In just three days and extending for eighteen beyond that the 22nd Winter Olympic Games will take place in Sochi, Russia (four days until the opening ceremony). That’s a pretty ambitious undertaking for an area with a climate classified as subtropical, but the nearby mountains will hold many of the outdoor venues.
Ursula and I found ourselves in Sochi on April 19, 2010. We were about midway through a 54-day cruise at the time. It was definitely not one of my favorite destinations that trip.
It’s not that Sochi wasn’t picturesque with much to see and do. It’s just the oppressive feeling of being under surveillance wherever you go. Visas are required unless you’re on a cruise ship. But even if you are passing through on a cruise you are required to be in supervised groups led by an approved guide. Here was ours:
Granted, this feeling might be attributed somewhat to my military upbringing and my years of military service during the Cold War, but it was there and it was palpable.
But beyond the cold stares of the natives and the general feeling of dread there were some beautiful churches and interesting buildings. One such building is a condo that was having a spot of bother trying to find tenants despite the huge banner displaying a phone number to call. If you look closely you can see why (hint: this might have worked better in Pisa, Italy):
I’ll have more on Sochi and the surrounding areas over the course of the next two weeks. We’ll visit the Akhum Observation Tower high in the surrounding mountains, and we’ll tour Joseph Stalin’s opulent summer Dacha where we’ll see bullet-proof sofas and keyholes with covers to thwart prying eyes.
It seems not much has changed since Joe’s time.
Here’s today’s photo gallery (click on any image below to start the slide show):