Artillery shells were exploding outside. Take, for example, the Soviet comedy Lieutenant Kizhe. Not one of the most memorable films ever made, for sure. But it produced what has become one of the most recognisable, most popular, and most festive pieces of Russian music ever written. The man who wrote it is Sergei Prokofiev. And the piece is "Troika". Now, "Troika" means "three" or "triple" in Russian — and it refers to the three horses that traditionally pulled a Russian sleigh. For me, the piece conjures up such a vivid image of a provincial Russian winter: I only have to close my eyes and that sleigh bell accompaniment whisks me away to the countryside and on to that "troika" charging through the snow.
Spare a thought for a BBC correspondent in a Russian winter.
Layers, layers, layers
It's not easy. On one occasion I was out filming in minus centigrade!
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I turned to the camera to record my stand-up and, seconds later, my mouth froze. So, based on bitter experience, here are my top tips for surviving the Russian winter. You need a thick coat, lots of layers, a warm hat — and — most important of all — a pair of traditional Russian felt boots. Russians love felt boots so much, they even write songs about them. Like the folk song: "Valenki, Valenki", which dates back to the early s.
It tells the story of a young lady and her gentleman friend who are both experiencing a footwear meltdown — their felt boots are falling apart, and that keeps them apart. But so desperate is she to see him that she runs barefoot through the snow. Singing Valenki, one of the greatest and best-loved performers of Russian folk songs, Lidiya Ruslanova. Donald Macleod explores the rich tradition of Russian opera. Korobushka is a Russian folksong - but you may know it as something else.
On winter evenings, the dark, swirling waters of the Moskva River are clogged with ice. Yet I happen to think that Moscow, its buildings brightly lit at night, is a city best seen from the water. This is especially true of the Kremlin: most visitors never see the complex from the back, but viewing its rear side, from the river, gives you a better sense of its scale. To show off the city from this watery vantage, sleekly built, glass-domed icebreakers carry passengers along the river, cutting channels through the irregular mosaic of the broken ice.
Lasting one and a half hours, and departing four times a day, cruises float past the Kremlin and other sights with an on-board bar and restaurant at your disposal.
12 Things You Didn't Know About The Russian Winter
Tell us about your plans and one of our specialists will be in touch to plan a unique trip for you Trip Planner You can now add pages from around our site to your own customizable trip whenever you see this icon. Click the icon to create your first trip. By Russia specialist John When I suggest taking a trip to St Petersburg or Moscow during the winter months, most people are horrified at the prospect. Why visit Russia in winter?
Reason 1: There are fewer overseas visitors. Festive lights in Moscow. St Isaac's Cathedral, St Petersburg. Peterhof Palace, St Petersburg. Quintessential Russian experiences to try in winter.
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Banya bathhouse and sauna : birch leaves and hair cap. A troika ride. Troika a traditional three-horse sleigh. Cruise the Moskva on an icebreaker.
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