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Svetlana Ivanova, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0
Svetlana Ivanova, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

What It's Like to Live in Yakutsk, Siberia, the Coldest City on Earth

Svetlana Ivanova, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0
Svetlana Ivanova, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

The residents of Yakutsk, Siberia are experts at surviving harsh winters. They own thick furs, live in houses built for icy environments, and know not to wear glasses outdoors unless they want them to freeze to their face. This is life in the coldest city on Earth, where temperatures occupy -40°F territory throughout winter, according to National Geographic.

Yakutsk has all the features of any other mid-sized city. The 270,000 people who live there have access to movie theaters, restaurants, and a public transportation system that functions year-round. But look closer and you’ll notice some telling details. Many houses are built on stilts, and if they’re not, the heat from the building thaws the permafrost beneath it, causing the structure to sink. People continue going outside during the coldest months, but only for a few minutes at a time to avoid frostbite.

Then there's the weather. The extreme low temperatures are cold enough to freeze car batteries and the fish sold in open-air markets. Meanwhile, a thick fog is a constant presence in the city, giving it an otherworldly aura.

Why do people choose to live in such a harsh environment? Beneath Yakutsk lies a literal treasure mine: Mines in the area produce a fifth of the world’s diamonds. Valuable natural gas can also be recovered there.

While Yakutsk may be the coldest city on Earth, it’s not the coldest inhabited place there is. That distinction belongs to the rural village of Oymyakon, 575 miles to the east, where temperatures recently dropped to an eyelash-freezing -88°F.

Snow-covered road.
Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna- CAFF, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Road covered in snow.
Magnús H Björnsson, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Church surrounded by snow.
Magnús H Björnsson, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

[h/t National Geographic]

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iStock
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Live Smarter
Ciao, Roma! Alitalia Is Offering Free Stopovers in 2018
iStock
iStock

If you’ve been eyeing a trip to Rome, now’s your chance. The airline Alitalia is now offering passengers free stopovers in the Italian capital, allowing them to stay for up to three days before continuing on in their itinerary, as Condé Nast Traveler reports.

There are a few catches: You’ll need to book both your departure and return flights through Alitalia, somewhat limiting your choice of airports. The airline’s website is currently showing the stopover promotion only for flights out of India, South Africa, and Kenya, even though it technically applies to all Alitalia flights, according to Frommer’s—meaning you’ll have to pick up the phone and call to book if you’re located elsewhere. And if you’re American, you’ll have to take your Roman holiday on your outbound flight, since the stopovers don’t apply on flights headed back to North America.

On the bright side, Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport will hold your luggage during your extra-long layover, so if you’re headed on a monthlong trip to India, you won’t need to lug all of your suitcases around the city. You will also qualify for discounts on some Roman hotels.

Several other airlines have used free stopover options as a way to encourage tourism in their home country, including the Portuguese national airline TAP and Icelandair, whose uber-successful stopover program has contributed to a tourism boom so big that the Icelandic government has started considering new taxes to handle it.

The Alitalia promotion lasts through the end of 2018.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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Louvre Abu Dhabi
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Art
The Louvre Abu Dhabi Just Opened the World's First Radio-Guided Highway Art Gallery
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi

One way to plan an epic art road trip is to drive from museum to museum, but in the United Arab Emirates, you can take in masterpieces without leaving your car. As Artforum reports, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has lined a stretch of highway with billboards displaying works by Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, and Piet Mondrian.

The 10 works on display along the E/11 Sheikh Zayed road connecting Dubai to Abu Dhabi are recreations of pieces at or on loan to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which developed the project in partnership with three radio stations. Dubbed the Highway Gallery, it was "created to reinforce art's role in elevating everyday life into something beautiful and memorable," the museum website reads.

Like in a traditional gallery, the 30-foot-by-23-foot displays along the road are accompanied by a guided audio tour. Drivers can learn the title, artist, technique, and other details about each piece by tuning into a participating local radio station (Radio 1 FM, Classic FM, or Emarat FM). There they will hear descriptions of Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronnière, Van Gogh’s Self Portrait, 1887, and Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow, and Black, as well as the Islamic sculpture Mari-Cha Lion and the sarcophagus of Egyptian princess Henuttawy.

The Highway Gallery will run through mid-March. After that, art lovers can drive their cars to the Louvre Abu Dhabi to see the items in person.

[h/t Artforum]

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