Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Making the Most of Winter

Now that the 95th major winter storm of the season has hit the eastern U.S. and Canada, a lot of people's thoughts turn to a vacation in the sunny South. That can be a good idea, but there's also a lot to be said for capitalizing on winter where you live or even taking a trip to a destination known for winter, such as Russia.
My first trip to Russia was in winter, and I was happy to see something of the weather which has done so much to forge the tenacious character of the Russian people. Russians really know how to enjoy themselves in the cold, with outdoor swimming, ice fishing, skating, skiing, troika rides and other amusements. The site of Christ the Saviour Cathedral (pictured above) in Moscow used to be an enormous outdoor heated swimming pool that was open and used year around. I have read that since the end of Communism older Russians have taken to getting together in parks on weekends to dance to recorded music, and of course, sip or gulp a little vodka.
Downhill skiing is the traditional winter holiday sport, but it can be expensive. Cross-country skiing is the poor man's preferred sport, and it can be fun. I have recently returned to ice skating, something I had abandoned as a child. It's very cheap or free, good exercise and less injury-prone than skiing. I live in Canada where hockey is a religion, and aside from the outlay for equipment it is a reasonably-priced pasttime with a lot of benefits in terms of exercise. It is high-risk for injuries, unfortunately. Curling is another alternative for the less athletic among us.
Winter hiking and snow-shoeing are other possibilities.
Don't let winter get you down, get out there and enjoy the weather whatever it is.


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