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 I Have Learned In Russia

Things I have Learned In Russia

“They’re professionals at this in Russia, so no matter how many Jell-O shots or Jager shooters you might have downed at college mixers, no matter how good a drinker you might think you are, don’t forget that the Russians – any Russian – can drink you under the table.” Anthony Bourdain

Russia is the biggest consumer of heroin in the world. It started in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and started a 10 year war. This kickstarted the Afghan opium trade to fund the Afghanis in the war. Though it was sold all over the world, the Russians became the main consumers.

Russians never shake hands over a door way, they believe it leads to arguments.

For fans of The Master and the Margarita  (I am) there are walking tours and maps of Bulgakov’s Moscow.

Chelsea is the most famous Russian football club in the world. The club was founded in 1905 and later on in 2003 was bought by Russian businessman Roman Abromovich. I stayed in the hotel with them in Moscow. That was cool.

The Urals are the oldest mountains in the world.

The Russian State Library is the biggest in Europe and second in the World after Library of Congress in the USA. The Russian State Library is located in Moscow and was founded in 1862.

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Moscow actually has more billionaires living in the area than any other city in the world.

St. Petersburg was known as Petrograd from 1914 to 1924 and Leningrad from 1924 to 1991.

The Church Of The Savior Of The Spilled Blood was built by Alexander III in St. Petersburg on the same spot where his father Alexander II was murdered in 1883. As beautiful as the outside is, the inside is covered in breathtaking mosaics commemorating the story.

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The Metro of St. Petersburg is the world’s deepest subway (about 100 m deep).

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The Trans-Siberian Railway  (connecting Moscow and Vladivostok) is the longest railway in the world.

The largest McDonald’s in the world is in Moscow and in Beijing (700 seats per each).
(a McDonald’s)

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The first Starbucks in Russia
 was in Moscow on Arbat St and I was there. I had a hard time ordering food in Russia since no one spoke English and everything was written in Cyrillic (several years ago) . I would just point and eat whatever I got. But in Starbucks I said soy latte with sugar-free vanilla and it was correct.

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The most famous computer game –Tetris – was created by Russian programmer Alexei Pazhitnov in 1985,

Russia has some of the best art institutions in the world, like Bolshoi Theater and Pushkin Art Gallery in Moscow, and Mariinsky Theater and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. My favorite dance company Eifman Ballet  is there as well. (Maryinsky Theatre)

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The Hermitage is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. It was founded by Catherine the Great in 1754. The Hermitage has over 2.7 million exhibits and displays.The Museum is made up of six different buildings, including the Winter Palace (formerly the residence of Russian royalty.

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In Russia there are 10 time zones because of the enormous extent of its territory, from west to east.

The Moscow Cat Theater is a traveling circus that showcases cats. Cat theatre is very popular in Russia – not so much in other places.

Kremlin means fortress in Russian and was the biggest medieval fortress in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.(I had really bad hair in Russia but how often do you take a photo with the Kremlin in the background?)

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The Great Bell Tower is located on the north-east corner of the Kremlin and is said to mark the geographic centre of Moscow. Completed in the 1600s, it is it was the tallest structure in the city until the Russian Revolution. The Tsar bell is the largest bell in the world. It was broken during casting, and never rung.

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The Kremlin was home to the Tsar’s and presidents including Lenin and Stalin. (St. Basil’ Church)

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It is surrounded by some of Moscow’s best known sites, such as; St Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, the Red Square, Kazan Cathedral and the State History Museum

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Communism is referred to as the time of the Soviets. There are retro trendy Communist cafes and restaurants – a certain nostalgia for “the way we were”. I had lunch at Stalin’s bunker. It was weird.

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Russian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet instead of the Latin and is one of the 5 most spoken languages in the world. (I believe this says Welcome To Stalin’s Bunker. I did a lot of fake translating in Russia. There was not one sign in English when i was there.)

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Peterhof is a royal palace built by the Peter the Great in the year 1710. The palace features buildings and gardens and these structures are known as “Russian Versailles”.

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There are about 176 operating fountains (including 40 huge fountains) and 5 cascades in Peterhof, located in the suburbs of St.Petersburg

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After an 18-month tour of Europe, Peter found himself extremely impressed with western traditions and customs. As a result, he decided to issue an annual tax of one hundred rubles for those who refused to shave their beards.

The renovation of the Amber Room at Catherine’s Palace took 24 years to recreate the amazing Prussian artistry.

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Built during Stalin’s rule, the seven buildings of Moscow, now the Hotel Ukraina, the Hotel Leningradskaya, Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Apartments, the Kudrinskaya Square Building, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Red Gates Administrative Building, and the main building of the Moscow State University, have identical architectural style. These buildings are evenly spread around the city and are known as the Seven Sisters in English and Vysotki or Stalinskie Vysotki in Russian. The typical architectural style is called Stalinist Gothic. The original idea was that people would work and live in one place. The idea of locking people up in the buildings appealed to the Soviet architects and the Soviet government.

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You never drink alone in Russia. It is abnormal and antisocial.Never drink without eating a bite of something immediately. If you are drinking vodka (and why wouldn’t you be?) it should be salty – olives or herring perhaps.Never sip vodka and never add ice or tonic. A shot of vodka is the only way.

There is a vodka museum in St Petersburg. Vodka is a drink ‘close to the human soul”. It is an all-purpose irreplaceable drink used in both joy and sorrow throughout Russian history.

Russians produce some of the best caviar in the world. You eat it from a metal caviar spoon with vodka of course, But be careful when buying it. Buy from a reputable vendor where you might pay a bit more, If you don’t read Russian you don’t know the quality you are getting and there is also lot of illegally produced caviar in Russia. (cruelly and unsustainable). Fresh caviar is sold in bulk in the open markets and fun to try there. You can only bring a small jar to the US and nothing that is not prepackaged. (Grand Hotel Caviar Bar St Petersburg)

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The Moscow metro which was opened in the year 1935 is famous for its elegant architecture with art, murals, mosaics, and elaborate chandeliers. The Moscow metro has a total of 182 stations, which boast of one of the deepest subway systems and Europe’s longest escalator in Park Pobedy.

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Easter is the most important holiday in the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1884. The Russian Jeweler Peter Carl Faberge made an egg for the Tsar that became a gift for Tsarina Maria. They agreed that Faberge would make an egg for Maria every year. This continued on through their sons. They were inspired by historical works of art from his travels or the Hermitage. Fifty six Imperial eggs were made of which only 44 were found. Some were on display in the Kremlin Armory (now a museum) but a Russian billionaire bought the collection and opened a Faberge museum in St Petersburg.

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Lenin has never looked better. Russia is obsessed with keeping his body intact and has used new experimental embalming techniques. The focus is to preserve the body’s physical form but not necessarily its biological matter. There is definitely some plastic involved. Queues are very long. (Lenin’s mausoleum)

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Many things in Russia are almost impossible to explain, There is a very good saying that you will hear over and over again as first response to your questions: “Rossiyu umom ne ponyat” which can be translated as “Russia cannot be understood with your mind” (a quotation from the poet Tyutchev).

Безопасно путешествовать (I think)

JAZ

Learning Russian In America

Learning Russian In America

“It’s a plié. You do it on all the positions. It’s very good for dramatic moments.” Anne Ursu

It began with Whitney. She was a ten-year old girl with natural ballet ability who was impeccably trained. My daughter was a nine-year old dancer. “Go to Yuri,” Whitney’s mom said.

Yuri was Yuri Grigoriev, a Russian ballet teacher who taught an intermediate and advanced level adult ballet class. He allowed kids to attend if they could keep up. He spoke only in Russian.

This did not sound like good parenting to me. It was not an experience that would build positive self-esteem. Being taught by someone who did not teach in English with advanced adults in the class was not a recipe for building a good self-image. As far as I knew, if we as parents did not help our kids develop positive self images, they would probably end up on drugs robbing convenience stores.

My daughter became more focused on dance and she found herself in her first class with Yuri. She liked it. The adults were nice and she felt like she was learning. I asked if she understood him. She said yes. “But you don’t speak Russian?” Her reply was that it was not a problem.

Slowly Yuri developed a children’s program and in the years that we were there, I never heard one kid say they did not understand what he was teaching them. I didn’t understand him. I was always asking his wife Alexandra what he was saying. She ran his school and was his English.

He was teaching much more than ballet. Ballet was about movement and because the kids did not understand the words, they focused on watching him demonstrate the movement. They learned to stay in the present moment or they might miss something important. They watched his facial expressions and listened to his tone of voice. They began to use all their senses in communication. They also picked up many Russian words.

His students were developing an understanding of how to obtain knowledge from different cultures. There were things to learn from people who did not speak English. They became educated about the Russian ballet world and the famous Russian ballet dancers both past and present. When dancers came from Russia they would teach a class and pass on their dance knowledge. The dancers came from companies like the Bolshoi, Stanislavsky and the Kirov. These are amazing Russian companies and the students knew a lot about them.  No one taught in English. This had become the norm.

Yuri Grigoriev died suddenly. He now had his own ballet school with many girls. I have driven by it and seen the big sign in the front with his name on it.(http://www.yurigrigoriev.com). I went to the funeral at a Russian Orthodox Church. It was of course in Russian. As usual with Yuri, I didn’t understand the words and I didn’t need to. Many people gave tributes to Yuri in English and in Russian. Many little girls got up tearfully saying he was a second father to them and talked about how much they loved him. I hadn’t seen him in over ten years and was impressed with the school that he and his wife Alexandra had built with hard work and dedication. I asked someone if Yuri had ever learned English. She said no. Yuri took his knowledge, talent and love of dance and turned it into something even more beautiful. He passed it on to future generations and he is a testament to the fact that love and art will always transcend our differences.

Fly safe Yuri

JAZ