The year of SochiNalynn Dolan Caine ▼ |
The Sochi Olympics that are taking place February 7-23, the first ever Olympics in modern Russia with the estimated total cost of more than $51 billion, are considered as the most expensive Olympic Games to be held in history. This year, Sochi will also host XI Paralympic Winter Games as well as the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix from 2014 until at least 2020, and Sochi Olympic Stadium will also be used to host 2018 FIFA World Cup matches.
Now you are now most probably puzzled, asking yourself who came to the idea to place Winter Olympic in the city with a subtropical climate, sandy beaches and palms, when every place in the country has a real winter? Well, you are not the only one. Russians are puzzled too. However, Alpine resort of Krasnaya Polyana in the city area is the most sophisticated ski and snowboard resort in Russia.
The Russians have stored 450,000 cubic meters of snow underneath 40-centimeter thick layers of sawdust to keep it from melting. So, even if there is no snow this winter Games are not in danger.
Sochi, the most northern subtropics city in the world in the vicinity of eternal ice, is known for its sports facilities and is considered as the lucky city. With its 145km (90mi) long coast Greater Sochi claims to be the longest city in Europe. So you will have to use some transport to get from point A to point B. The city comprises four districts: Adlersky, Central, Khostinsky and Lazarevsky, also called the Russian Riviera.
The moment you touch the ground you will find yourself in Adlersky, the southernmost of four city districts, home to the Adler-Sochi International Airport and also a host of all the Olympic venues for the games. The district hosts a soaring snow-capped Caucasus Mountains Krasnaya Polyana, the most expensive and popular winter ski resorts in Russia - where most probably you will spend a lot of time.
But that's not all. During the 2014 Olympics, Gorky Gorod will be a resort of the future unlike any other in Russia or abroad. It will be used as the Olympic Media Village.
Russian Riviera hosts miles and miles of beautiful wide pebble beaches, pure lakes and wonderful waterfalls, all to be explored any time of year. If you would like to remember Sochi forever, take a fantastic day trip in an old Russian military vehicle to the Agura Waterfalls. Traditional dinner and wine tasting will end the day perfectly. Talking about food, visit Sochi Central Market and taste churchkhela, a traditional sausage-shaped candy made of walnut halves on a string covered by flour-thickened grape juice, which is sun-dried.
Sochi is one of the few cities in Russia that has its own, unique, multicultural cuisine. Sochi's kebabs are marinated and roasted on the grill over the open fire. Gorgian style Solyanka soup is hot and spicy, Khinkaly dumping is filled with various fillings: spiced meat cheese or potatoes, Khachapuri, cheese filled bread is simply fantastic and honey is a part of many local specialties including a beer.
No matter what speciality, restaurant, bar, night club, art shop or hotel you choose, during the games expect Moscow prices at most places.
Visit Dendrary Botanical Garden, a museum of nature, take a cable-car to the top of the hill for excellent views of the city and the deep-blue Black Sea below. Close to the Central Stadium and the Arboretum you will find Friendship Tree Garden Museum that looks especially beautiful in spring when the flowers bloom or in the period of ripening citrus. The Friendship Tree has branches added by people from more than 160 countries.
Stroll Vorovskogo Street with posh boutiques and restaurants, enjoy the Singing Fountains, the city's monument situated near Sochi Trade Gallery, visit galleries and churches and - take clothes for all seasons with you because you never know what Sochi is up to. Last year the hottest day was March 16, the high temperature on that day was 29C (84F). ■