A Trip to Novosibirsk
Quick movements seemed to be the MO for the day. As we walked the 10 minutes to the bus stop, even stoic Siberians were steeling themselves against the abrasive wind that quickly found its way through my long underwear. Pedestrians walked with great speed and swing of appendages to keep them filled with as blood as long as possible. Everyone’s eyes quickly filled with the tears from the wind, as if a cold front were meeting a warm in the mountains of the cornea.
After a numbing 12 minute wait, bus route number 8 swung through our stop and we jumped on. The bus system here seems to be quite good. At least ten buses came to the stop before number 8, but only this route takes you all the way into
If it weren’t for a thankful smile from one older lady, I would’ve been very sorry for giving up my seat because our new location had us standing directly in front of the door, getting blasted with cold air at each of the many stops we made before
It’s a rare case when vigorous exercise can’t warm you up. Walking up the hill from the main bus station was one of the coldest experiences of my life. The vast street we were following was a giant wind tunnel, though the explosions of wind seemed to come from every direction. After a dreadfully long 20 minutes of walking, we felt we were honing in on the cathedral and turned off onto a side street. This street was amazingly warmer because of its relative shelter from the wind. My calves were still anesthetized with cold though, which I don’t think I’ve ever felt before, and poor Anthony was wearing sneakers (the only shoes he brought to
We finally spotted the cathedral and arrived there at a timely 9:42am. 9am mass was coming to a close, and during the “kiss of peace” I noticed that I was in fact the only one there in a skirt, or a least a skirt that was not hidden by layers of coats. We stayed a little while after mass was over to pray/prepare ourselves for the elements, and on the way out I realized that chairs along the sides of the church were placed right above the heating vents. I decided we should sit and pray a little more.
Finally, still quite cold, we got up for the return journey. Sight seeing was out of the question. We hopped on a trolley, thank goodness, to get most of the way back to the central bus station. Once there we had to wait a grueling 20+ minutes in the cold. We were not alone in misery, there was a lot of pacing and purchasing of warm “chai” by the locals to stay warm. One woman with the tell-tale Russian plastic zip up shopping bag was constantly tapping her boots together. I was a bit comforted that many weather-worn Siberians clearly regarded this as uncomfortably cold, not just we green Americans. We were all allies against the artic. Amazingly though, some travelers looked quite at ease even with fewer clothes on than most.
Bus route 8 again came infrequently, so we had to wait while numerous other buses tortuously came and left. Finally it arrived and people pushed and shoved their way onto the bus. This rush of activity and body contact was like the secret way to warm each other up. We got shoved towards the front of the bus, and seeing as there were several open seats there we gladly settled in for the farthest destination of route 8.
Apparently being seated and not next to a door makes little difference—I did not warm up one iota for the entire ride (during which the driver was driving excruciatingly slowly). When we arrived at our stop, I started a stiff awkward walk then run back to the apartment. We made it, and after some warm food while sitting on top of the heater, my body temperature felt somewhat normal. I then went skiing and actually was quite warm the whole workout. Apparently sitting, standing, and even walking in the cold are just not sufficient for generating warmth.
Most days have not been that cold. We’ve enjoyed temps between 0 and 20° F for the most part, so it really has not been unbearable. Today was a balmy -10 C, about 14° F. I hope you all had a wonderful and warm weekend.