Saturday, June 24, 2017

I wear my sunglasses at night...

I've mentioned the length (or lack thereof in winter) of the days here before, but it still just amazes me. When we moved here, I did not expect the constant gray and darkness of winter, or conversely the constant brightness of summer.  We still marvel on a regular basis at how bright it stays well into the evening. Despite having to convince the boys that yes, it really is bedtime despite the sun looking like it's 4:30 pm at 8pm, we've been enjoying the long evenings when we can sit outside after dinner, or long after putting the kids to bed.

A few days ago was the summer solstice, so out of curiosity, I looked up the sunrise and sunset times. Technically, sunset was at 9:48pm. However because of our location, it takes the sun a LONG time to fully disappear behind the horizon.

Here is what our street looked like at "sunset" at 9:48pm:

And here it is at 10:30pm. Streetlights on, but you can still clearly see down the street. Lots of light.

When I went to bed at 11:15pm, it was fairly dark but I could still see the light from the sunset at the edges of the sky.

Sunrise is technically at 5:18am, but like the long sunset, when Matthew left the other day at 4am, it was already getting light.  I've been surprised by how much I've enjoyed the long days, especially when the weather is clear and beautiful, which it has been a lot lately.

It's just recently started getting "hot".  This week we had several days with temps in the 90s (F), one of which hit 98℉. This has been a sweaty week since I've been doing double drop-offs & pick ups of both boys at school while Matthew's been working.  I'm estimating that I cycle a minimum of 8km on those days, plus a few km of walking to any errands I need to take care go shopping, see friends, or Deutsch class.  Needless to say, my water intake has gone up ALOT, I'm getting the first tan I've had in years, and I'm sleeping great despite the sunlight!

Also, it's important to know that there is no air conditioning here. Most of the time it's not really needed. Even when the temps get hot, it's usually only for a short time and a few days later it's back in the 60s-70s. Plus, Europeans seem to be adamantly opposed to it: central air-conditioning spreads germs, allergens, harbors mold and is not energy efficient. BUT you can purchase a small, room air conditioner on Amazon. I've held that knowledge in the back of my mind as the temps start to heat up.

Our house has held up surprisingly well, so far, though. I don't know if it's the age of the house with its 2-3 ft thick stone & concrete walls, that it was built with the intention to stay cool, but we've guessed that the interior temperature has stayed in the mid 70s even on the hottest days. It has actually felt cooler on a 98℉ day here than our house in Atlanta did WITH air conditioning. Those awesome automatic exterior shades really help, too. Our windows only get about 2-3 hours of direct, hot sunlight each day (by design??) and so, we lower the shades during that time.

Growing up in the Southeastern US, it was common to see/tour old antebellum houses that had a central hallway. I remember the tour guide always pointed out during the tour that the doors on either end of the hallway could be opened in the summer time for a breeze.  I used to think that this was evidence that they were really desperate for air conditioning, but can now vouch for the design's effectiveness. It's pretty common most days to find our house open like this with a breeze flowing through the middle:

I'll keep you posted as to whether we break down and order an air conditioner.  I think we'll be getting a fan for the bedroom soon, for some airflow at night.  After all, it's still only June and we have to make it through August. :)

EDIT: After posting, I realized it's not actually correct to say "NO air-conditioning". Grocery stores have air conditioning, as well as the commercial shops downtown. But I am not aware of any houses having it.  Even the largest office building uses water from the river pushed through pipes in the center of the building to cool it.

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