Since I didn’t have to work last week, I decided to go to Sochi to visit one of my fellow ETAs. It was all a little last minute, I decided on Friday to leave on Monday. No one should be surprised about this, everything is last minute for me. Anyways I spent Friday running around, standing in long lines at the train station, collecting my visa from the visa office, realizing that there was a mistake on my tickets (my last name is not actually Perkinsk, although I appreciate the worker’s attempt to make it Russian), and so on. Monday morning I realized I hadn’t packed. I was kind of in shock when I suddenly realized at 12:30 that I was sitting on the train, no problems, Sochi-bound. The проводница, or conductor, in our wagon didn’t even check my passport. I think it’s because the train was coming from Belarus, but, who knows.
The ride to Sochi was a full 23 hours. Sochi is a smallish city on the coast of the Black Sea, really close to Georgia and the Republic of Abkhazia. Luckily my phone didn’t stop working until after I met up with my friend, because otherwise it would have been disastrous. I felt right at home immediately – seeing the beaches, boardwalks, palm trees, all of that made me feel like I was in California. My official response to the question “How was Sochi?” is “It’s the California of Russia.” It’s wonderful.
We spent most of the time just hanging out, living the Sochi life, doing a little bit of sightseeing and that, but the weather wasn’t super great so there was not as much beach time as would have been ideal. Still, it was nice to compare experiences with another ETA and to reflect on our time here (we’re both leaving on the same day). I’ll add pictures soon I guess, if I schlep over to some high speed internet.
Of course one of the cool things about Sochi is that the Olympics are going to be there in 2014. For those of you who had forgotten, Russia gets the Olympics in 2014 and the World Cup in 2018! What blows my mind is that the 2014 Olympics are the Winter Games, and Sochi is a resort city..a summer resort city. Stalin’s dacha is in Sochi. It’s where all the celebrities come to relax. I feel like it’s kind of like deciding to have the Winter Olympics in LA but having some of the competitions in Big Bear (Krasnaya Polyana is about an hour’s ride from Sochi and is a legit ski resort, where the outdoor races will be and some of the facilities). Winter temperatures in Sochi are usually in the 40s at the lowest. I think there will be tons (literally! tons!) of artificial snow for the games, I don’t see how else they will do that.
Another logistical thing is that Sochi is a very long city, stretched along the coast of the Black Sea. There is one main road that connects all of the city. One two-lane road. Also Sochi is fairly hilly. This will all make transportation problematic, I think they’re already trying to make the main road better because seriously what will happen.
Anyways after a few days of living the Sochi life I was missing Voronezh a little bit, I arrived back midday on Saturday geared up for my last little time here. I’m leaving from Voronezh a week from Thursday, so it’s really getting down to the wire. I bought my ticket to Moscow this morning, officially signed out my visa from the visa office, and am starting to gather up the scattered bits of my Voronezh life. Watch out, things are going to get super sentimental. Stay tuned.