The Winter Games were recently held in Sochi, a city on the Black Sea coast in Russia. Whilst the Russians have long enjoyed this playground of the rich and famous, the stunning images from the games are bound to have sparked interest across the rest of the world. For those thinking of exploring Sochi and perhaps even trying a few snow board jumps for themselves, here are a few tips:
Sochi consists of two distinctly different areas – the mountains, which are crisp, cold and frequently coated in snow, and the coast, where temperatures can get as high as 40 degrees. It’s vital, therefore, to make sure that you pack enough clothes to deal with these contrasting climates, and clothes of the right type. Both sections of Sochi can be troubled with rain, so make sure you pack your waterproofs and enough sturdy footwear to deal with any ensuing mud. Outfits which can be built up or stripped down in layers as the conditions demand are far and away the best bet.
The different parts of Sochi can be quite widely spread out, with the skiing facilities up in the mountains around Krasnaya Polyana being quite some distance from downtown Sochi itself. Take the time to familiarise yourself with the local public transport and plan your journeys in advance. Above all else, choose an initial destination closer to the part of Sochi which most piques your interest, or perhaps plan a ‘split-destination’ break, spending half of your time staying near the beach, and the other half in a cabin in the mountains.
At first glance, the Cyrillic alphabet can seem pretty daunting, but it is still well worth the time spent getting to know it a little better, especially since it actually has a few things in common with the Western alphabet. It’s not a question of becoming fluent in the language, or even being able to read it very well. The locals will be delighted that you’re even making the effort and this, rather then simply assuming they’ll speak English, will help to ensure you receive a warm and hospitable welcome. The following are a few simple phrases which might be useful:
Preevyet, which means hello
Spaseeba, which means thank you
Prasteete, which means excuse me
Da sveedaneeya which is Russian for goodbye
Staying in Touch
It’s vital that you should be able to make phone calls when staying in Sochi, if only for practicalities such as booking tables in restaurants, hiring taxis and finding out about tourist attractions. By far the easiest way to ensure that you can do so is to take an unlocked mobile phone with you on your journey and put a Russian SIM card in it when you arrive in Sochi. These are very cheap and easy to get hold of, being purchased from kiosks with the MegaFon sign.
Another good tip is to try and make friends with someone who can speak a little Russian and make sure you have their mobile number. That way, if you’re ever at a loss for words, you can call your new found friend and have them do some translating for you.