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Written on: Sunday May 4th, 2008

A journal entry from: B Poccuu

Hello everyone!

Well, first off, Sochi was absolutely wonderful and I had a ridiculously good time. It was warm and green and the air was clean and the sea was beautiful.

But I'll start with the train ride there. We all survived pretty well, since our train was really really nice (much nicer than the train to Moscow). There were also some lengthy stops where we could get off and buy food and pirozhki from old ladies.  The people next to us were really nice, they shared their food (delicious plum sauce!) and such. 

We got there at 11AM on Saturday. We took a bus tour for a few hours because we couldn't check into the hotel yet. They showed us around Sochi, including Park Riviera, some of the old baths and such. Our hotel was deceivingly nice in the lobby, but our rooms looked more like an old dorm. We were one of the un-renovated parts, but all of our balconies looked out over the Black Sea so we didn't complain much. Except that our bathroom smelled like fish.

The first night we sat out on the beach (which was pebbly and not sandy) and it was awesome.

On Sunday we went on what we were told would be an "easy hike," but turned out to be a 7 mile death climb. We climbed a mountain to see a statue of Prometheus, but on the way up the group split up because some people wanted to go the slozhnii way (aka, fall of the mountain way) and others didn't. So most of us got lost. We found the top eventually, though, and felt ridiculous the moment we stepped up there because a truck pulled up behind us. Gah.

The view was gorgeous, though, and we rested a bit. A dog climbed with us the whole time-- we named him excursavod (guide). After that, however, our leader and half the group decided to climb another mountain (no thanks) and left us to find our way back by ourselves on the "easy" waterfall path. Not easy at all, though gorgeous. We also got to swim in a waterfall, which was soo cold it took my breath away but totally worth it.

After the waterfall we walked over the sketchiest bridge in existence, then finally made it off the mountain. We got ripped off at a Georgian restaurant for lunch, but oh well.

 After lunch we had to find our way back since we were across a mountain from where we had started and had no map. We had to run down the side of a highway to get to a bus stop. The funniest quote of the day:

"We should run to bus stop because it looks like bus!" --Sasha, the awesome Russian who came with us.

We finally made it back and went to the grocery store. Our hotel room had a refridgerator in it, so we could keep food there for breakfast and such. We hung out on the beach again that night after lounging for a few hours.


On Monday I skipped the excursion (to a forrest and some caves). I went to the pool and the boardwalk with my friends, and it was sunny and wonderful. We ate lunch at the "Proletariat Cafe", which brought us back down to Earth and reminded us we were in Russia--the first on the beach restaurant I've ever been to that didn't have any fish on the menu, but plenty of  borsch and blini. I saw a ridiculous amount of silly Russian kitsch for sale on the boardwalk. That night we all had dinner together with the group at this AMAZING Georgian restaurant. If any o you lovely readers ever go to Sochi, I strongly recommend Cafe Natasha. Jessica ordered us a ridiculous amount of food, and we seriously pigged out.

That night we saw a rainbow, and we sat on the beach again.


On Tuesday  we went to the Chainii Domik, or tea house/plantation. It was sooo cool, like the most stereotypical Russian thing to happen all semester. A guy played a series of accordians that got smaller and smaller, while two women dressed in bright costumes sang traditional Russian songs. We got to drink A LOT of tea and eat a bunch of snacks. Apparently Putin had tea there, too, and gave a talk on terrorism. I bought some hand made black tea there, which is really exciting. I gave some to my host mom this morning and she loved it.

 That afternoon we all took naps because we were exhausted, and we went to a different Georgian restaurant for dinner (we ordered together and spent like 6$ each on a massive dinner, go us). We also got ice cream at McDonalds.


On Wednesday we went to the 33 waterfalls, which was my favorite excursion of the week. On the way there we stopped at this tree (a beobab tree?) that you hug, and it takes all your bad energy away. I hugged it, and I had been feeling nauseous and tired, and afterwards I felt awesome. Maybe it worked. It was in the area where a bunch of Decembrists were exiled (the tzar sent them there, expecting them to die in the war going on at the time) and the tree is supposedly over 400 years old.

After the tree we got to the place where the bus could go no farther. First there was a wine tasting, of homemade wine (it was awful)  and then they put you on this safari like truck that you sit in the back of to go over ridiculous terrain to get to the waterfall. I think that's why they give you the wine first. Anyway, the truck ride was really fun and really pretty, and eventually we got to the waterfalls. It was kind of like the Safari ride in Animal Kingdown in Disney World.

The waterfalls themselves were gorgeous.  We had to walk up these really scary/slippery wooden walkways with the railings on the wrong side (not towards the water), but it was awesome.

I bought some home made honey cake thing there too.

After the ride back on the safari truck, we ate lunch at the place where we had the wine tasting. The shashlik (Russian barbecue) was really good.

 That night we had dinner with some of the kids from Vladimir with ACTR, because they left the next day. I saw a really pretty sunset, too, and we ate right on the beach.


On Thursday we went to Krasnaya Polyana, the actual location of the 2014 Winter Olympics. There is absolutely NOTHING there right now, so they're going to have to build a lot. It's just a mountain, a chair lift and a few cafes. I decided not to go up the mountain-- it takes 1.5 hours and 4 different chair lifts. It also costs 40 dollars. I went horseback riding instead (hoorah!). We payed about 12 dollars for an hour, and we got to go as fast as we wanted. We all walked up together, and then I cantered all the way back down the hill, across a river and through some cool paths. It was awesome. My horse's name was Chirkyes

We ate at one of the cafes (I had apple pie). We left the mountain area at 3 for the actual village and went to this place where they make their own honey. We got to taste the honey wine and all the honey. I bought two different kinds, and they one that's for me is special from Georgia, made with eucalyptus extract and it's like a spreadable honey. Yum.

That night we wandered around the boardwalk. Jason had a creepy creepy creepy portrait drawn of him. Gah.


On Friday we woke up early because we all had to have our stuff in a certain room by 930 so we could check out but not carry our stuff around. Some of us went to a jewelry exhibition, where I bought some stuff (but it's a surprise for someone) because it wasn't that expensive. Afterwards we had Georgian food AGAIN, but it was wonderful and I already miss it.

We got on the bus to go to the train station at 230, and our train left at 430.  I bought some wonderful grapes from a fruit stand before we left. Also, we finally found the contraband Olympics shirts. They aren't allowed to sell them, but if you ask for them you'll find them. All the vendors have them hidden under everything else, but they're EVERYWHERE. I didn't get any, but yeah.


The train ride back was also not that bad. We got in at about 9AM this morning. I sat with my host mom and had tea before showering and going out. The weather here is AMAZING. It's like 70 (which feels really hot, like I'm melting. No idea what I'm going to do in Georgia) and the sun only sets for 4 hours. It's lovely.

 As for general observations about Sochi, it's a really cool place. The vegetation is amazing and tropical, with a weird mix of plants from all over the world. It's like half western half eastern. The old Soviet buildings are kind of all falling down, but it's becoming more touristy lately so yeah. People there are also ridiculously nice, and it's great.

We're leaving Russia in 11 days and we all feel weird about it. We've planned the rest of our time out to use it well, though. Here's my plan:

Monday: nothing much, I've got a paper due Tuesday.

Tuesday: We have oral interviews after school, but I'm going to the main post office to send books home too.

Wednesday: I'm skipping the excursion with some  people to go to a Russian market that Russians shop at for a few last minute souvenirs, and then we're going to O'Kei for the last time.

Thursday: We have 3 hours of testing for ACTR after class, so nothing else.

Friday: Victory Day! No school. I'm going to Peterhof to see them turn on the fountains.

Saturday: the Summer Gardens and Mars Field. Finishing all my shopping.

Sunday: Packing/studying. Deciding what I will donate.

Monday: Finals.

Tuesday: Finals. End of semester banquet with all the teachers and such.

Wednesday: Move in to the dorms, last night in St. Petersburg.

Thursday: Fly home.


So that's it. Crazy, I know. I'll keep you guys posted, though. 


From Keenliside on May 5th, 2008

Wow Kate, these are some great pictures--Annie Leibowitz move over!

From Susan Campbell on May 5th, 2008

Kate, So glad your Mom sent me this!! We loved your card. Thanks! So good to hear from you. I am jealous. It looks so wonderful. Come see us when you get home. Love you!!