SOCHI - We made it. The Ural Airlines flight from Moscow to Sochi took about two hours. Check-in procedure on the Louise Olympia cruise ship actually took longer than the flight.
Sunny Sochi looks beautiful today. At least that's our first impression. Palm trees and singing hosts passing out free six-ounce cans of Coca Cola greeted visitors exiting the airport. It was 48 degrees here when we arrived at mid-afternoon. Meanwhile, it was 14 degrees back home in Spokane. Insert your own comment here.
The much-touted airport security precautions seemed pretty normal. Reports of tiny tubes of toothpaste being confiscated were unfounded. Our group of 28 had few things confiscated. We were encouraged to pay 300 rubles (approximately $10) to have our checked baggage shrink-wrapped to prevent theft and many of us went ahead and did that. But, is it unrealistic to believe that baggage handlers are required to avoid pillaging all the bags? Not going to go pay for that on the return trip
Never been on a cruise ship. Until today. My cabin is clean and modern, free of the sloppy construction and furnishings that we've heard so much about in some of the new Sochi hotels.
The snow-capped Caucasus Mountains look beautiful from down below. The mountains are more than 18,000 feet above sea level and will be the site of all the ski and snowboard competition. The indoor events, including skating, hockey and curling, will take place in the coastal region, about a mile from where our ship is docked. Ours is one of seven ships brought here to host visitors because Sochi does not have enough hotel rooms for all. I have seen a variety of figures for Sochi's population reported in the media, ranging from 325,00 to 440,000. No matter what the exact figure, it seems safe to say the population is roughly the same as all of Spokane County.
Two days of intense travel have taken their toll on myself and my companions. We're tired and still struggling a little to adapt to new surroundings, but we're here to learn and work. We'll begin some preliminary reporting work yet today, but tomorrow is really going to be the first full day of making contacts, observing the events and creating something we call journalism. Hang with us, either with my blog or at BSUatthegames.com. I hope soon to begin posting a few photos along with my observations here.