Black Sea Cruise: Sochi

Day 9, Sochi

As per the regulations of the Russian Federation, we were obliged to
take an organized tour if we wanted to get off the ship without visas.
So we followed our guide Elena on a walking tour of Sochi.  Sochi is
an easy city, a true resort – lazy and relaxed.  It is snuggled
against the backdrop of the Caucasian Mountains which, unfortunately,
were not snow-capped at this time.  A lot of the city was built in the
neo-classical style favored by Stalin, but because the vegetation here
is so abundant, the heavy Stalinist buildings are pushed into the
background.  I don’t think I have ever seen a greener city.  It looks
like one subtropical resort.  Oleanders, magnolias, cypresses, palms,
all kinds of flowering bushes and exotic conifers abound.  The streets
are paved with a mosaic of different stones and inlays.  A bunch of
whimsical metal sculptures by the same local artist surround the Art
Museum and greet you on the paths.  Our guide, who comes from the town
called Krasnaya Polyana where the Olympic village is going to be built
at the feet of the mountains, was supposed to guard and protect us
(either from defecting or from spying) and personally deliver us back
to the ship, but we tricked her, said good-bye, quietly turned around and went
back into the city.  We didn’t defect but spied a lot of shops,
restaurants, and vacationers in skimpy bathing suits when we saw two
policemen stopping a group of people and checking their papers, so
we rushed back to the ship and had lunch on the 10th floor,
overlooking the sea, the coastline, and the mountains.  Then a trivia
game, high tea – you know the drill.


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