May 31, 2011

Сочи 2011 (Photo collection, Sochi)

After two months of concerted effort, I finally left Maikop last weekend.  My destination was Sochi, better known as the site of the 2014 Economic Bubble.  Here is the official countdown:

Here is what the bubble looks like as it inflates: 


This post, and the next one, are just photo collections, which I post every so often as insurance against inevitable camera-theft.  Also, to open your eyes to stuff, share the beauty of things, and celebrate Russia.  But those goals are secondary, tertiary, and quaternary.  Mostly, I expect my memory cards to get stolen before I make it home next week. These are for completists only, don't expect any more real entries - the blog is going back into hibernation, to await the day when I return to the post-Soviet parallel universe.

And if Russia is a parallel universe, then Sochi is a parallel universe.  A different one, that is.  Parallel to both. The wormhole from Russia to Sochi was very beautiful, and looked nothing like the Russia I know.  Almost like some kind of parallel universe:

 So it turns out the Caucasus are very beautiful, even though I've only seen the foothills.  I haven't made it to our nearby national park, but the photographs are stunning, and this trip to Sochi was a good consolation prize.  We (French guy and I) went to Krasnaya Polyana, where they will hold the skiing/snowboarding/bobsledding/other mountain events for the 2014 Olympics.  It's a site about 30 miles from Sochi.  Here's a view of the town from a nearby mountain ridge:

This clearing is a training facility for the Russian Olympic lumberjack team:

The Russians are newcomers to the sport; the previous 30 gold medals have gone to the team from Wisconsin.  For those interested in Russian history, that snowy mountain ridge marks the Russian border with Abkhazia, the breakaway region over which Russia invaded Georgia in 2008.

Krasnaya Polyana is located in the Sochi national park, so all the construction is immensely ecologically destructive - the park is home to bears, boars, several types of wild cat, goats, and all sorts of other plants and animals that are not accustomed to bobsled chutes. Several years ago, I translated World Wildlife Fund Russia's annual report, which includes much well-phrased information about the environmental impact of the games and efforts to protect the park.  See page 8 for the Olympics, and any other page for pretty pictures and proper English, except for page 51, which they unwisely chose to translate by themselves.  For my semester of work on this translation, by the way, I was paid less than minimum wage and a huge traditional Russian valenok in the zadnitsa.  But revenge is best served cold, and mine was cold as poached black caviar on ice.  I worked hard, thanked them for the opportunity, and even translated a second document for them. Then three years later, just last weekend in the park, I shot a leopard.

"Please do not shoot the leopards."

Sochi, official site of the Winter Games and home to all the skating/indoor events, is actually a sub-tropical Black Sea resort city.  There are palm trees everywhere, mediterranean architecture, people in Hawaiian shirts, and otherwise no indication that you are in Russia.

Okay, one indication:

But even Lenin isn't working here - it's not clear in this shot, but in Sochi he's just holding a copy of the Soviet newpapser Pravda, looking not into the bright Communist future, but rather, for a place to sit and read.

This is the seaport:

And the sea:

Every picture I took, I made sure to have a palm tree in the foreground, just to drive home the 'parallel universe' thing:

The city has a huge famous arboretum in the center, full of classical-ish statues and fountains.  If you really want to know, Sochi looks this way because it was built under Stalin as a resort city for vacationing party members and, during the war, for the military brass.  And Stalin liked neoclassical architecture.  Okay, now that that's out of the way, take a look at these two pictures:

As I said, this is the penultimate blog entry of this trip.  Come back next time for the ULTIMATE entry - one final photo collection.  Again, I would like to thank everybody who subscribes to the blog by email. To unsubscribe, simply call your internet provider and cancel your plan.


geoffrey said...

i'm disappointed. you pull 'quaternary' out of deep left field but miss your only opportunity to say this is your 'penultimate' blog entry?

Jack F said...

I'll miss the blog, Osya. Your parallel universes are lots of fun.

But, I don't think that that sign says anything about leopards. And with what did you bag yours?

Last two photos are telling. Stalin was a very long time ago.

Iosif Markovich said...

To Geoff - I went ahead and fixed that for you.

Ivanich - Stalin is alive and well in the hearts of every 80-year-old Soviet patriot, but otherwise he's pretty dead. I hear his statues survive in Georgia, but I never made it that way. I killed the leopard with my bare hands.