Sochi Not So Bad After All

It is hard to believe that the accommodations at Sochi have not been well regarded by the other reporters and visitors to the city.  I found the city to be very comfortable and interesting.   We arrived three days before the opening ceremony and were received by the nicest hotel staff.  They told us that if the water came back on we shouldn’t use it, as it contained poisons.  How nice! They shut off the water, which was surely tampered with by Chechen rebels, to make sure no one was harmed by it.   We had originally booked four hotel rooms, but received two instead.  Apparently there is an old Russian custom of ordering twice the number of rooms than you need.  They brought us lots of extra blankets anyway.  Even more interesting, they had the cutest guard dogs roaming the hallways for extra security.   In fact, I’ve seen all kinds of dogs roaming the city.  I wonder if other countries will catch on to this ingenious security tactic.

The other interesting thing I found in the city took a little getting used to.  The group toilets set next to each other were awkward at first, but made conversations in the bathroom so much easier!  I guess they really wanted to promote a sense of community and get people from around the world to interact.  I have met all kinds of nice people.

The city itself has a very beautiful and active landscape. The design of the city reflects the athletic nature of the events.  The designer employs many techniques to help people get exercise and feel energized.   Open manholes in the streets make driving extremely exciting, as dothe missing stones in the sidewalks and other floors.   The same could be said for the buildings still under construction.  Dodging around moving equipment makesyou appreciate the details of the architecture as well.

Russia also shows its commitment to sustainability.  Many of the sidewalks are left as gravel or dirt, which improves water quality by decreasing runoff.   The guard dogs roaming the city also reuse dropped food and keep the city clean.

It was a wonderful place to visit and the home to the prettiest palm trees of any Winter Olympics!

by Lauren Andrews, formerly of ABC News

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