6 January 2005

It's too hot in Europe in winter

I was born and lived my early life in the tropics (Ghana and Nigeria respectively) and have resided in Australia for the last three decades. With that backdrop, there’s no doubting that Europe feels cold in winter. Temperatures in Berlin during my stay ranged from 0°C to 4°C, and there was often mild drizzle. Of course, I had travelled with hat, scarf and gloves, but found myself buying new gloves because I couldn’t operate the camera in my existing ones (who’d have thought of checking that in Australia where it had been 36°C the day before I left?) and a new beanie.

Clive's tea cosy

Thus attired, I was able to cope pretty well with the cold. My nose ran regularly (but noses run in my family, har de har) and it’s rather amusing to go to a street food vendor asking for a cold drink and be given one of the counter, because the drinks outside are colder than the ones in the fridge.

The real problem I found with the cold was, in fact, the heat indoors. Every hotel room, house and shop I have seen in Germany or Poland is too damned hot. The locals may consider that snug, but it’s past that, with the effect that the air is often too dry and still. Sleeping with so little humidity left me dry, parched and itchy-eyed, and on our return to the hotel each evening we found ourselves turning off the central heating and opening up all the windows.

The other annoyance was having to dress and undress all the time. Every time I walked into a shop I was suddenly boiling and had to take of hat, scarf, gloves, coat, warm layer and sometimes mid layer. The sort of adventure shops at which I buy my warmwear encourage us to dress in layers, and that’s great advice for flexibility, light travel weight, etc. But it is, conspicuously, not what the locals tend to do. Many of them have huge, thick coats with fur-lined collars that seem precisely made for the temperature differential between indoors and out. That's not a real alternative for travellers simply becasue of the bulk, but perhaps when I acquire my chateau on the French Reviera I shall keep a collection of such coats there in readiness for my next visit.Go to eebahgum!

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I agree sometimes it is too hot inside in Germany. I can especially feel for you because I am Australian.