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

Things That I Have Learned In Eastern Europe (or the former Soviet Union)

Things That I Have Learned In Eastern Europe (or the former Soviet Union)

“The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.” Vaclav Havel

I  have traveled around Eastern Europe a few times before I was a blogger or ‘photographer’. This was not one trip.  It was  earlier in the tourism stage of these countries and I’m sure things are a lot different now.   This is what I remember.

There is something not warm and fuzzy about being in countries of the former Soviet Union.  Especially countries that sent so many innocent people to concentration camps before that. The vestiges of communism are still there. The first thing you notice in  Budapest and Prague is that people don’t smile. (a train in Budapest)

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“If you need directions, ask young.” Most of the older generation do not speak any English. The young are trying to be modern.  But they have missed the sixties, seventies and eighties. The music went from folksongs and communist anthems  to rock and roll. The results are sometimes odd. Same with the clothes.

Shopping streets were emerging like Vaci street in Budapest with chain clothing stores  where once there was State Grocery no.19.  Things cost more and consumerism has definitely hit these countries. Keeping up with their neighbors is harder these days. There is still a lot of black market profiteering. But slowly a middle class is appearing.  (tagging in Budapest)

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After the fall of Communism,  Eastern Europe was faced with the problem of what to do with all those  Lenin, Marx and Engels statues. Several of the finest minds of the time got together in St Petersburg in 1991 to thrash out the quandary and it was decided that every city would display them in their very own tacky sculpture park. There is Fallen Monument Park in Moscow, Memento Park in Budapest and Grutas Park (known as Stalin’s World) 130km south of Vilnius. There are Museums of Terror in many of these eastern European cities showing their treatment in the time of the Soviets.  (Statue Park in Budapest )

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Lithuania was my first Baltic Country..  During the Holocaust around 95 per cent of the Lithuanian Jews were murdered, the highest percentage in Europe, many by local collaborator-killers. There is a Genocide Museum in Vilnius  in the old KGB headquarters. It was occupied by the Gestapo during World War Two for the deportations and later the Lithuanians suffered there under Stalin. In Eastern Europe I found the Lithuanians the most friendly and most open to talk about stuff. I wasn’t prepared for that. It is hard to understand. ( a street in Vilnius Lithuania)

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Trakai castle surrounded by Lake Galve is about an hour out of Vilnius.  All the brides come on the weekends to take photos. There were many because if you don’t get married on a Saturday, the neighbors start counting the months.

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Palanga is the busiest summer resort in Lithuania and the traffic on a Sunday proved that point.

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Riga, Latvia has the largest collection of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe. This is designed by Max Eisenstein (father of filmmaker Sergei.)

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Rumbala,  which is 10 kilometers  outside of  Riga, is where 25,000 Jews were murdered during WW2. Rumbala and Babi Yar (in Kiev, Ukraine) were the two biggest  massacre killings in Eastern Europe until the death camps. This was the only Jewish  Holocaust memorial in the original Soviet Union.

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Parnu, Estonia is an elegant beach town with depressing Soviet architecture.

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Estonia is between Latvia and a ferry ride to Finland. ( 43 miles away, yes I was there)  The influence of their Nordic neighbors is very noticeable, in the spelling, the food, and the design.  Talinn, the capital of Estonia is a blend of a historical Baltic city and cool Nordic  food and fashion trends. The former KGB headquarters are now the Hotel Viru. I did major shopping and eating here. The Wall Of Sweaters is fun for everything wool and located on the old city wall by the Viru Gate. The leather stores from Italy have  better prices here. (Talinn, Estonia, cathedral of Alexander Nevsky, sweater wall)

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Prague is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I have been there twice. It  is called the Paris of the East.  There is culture, history, five-star restaurants and hotels. The Charles Bridge connects the old town with  the Mala Strana and is one of the most iconic structures in Prague. (Art Museum and Charles Bridge)

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The Jewish Quarter dates back to the thirteenth century. The Old New Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Europe in Gothic thirteenth century style.  It is in use today. The Old Jewish Cemetery was established in the first half of the 15th century.  it is one of the most important historic sites in Prague´s Jewish Town. The oldest tombstone, which marks the grave of the poet and scholar Avigdor Karo, dates from the year 1439. Burials took place in the cemetery until 1787. Today it contains some 12,000 tombstones, al though the number of persons buried here is much greater. It is assumed that the cemetery contains several burial layers placed on top of each other. (Prague Cemetery)

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Leadership in these countries has not been great. Decades of totalitarian rule damaged the way people in power think and behave; and the harm has not been repaired.

The mindset of the younger generation is everything  anti Communist or anti the time of the Soviets as they say. Under Communist rule, the State was responsible for everything – even for little things. Today people must make decisions and take responsibility for them – not an easy task for those who have been raised to follow, not to lead.

Fly safe,

JAZ