Ten Of The Coldest Countries In The World

Ten Of The Coldest Countries In The World

“You can’t get too much winter in the winter.” —Robert Frost

I‘ve lived in Southern California for a long time. I do not do cold very well. Neither does my body. I have a weird autoimmune thing where my fingers and toes turn blue very quickly from cold resulting in circulation problems.  I don’t usually consider very cold trips, but there are some places i will have to go. The places on this list are cold. They have some beautiful white scenery. They are amazing countries. The only thing is – it is very, very cold.

Antarctica is the coldest country in the world. It is the Northernmost place on planet earth and gets little to no sun all year round. There are no native human Antarcticans. Nobody conquered anybody and it really was discovered. People who travel to Antarctica are tourists or they work on scientific research stations. No one actually lives in Antarctica the way they do in the rest of the world. If you want to go to Antartica on your own without a tour, you need permission from your government and you have to show how you will have no environmental impact. It is an environmentally sensitive place. The last  flight out of the South Pole is in February and there is not another one till November so plan your trip accordingly.

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Greenland is the  world’s largest island located  between the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans.  When you hear the word Arctic you know it is cold. Eighty percent of the island is covered in ice. the other twenty per cent is inhabitable. Greenland has an Arctic Tundra that is being affected by climate change. so you might want to see it soon.  Tundras are among the earth’s harshest landscapes. If you’ve missed the Northern Lights, you can see them here three hundred days a year. Icebergs are visible everywhere.  They do have a short  summer season. People live in Greenland. There are flights from Iceland, Denmark and Canada which are other cold countries.

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Iceland. Take a look at the name. The country is cold. Iceland is a road trip and best done in summer. If you are thinking of road tripping in the winter in the snow, I hope you are in a four-wheel drive. Seat warmers are a good thing. Iceland is one big photo-op so be prepared to take a lot of pictures. Also Icelanders love ice cream.

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Russia. Parts of Russia are very cold-like Siberia.The world’s coldest city is Yakutsk, located in Yakutia a republic in Siberia. I can not go there because if you wear glasses outside the metal will freeze to your cheek making them difficult to remove without taking out part of your face. Five to ten minutes a day outside in winter can cause pain. Clothing for maximum warmth is fur. It is expensive but it’s a good investment in your future of not freezing to death. If you drive to work, you will need to run your engine all day.  Winter lasts about seven months. This doesn’t sound like a trip for everyone.

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Kazakhstan. The best time to travel to Kazakhstan  is not in the cold biting winter. It would not be my personal choice. The danger in winter is frostbite and stupidity. Things fall on your head – ice slides off a roof, large icicles drop from branches trees fall.  Stay away from narrow slippery streets. You will never dress right – no matter how much clothing you wear. You will be too hot inside or too cold outside.You cannot predict it.

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Canada. Parts of Canada are effing freezing. (I’m running out of cold adjectives.) Winnipeg, Manitoba has the coldest winter weather of any major Canadian city. It ranks first for the lowest average temperatures. Snag Yukon is the coldest city in North America. Canada is frigid dark and cold in the winter. You will have no trouble getting into restaurants, museums and events  because most people are home. It is beautiful in the summer.

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USA. Alaska is one of our states. Weather in Alaska in the winter is cold and dark. Days are short to very short, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t skiing, dog sledding,  ice skating and viewing the Northern lights. They are big on winter festivals and hotels and tours are fifty per cent off. Do you know why? because it is cold, cold, cold. It’s not deadly cold like some other places. But cold enough to wear a heated jacket and carry a supply of handwarmers.

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Finland is close to the Arctic Ocean and the Northern winds bring the cold. It is one of the  northernmost places in the world with a population.The cold does not disrupt their life. They have well heated houses, cars, saunas and food. Lapland doesn’t get any light from December to mid January. Lapland is the official home of Santa Claus so of course it is cold. Santa never looks cold. 

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Estonia is the most northern of the Baltic countries and has very cold winters. It’s always below  freezing and snowing with plenty of cold air coming in from Russia. The best time to visit Estonia is not winter.

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The capital of Mongolia which is Ulaanbaatar, is described as the coldest capital city in the world. It is cold from October through April. No other capital city demands as much tolerance, fortitude, and strength from its citizens than Ulaanbaatar does. I guess the next time you are cold, it could be worse, you could be living in Ulaanbaatar.

screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-8-17-19-pmNone of these beautiful winter photos were taken by me.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Floatplane From Vancouver – Conquering The Fear

Floatplane From Vancouver – Conquering the Fear

“There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror.” Orson Welles

My fear of small prop planes started on my very first one. I was flying from Santorini to Athens. There was a lot of seat shifting before takeoff. I was asked to move to the front. When I questioned it, the stewardess said to my friend in Greek, “We need to put the fat people in the back to equalize the weight on the plane.” My friend was American Greek so she thought that was what the stewardess said. I looked around in horror making sure that no one had lied about his weight. I believed my life was dependent on the people who had not stuffed themselves on vacation with generous helpings of moussaka, saganaki,  tiropites. spanakopita, pastitsio and baklava. To this day when I go on a small plane, I wonder if I should I tell them that I gained a few pounds.

The next incident happened when I was leaving Aspen Colorado, with my very young children who had their whole lives ahead of them.   It was late and the airport was very quiet and had only a few people in it. They said the plane had  just arrived. We did not hear anything.  Shouldn’t the airlines have told me if they were putting me on a sixteen seat prop plane through the Rocky Mountains at night all the way to Los Angeles? I asked the pilot if that plane was safe. He said, “Of course, this plane has real leather seats”.  I have no idea what that means. Were the seats the most expensive piece of equipment on the plane? The good news was that I had an individual very small solo seat by the window. So did each of my very small children. This way they did not have to see me plan my own death. Did it hurt more to crash into the mountains at night than to crash in the water and drown?

After that I avoided small planes at all costs. I planned vacations into larger airports and always looked up the plane I was going to be on.

I don’t know why I wanted to take a floatplane from Vancouver to Victoria, British Colombia. Life happened and my children have made it alive to adulthood so maybe a small plane was less scary now. I thought it would be a fun thing to do with my son.

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My hotel window in Vancouver faced the water and I could easily see the small seaplane terminal. For three days I counted the planes that left and made sure the same number returned. I watched the Canadian News to make sure no crashes were reported. It was all good so far but it was exhausting being the safety police.

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My son and I have different meanings of the words, on time for a flight – especially when you can walk to the terminal. When we arrived, the plane was already full and we could not sit together.

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I happened to mention to the man sitting next to me that I was afraid of small planes. (in case I started clutching him in terror) He told me not to worry because he had been a fighter pilot in the Air Force. He proceeded to tell me every almost crash horror story that happened to him. “After all,” he said, We are flying during the day.  It isn’t like we are landing on what we believe to be an airstrip at night in bad weather, with no lights, in the mountains of India.”

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The plane took off. It was so quiet. There was no bumpy turbulence or loud noise of a prop plane. This time we glided into space like a bird in flight.

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It was so incredibly beautiful to look down at the Canadian landscape,

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Flying at a low altitude through the clouds, i saw a completely different perspective of the world below.

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The land looked dreamlike and other worldly.

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It was breathtaking and relaxing. The landing was just as smooth as we cruised into Victoria harbor.

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Its amazing when you find out that you can do what you are afraid to do. I learned that day to not limit my experiences because of my fears . I couldn’t wait for the flight back to Vancouver.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

Things That I Have Learned In Victoria, Canada

Things That I Have Learned In Victoria, Canada

“He’s got this thing about Canada. He says it’s like America only with health care and no guns, and you can live up to your potential there and not have to worry about what society thinks or about getting sick or getting shot.” Ruth Ozeki

Victoria is the capital of British Columbia. It was incorporated as a city in 1862. The city is named after Queen Victoria. Victoria lies on the southern tip of Vancouver Island on the Pacific Coast.

It is called the “city of gardens.” The famous Butchart Gardens opened in 1904are only about a twenty-five minute drive from downtown Victoria.

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Approximately 1,500 hanging baskets adorn lampposts throughout the City of Victoria each summer

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Victoria’s Inner Harbor is the heart of the city. There are historic buildings and a lot boat and seaplane activity on the water.The Royal BC Museum and the BC Parliament Buildings are all in this area.

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The food in Victoria reflects the local ingredients and flavors of the Pacific Northwest. Victoria’s rich farming regions and coastal waters yield an abundance of produce and seafood, particularly shellfish and salmon.

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When someone in Victoria says oot and a boot, they mean out and about.

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Fan Tan Alley is the narrowest commercial street in North America. It is located in Chinatown – the second largest Chinatown in North America after San Francisco.

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You can get to Victoria via ferry. Float planes come from all over including regular scheduled flights from downtown Vancouver.

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Forty six percent of people in Victoria walk, ride or use public transportation to get to work.

It’s an outdoorsy place with hiking, biking, kayaking and sailing. It is the cycling capital of Canada.

The world’s largest totem pole was raised in Victoria in 1994 as an homage to Victoria’s native history.

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The architecture and tea and crumpets at the Fairmont is a reminder of the British heritage. Cuppa tea anyone?

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

 

 

Things I Have Learned In Vancouver, Canada

Things I Have Learned In Vancouver, Canada

“I’ve been to Canada, and I’ve always gotten the impression that I could take the country over in about two days.” Jon Stewart

Vancouver is named after George Vancouver, a morose sounding guy who hated the place. ( Opening to the Northwest Passage – monument to Captain Vancouver in Vanier Park)

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Thirty five per cent of Vancouver’s population is foreign-born (the highest figure for a city in the world). It has the highest proportion of Asians in any North American city.

Greenpeace was started in Vancouver – just in case you thought it was started by vegans in San Francisco.

Sun Yat Sen Gardens (named after the Chinese revolutionary) were the first authentic classical Chinese gardens ever built outside of China.

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Chinese gardens employ  principles of Feng Shui and Taoism, to achieve harmony and a balance of opposites. Craggy rocks, for example, are juxtaposed against delicate foliage. Water is also an important element of the garden. It is an oasis of peace in the beautiful city.

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Vancouver ranks third in the world as the best city to live in.

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This is a great eating city. Their specialties are seafood, local cheese and fresh produce. There is excellent Asian food as well. Don’t miss the Granville Market which is an entire island near downtown filled with crafts, farmer’s market, and specialty food vendors.

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The Vancouver (YVR) airport has free WiFi.

Vancouver has the highest real estate prices in Canada.

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Stanley Park is Vancouver’s largest and much used park.

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Set against an urban seawall there are miles of trails, bike paths, beautiful beaches, gardens, monuments, sculptures the first nations totem poles., local wildlife, food, natural, cultural and historical landmarks.

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You can’t buy beer or alcohol in the grocery store.

The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG)) is the fifth-largest gallery in Canada.  Its permanent collection is about 10,000 pieces. . There are always interesting exhibitions as well and is a nice break from all the outdoor activities.

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Vancouver is North America’s second largest port. (after New York)

Vancouver is the second or third largest film production centre in North America. It is second to LA in television production & third behind LA and NY in feature film production. This is due to favorable tax concessions to the industry, the year round mild climate, and Vancouver’s wide variety of locales. Most productions are American. Most Canadian productions are in Toronto.

The Twilight Saga was filmed in Vancouver.

Gastown was the first settlement in Vancouver. Today it has a lot of tourist shops, First Nation galleries, and pretty street lights. The main activity seems to be taking a picture of the steam clock.

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Vancouver has the largest crime rate in Canada but still well below many American cities. This is due to the large number of drug addicts who live here.(because it is the third best city in the world to live?)

The city has less than fifty murders a year. Some of them are criminals killing other criminals. You can’t make this stuff up.

Fly safe,

JAZ