Blog - Moscow winter

Added on Saturday, 2012-12-22 15:38 CET in category Moscow
How come I never wrote about Moscow winter before, I don't know. If there's one season people talk (but mainly complain) about the most, it must be winter, during which it gets cold. Very cold. And with that cold come a lot of "interesting side effects".

Moscow winter lasts quite long, from October through April more or less. Temperatures vary, but it pretty much freezes the entire time, with temperatures sometimes diving to -30°C, like last February. (Right now it's a doable -15°C.)


One of the oddest things I noticed, is that drivers pre-heat their car in winter. Every single one of them, and for at least 10-15 minutes. They're convinced it's a necessity, and that driving off straightaway will damage the car badly. (Now there's some debate about the practice, although a few cons are hard to deny.)

Another odd thing related to driving is the use of de-icing chemicals to keep the streets free from snow and ice, about which there is quite some controversy.

(Leaving your car outside poses another problem, btw.)

Combating the cold

There are all kinds of manners to combat the cold. Not leaving home in the first place, or running from door to door seem to be the most popular ones :) An alternative that comes to mind is vodka, which apparently recently saved a few elephants' lives.

And mine? Cycling :D They call me crazy, but who made it to TV? :P And besides, I just like it.

At -10°C or so, the grease on the chain (a.o.) starts to freeze up, making cycling, especially the uphill parts, more and more of an ordeal. It'll keep you warm, though, very warm. When I do finally get home, I take off my hat and am literally steaming :P

(Nice side note: the bicycle parking next to the Yandex office may be gone for the winter, but they put another, albeit smaller, one in the underground garage. How considerate :)

Those hardened Muscovites?

Before I had ever been to Moscow, I only knew Moscow winters were cold, and that the people were used to it. I was wrong about the latter. Historically, though, Muscovites weren't being such sissies during winter. To quote Alexander Pushkin's famous poem "Зимнее утро" (A Winter Morning):

Мороз и солнце; день чудесный!
(Frost and sunshine; what a wonderful day!)

Besides, Father Frost did help them win a few wars.

Winter fun

For me as a Dutchman, winter fun = ice skating :) And by ice skating, I mean speed skating, which Russians don't do. They skate, of course, but only on figure skates or ice hockey skates, and where's the fun in that? :P

Unfortunately, speed skates are not allowed on most ice rinks, because they're oh so "dangerous". (We of course all know hundreds of people die in the Netherlands because of speed skates every year…) The ice rink at Krylatskoe (in Russian only), where this year's world allround speed skating championships were being held, is a welcome exception.

The end

All good things come to an end, though. For a few weeks Moscow is filled with gray sleet, full of de-icing chemicals, but then finally, spring!