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Russia: In Moscow, icicles, ice skating and other subzero thrills

January 30, 2013|By Christopher Reynolds
  • Even well-trafficked Red Square can look pretty lonely on a subzero January night in Moscow.
Even well-trafficked Red Square can look pretty lonely on a subzero January… (Christopher Reynolds /…)

The great thing about visiting Moscow from Los Angeles is you don't have to reset your watch. It's a 12-hour time difference, so all you have to do is think about the time in a different way.

Of course, winter in Russia is a little bit different from winter in Southern California. As the sun sets on Moscow, it's 7 degrees below zero and your guide is giving thanks for the mild weather.

"It was 20 below zero last night," one local told me when I arrived Tuesday.

"Be careful of icicles," said another. "They can kill people here."

But once you're all zipped up with no sharp objects overhead, you can watch the Muscovites ice skating in Red Square (the same way they do in L.A.'s Pershing Square and S.F.'s Union Square, but with about 10 tons more panache). You can check out the rounded little snowdrifts on the onion domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, and the ice-sculpted saints arrayed at the base of the building.

You can also marvel at the gaudy Christmas trees. Muscovites like to keep them up all through January and into February.

And then, remembering that you flew 12 largely sleepless hours to get here, you can stagger into the Hotel Metropol and dive into bed.

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