Okay, let’s get it out of the way!
Please all have a good laugh now at the silly English kid who moved to Russia just in time for winter… Incidentally I will often refer to myself as a kid or boy (despite having been an adult for almost all of my adult life) because I still don’t really feel like a grown-up most of the time… I should. I really really should. But I don’t so just go with it.
Anyway, I left an unseasonably warm London (20 degrees in October?) a day later than planned (but that’s another story) to arrive in an unseasonably cold St Petersburg. And when I say cold… It was minus 5 (minus 11 with wind chill) and snowing.
Yeah yeah, it’s some cathedral or other, but I’m sure anyone who’s ever visited St Pete has a better photo of it. My picture is of the snow… Sadly you can’t really see much snow unless you zoom in and look against the dark background of the windows or river, but to be fair I couldn’t really see it when I took the photo because it was so cold my vision had gone funny.
They say the locals can tell you’re a foreigner just by looking at your eyes, but with me there’s another dead giveaway. I find life ridiculously amusing. I mean it’s the most fun I’ve ever had, but when you start to dissect things the whole business is a bit crazy. So the absurdity of the extreme temperature drop had me grinning to myself as I walked around the city…
Now the Russian people are on the whole a very friendly bunch when you get talking to them, but smiling on the street is definitely out. I’m not sure whether it’s in the constitution, but there are so few exceptions that it must surely be a provable rule. So I stand out a mile… but I kinda like that, and it’s not exclusive to Russia. I’ve long held the philosophy that you should always wear a smile because people will wonder what you are so happy about… The exception is when you have your hands in your pockets because then they’ll have a guess.
...which after my initial annoyance only made me grin more so I headed back to the hotel.