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Europe: Eastern From Russia to Croatia, the Danube, Iron Curtain era vestiges, Pilzner beer, Czech it out!

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Old 10-17-2007, 11:45 AM   #1
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Default Europe in the winter, Backpacking?

So, things may be moving a bit quicker for Rox and I, and we may be heading out very early Jan. I've of course heard random things about the weather in winter. The rest of the winter stuff doesn't matter too me. Mainly I just want to know everyones experiences with winter weather. My destination countries are below.
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Old 10-17-2007, 02:01 PM   #2
 
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Guess I can let you know cause Ill be there the whole month of jan
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Old 10-17-2007, 07:08 PM   #3
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likewise i'll be spending christmas and the beginning of january in england, holland and belgium. so i'm kind of wondering the same thing.
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Old 10-17-2007, 09:13 PM   #4
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I was travelling europe in November/december, and while it was cold, it was nothing I couldnt handle! I much prefer travelling in winter to summer!
Advantages:
-less crowds
-packing clothes is easy as the weather is pretty predictable - warm pants, warm coat, a hoodie and a few tshirts!
- your clothes will last longer, laundry-wise. no icky sweating from walking around in hot weather with a backpack
- additionally, this means your hostel-mates will generally smell less!
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Old 10-18-2007, 12:44 AM   #5
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January and February get much colder though, especially in central europe.

Places like the Czech republic and Austria will be freezing...if I were you id head to southern Europe first, to avoid the really cold weather. But Austria is beautiful in the winter...im thinking of going in early february for a few days. It just might be a bit too much hassle having to bring warm clother for the first few weeks that you'll just be carrying round with you for the rest of your trip
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Old 10-18-2007, 06:06 AM   #6
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It's hard to tell what the weathers going to be like these days. Last year it didn't snow in countrys like Slovakia, it was even warmer than Ireland there.

I'd expect miserable weather, overcast, rain, cold but not freezing.
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Old 10-18-2007, 07:04 AM   #7
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Well, we've started talking about dropping Croatia. Who wants to go to a primarily beachy country with heavy cold winds. After reading about another traveler spending 5 days in Prague and it snowing for the entire 5 days, kinda made me excited! Eastern Eu covered in snow, has to be just beautiful. The downside is that I hate the cold, and we are the kinda travelers who spend 8-10 hours a day out and about. Our country list is pretty much set in stone, now we will just have to acquire the proper clothing etc...
Thanks for the advice so far, and any other winter weather in eastern eu facts are more than welcom
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Old 10-18-2007, 07:14 AM   #8
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The southerly country's won't be cold. Spain and anything in line with it will still be warm (or bare-able by my pasty Irish standards). It's only really the inland countries that get cold the coast is kept warm by the gulf stream. I was in Prague last November and it wasn't cold or snowing.

But like I said there's no guarantees, it didn't snow much throughout Europe and the season was very late and short.
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Old 10-19-2007, 02:39 PM   #9
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I have been thinking of a similar trip in January or February. I actually found round-trip tickets from Houston to A-dam for $507, taxes and fees included. Me and my wife love the cold weather and really look forward to spending some time "snowed in" with a bunch of people in a hostel. I currently have too many irons in the fire to plan my trip out, but soon... very soon.

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Old 10-20-2007, 04:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marc873 View Post
After reading about another traveler spending 5 days in Prague and it snowing for the entire 5 days, kinda made me excited! Eastern Eu covered in snow, has to be just beautiful.
oooh, when i was in prague those photographers on the charles bridge had some photos of prague in the snow... it looked so amazing. I would love to see it in snow!
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Old 10-22-2007, 03:27 AM   #11
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Bulgaria definitely gets cold in the Winter. I agree with the others...start in the south (Turkey & Croatia, on your list), then move north...

You still planning on going to San Diego the same dates, btw...?

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Old 10-26-2007, 10:55 PM   #12
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Totally unpredictable in today's climate.
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Old 10-27-2007, 07:36 AM   #13
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Bulgaria definitely gets cold in the Winter. I agree with the others...start in the south (Turkey & Croatia, on your list), then move north...

You still planning on going to San Diego the same dates, btw...?

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Well, looks like we are still planning on starting in the north in Czech, and finish in Turkey. We are extending Turkey time to almost 2 weeks to enjoy a little bit more warmth. We are hoping for a slighly milder winter this year!! But are also going to go well prepared for cold weather.
Thanks for the advice so far, and we really are hoping for snow in some of our destinations.
And this goes to show why itenararies go out the window. Ours has shifted yet again, but thats keeping it exciting!!!
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Old 10-28-2007, 09:36 AM   #14
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Woo-hoo! Two extra weeks in Turkey...sounds so much better than the mealey 3-4 days I had. Definitely, definitely, definitely get to Cappadocia in your time there. From everything I've read and pics I've seen, I guarentee you will not be disappointed.

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Old 10-28-2007, 04:40 PM   #15
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Yeah, someone just suggested Butterfly Valley to me. Only accessible by boat, and you can stay in a beach hut, or a TREE HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Heres a small link about it http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/g...pages/008.html

Anyone been here?
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Old 10-31-2007, 10:38 AM   #16
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We live in Germany at the moment, which is in the "Continental" weather pattern. Before here, we lived in Lithuania for two years, which is "Continental" + frigid. In that time during Jan-Feb-Mar we visited Estonia, Sweden, the UK, Denmark, Greece, Italy and Spain, so my info is based on those accumulated experiences.

Last year where we live, we had two days of snow. In the alps and throughout most of Europe, that was about the extent of snowfall, but even so, we had plenty of cold, grey weather. The year before, we had a fairly heavy accumulation, and this year seems to be heading the way of that year - already the mornings and evenings are frosty and we have had plenty of cold rainy weather. My kids, who leave for their school trains/buses around 7 am, have broken out their hats, scarves and mittens already.

During our stay in Lithuania, we not infrequently enjoyed (endured?) -20 - -30 degree days. My husband had a water bottle in an inside pocket, next to his body, while he rode around on a bus for about three hours one day. When he got off the bus, the water was frozen. I kid you not. That said, most days were balmy - in the -10 to -15 range. Sometimes even up to freezing, but then it usually made up for it with freezing rain. (All temps are Celsius)

So, our basic survival guide for these conditions was:

(for me) warm winter boots, with slip on ice guards. Roads in Eastern Europe are notoriously uneven and the ice builds up quickly but can be hard to see. Eastern European hospitals are an interesting cultural experience, best avoided if at all possible.

Wool socks, long underwear (I have CuddlDuds, which worked great under whatever else I was wearing), fleece or flannel lined jeans/chinos. Normally I don't travel with jeans, but the fleece lined ones are cozy. Take forever to dry though, which is a pain in the butt. Long sleeved turtleneck, wool sweater, WATERPROOF jacket (mine is an LLBean parka). If you want to blend in, a long woolen coat is a better bet, but it's not always practical when traveling. HAT. SCARF. WARM GLOVES. Plastic framed sunglasses (because cold metal on my nose is not an experience I enjoy.) Also, I never wore pierced earrings when it was that cold, again, because the feeling of cold metal stabbing through my ears was not pleasant.

My husband wore Doc Martins the entire two years we were in Lithuania, and never once were his feet wet. He swears by them. Also, wool socks, long underwear, fleece lined jeans, a long sleeved turtleneck, wool sweater, waterproof jacket (his was a Columbia model with a zip-in fleece liner - this was the coat he was wearing when the the water froze.) Hat, gloves and scarf. Even if you would never be caught dead wearing a scarf, hat or gloves at home, you will be miserable without them over here. And everyone else wears them, so you won't stand out. If you don't have one, consider buying one from an outdoor vendor in the street, it'll be more local and makes a great souvenir.

Some variation on these clothes suited us well for all of northern and eastern Europe, but an important thing to remember is that, especially in former Soviet countries, most public venues (museums, concert halls, theatres, bars, restaurants, etc) have cloakrooms, invariably free, in which to dump all your outdoor gear. During Soviet times, when heating fuel was heavily subsidized, these buildings could be stiflingly hot inside, and you'd have to strip down to your long underwear to be comfortable, but nowadays when they have to pay the market price (whatever Russia decides that will be), the interiors tend to be more comfortable. You might have to take off your heavy sweater, but then again, you might not.

Further south, of course, it will be warmer, but if you are on the coast, the breeze off the water can really add a chill. We were in Venice in January, and though it was only a couple of degrees below freezing, we felt colder than we had in Vilnius where it was -14. That's where the wind/waterproof shell comes in handy.

Another factor in the northern winters is the very short days. In Vilnius, in the dead of winter, the sun was generally up (low on the horizon) for about 6 hours a day. Roughly 9 am to 3 pm. By 4 in the afternoon, you would think it was midnight. That might affect the time that you want to do your sight-seeing. Opening hours at outdoor events might be quite limited, although in general, northern European cities are awash in twinkling lights right through from November to February, and monuments and historic buildings often have marvellous spotlights trained on them that give stunning views of the city. Also, many cities have outdoor skating rinks or winter gardens open quite late to give locals some sort of outdoor entertainment - be sure to check those out.

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Old 10-31-2007, 11:30 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tumblezweedz View Post
During our stay in Lithuania, we not infrequently enjoyed (endured?) -20 - -30 degree days. My husband had a water bottle in an inside pocket, next to his body, while he rode around on a bus for about three hours one day. When he got off the bus, the water was frozen. I kid you not. That said, most days were balmy - in the -10 to -15 range. Sometimes even up to freezing, but then it usually made up for it with freezing rain. (All temps are Celsius)
Fuk-fuk-fukeddaboudit.

Learn from the birds - migrate south for the winter. Or hibernate at home like a bear.

I try to avoid travelling in the winter (or peak summer) at all costs.
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Old 10-31-2007, 01:58 PM   #18
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Yeah, there is that.

But winter is a big part of what makes northern Europeans ... northern, and it's pretty interesting to experience first hand. Plus, European cities in a snowfall are breathtaking.

And you can't always win. Last Easter, it was 30 degrees C at our home in Germany. We went back to Vilnius, where it snowed for four days straight. In mid-April.

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Old 11-01-2007, 06:20 PM   #19
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"(for me) warm winter boots, with slip on ice guards. Roads in Eastern Europe are notoriously uneven and the ice builds up quickly but can be hard to see. Eastern European hospitals are an interesting cultural experience, best avoided if at all possible."



That is the BEST suggestion yet!!! I hadn't even thought of that, but I DO not want to slip and bust my elbow up or something in the middle of Bulgaria:eek: Thanks a ton for that one. Oh how the list grows. We just bought $600 worth of winter clothing. AND theres still room in the pack. We found this item http://www.prolitegear.com/icebreake...sis_crewe.html They come in pants too. Roxy wore a pair last year, and they worked like a charm for her. Along with a nice 3 in 1 jacket, gloves, hat. I want to by my scarf in Prague.
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Last edited by marc873; 11-01-2007 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 11-02-2007, 12:38 PM   #20
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Eastern European hospitals are an interesting cultural experience, best avoided if at all possible."
.
No way! I had to go to the hospital in Prague and i thought it was great I got a better service than in Ireland thanks to the European medical card (an absolutely free medical insurance card available to all European citizens if you live in the EU get one now! It only works when your visiting another member state other than your own). When i went in first I got a cold reception until I pulled out that card. My visit was completely free and my meds where half price. I wouldn't even get that treatment in Ireland.

Doesn't really apply to most on here but still I was pleasantly surprised if I ever get knocked down by a car or anything I'm calling aerlingus instead of an Ambulance.
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