Despite the region’s sub-zero winters, a Ukrainian man from Kiev has been walking around barefoot since February 2006.
Andrzej Novosiolov apparently began the bizarre practice on a whim – his feet felt unusually hot one evening, so he tried walking on fresh snow without footwear and found the sensation surprisingly pleasant. Although his feet began to ache from the cold within a few minutes, he made a habit of walking barefoot on snow, going longer and longer each time. Eventually, in April, he stepped out of his house without shoes and was able to spend the whole day outdoors that way.
It still wasn’t easy for him, though, as Andrzej often injured himself stepping on broken glass and other sharp objects. But reading about Olga Gavva, a manager from St. Petersburg who had also adopted a barefoot lifestyle, he decided not to let these accidents keep him from doing something he genuinely enjoyed. Over time he taught himself to walk intuitively, learning where he should step and where not to. This way he slowly got to the point where he didn’t need to invest in footwear any more. He claims to be able to walk barefoot in temperatures down to seven degrees below zero and when it gets colder than that he just runs to keep his feet from freezing.
Andrzej’s wife and children had a hard time adjusting to his strange obsession, and in the beginning they felt embarrassed to accompany him on walks. But they got used to it in time, and these days they don’t even pay attention to his unclad feet. Passersby are still often perplexed by his unclad feet, though, and some of them assume he’s too poor to buy shoes so they offer him their own. When he tells them the truth, most of them think he’s nuts.
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