So… what’s the weather like there?

Jan 27th

So what’s the weather l

ike?

It seems the three questions I have been asked most since arriving are: What are the people like? What’s the weather like? And what’s the school like?

I’ve already made some observations about the people here, don’t feel I can post too much about the school, so here’s a go at answering the weather question…

When I arrived in Bratislava 3 weeks ago, it was grey, damp and cold. I quickly surmised that January is perhaps not the best month to arrive in a new place and gain a good impression of it. A few days later, however, the sun appeared: brightening up the city and my opinion of it. That didn’t last long, because the next day the heavens opened. I rapidly discovered that my boots let in water and unless you want to get showered by passing cars, walk as close to the buildings as you can…

My first weekend exploring the city, the temperature rose to 12 degrees and I wondered if I had misunderstood what the winter was really like here. Up to this point, the lowest temperature I’d experienced was 4 and everything seemed rather pleasant. Outside that is. The problem I was having, and am continuing to have, is that due the temperature falling to -17 before my arrival, the heating in all buildings had been cranked up to about 30 and not readjusted. On entering every building you immediately have to divest yourself of the many layers added to compensate for anticipated cold weather and end up a walking clothes horse carrying your hat, scarf, gloves, coat, extra jumper, extra scarf…

It seems winter really did come back with a vengeance, at least that’s how it felt last Saturday, as I darted around the old town in and out of cafes and bars sipping hot chocolate and wine respectively to avoid the chilling -5 wind in the city centre! This biting cold hung around all weekend, with snow predicted for Sunday evening. Emerging from Tesco Sunday evening, the roads, car park and cars had indeed been dusted with the white stuff, and people looked on alarmingly at our shrieks of joy, whipping out our cameras to capture the moments of our first snow!

Everyone wished me well, in my “winter wonderland” adventure, which I had started to disbelieve until I woke up on Monday morning and the snow had continued to fall throughout the night. I marvelled at the fact that at 7am, the footpaths and pavements were already cleared and people were going about their daily business without a second thought. I walked around the city with a stupid grin plastered on my face for the following three days as it continued the snow constantly and the city continued to function flawlessly.

I found myself amazed to see men in orange jackets out early in the morning, shovelling the snow away and to see mini snow ploughs driving along pavements pushing it away and dropping salt in its path. I was standing at the tram stop, simply in awe of the fact that everyone accept me was totally non-plussed when a van screeched to a halt and 4 men jumped out with determined looks on their faces. 3 grabbed shovels from the back seats and one heaved a bag of salt onto his shoulders and off they scuttled down a cobbled street shovelling and salting. Perhaps it’s only in the UK where normal functions stop. Cos in this city, you wouldn’t even know it was snowing, apart from the increased number of people wearing fur coats, the odd child in a snow suit and perhaps people whipping out an umbrella now and again.

Although the pavements were salted as soon as the first flakes fell, the other day paths were covered as quickly as they were shovelled, making some places slightly difficult to negotiate. I watched in alarm as an old lady crossed a particularly slippery crossing with no one to help her neither the aid of a stick and then reminded myself that she has been doing this every winter all her life and it’s probably only me who needs to be cautious here!

Finally, I have observed that no one here seems to grumble about the weather either, or even talk about it. They just seem to get on with it, come what may. But then again, perhaps there is just no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing…

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About graceeliz

Many years ago I met someone who said: "Don't know what you want to do with your life? Teach English as a foreign language, then you can travel the world. Best thing I've ever done!" That got me thinking. Research was done. Course booked in Barcelona. Certificate gained. 5 years living in Barcelona working as an English teacher. Done! Where to next? Check out my blog! 5 years in Barcelona, 6 months in Slovakia, 2 years in Australia... and now I am home in Somerset. We'll see if I can stop the itch in my feet...

Posted on January 30, 2011, in Slovakia Stories.... Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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