Sochi — Three Days to Go


СОЧИ - Sochi

СОЧИ – Sochi

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:

Our guide

Our guide

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):

A new slant on condo living

A new slant on condo living

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):

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5 Comments

Filed under Photography, travel

5 responses to “Sochi — Three Days to Go

  1. Interesting, R. Doug. Never heard from anyone who has been to Sochi.

    • It was definitely a unique experience, Karen. The Sochi port of call was between our stops in Istanbul (a really great visit) and Batumi, Georgia (fascinating, but for other reasons).

  2. Pingback: Six-Part Series on Sochi, Russia - WaltherForums

  3. Really interesting pics. Sochi was apparently a famous spa town and dream holiday destination back in Soviet days, which I for one didn’t know.

    My own “Russian” experience (very little of which actually took place in Russia – most of it was in modern day Latvia, including a spa town that was Latvia’s answer to Sochi) dates back to the dying days of the Soviet Union and even back then we were allowed to walk around on our own. But then we were a group of West German highschool students and thus probably not deemed interesting enough to put under surveillance. If anything, I felt less bothered by constant surveillance in the Soviet Union than during the annual family visits to East German relatives back in the late 1980s. And even in East Germany, whenever I managed to slip away from my relatives, I could and did roam the streets without anybody stopping or bothering me. They did stare at me a lot, but then westerners were usually very noticeable due to their clothing anyway. I even had the occasional conversation with locals, including an East German youth club/discotheque. The people I talked to probably reported back to the Stasi, but then I was always aware that they would, even as a teen.