We are just a few days away from leaving for the XXII Winter Olympiad. With everything left to accomplish in a short period of time, I feel as if we deserve a gold medal for: Finding and committing to air flights before we even knew we were going. Navigating our way through the morass of visa paperwork that included telling the Russians where we were staying before we even knew for sure. For figuring out exactly how far Sochi is from Adler, which is the actual location where the games (Hint: It’s not close, folks!); trying to decipher the airport-train-cab-bus thing and sorting through enough general paperwork from our federation to rival Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” Applying for the Spectator Pass then trying to figure out how to size our photos in their little box so the system wouldn’t keep kicking me back to start; filling out the forms for the Proctor and Gamble Family Home which is our base of operation at the Games and was our lifesaver in Vancouver. In a way, it’s no wonder ticket sales are supposedly down. You have to negotiate a lot of paper just to unearth the tickets. The road to Sochi is no Vancouver. It is definitely not an Easy Button process.
Sochi is 11 hours ahead of Colorado. We are doing the flight in three segments just to maintain sanity: Colorado Springs to Houston then Houston to Frankfurt. We’re spending two days in the wine country of Wiesbaden for attitude adjustment (it only seemed appropriate), then we head out on the “short” four hour flight from Frankfurt to Sochi on Orenair, a subsidiary of Aeroflot. Total travel time: 16 hours in air. This does not factor in security, customs and the 40 minute train ride to get from the airport in Adler to the hotel in Sochi, or the 10 minute cab ride from the train station to the hotel down what we have been told are narrow, virtually one way streets. Of course, all of this we will be doing at 9:30 at night..in a strange place and a lot of unknowns.
Our hotel’s name is unpronounceable. I don’t mean to sound like the typical Western tourist, but every time I see the name I just want to buy a vowel. From the on line photos it looks gigantic and overall not too bad. Of course, it shows a beach with cabanas and an outdoor pool we won’t be able to use in February.
While, on the map the property looks relatively close to the train line that takes us to the “Coastal Cluster”
(no comment ), in fact it is 2 miles uphill from where we need to board. There is no shuttle; there is a taxi but we’re told you have to negotiate the fares in advance.
No one said this was going to be easy. It’s somewhat like the old Disneyland “E Ticket” rides where you knew it was going to take time and a LOT of patience, but once you were on board it was worth the wait.
And so it begins. Suitcases are at the ready; paperwork is somewhat organized. Maps are printed, and we’ve opened a separate account just for this trip with a new Visa card since it is the only card accepted at the Olympic Games. This is our second time to saddle up and head out to parts unknown to cheer on Team USA. It’s also our son’s last competitive season after 24+ years of frozen backsides in bleachers watching the highs and lows of competitive figure skating - one of the most complicated, difficult, physically demanding and beautiful sports in the world.
My mother has a saying when things are challenging and not quite what we expect. In a loud and merry voice, she will chime in with, “We’re having an adventure!” Yes, Mom, we’re having an adventure. After all, it is Olympics. I’d expect nothing less.