Well, it seems that I was a bit too pessimistic last week. The day after I had posted about the first snow (that I thought would stay the whole winter), it had already gone and has only very briefly returned since then. 🙂
I forgot to include one thing in our ‘readiness list’, though: Wim’s winter tires! They look something like this:
As you can see, the tires actually have metal studs in them. We’d already expected that Belgian-style winter tires (which – as far as I know – are only made from another kind of rubber and have different grooves) weren’t going to be enough for Russian winters. We’d heard that everybody here drives around with snow chains in winter, but apparently that’s another myth that’s not true. In the meantime we’ve also learnt that it’s not even true that Yaroslavl is covered in snow all winter long. Last year, there was apparently hardly any snow at Christmas. You don’t hear me complaining about that. 😉
Wim’s really happy with his new tires and told me that his grip on the road is amazing (even without snow). The downside of studded tires, however, is that they cause huge damage to the roads. The state of the roads already wasn’t that great before; those that are paved (because not all of them are) have potholes everywhere, most of which are so huge that you need to drive around them.
Needless to say both the roads themselves and the zigzagging they require do not improve road safety. In fact, in Russia you are more than twice as likely to be killed in a road accident than in Belgium, and more than five times as likely compared with the world’s safest countries. And I haven’t even touched on Russia’s reckless driving habits … not to mention the near-death experiences I’ve had in taxis here. But that’s for another post. 😉 Be safe!