Having been to Russia a few times, Ukraine once, and other Eastern European nations, I don’t always notice the things a newcomer would. I don’t even find things that once surprised me remarkable, tending to forget, instead, that anyone might actually be interested in reading about them. Yet, undoubtedly, there’s quite a few quirks one has to adjust to in this sprawling, chilly land. Here’s a selection of unusual things you might encounter on a daily basis in this neck of the woods.
- Trees wearing white paint. Actually, I think it’s lime. The purpose? Er, I don’t know.
- Toilets which you can’t flush toilet paper down, along with a little trashcan sitting nearby for your used tissue. Only problematic if there’s no waste basket nearby.
3. Shopping centers, train stations, and other large foot-traffic areas with only a few of their many doors unlocked and open. Typically requires you to zig-zag. Let the cursing ensue.
4. Heating cranked up indoors. This is a cool weather thing, of course, not a summer time issue. Only surprising when you realize that there’s no control over said heating in your apartment, except maybe to disable it altogether.
5. Heating cranked up in public transportation. All modes. Taxis, buses, you name it. Sweat much?
6. No lawn mowers. Who cares for the many shabby, overgrown outdoor spaces around apartment buildings and alongside secondary streets? Nobody, it appears, except for on rare special occasions.
7. Early sunrise and late sunset in summer. This is a product of latitude, of course.
8. Late sunrise and early sunset in winter. Nothing makes you want to stay in bed more than the sun staying away.
9. Price tags for ordinary goods with numbers in the thousands. Generally goods aren’t too pricey, but you’ll do a double take as you remind yourself of the exchange rate.
10. Soup, sour cream, and cabbage are ubiquitous. “I can’t imagine a day without having soup,” a guy told me a couple weeks ago. Of course, the soups here are good, so why not have ’em regularly?