Visiting the Arctic

It's always hard for me to keep things short but since I was commenting on something here anyway I'll mention visiting the Arctic last week.  We visited Murmansk,  Russia,  which seemed about as good as any place to do that.  One part was seeing northern lights, which were amazing, and another was visiting other places in Russia along with it. We spent a short week in Moscow and I'm still in St. Petersburg now.

Murmansk was nice because it's more or less the only town of that size that far north, per my understanding (around 300,000 residents).  The Gulf Stream moderates temperature so it ranged between -10 and -27 C while we were there (20 and -15 F, roughly).  From there I could just ramble on about attractions (visiting a reindeer farm or husky racing camp), but it was probably what someone would expect.

Russia is nice in general. It's not a relatively easy place to visit, with English use limited, and winter travel adding gear issues, but people are nice and there's lots to see.  People in Moscow seem a bit serious,  but then large cities can tend to bring that out, especially with winter as the background.   I tried to find tea here (not as much as sightseeing), and it's around,  Russians are into tea.  It doesn't work well to really get a feel for culture in a week or so of visiting (2 1/2 total on this trip, relating to short weeks in all three places) but it's been interesting to the extent that worked out.  Russians are like anyone else,  just a bit more serious in demeanor, and maybe just a little more rugged.  But there are artists and such, so of course all that varies.

Even more comfortable - for anyone interested in the Arctic region - would be the town of Hammerfest in Norway. I hitched through there as a young man back in the USSR days, and was very impressed with that part of the world. My route took me from Bergen up to Hammerfest and east to the island of Vardo, then down through Finland to Helsinki. I'm too old now to do it again, but would certainly recommend any youngster to follow the same route. I have two Norwegian granddaughters, so I will probably start persuading them! I don't know what the border-crossing is like these days; if it's open, they could go directly to Murmansk from Norway.

I have a friend who sailed into Antarctic waters on a 100-years-old schooner - Brrr, not for me (I much prefer the tropics)!
But I do have a Russian Samowar, bought in St. Petersburg in my youth, and do like this typical way of preparing tea from a (strong and bitter) concentrate in a teapot places on the Samowar's chimney and boiling water from the device itself. This method is also common in Turkey, Persia and the Central Asian "-stans".

I wrote a blog post about the experience with lots of pictures.  Since I'd just went to Murmansk before the initial post there isn't much to add about that; it was interesting up there. 

A coworker mentioned going to Norway once to see Northern Lights in the spring (their spring, second quarter of the year, which isn't really spring in the same sense in Bangkok).  She said it didn't work out, at least for that purpose, that they saw something that a camera could identify as related but their eyes couldn't.  We had the full experience but paid the price in terms of traveling in cold weather and experiencing four hour long days.  That part was cool, for part of a week, but I'd expect it would get old fast.  She also said things seemed quite expensive to her there, although for certain things the cost of living isn't exactly low in Bangkok too, it just depends on the type of goods or service.

St. Petersburg was nice, and it was interesting how different the three places were.  Moscow is interesting for having more to do with Soviet history to experience, and Murmansk the Arctic, and St. Petersburg had a more amazing look, really well decorated with lights for the Christmas and New Years holiday.  Both Moscow and St. Petersburg seemed to have great access to arts events, and a circus in St. Petersburg was one of my kids' favorite outings.

That blog post:  http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.co … ow-st.html

For the first ten days of this month (January 2018), there was officially no daylight in Murmansk, Russia .. only some twilight hours.

Starting on the 11th, daylight began appearing for increasing amounts of minutes/hours.

source: the charts at www.timeanddate.com/sun/russia/murmansk

Fun facts about Murmansk, Russia...

The northwest Russian city is just 67 miles from a border with Norway.

Murmansk is about 120 miles from a Russian border with Finland.

Murmansk's warmest months are June to August, when the high temperatures average in the upper 50s to low 60s Fahrenheit.

The Port of Murmansk is open and operating year round, for two reasons...

1.  The warm North Atlantic Ocean current.

2.  The port of Murmansk hosts a fleet of vessels that are nuclear-powered "icebreakers."

cccmedia

cccmedia :

The northwest Russian city is just 67 miles from a border with Norway.
Murmansk is about 120 miles from a Russian border with Finland.
Murmansk's warmest months are June to August, when the high temperatures average in the upper 50s to low 60s Fahrenheit.

What is that in sensible units (km and °C)???

beppi :
cccmedia :

The northwest Russian city is just 67 miles from a border with Norway.
Murmansk is about 120 miles from a Russian border with Finland.
Murmansk's warmest months are June to August, when the high temperatures average in the upper 50s to low 60s Fahrenheit.

What is that in sensible units (km and °C)???

As they say, give a man a fish .. and he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.

Ipso facto...

In the above examples, to determine the distances in kilometers .. and a relevant temperature in Celcius...

Google as follows....

  convert 67 miles to kilometers

  convert 120 miles to kilometers

  convert 60 degrees Fahrenheit to Celcius

The conversions should appear instantly if you are using google.com ....

  -- cccmedia

I am working in factory automation and thus think in terms of efficiency:
- If every reader does google and calculate, a lot more time is wasted compared to the author doing it once.
- If the USA could change their archaic measurement system, the world would be a better place.
In addition, refusing to use world standards shows a kind of inward-looking arrogance that I personally dislike.

(P.S.: I don't know my height in feet and inches, but I'm slightly taller than one fathom.)

It was interesting being there when it never really did seem to be fully light out, still odd there is an official measurement saying that it never was.

About the conversion tangent, it is odd for me moving back and forth between the two.  In most cases the archaic units are more familiar since I'm American but I've been expressing things in metric for a decade or so here in Thailand so it starts to click.

People being crabby about how others express things in online discussions does get old, those sorts of attitudes.  It comes up over and over, in lots of forms, people marking out group-space by putting down others for not getting tone right, or phrasing.  There are two ways of measuring distance and temperature; it's not that hard to get over that.

Try Fantasy Island aka (also known as) Alaska, lived there for 37 years and all of the above you can get there at maybe the same price, english and good food and a carefree attitude. The Upper 1 ( as its street creed name) Alaska is just as vast, yet one is limited to borders, one can drive to the Yukon Territory Canada in a Day... and enjoy all of the above enroute, it is a tourist trap yet with planning and research one can do it on the cheap, I don't recommend "Sheeple Tours" aka "Package Tours" just do the research and ya might catch the NL (Northern Lights).Lots of History and I don't recommend the Seafood or anything from the Pacific Ocean since Fukushima. The Iditarod is a fantastic event and winter in North America is very real.....nice.
If anyone is thinking about Alaska and need or wants information on the "Gr8 State"
PM and I'll see what I can help to make your trip more enjoyable. As for living in Brazil now cold weather is not all the much fun....jus sayn.... Fish On......usally yelled during the Salmon Run ......Gee,Haw left and right while mushing a dawg team......lol...

A co-worker here is from Canada and mentioned seeing the auroras a lot in North-Central Canada.  He also said that it was normal for the temperatures to get down to -40 or -50 C in the middle of the winter, and that below -50 C even if there was a block-heater (or trickle heater, he called that) the car still wouldn't work, the heater couldn't function.  Of course it's dangerous being in that kind of cold in any sort of remote environment because without a lot of the right gear you'll die if something goes wrong.

I've just come across some sites featuring what looks like a fun overnight train-journey from Trondheim, Norway, north to inside the Arctic Circle. Googling "The Nordland line" brings up several useful links.

I was up that way in the summer of 1963, and celebrated my 24th birthday with a (very!) quick dip in the sea at Narvik. Being young and adventurous, I hitchhiked all the way up to Kirkenes, which is almost as far north as one can go on the mainland of Europe, and right up to the fenced border with the USSR for a surreptitious glimpse at the forbidden land. How times have changed! There is now a busy road across the border and all the way to  Murmansk.

By chance, I have three Norwegian grandchildren these days. They live in the south of their country, but that Trondheim train trip might be a good place to take one or two of them next time I'm over!

bkk tea blog :

A co-worker here is from Canada and mentioned seeing the auroras a lot in North-Central Canada.  He also said that it was normal for the temperatures to get down to -40 or -50 C in the middle of the winter, and that below -50 C even if there was a block-heater (or trickle heater, he called that) the car still wouldn't work, the heater couldn't function.  Of course it's dangerous being in that kind of cold in any sort of remote environment because without a lot of the right gear you'll die if something goes wrong.

Don't turn Nothing Off......jus sayn.....the minus Temps can be invigorating and never leave Home unprepared. ....... and buy the best gear for your budget. Allways expect the weather to throw something crazy in the game. I was in the Yukon Territory back in the early 1980s and we left the car running allnight, the problem with the equipment in the cold is shutting it down or off and that includes ones body another thingy have all Energy foods you can, the Cold saps everythingy.......the "Arctic" kinda miss the place?

I was talking to a Canadian guy at work about the extreme cold, and he had some interesting comments on it based on having lived in the far North of Canada.  He said that it could get down to -50 up there (C, I guess they'd use, but I think those two scales cross down around -35 or so). 

He said you could walk outside to check something on the grill if it was way below zero and as long as it wasn't windy and you didn't stay out long you'd barely feel it, even if you really weren't dressed for it.  He said it was dangerous to spend much time out there because you might not notice how much heat you were losing.  According to him around -50 block heaters (what he called a trickle charger) stops working, and your car will just freeze and not work.

I've only experienced that sort of cold once in the US, during that "polar vortex" event that would be around three years back now, I think.  If I'm remembering right it was around -20 F (-30 C), about 10 degrees colder (F) than I'd experienced before.  I was excited about it but it really didn't feel all that different. 

It was that cold our first night in Murmansk, and since we were on an outing to view Northern Lights we were walking around in it, with a breeze.  The real problem was that you can't really tell what kids mean when they say they're cold; they could be fine or a couple fingertips really could be getting frostbite.  The weather looked different than anything I've ever seen at that time, with the moisture in the air falling out of it in a form that looked like a fine dust.  I lived in the mountains in Colorado for awhile so I had seen lots of unusual forms of weather there but this was something different.  The air just doesn't hold much for moisture at all at those temperatures, as shown in  related psychrometric charts.

http://www.humiditycontrol.co.uk/index_htm_files/58847.jpg

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