Monday, February 24, 2014

Russia Day 6. Visiting Sochi! And the Bronze medal game.

Got up and started looking online again for gold medal tickets to assess the market. Now there is one (just one!) ticket in category D available at $750. I decide to take it. I still believe there's a very good chance I can find a better ticket at a lower price, but this price is acceptable (for a ticket way up high, but with a good view of the ice, and in this small arena it's not as far as it sounds). And buying now gives me peace of mind, and time to focus on booking a new flight (my original flight coincides with the gold medal game - how stupid is that?). An hour later I have a new flight to Moscow on Tuesday afternoon (another $300), and have told the hotel I'll need to stay an extra 2 nights, which is not a problem. The cheap flights to Moscow all stop somewhere, and I make sure mine doesn't stop over in Minsk or Kyiv, which might invalidate my 1-entry Russian visa, depending on how their in-transit system works). And I've emailed my hotel in Moscow to let them know I'm now arriving late Tuesday night.

After breakfast and getting my laundry handed in, I head in to Sochi for the first time, to pick up the ticket I ordered online. For some reason the ticket agency (CoSport) has their office in Sochi but not at the Olympic Park. I take a city bus in to downtown Sochi: 70 rubles (a little over $2) for a half-hour bus ride. From the bus station it's just a few blocks to the ticket office, and in a few minutes I'm holding my gold medal ticket!

I wandered around Sochi for a bit looking for a decent-looking restaurant, ready for my first good meal since I got here. Sochi itself is quite pretty, with palm trees, very lush, and is basically a lot hotels strung along the sea shore. I did notice some bunting hiding construction areas, and one building completely sheathed in a faux-building wrapper. And yes, there are a fair number of stray dogs wandering the streets here, so at least the authorities did not manage to kill them all.

I found a decent-looking restaurant and had a nice lunch. I wanted to take the train back, but when I got to the train station there were huge lines waiting to go through the security zone, so I walked back to the bus stop a couple blocks away and got on the bus instead.

I hung out at the hotel for a while (catching up on my blog posts again), before heading in to the park.
There seemed to be less ticket-trading action tonight than for previous games, but again tickets seemed to be trading below face value. It was a disappointing game, as the Finns (with Tuuka Rask back in net after missing their semi-final game due to illness) clobbered the US 5-0. I had felt a little sorry for the Americans after ripping their hearts out in the women's gold medal game, and edging them 1-0 in the men's semi-final, but it was a little embarrassing

After the game I headed back to canada Olympic House, and met up with Nathan Kutcher. Nathan is one of three Canadian ice climbers here to demonstrate ice climbing as a "cultural event". There's a 60' high artificial ice speed wall, as well as a mixed climbing area with steeper terrain and some neat hanging structures. True North Climbing helped each of the three Canadians with a little money to support their efforts, and Nate and I got together for a couple of beers. We went to the Swiss House, open to all, and I had a decent dinner while we drank and chatted with others there (largely Canadians).

I was back at my hotel earlier than usual: not long after midnight!

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