tolerable, and almost expected -- and proceeded to throb.  I cannot describe it in words; you'll have to come to Russia and experience it for yourself.  The paradox here is that by the time you reach a warm interior, you will be almost wishing to be back out in the cold, as the process of thawing is almost more unbearable than the original freeze. 

I wish I hadn't looked at the weather forecast this evening.  Friday is slotted for -3°F (-20°C).  Needless to say, I won't be spending the evening outdoors. In fact, I will do everything in my power to find myself in a jacuzzi and sauna this weekend.  Or perhaps I'll try out the Scandinavian tradition of heating up in the sauna before running out and diving into the snow, as these people to the right are doing.

In other snow-related news, I was almost killed yesterday evening while walking down the sidewalk on Liteiny Prospekt, one of the major streets off the famous Nevsky Prospekt.  And when I say I was quite nearly killed, I'm not exaggerating. Snow falling on rooftops turns to ice and icicles, which inevitably drop onto unsuspecting passersby, occasionally killing them. I was walking down this same street with some new acquaintances a few days ago, when we passed a large bouquet of flowers on the ground against a building.  They appeared to have been strategically placed, so I asked about it.  I was then told that the flowers were there in memorial to a six-year-old boy who was killed in that very spot when a giant icicle fell from the roof of the 6-7 story building next to him.  That story stayed with me for a few days.  How tragic, that such simple facts of nature like this take lives!

The extra-slippery walkways, caked with ice
which is hidden under the freshly-fallen snow

In order to combat the icicles and falling snow, the city methodically cordons of sections of sidewalk along major streets and then proceeds to shovel snow off the adjacent roofs.

The result is extra-slippery sidewalks when temperatures are low enough for the ice adheres itself to the cobblestone, and extra-slushy paths when temperatures are just high enough for the oft-trampled snow underfoot to melt in heavily trafficked areas. 

A giant slush-puddle
I walk through dozens of slush-puddles like the one at right every day. Most people just tramp right on through, but some are obviously bitter about the elements.  I try to find that little girl inside of me that loved jumping in puddles and roller-blading in the rain.  How much fun would I be having right now if I were eight!?

Il fait vraiment hyper-froid ici!  Je n'aurais jamais deviné qu'on puisse sentir la différence entre -9°C et -3°C, mais je la sens bien. Je n'ai jamais eu de la douleur à cause du froid comme je l'ai ici. Même que je porte des gros gants, ce sont mes mains qui deviennent vite surgélées.
Il y a des gens qui sont morts chaque année après de la neige gélée tombe sur eux dès toits au dessus. Hier un gros bout est tombé dix cm devant moi....heureusement que je me suis arretée!  Maintenant ils sectionnent une partie du trottoir pour qu'ils puissent jetter de la neige avant qu'elle tombent ou bien devient des glaçons pointus.
Quand je dois marcher dans la boue comme celle-ci à droit (tous les jours), j'essaie de reprendre la mentalité de petite fille qui adore se tremper dans les flaques!


  1. Oh Shirah... 15 F is really not that cold. Ok it's cold. But I grew up in N WI where no one even considers cancelling school at -30 F unless there's also a -20 F wind chill...

    Moscow has been pretty cold, but it's the wind and our decently close proximity to the river that is making it so much worse... At least I know to bring all my winter clothing for St. Pete's this weekend! Can't wait to see you!


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