Inside the Games, contrast is Sochi’s middle name

A general view of the Moskva hotel, or Sochi Plaza, which is not completely built two days before the Olympics on February 5, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
A general view of the Moskva hotel, or Sochi Plaza, which is not completely built two days before the Olympics on February 5, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
Credit: Getty Images

Editor’s note: The following report is from the perspective of Alexey Shunaev, of Metro World News in Sochi.

To escape the winter, we head to Sochi: for decades, Russian holiday-makers have traveled to this subtropical resort to flee the freezing cities and bask in the Black Sea sun — an unusual place to host the Winter Olympics, perhaps.

“Contrast is Sochi’s middle name,” my taxi driver Andrei says as we leave the airport. “I’ve been living here for 45 years and have never seen the snow falling.”

Yet there is still the white stuff in sight: “I can see snow every day by just turning my head to the mountains.”

This town is full of curiosities and oddities. Checkpoints are guarded not just by regular baton-wielding police officers, but also dozens of Cossacks, members of traditional warrior clans wearing lambswool hats and coats with epaulettes.

If seeing descendants of the Tsars’ borderland protectors transported me into history, surveying Sochi’s exotic plants sent me to the other side of the world. Palm trees here are in abundance, having been introduced a century ago. But looking at the tropical plants with snow-covered mountains in the background made me wonder for a moment where I was.

Russia has splashed out $50 billion to host the Olympics in Sochi, so naturally I expected this place to be scintillating. But the biggest impression I got in my first few hours here is the chaos from massive traffic jams and the yellow ice of the Bolshoy Ice Dome.

Yellow, you may ask? Yes, yellow-tinged water is flowing from faucets, but I’ve been reassured not to worry by an employee at the dome’s service desk.

“There’s too much rust in the water,” he remarks. “It’s no surprise: iron water pipes in many Russian cities are in use long after their use-by date.”

He brushes off the problem with typically ironic Russian humor: “If the water won’t be better before the Games start, they’ll add paint to it, and we’ll beat the Canadian hockey team on white ice.”

The truth is if Russia’s Ovechkin and Co. beat Canada in the final, people will forgive everyone for everything – oddities and all.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Pioneers for domestic violence push on

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. Two decades have passed since the O.J. Simpson trial captivated the country. But in the 20 years…

Local

Newest java joint in bastion of hipness is…

Little may represent the change the neighborhood is undergoing right now like the arrival of the first Starbucks. The chain which is ubiquitous in Manhattan, opened a Williamsburg store at…

National

Black and white are the new orange at…

By Brendan O'Brien(Reuters) - Black and white are the new orange in a Michigan county where the sheriff has made a wardrobe change for jail…

National

Traps set after reports of giant snake on…

New Jersey animal control workers have set traps to snare a reported 20-foot-long serpent slithering through the waters of Lake Hopatcong.

Music

Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks more accessible than Animal…

Believe it or not, Avey Tare — the man in the mustachioed mask pictured here in the pool of blood — may have made the poppiest music of his career.

Entertainment

‘The Leftovers’ recap: Season 1, Episode 4, ‘B.J.…

Last week’s episode of “The Leftovers” was apparently a fluke, because this week’s episode returns to focusing on the Garveys and it is so boring.…

Movies

Interview: Luc Besson says 'Lucy' is very different…

Filmmaker Luc Besson talks about his new film "Lucy," how it's different than "Limitless" and his crazy first conversation with Egyptian actor Amr Waked.

Music

Weezer releases first new song since 2010

Weezer releases "Back to the Shack," their first new song in almost six years.

NFL

'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.

MLB

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according…

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according to report

NFL

Giants lineman Chris Snee to retire: Reports

The Giants report to training camp on Tuesday, but Chris Snee may not be there when they do.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony talks about his charity work in…

As he is used to doing every year, NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony is going to visit Puerto Rico to do work for his foundation.

Tech

RocketSkates let users roll with a motor

Los Angeles company Acton has raised funds on Kickstarter to roll out a nifty alternative – motor-powered "RocketSkates."

Tech

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony becomes a tech entrepreneur

He's been an All-Star, an Olympian, and a celebrity spokesperson. Now NBA player Carmelo Anthony is adding the position "tech entrepreneur" to his resume. Along…

Tech

Ulises 1 is the world's first singing satellite

A group of artists and engineers in Mexico have unveiled Ulises 1, the world's first opera-singing satellite.

Home

Wallscape on a budget

Skip the wallpaper and ombre an accent wall instead.